Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Appoints Commissioner for the Louisiana Purchase to Serve the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana; a Highly Important document, Cosigned by James Madison

Thomas Jefferson Appoints Commissioner for the Louisiana Purchase to Serve the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana; a Highly Important document, Cosigned by James Madison

 

Thomas Jefferson Manuscript Document Signed (“Th: Jefferson”) as President, Countersigned by James Madison as Secretary of State, Washington, June 28, 1805, 1 p., 9.75" x 16" bifolium, usual paper flaws and nearly invisible expert conservation including mending of tears.

Appointing Joshua Lewis a commissioner to adjudicate land claims in Louisiana—specifically the special Commissioner to judge on all land grants and claims in the Eastern District of Louisiana, pursuant to the Act of Congress of March 2nd, 1805: “An Act for ascertaining and adjusting the titles and claims to land, within the territory of Orleans, and the district of Louisiana.” Considering the often overlapping and conflicting land claims endemic to the region, we can only assume that he welcomed an appointment as a justice for New Orleans the same year. 

Provenance: Armand Hawkins, sold to Alonzo J. Tullock, 1995.

The document reads, in full: "Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America,

To all who shall see these presents, - Greeting

Know Ye, That in pursuance of the act of Congress passed on the 2 day of March 1805 entitled “An act for ascertaining and adjusting the titles and claims to Land within the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana” and reposing special Trust and Confidence in the Integrity, Diligence and Discretion of Joshua Lewis, of Kentucky, I do appoint him a Commissioner under the act aforesaid in the Easter District of the Territory of Orleans, for the purpose of ascertaining within the said Eastern District the rights of persons claiming lands under any French or Spanish grant conformably with the provisions of the said act, and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfil the duty of that office according to Law, and to Have and to Hold the said office with all the rights and emoluments thereunto legally appertaining during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.

In Testimony whereof, I have caused these Letters to be made Patent and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

Given under my hand at the City of Washington the twenty Eighth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and four; and of the Independence of the United States of America, the Twenty Ninth.

Th: Jefferson

By the President

James Madison

Secretary of State"


It is often reported that Lewis was indeed one of the three, including Edward Livingston, and James Brown, to receive the territory in New Orleans but we cannot confirm that he did indeed go. The present document references the act of congress regarding Lewis being in March of 1805 just 5 months after the formal ceremony transferring the territory from France to the United States, so perhaps he was there earlier. Regardless, the importance of Lewis’ role cannot be overstated. His role was key in keeping the peace regarding land claims in what would become the most important expansion of the United States. A hugely important document with few comparables that have reached the market. Over 26 years ago an appointment of Benjamin Morgan, a relatively unknown but having connection to the territory, sold for over $15,000 at Christie's. More recently a letter of Jefferson to Lafayette penned after our document and discussing lands in Louisiana fetched $106,250 also at Christie's in 2007. Only four related listings show in the auction records in the last forty years.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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Item: 67575

Price: $32,500.00
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Thomas Jefferson
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