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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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2208. DETROIT, Contemplated Capture.—
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2208. DETROIT, Contemplated Capture.—

The exposed and weak state of our
western settlements and the danger to which
they are subject from the northern Indians, acting
under the influence of the British post at
Detroit, render it necessary for us to keep from
five to eight hundred men on duty for their
defence. This is a great and perpetual expense.
Could that post be reduced and retained,
it would cover all the States to the
southeast of it. We have long meditated the
attempt under the direction of Colonel Clark,
but the expense would be so great that whenever
we have wished to take it up, the circumstance
has obliged us to decline it. Two different estimates
make it amount to two millions of pounds,
present money. We could furnish the men,
provisions and every necessary, except powder,
had we the money, or could the demands from
us be so far supplied from other quarters as
to leave it in our power to apply such a sum
to that purpose; and, when once done, it
would save annual expenditures to a great
amount. When I speak of furnishing the men,
I mean they should be militia; such being the
popularity of Colonel [George Rogers] Clark,
and the confidence of the Western people in
him, that he could raise the requisite number at
any time. We, therefore, beg leave to refer this
matter to yourself to determine whether such
an enterprise would not be for the general good,
and if you think it would, to authorize it at the
general expense. This is become the more reasonable
if, as I understand, the ratification of
the Confederation has been rested on our cession
of a part of our Western claim; a cession
which (speaking my private opinion) I verily
believe will be agreed to if the quantity demanded
is not unreasonably great. Should this
proposition be approved of, it should be immediately
made known to us, as the season is now
coming on at which some of the preparations
must be made.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 259. Ford ed., ii, 346.
(R. 1780)


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