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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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783. BASTROP'S CASE, Account of.—
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783. BASTROP'S CASE, Account of.—

I find Bastrop's case less difficult than I had
expected. My view of it is this: The Governor
of Louisiana being desirous of introducing
the culture of wheat into that province,
engages Bastrop as an agent for carrying that
object into effect. He agrees to lay off twelve
leagues square on the Washita and Bayou
liard as a settlement for the culture of wheat,
to which Bastrop is to bring five hundred families,
each of which families is to have four
hundred arpens of the land; the residue of


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the twelve leagues square, we may understand,
was to be Bastrop's premium. The government
was to bear the expense of bringing these emigrants
from New Madrid, and was to allow
them rations for six months,—Bastrop undertaking
to provide the rations, and the government
paying a seal and a half for each. Bastrop
binds himself to settle the five hundred
families in three years, and the Governor especially
declares that if within that time the
major part of the establishment shall not have
been made good, the twelve leagues square, destined for Bastrop's settlers, shall be occupied
by the families first presenting themselves
for that purpose. Bastrop brings on some settlers,—how many does not appear, and the
intendant, from a want of funds, suspends
further proceeding in the settlement until the
King's decision. (His decision of what?
Doubtless whether the settlement shall proceed
on these terms, and the funds be furnished
by the King? or shall be abandoned?) He
promises Bastrop, at the same time, that the
former limitation of three years shall be extended
to two years, after the course of the
contract shall have again commenced to be
executed, and the determination of the King
shall be made known to Bastrop. Here, then,
is a complete suspension of the undertaking
until the King's decision, and his silence from
that time till, and when, he ceded the province,
must be considered as an abandonment of the
project. There are several circumstances in
this case offering ground for question, whether
Bastrop is entitled to any surplus of the lands.
But this will be an investigation for the Attorney
General. But the uttermost he can
claim is a surplus proportioned to the number
of families to be settled, that is to say, a quota
of land bearing such a proportion to the number
of families he settled (deducting four hundred
arpens for each of them) as one hundred
and forty-four square leagues bear to
the whole number of five hundred families.
The important fact, therefore, to be settled,
is the number of families he established there
before the suspension.—
To Albert Gallatin. Washington ed. v, 231.
(Jan. 1808)