Gunston-Hall April 3d. 1779.
The Indiana Company, I hear, are preparing to defend their Claim, under the Indian Purchase; which is to come before the Assembly, on the third Monday in May next; and will of Course, I suppose, desire to be heard at the Bar of the House. If it will be agreeable to you to answer the Arguments of their Counsel, I will undertake to open the Matter, on Behalf of the Commonwealth.
The Treaty with the six Nations of Indians at Lancaster in 1744, with the Deed then obtain'd from them, and also the Treaty at Logs-Town in 1752, with the Deed of Confirmation then obtained, will I apprehend be very material: after endeavouring in vain, by every Means in my Power, to procure them, I have now applyed, by Letter, to Mr. Waller; and beg'd the Favour of him, if he knows in what Office they were lodged or recorded, to procure me either the Originals, or authenticated Copys, against the Meeting of the Assembly; as you will probably see him before I shall, I intreat you to remind him of it. Perhaps our Friend Mr. Wythe can inform you how they are to be got.
I have, since I came up from the last Session, drawn over again the two Bills for establishing a Land-Office, and for adjusting & setling the Claims to unpatented Lands under the former Government &c. in which I have provided for some Omissions, & Difficultys in the Execution; but have made no material Alterations in the Plan which you & I had agreed on in the Bills in Janry. 1778, except one, in the Land-Office Bill; which I will submit to your Consideration, when we meet, & be governed in it entirely by your Opinion. I have not in these Bills taken any Notice of Escheats; if you think that Subject may be more properly provided for in the Land-Office Bill, than by a seperate Bill, I must beg the Favour of you to consider it, & draw a Clause for the Purpose before the Assembly meets; for I think it will be best to push these Laws in the next Session. They have been too long delayed already, to the great Loss of the Public; and the Confusion among the People in the back Country will be every Day encreasing, until Laws are made to settle the present, & remove the Cause of future Disputes. Having lived always in the northern Neck, I am altogether unacquainted with the Mode of Proceeding, in the Case of Escheats, under the former Government.
I wish you also to consider what will be a proper Price to fix the Purchase Money of the back Lands at; there will be great Variety of Opinion upon the Subject. I have been thinking of 25 £ or 30. £ Per hund. Acres; which I am of Opinion they will readily sell for. On the other Side are some Remarks on the Reasonableness of the Demand. I have been so roughly handled by the Gout this Winter (having had two Fits since I came from the Assembly, the last a most dangerous one in my Stomach) that I believe I shou'd have resolved to quit all public Business; had I not, just before, given my Word to some of my Constituents, that I wou'd serve them another Year.
I beg my Compliments to your Lady; and am, dear Sir, Your affecte. Friend & Servt.