Draper Manuscripts: King's Mountain Papers, 1756-1887

Container Title
Series: 11 DD (Volume 11)
Scope and Content Note

A volume containing primarily original manuscripts in two subdivisions:

1) Evan Shelby and Isaac Shelby papers, 1756-1822. Evan Shelby (1720-1794) emigrated to America from Wales, then had military service in the French and Indian War, in Dunmore's War, and in the Cherokee expedition of 1776; in 1771 he settled on the Holston River in the Tennessee-Virginia border area. His son Isaac (1750-1826) was also an officer in Dunmore's War and later commanded a battalion at King's Mountain. Settling in Kentucky in 1782, he became the first governor of that state (1792-1796) and many years later again saw military service in the War of 1812. Evan Shelby's papers include a muster roll (1758) of his militia company in Frederick County, Maryland; mercantile accounts for groceries and drygoods sold in 1773 to Daniel Boone, James Robertson, Valentine Sevier, and others; one letter each from John Donelson and Anthony Bledsoe in 1779; and a few miscellaneous pieces.

Isaac Shelby's records are more numerous and relate to diverse topics: the settlement of Anthony Bledsoe's estate; land business; sale and employment of Negroes; Indian and military affairs; and politics. Of particular note are a draft of a letter [1790] to Henry Knox; letters, 1791-1792, on Indian treaty results from William Blount, mentioning approbation from the president [George Washington]; letters written to Shelby as governor of Kentucky from Patrick Brown, John Chisholm, James Ore, John Rhea, James Robertson, and Charles Scott; a letter from David Smith on the presidential candidates for 1796; an exchange of five letters between Shelby and Andrew Jackson in 1818 regarding Jackson's service as commissioner to negotiate a treaty with the Chickasaw tribe; an address to the Indians signed by Shelby and Jackson; and a letter 1820 by [Benjamin] T. Smith mentioning Jackson. Draper's notes and copies of some additional Shelby papers precede the original manuscripts. Concluding this segment of the volume are copies of an article about Isaac Shelby and of Wilkins Tannehill's article based on Shelby's papers and entitled “Early Times in Tennessee” (of which another copy is in 14 DD).

2) John Sevier papers, 1766-1814. Frontier soldier and politician, Sevier (1745-1815) was a native of Rockingham County, Virginia, and in the early 1770s settled in the Holston country not far from Evan Shelby. From eastern Tennessee Sevier led a company to King's Mountain, then made several raids against the Indians and British in 1781-1782. Involved in the movement to create the separate State of Franklin, he served as its governor, an adventure which nearly caused his downfall, but by 1789 he was again accepted into public civil and military life in North Carolina. With a popular following, he was elected first governor of Tennessee for three terms (1803-1809); during the last years of his life he held a variety of other state and national offices. Sevier's varied papers reflect many aspects of his life. An early agreement (1768) was signed by his father, Valentine Sevier, Sr.

Letters, 1792-1800, of John's brother Valentine pertain to Indian unrest and military campaigns, to John's governorship of Tennessee, and to personal matters. The earliest record by John himself is a sheet of accounts, 1766, for sale of liquor and boarding and lease of Negroes. Allusions to national politics and to foreign affairs with France, Great Britain, and Spain are frequent in his correspondence. In 1775 Alexander Machir wrote about the actions of the Continental Congress and the prospects for “this unhappy Cival War” with England. David Ross, Patrick Henry, and Governor Alexander Martin of North Carolina all wrote in 1790 to express opposition to the cession of North Carolina land claims to the federal government. Another letter by Ross (1797) and a translation of a letter (1797) by Baron de Carondelet to the Cherokee chief Bloody Fellow concern Spanish overtures to the Cherokee. Several correspondents and Sevier himself were deeply worried over strained relations with France in 1798. Written while congressman in 1814-1815, his printed letters to his constituents report on current events at home and abroad. Other Sevier papers include: commissions and letters, 1784-1785, concerning land acquisitions in Tennessee by Sevier, John Donelson, and others; an appreciative letter (1790) by Abraham De Peyster in New Brunswick and a receipt (1791), both attesting to Sevier's return of De Peyster's commission and other Loyalist papers captured at King's Mountain.

Also included are military records-militia returns including one (1793) signed by George Farragut, court-martial records, accounts for provisions, and correspondence concerning militia of Greene, Hamilton, and Washington counties, North Carolina-many of which relate to Sevier's last foray against the Indians in 1793: a brief list of Cherokee chiefs, a list of Cherokee words, and a few letters and speeches addressed to Indians. Among Sevier's other major correspondents were William and Willie Blount, William Cocke, Thomas Dillon, Augustus C. G. Elholm, David Getson, James Glasgow, Wade Hampton, militia captain Benjamin Harrison [not the governor of Virginia] , James King, Henry Knox, Joseph Martin, James Ore, John Rhea, Benjamin Smith, Daniel Smith, John Steele, John Tipton, Chief John Watts of the Cherokee, and James White. Following John Sevier's manuscripts are biographical sketches, genealogy, and letters, 1839-1851, which Draper received from Sevier descendants.