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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

To the Senate and

House of Representatives, &c. AGREE ABLY to the request of the House of Representatives, com. municated in their resolution of the 16th inst. I proceed to state under the reserve therein expressed, information received touching an illegal combination of private individuals against the peace and safety of the union, and a military expedition planned by them against the territories of a power in amity with the United States, with the measures I have pursued for sup. pressing the same.

I had, for some time, been in the constant expectation of receiving such further information as would have enabled me to lay before the legislature the termination, as well as the beginning and progress of this scene of depravity, so far as it has been acted on the Ohio and its waters. From this the state of safety of the lower country might have been estimated on probable grounds, and the delay was indulged the rather, because no circumstance had yet made it necessary to call in the aid of the legislative functions. Information now recenly communicated, has brought us nearly to the period contemplated. The mass of what I have received in the course of these transactions is voluminous : but little has been given under the sanction of an oath, so as to constitute formal and legal evidence. It is chiefly in the form of letters, often containing such a mixture of rumours, conjectures and suspicions, as render it difficult to sift out the real facts, and unadviseable to hazard more than general outlines, strengthened by concurrent information, or the particular credibility of the relator. In this state of the evidence, delivered sometimes too under the restriction of private confidence, neither safety nor justice will permit the exposing naines, except that of the principal actor, whose guilt is placed beyond question.

Some time in the latter part of September, I received intimations that designs were in agitatiop in the Western country, unlawful and unfriendly to the peace of the union; and that the prime mover in these was Aaron Burr, heretofore distinguished by the favour of his country. The grounds of these intimations being inconclusive, the objects uncertain, and the fidelity of that country known to be firm, the only measure taken was to urge the informants to use their best endeavors to get further insight into the designs and proceedings of the suspected persons, and to communicate them to me.

It was not till the latter part of October that the objects of the conspiracy began to be perceived, but still so blended and involved in mystery, that nothing distinct could be singled out for pursuit. In that state of uncertainty, as to the crime contemplated, the acts done, and the legal course to be pursued, I thought it best to send to the scene, where these things were principally in transaction, a person in whose integrity, understanding and discretion, entire confidence could be reposed, with instructions to inFestigate the plots going on, to enter into conference (for which he had suffcient credentials) with the governors, and all other officers, civil and military, and with their aid, to do on the spot whatever should be necessary to discover the designs of the conspirators, arrest their means, bring their persons to punishment, and to call out the force of the country to suppress any unlawful enterprize, in which it should be found they were engaged. By this time it was known that many boats were under preparation, stores of provisions collecting, and an unusual number of suspicious characters in mo

Lippendis. Vol. IV. B

tion on the Ohio and its waters. Besides dispatching the confidential agent to that quarter, orders were at the same time sent to the governours of the Orleans and Missisippi territories, and to the commanders of the land and naval forces there, to be on their guard against surprise, and in constant readiness to resist any enterprize which might be attempted on the vesseis, posts, or other objects under their care: and on the 8th of November, in. structions were forwarded to Gen. Wilkinson to hasten an accommodation with the Spanish commandant on the Sabine, and, as soon as that was effected, to fall back with his principal force to the hither bank of the Missisippi, for the defence of the interesting points on that river. By a lette: received from that officer, of the 25th of November, but dated October 21st, we learnt that a confidential agent of Aaron Burr had been deputed to nim with communications, partly written in cypher, and partly oral, explaining his designs, exaggerating his resources, and making such offers of emolument and command, to engage him and the army in his unlawful enterprize, as he had fattered himself would be successful. The general, with the honour of a soldier, and fidelity of a good citizen, immediately dispatched a trusty officer to me with information of what had passed, proceeded wo establish such an understanding with the Spanish commandant on the Sabine, as permitted him to withdraw his force across the Missisippi, and to enter on measures for opposing the projected enterprize.

The General's letter, which came to hand on the 25th of November, as has been mentioned, and some other information, received a few days ear. lier, when brought together, developed Burt's general designs, ditterent parts of which only had been revealed to different informants. It appeared that he contemplated two distinct objects, which might be carried on either jointly or separately, and either the one or the other first as circumstances should direct. One of these was the severance of the union of these states by the Allegany mountains, the other an attack on Mexico. A third object was provided, merely ostensible, to wit, the settlement of the pretendied purchase of a tract of country on the Washita, claimed by a baron Bastrop. This was to serve as the pretext for all bus preparations, an allurement for such followers as really wished to acquire settlements in that country, and a cover under which to retreat in the event of a final discomfiture of both branches of his real design.

He found at once that the attachment of the western country to the pre. sent union was not to be shaken ; that its dissolution could not be effected with the consent of the inhabitants ; and that his resources were inadequate, as yet, to effect it by force. He took his conrse then at once, determined to seize on New Orleans, plunder the bank there, possess himself of the military and naval stores, and proceed on his expedition to Mexico, and to this object all his means and preparations were now directed. He collected from all the quarters where himself, or his agents possessed influence, all the ardent, restless, desperate, and disaffected persons, who were ready for any enterprize analagous to their characters.' He seduced good and well-ineaning citizens, some by assurances that he possessed the confidence of the government, and was acting under its secret patronage ; a pretence which procured some credit from the state of our differences with Spain ; and others by offers of land in Bastrop's claim on the Washit..

This was the state of my information of his proceedings about the last of November ; at which time therefore it was first possible to take specifick measures to meet them. The proclamation of November 27, two days after the receipt of General Wilkinson's information, was now issued. Orders were dispatched to every interesting point on the Ohio and Missisippi, from Pittsburg to New-Orleans, for the employment of such force, either of the regulars or of the militia, and of such proceedings also of the civil . tithorities, as unight enable them to seize on all boats and stures provided for the

enterprize, to arrest the persons concerned, and to suppress effectually the further progress of the enterprize. A little before the receipt of these orders in the state of Ohio, our confidential agent, who had been diligently employed an investigating the conspiracy, had acquired sufficient information to open bimself to the governour of that state, and to apply for the immedi. ate exertion of the authority and power of the state to crush the combination. Governour Tiffin and the legislature, with a prompitude, an energy, and patriotick zeal, which entitle them to a distinguished place in the aftection of their sister states, effected the seizure of all the boats, provisions, and other preparations within their reach, and thus gave a first blow, materially disabling the enterprize in its outset.

In Kentucky a premature attempt to bring Burr to justice, without suffcient evidence for his conviction, had produced a popular impression in his favour, and a general disbelief of his guilt. This gave him an unfortunate opportunity of hastening his equipments. The arrival of the proclamation and orders, and the application and information of our confidential agent, at length awakened the authorities of that state to the truth, and then produced the same promptitude and energy of which the neighbouring state had set the example. Under an act of their legislature of December 23, militia was instantly ordered to different important points, and measures taken for doing whatever could yet be done. Some boats (accounts vary from five to double or treble that number) and persons (differently estimated from one to three hundred) had in the mean time passed the falls of Ohio, to rendezvous at the mouth of Cumberland with others expected down that river. Not apprised till very late that any boats were building on Cumberland, the effect of the proclamation has been trusted to for some time in the state of Tennessee. But on the 19th of December similar communications and instructions, with those to the neighbouring states, were dis. patched by express to the governour, and a general (flicer of the western division of the state, and on the 23d of December our confidential agent left Frankfort for Nashville to put into activity the means of that state also. But by information received yesterday, I learn that on the 22d of December Mr. Burr descended the Cumberland with two boats, merely of accommodation, carrying with him from that state no quota towards his unlawful enterprize. Whether after the arrival of the proclamation, of the orders, or of our agent, any exertion which could be made by that state, or the orders of the governour of Kentucky, for calling out the militia at the mouth of Cumberland, would be in time to arrest these boats, and those from the falls of Ohio is still doubtful.

On the whole, the fugitives from the Ohio, with their associates from Cumberland, or any other place in that quarter, cannot threaten serious dan. ger to the city of New Orleans.

By the same express of December 19, orders were sent to the governours of Orleans and Mississippi, supplementary to those which had been given on the 25th of November, to hold the militia of their territories in readiness to co-operate for their defence with the regular troops and armed vessels then under command of Gen. Wilkinson. Great alarm indeed was excited at New Orleans by the exaggerated accounts of Mr. Burr, disseminated through his emissaries, of the arinies and navies he was to assemble there. Gen. Wilkinson had arrived there himself on the 24th of November, and had immediately put into activity the resources of the place for the purpose of its defence, and on the 10th of December he was joined by his troops from the Sabine. Great zeal was shewn by the inhabitants generally ; the merchants of the place readily agreeing to the most laudable exertions and sacrifices för manning the armed vessels with their seamen; and the other citizens manifesting unequivocal fidelity to the union, and a spirit of determined resistance to their espected assailants.

Surmises have been hazarded that this enterprise is to receive aid from certain foreign powers. But these surmises are without proof or probability. The wisdom of the measures santioned by congress at its last session, has placed us in the paths of peace and justice with the only powers with whom we had any ditierences; and nothing has happened since, which makes it either their interest or ours to pursue another course. No change of measures has taken place on our part, none ought to take place at this time. With the one, friendly arrangement was proposed, and the law, deemed necessary on the failure of that, was suspended to give time for a fair trial of the issue. With the same power, friendly arrangement is now proceeding, under good expectations, and the same law, deemed necessary on twilure of that, is still suspended to give time for a fair trial of the issue. With the other negociation was in like manner preferred, and provisional measures only taken to meet the event of rupture. While therefore we do not deflect in the slightest degree from the course we then assumed, and are still pursuing, with mutual consent, to restore a good understanding, we are not to impute to them practices as irreconcileable to interest as to good faith, and changing necessarily the relations of peace and justice between us to those of war. These surmises are therefore to be imputed to the vauhtings of the author of this enterprize, to multiply his partizans, by magnifying the belief of his prospects and support.

By letters from General Wilkinson, of the 14th and 18th of December, which came to hand two days after the date of the resolution of the House of Representatives, that is to say, on the morning of the 18th inst. I received the important affidavit, a copy of which I now communicate, with extracts of so much of the letters as come within the scope of the resolution. By these it will be seen that of three of the principal emissaries of Mr. Burr, whom the General had caused to be apprehended, one had been liberated by Habeas Corpus, and two others, being those particularly employed in the endeavour to corrupt the General and army of the United States, have been embarked by him for ports in the Atlantick states, probably on the consid. eration that an impartial trial could not be expected during the present agi. tations of New Orleans, and that that city was not as yet a safe place of confinement. As soon as these persons shall arrive, they will be delivered to the custody of the law, and left to such course of trial, both as to place and process, as its functionaries may direct. The presence of the highest judicial authorities, to be assembled at this place within a few days, the means of pursuing a sounder course of proceedings here than elsewhere, and the aid of the executive means, should the judges have occasion to use them, render it equally desirable for the criminal, as for the publick, that, being already removed from the place where they were apprehended, the first regular arrest should take place here, and the course of proceedings receive here their proper direction. Jan. 22, 1807.

TH: JEFFERSON.

Extract of a letter from Gen. James Wilkinson, dated New-Orleans,

Dec. 14, 1806. “ After several consultations with the governour and judges, touching the arrest and confinement of certain known agents and emissaries of Col. Burr, in this city and territory, whose intrigues and machinations were to be ap. prehended, it is with their privity and approbation, that I have caused three of them to be arrested, viz. Doctor Erick Bollman, Samuel Swart wout, and Peter V. Ogrlen, against whom I possess strong facts, and I have recommended to the governour to have James Alexander, Esq. taken up on the grounds of strong suspicion. These persons and all others, who, by their

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