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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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6670. PIKE (General Z. M.), Expedition.—
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6670. PIKE (General Z. M.), Expedition.—

On the transfer of Louisiana by France to the United States, according to its
boundaries when possessed by France, the government
of the United States considered itself
as entitled as far west as the Rio Norte;
but understanding soon afterwards that Spain,
on the contrary, claimed eastwardly to the river
Sabine, it has carefully abstained from doing
any act in the intermediate country, which
might disturb the existing state of things, until
these opposing claims should be explained and
accommodated amicably. But that the Red River
and all its waters belonged to France, that she
made several settlements on that river, and held
them as a part of Louisiana until she delivered
that country to Spain, and that Spain, on the
contrary, had never made a single settlement
on the river are circumstances so well known,
and so susceptible of proof, that it was not supposed
that Spain would seriously contest the
facts; or the right established by them. Hence
our government took measures for exploring
that river, as it did that of the Missouri, by
sending Mr. Freeman to proceed from the
mouth upwards, and Lieutenant Pike from the
source downwards merely to acquire its geography,
and so far enlarge the boundaries of
science. For the day must be very distant
when it will be either the interest or the wish
of the United States to extend settlements into
the interior of that country. Lieutenant Pike's
orders were accordingly strictly confined to the
waters of the Red river, and from his known
observance of orders, I am persuaded that it
must have been, as he himself declares, by miss
ing his way that he got on the waters of the
Rio Norte, instead of those of the Red river.
That your Excellency should excuse this involuntary
error, and indeed misfortune, was expected
from the liberality of your character;
and the kindnesses you have shown him are an
honorable example of those offices of good
neighborhood on your part, which it will be so
agreeable to us to cultivate. * * * To the same
liberal sentiment Lieutenant Pike must appeal
for the restoration of his papers. You must
have seen in them no trace of unfriendly views
towards your nation, no symptoms of any other
design than that of extending geographical
knowledge; and it is not in the nineteenth
century, nor through the agency of your Excellency,
that science expects to encounter obstacles.
To General Henry Dearborn. Washington ed. v, 110. Ford ed., ix, 85.
(W. 1807)


Draft of letter to be sent to Spanish governor.——Editor.