Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar

Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, September 21, 1803
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson questions William Dunbar about Spanish borders in the Louisiana Territory.

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Monticello, Sep 21. 03.

Dear Sir,

Your favour in answer to my queries came to hand a few days ago, and I thank your for the matter it contains & the promptness with which it has been furnished. Just on my departure from this place, where I habitually pass the sickly months of Aug. & Sep. I have time only to ask information on a particular point. It has been affirmed by respectable authority, that Spain on recieving the East & West Florida of the English, did not continue that distinction, but restore Louisiana to it's antient boundary the Perdido, and that the country from the Perdido to the Iberville has been ever since considered as a part of Louisiana, & governed by the Governor of Louisiana residing at New Orleans: while the country from the Perdido Eastwardly to the Atlantic has been called, as antiently, by the simple name of Florida, & governed by the governor of Florida residing at St. Augustine. The terms of the treaty render this fact very interesting if true, inasmuch as it fills upthe measure of reasoning which fixes the extent of the cession Eastwardly to the Perdido. I write the present to ask of you to ascertain this fact & to give me the information as quickly as possible, as it may yet be recieved in time to determine our proceedings. Accept my friendly salutation & assurances of great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson