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22.4 The Initial Phases of the American War of Independence in the South (1775-1780)

The Shot Heard ’Round the World (19 April 1775)

If you ignore the battle of Alamance Court House (16 May 1771) , the first blood of the American War of Independence was drawn at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts (19 April 1775) followed closely by the British capture of Bunker Hill and Breeds Hill (17 June 1775). This turn of events set off intense speculation and posturing among the various commingled factions. Whigs and Tories were becoming Patriots and Loyalists. Overall, most Loyalists took a passive posture allowing the respective colonial governments to decide what should be done about the growing militancy among the Whigs. The Patriots formed “Committees/Councils of Safety,” which were essentially Patriot shadow governments in the colonies and were used to organize Patriot military action. During this period, personal feuds and ambitions were often concealed in the language of national politics. The British and the Colonists each wooed the Native Americans. However, no serious leaders on either side wanted to see a no-holds-barred war as had been fought with the French. Nor, did responsible leaders want a civil war to breakout in the Americas.

The Patriots of Tryon County (August 1775)

George Pearis (Paris, Richard’s brother) was a Patriot and signed an important document incorporated in The North Carolina Booklet Vol. IX, January 1910, No. 3: The History of Lincoln County by Alfred Nixon (

"The unprecedented, barbarous and bloody actions committed by British troops on our American brethren near Boston, on 19th April and 20th of May last, together with the hostile operations and treacherous designs now carrying on, by the tools of ministerial vengeance, for the subjugation of all British America, suggest to us the painful necessity of having recourse to arms in defense of our National freedom and constitutional rights, against all invasions; and at the same time do solemnly engage to take up arms and risk our lives and our fortunes in maintaining the freedom of our country whenever the wisdom and counsel of the Continental Congress or our Provincial Convention shall declare it necessary; and this engagement we will continue in for the preservation of those rights and liberties which the principals of our Constitution and the laws of God, nature and nations have made it our duty to defend. We therefore, the subscribers, freeholders and inhabitants of Tryon County, do hereby faithfully unite ourselves under the most solemn ties of religion, honor and love to our county, firmly to resist force by force, and hold sacred till a reconciliation shall take place between Great Britain and America on Constitutional principals, which we most ardently desire, and do firmly agree to hold all such persons as inimical to the liberties of America who shall refuse to sign this association.

(Signed) John Walker, Charles McLean, Andrew Neel, Thomas Beatty, James Coburn, Frederick Hambright, Andrew Hampton, Benjamin Hardin, George Paris, William Graham, Robt. Alexander, David Jenkins, Thomas Espey, Perrygreen Mackness, James McAfee, William Thompson, Jacob Forney, Davis Whiteside, John Beeman, John Morris, Joseph Harden, John Robison, James McIntyre, Valentine Mauney, George Black, Jas. Logan, Jas. Baird, Christian Carpenter, Abel Beatty, Joab Turner, Jonathan Price, Jas. Miller, John Dellinger, Peter Sides, William Whiteside, Geo. Dellinger, Samuel Carpenter, Jacob Mauney, Jun., John Wells, Jacob Costner, Robert Hulclip, JamesBuchanan, Moses Moore, Joseph Kuykendall, Adam Simms, Richard Waffer, Samuel Smith, Joseph Neel, Samuel Loftin.

Spreading Rebellion in the Upcountry (August 1775)

The period between the initial shots of the American War of Independence (1775) and the British invasion of the South (1780) was a period of choosing up sides in the Carolinas and Georgia. Predictably, South Carolina was the most active politically. The cream of the Charles Town society, who led the independence movement, were typically rich (some would say, “spoiled”/ "spoilt"), arrogant, educated, and ambitious sons and daughters of the plantations. They were not social revolutionaries; far from it; they were want-to-be kings, dukes, and barons. The only thing that stood in their way was Britain with its more powerful king, dukes and barons. From this society, emerged William Henry Drayton whose self-interest led him first to strongly support the British. However, Drayton turned radically away from the British as he realized that in spite of his wealth and power in South Carolina, in England (where he was educated and spent much time), he was just a country bumpkin (less important than the Cherokee chief who at least had a claim of sovereignty and could get to see King George III upon request).

The Congress of South Carolina was set up following the Continental Congress of 1774. The radical men of the independence movement set up a secret committee within its ranks headed by William Henry Drayton. The realities of South Carolina demographics in the 1770s were forced onto Mr. Drayton. In the tidewater rice belt, there were only about 20,000 whites, but there were probably 50,000 black slaves. In the upcountry (back country), there were another 50,000 whites with perhaps 20,000 black slaves. The Cherokee probably also numbered about 20,000 east of the mountains with a number of mixed-blood families in the Carolina piedmont.

Drayton and all the major slave owners feared a slave insurrection. The up-country Europeans were not too concerned about an all out war with the Cherokee, but they were more concerned about the Cherokee than they were about the slaves. The British played on all these fears. The British hoped to intimidate the colonists into passivity. However, the radicals were willing to call the British bluff because if the Blacks and/or the Cherokee actually overran the South, the British would also be losers. Nonetheless, by May of 1775, Drayton had enough evidence of British willingness to use the Blacks and the Cherokee against the Europeans to use it for its propaganda value.

On 1 June 1775, the South Carolina Congress met and established a Council of Safety (essentially a core group with dictatorial powers to run the anticipated war) and form regiments of troops. Many of the upper class young men of South Carolina vied for the officer commissions that these new regiments represented. The allocation of these commissions had the ironic effect of solidifying the political lines between Loyalists and Patriots. In one case, Mr. Robert Cunningham (Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania living in the Saluda valley) and Mr. Moses Kirkland, who were arguably the most militarily qualified, were passed over for a command that was given to James Mayson who was likely perceived by the Council of Safety as more politically reliable. This had the effect of alienating Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Kirkland who (like most in the up-country) could have taken either side in the argument. There are indications that the same thing happened to Richard Pearis. Richard Pearis had been a captain in Virginian (1750s); had the best relations with the Cherokee probably of any American; and he was one of richest men (if not the richest man) in the upcountry; as well as being one of the first settlers of the upcountry. Arguably, he should have been a colonel or a general in the upcountry Patriot militia, but Pearis was apparently passed over in favor of Richard Richardson and William ("Old Danger") Thompson who were apparently more “politically and socially correct” (after all Richard Pearis had a Cherokee wife/mistress and child, George Parris). On the other hand, Pearis probably did not try too hard to become a Patriot; he was very happy as a British subject.

William Henry Drayton was one of the leaders of the Council of Safety. The radicals of the Council of Safety took the action that everyone had dreaded: They insisted upon a written and formal Association of Citizens to support the likely armed conflict. Signing this paper was treason against Britain; and not signing it was treason against the new government. In later revolutions in more violent societies, resistors to such demands would simply be shot if it were not convenient to publicly torture them to death. The Americans were actually quite humane in their efforts to coerce those that either objected or preferred to be neutral. The method of choice was to strip the victim naked, apply pine tar to the skin and roll them in feathers. It was certainly messy and humiliating, but lacked the usual European flare of being burned at the stake or drawn-and-quartered by teams of horses tied to each arm and leg. There were also no lines of protesters at the gallows or heads-man’s block .

It was immediately obvious that without violent intimidation, the independence movement needed to spread its doctrine by intellectual means. This was especially true in the upcountry where the largest European population was located and where enthusiasm of independence was less strong and a desire for a true social revolution was just beneath the surface. Mr. Drayton thus formed a propaganda tour that consisted of himself as the chief spokesman for independence from Britain with Joseph Kershaw a merchant from Camden who was well respected in the upcountry; Col. Richard Richardson a local hero of the French and Indian War; Reverend William Tennent a well-known Presbyterian preacher; and last but not least, Reverend Oliver Hart the foremost Baptist preacher. Overall, it was a politically astute effort. But, just in case, the South Carolina militia was organized in three units that rotated responsibility to quickly respond as a rescue mission if the party got into trouble.

The South Carolina Patriots seized Fort Charlotte in McCormick County on 12 July 1775. The Drayton propaganda mission was initiated on 2 August 1775 and accompanied by a show of force by the militia. Over in Augusta, Georgia just south of the Savannah River, history records that the militia were met with at least one Loyalists who was not slow to speak his mind in support of the British. It happened that Mr. Thomas Brown was a moderately well off Englishman who had immigrated to Augusta from Yorkshire in 1774. Mr. Brown was exactly the type of man most likely to be opposed to independence: middle-class and mature; he was too well off to be interested in revolution and not rich enough to be interested in independence. Speaking his mind against the independence movement provoked a brawl in which he apparently wounded one of the militia in the foot before being clubbed with a rifle butt. He was tarred and feathered at least on the legs and no-doubt because of the wound to someone’s foot, his foot was placed in the fire such that he was later called “Burnt-foot Brown.” However, in most areas, the Drayton mission was met with civil, though heated, debate.

One of Drayton’s first stops was the “Dutch Fork” area between the Saluda and Broad Rivers. Here the population was mainly Germans who (as in Virginia and Pennsylvania) worried that the low-country English colonists would invalidate their land claims obtained from the British if the colony became independent. However, the real show-down developed at King’s Creek off the Enoree River on 14 August 1775. Here Thomas Brown, who had recovered enough from his treatment on 2 August to be very angry, and Mr. Robert Cunningham (a friend of Richard Pearis), who had decided to actively take the Loyalist’s position, debated Drayton. Brown was armed with Sir John Dalrymple’s Address of the People of Great Britain to the Inhabitants of America. Dalrymple was a staff lawyer with the British Prime Minister (Lord North) and his words could be taken as the opinion of the King. The document offered reconciliation with the colonies and showed that the British knew that the tidewater planters and merchants were the main force for independence:

“It is hard that the charge of our [Britain’s] intending to enslave you [the Americans] should come oftenest from the mouths of those lawyers who in your southern provinces at least, have long made you slaves themselves.”

This argument obviously was calculated to drive a wedge between the planters and the people on the frontier. The great debate occurred within a day’s ride of Richard Pearis’s Mill on Reedy Creek and the Pearises were likely in attendance (unless they actively avoided the political debate to preserve their neutrality). It seems likely that Pearis may have used Cunningham as a stalking-horse to test the political waters. Pearis may have actively encouraged Cunningham or he may have passively followed Cunningham’s actions and the Patriot reactions. I believe that Richard Pearis was too clever and had too much to lose to step out front, and catch the first bullet.

Drayton’s mission then moved to the home of Col. Thomas Fletchall on Fair Forest Creek (Union Co.). Fletchall was typical of the type of upcountry resident that they expected would be sympathetic to their cause; he owned over 1,600 acres and about 14 slaves. The Tory antagonists, Brown and Cunningham, were now following the Drayton party and also went to Fletchall’s. The situation was becoming very personal between Drayton, Brown and Cunningham. As it turned out, Fletchall was drawn to the Tory cause by family ties (his brother-in-law Ambrose Mills was the leading Tory in western North Carolina). By disposition, Fletchall was not a fighter; and, like Pearis, he probably was not eager to lead the Tories in a civil war (but he was not clever enough to avoid it). Brown and Cunningham were annoyed that Fletchall agreed to muster his troops on 23 August 1775 at John’s Ford on the Enoree River so that they could hear the Patriot’s propaganda from Drayton.

This is a good point to remember that the Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776) had not yet been signed, in fact, reconciliation was with Britain was high on almost everyone’s minds. Especially, it was not clear whether the South needed to follow the North into war with the British. If there were a war in the South, it might be a civil war between Loyalists and Patriots; not a productive war of independence against the British. The Patriots (still calling themselves Whigs) had not officially endorsed independence themselves; and if they had, they might have lost some support. What Drayton was trying to do was to get people to commit (in writing) to a cause that he and his fellow future-rebels would then redefine into full revolt. He also hoped to unite the European settlers against the common perceived domestic enemies, i.e., the Blacks and the Cherokee.

After the first meeting with Fletchall, the five men of Drayton’s party decided to separate into several parties that would fan out in the upcountry. Not only did this allow them to cover more sites; it prevented Cunningham and Brown from following them around. However, events proved that the Drayton mission was already planning to take action against Brown and Cunningham:

Old Col. Richardson left to assemble the militia to capture the Tories who would not yield to the persuasion of the Drayton party.

Mr. Kershaw who was probably the most open-minded of the Drayton party went home sensing trouble.

Over the next few weeks, Reverend Tennent traveled from Union County to Camden then back up the Catawba River to the territory (formerly Tryon County, NC) that had become recognized as part of South Carolina (now Union Co., SC) once the survey line advanced into this area. He ended up around Cowpens (Thicketty area) where he found some anti-British supporters.

The Reverend Oliver Hart left Fletchall’s place and preceded Drayton to Captain Joseph Wofford's place at Lawson’s Ford (present-day Spartanburg) where they had a beef barbecue on 21 August. Drayton’s party had at last tapped into a pocket of solid anti-British opinion, which was being backed up with establishment of a Patriot militia (the Spartan Legion) under Col. John Thomas, Sr.

Richard Pearis was apparently living on his Enoree River plantation at this time and may have been at the Wofford barbecue on 21 August 1775 for he made a presentation on Drayton’s behalf to the Cherokee on that date. In the address to the Cherokee, Pearis apparently personally criticized the British Indian Agent Alexander Cameron for being untrustworthy. It is easy to see the personal animosity between Pearis and Cameron that had developed over the land transfers in 1773-1774.

The Drayton mission left the hospitality of Wofford and Thomas to make their date with Fletchall’s militia at John’s Ford on 23 August. As they anticipated, the potential converts were limited to about 250 men with Fletchall and the Tories (Brown, Cunningham and Kirkland who had just arrived after consultation with the Royal Governor in Charles Town). The war of words was intense; it almost came to blows, but moderates intervened.

After the arguments at Fletchall’s, Drayton retired to Ninety-Six to decide his next move. The Tories apparently did not know that they were already marked men. Even before the arguments of 23 August, Drayton had dispatched Richardson to ready the militia and he had written the Council of Safety indicating that force could be used to eliminate the opposition. On 30 August 1775, John Stuart (British Indian Agent) spoke to the Cherokee in an attempt to keep them neutral in the conflict between the Americans and the British. He warned the Cherokee against listening to Richard Pearis, claiming that Pearis was cheating them of their land. By 31 August 1775, the Council of Safety had all but abdicated (civil) war-making power to Drayton although few of the “Rice Kings” wanted to be associated with the decision.

Kirkland realized his exposure and fled to the protection of the Royal Governor in Charles Town in early September. John Stuart, the British Indian Agent living in Charles Town, South Carolina with his wife and daughter, went into self-imposed exile in Florida in the fall of 1775. His messengers to the Dragging Canoe-faction of the Cherokee were two other Scots (Alexander Cameron and John Stuart’s brother Henry Stuart) . On 3 October 1775, John Stuart wrote to British General Gage in Boston asking that any British action in the south be coordinated with raids by Native Americans, which he planned to provoke. He correctly reported that many of the people in the western parts of the colonies supported the King and urged that the raids be targeted at known Patriots . This letter was carried by Moses Kirkland and fell into the hands of the Patriots when a privateer captured Kirkland’s ship. The Continental Congress published the letter for its propaganda value. The letter seemed to be confirmation to the Patriots in the South that the Cherokee would actively support the British and it explains some of the actions of the Patriots that soon followed.

Although the upcountry balance of military power between Patriots and Loyalists was about even or slightly favored the Loyalists, Fletchall (who weighed about 280 pounds and would rather drink and eat than fight) controlled the Tory militia unit. Shrewdly, Drayton persuaded Fletchall to come to Ninety-Six, where he then maneuvered Fletchall to sign the “Treaty of Ninety-Six” in an alcoholic haze on 16 September. The “treaty” was essentially a promise of neutrality from the upcountry Tories in exchange for assurance that the Patriots would punish anyone who harassed the Tories that abided by the “treaty.” Effectively, it was surrender not only of political options and opinions but also of basic rights by Fletchall acting (without authority) on behalf of the Tories. Concurrently, Drayton urged the Council of Safety to place the Royal Governor under arrest, but they refused.

It did not take long for the Tories (e.g., Brown, Cunningham and Cunningham’s brothers) to realize that they had been sold out. The politics of South Carolina still required the illusion of legal basis before throwing the opposition into jail. "The Treaty of Ninety-Six" was just the tool that Drayton needed to declare otherwise peaceful acts (e.g., assembly and petition) to be described as sedition. Thus, when Brown went to the Governor to argue the cases for nullifying the “treaty” and reestablishing British authority over the upcountry (after all it was still a British colony), he was arrested by the Council of Safety, harassed and interrogated before being expelled to St. Augustine, Florida. Cunningham found himself considered to be a fugitive from justice. Richard Pearis must have been in much the same position as Cunningham; but by staying out of the foreground, Pearis was not as high on the list of targets for the patriots as was Cunningham. Pearis's personal conflict with the British Indian Agents (Stuart and Cameron) in the August-September 1775 period apparently earned him some consideration with the Patriots.

John Thomas, Sr. (1720-1811) and John Thomas, Jr.

John Thomas, Sr. was apparently born in Wales circa 1720 and was in Chester County, Pennsylvania (a few miles west of Philadelphia) in the 1730s. There (circa 1740) he married Jane Black, daughter of Rev. John Black. During the French and Indian War (circa 1755), he moved to South Carolina (apparently Camden District) and was in the up-country (Fairforest Creek, near present-day Spartanburg, SC) by 1763. This would have put him in place a little before Richard Pearis moved his family to the Reedy Creek (Greenville, SC) area. The two men do not seem to have had much in common. I suspect that John Thomas, Sr. was probably involved with the "Regulators" who resisted taxation by the British Governor of North Carolina (Tryon) for several years often with violence in the late 1760s and early 1770s. This appears to be where John Thomas, Sr. acquired the title Colonel and became a leader of a substantial contingent of anti-British militia. Regardless, by December of 1775, Col. John Thomas, Sr. commanded a Patriot regiment in the Spartanburg District and had a son named John Thomas, Jr. This unit was involved in a campaign for two months (December 1775- January 1776) according to a pension application filed by Hugh Pierce (born 1749 Frederick Co., VA), who served in Cpt. John Wood's company of Col. John Thomas's regiment. In 1778-1779, John Thomas, Sr. and John Thomas, Jr. were both identified as Colonels in the pension application of Lafford French. In particular, the group commanded by John Thomas, Jr. apparently marched from York, SC to Musgrove Mill on the Enoree River where they joined with Col. Clarke and Col. Shelby for that battle. " Then they [i.e., John Thomas, Jr. group] went to a rendezvous at Mountain Creek in Rutherford County, NC to await the return of Colonel Clarke who had taken the prisoners captured at Musgrove Mill to Salisbury, NC " (

Robert Cunningham (1741 - 1813)

Robert Cunningham was the most prominant of several brothers (including Patrick, David and John) of the late 1700s in western South Carolina. Like the Pearis brothers, the Cunninghams moved from Virginia to the Sulda River circa 1769. But, the Cunninghams may have been from tidewater Virginia with better political connections. He was too young (b. 1741) to have been a leader in the French and Indian War (circa 1754-1760) but some how he received high ranks in the Loyalist malitia (e.g., Brigadier-General) and may have had some formal military training.

He was an outspoken Tory in the 1775 period and was confined to jail in Charles Town November 1775 through February 1776. His early incarceration kept him out of the December 1775-January 1776 fighting that resulted in the incarceration of Richard Pearis and George Pearis/Parris.

After the war, he was resettled in Nassau on the island of New Providence with his wife Margaret. They had four children: John, Charles, Margaret (who married Richard Pearis, Jr. on 22 June 1790), and Elizabeth.

First Blood in the South (October-December 1775)

The Colonists had already used the Native Americans as a scapegoat. The “Boston Tea Party” had seen Colonists dressed as Native Americans commit acts of violence and looting against the British. These types of acts were not merely to disguise the identity of the colonists, it was calculated to blame the Natives Americans for violence, which would subsequently justify violence and treachery towards the Native Americans by the Europeans. In particular, it would be used to justify further demands of lands from the Native Americans which both the Patriots and the Loyalists were happy to receive.

In spite of Richard's attempts at diplomacy (through September 1775), when the shooting started in South Carolina, the Pearises were almost immediately plunged into the conflict. George (the half-blooded Cherokee), Richard the trader on Reedy Creek in western South Carolina, and Robert the businessman in Charles Town had nothing to gain by war or conflict. Their economic interests were clearly tied to peace.

The last thing that William Henry Drayton did before returning to Charles Town in late September 1775 after his attempts to rally the Patriots in the upcountry was to attempt to enlist the Cherokee to his cause. Richard Pearis facilitated the meeting at Congaree’s Store (present-day Columbia, SC). Drayton met with several Cherokee (including one the Patriots called “Good Warrior,” probably Great Warrior, a.k.a., Oconostota) and arranged for powder and shot to be sent to them as a gift of friendship. It is not clear what Drayton’s strategy towards the Cherokee really was. On the one hand, he certainly did not want them supporting the Loyalists. But, the inability of the Cherokee to distinguish between European Patriots and Loyalists was exceeded only by the inability of the Europeans to distinguish among political factions of the Cherokee. Thus, as a purely practical matter, it was unlikely that the Cherokee could be used militarily to support either faction of Europeans in an Euro-American civil war. At most, a few Cherokee mercenaries could be led by European Patriots or Loyalists and assigned specific tasks. To Drayton and Patriot military leaders, the Cherokee primarily represented the possibility of a sheltered homeland where Loyalists Europeans could seek protection during a guerrilla war against the Patriots. The converse was not likely to be effective since the Cherokee had always had cordial arrangements with the British and would likely police their territory to remove/arrest Patriot guerrillas. Thus, the best strategy for Drayton would be to incite conflict between the Europeans and the Cherokee, which would justify an all-out attack on the Cherokee and force treaties of land cession to the European Patriots. These land sessions would allow the Patriots to patrol any potential Loyalist’s retreat. It took over a year to implement this strategy, but it worked very well.

Drayton returned to Charles Town; and on 1 October 1775, he was elected President of the South Carolina Congress. The Patriot rangers also captured Robert Cunningham and brought him to Charles Town where he was jailed for denying that the “Treaty of Ninety-Six” applied to him (i.e., for exercising free speech and peaceable assembly). On 7 October 1775, Alexander Cameron got around to writing Drayton a letter denouncing Pearis’s attempts to sway the Cherokee against Cameron. (This may have been an effort to obtain cover at Pearis’s expense.) In October 1755, the South Carolina “Council of Safety” sent a shipment of 1,000 pounds of gunpowder and 2,000 pounds of lead by wagon (from Charles Town) to the Cherokee with whom Drayton had negotiated. The Loyalist Patrick Cuningham (Robert’s brother) led 60 men to capture the wagons on 3 November 1775. This may have been exactly what Drayton wanted to happen; or the Loyalists may have been unwittingly playing into Drayton’s hands. In any event, the Loyalists needed the ammunition and it was too big a temptation to let it pass.

In response to Drayton’s directions, Major Andrew Williamson assembled 562 Patriot militia from the Ninety-Six District to engage the 60 Loyalists under Cuningham. This appears to have been the action that forced Richard Pearis to take up arms. In his post-war claims to the British, Richard Pearis states that he was elected as one of the commanders of the Loyalist militia. This would make sense because Robert Cunningham was already in jail and Fletchall was discredited. This left Richard Pearis as the logical rallying point for the upcountry Loyalists, but he was not alone and the Loyalists seem to have been led by a coalition. According to statements made in his claims filed after the war, the other Loyalist commanders were Lieutenant Colonel Robinson and Major M. Laurens.

Realizing that these heavy-handed actions were starting to mobilize the Loyalists who were at least as numerous as the Patriots, the Patriots nastily built a fort near Ninety-Six. The fort was constructed by erecting a log palisade to enclose the area (85 x 150 feet) between two log barns and a ditch was dug part way around the fort. The Loyalist militia under Richard Pearis et al. attacked the fort on 19-20 November 1775. One man was killed and several wounded on each side . Neither the Loyalists nor the Patriots had much stomach for killing; but the Loyalists could have forced surrender of the Patriots if they had held their ground. According to Pearis’s claims after the war, he advised that the siege be continued; but his colleagues decided that it was better to try to end the conflict with a truce before and real blood was shed.

The Loyalists managed to negotiate a “new treaty of Ninety-Six” that was much more favorable. Richard Pearis signed this document. It contained a truce for twenty days. [I have never seen the document from these negotiations analyzed as overriding the original “Treaty of Ninety-Six.” Histories favor the Patriot point of view that their actions were legally binding and that the Loyalist’s actions were not binding. In the end, “might makes right.”] Based on the new treaty, the Loyalists effectively disbanded the army of over 2,000 they had raised. They chose to defer to the Royal Governor. Unfortunately, the Royal Governor was in no position to help. Needless to say, Drayton disregarded the new Treaty of Ninety-Six.

While this confrontation was going on, the venerable Col. Richard Richardson (1704-1780, later Brigadier General of the South Carolina Patriot Militia and member of the first and second Provincial Congress) and Col. William “Danger” Thompson assembled a force of 2,500 men to counter the Loyalists that were gathering under Richard Pearis, Patrick Cuningham and Col. Thomas Fletchall. Richardson issued a proclamation on 8 December stating that Patrick Cuningham had violated the (original) “Treaty of Ninety-Six” and demanding that he turn himself in (or else!). The Patriots advanced to the west and the Loyalists (i.e., apparently only Cunningham's original group of about 60) fell back after token resistance at several points. The number of Loyalists seems to be unknown, but they must have been out numbered since they retreated with minor fighting. Nonetheless, Fletchall and other Loyalists were taken prisoner.

Major Andrew Williamson now brought an additional force of 1,100 Patriots from North Carolina and 800 more from South Carolina to join the forces under Richardson. The only reasons to assemble a force of over 4,000 men was obviously to attack the Cherokee.

Document from

McLaurin's Store, December 2, 1775

In a Very wet Day and the Midst of Bustle, Just Starting to march I take the Liberty to Acquaint You that we are Near McLaurins in the fork, as Yet Unmolested by the Opposites, Our people have taken The persons herein named, which from their knowledge of the part they have Vigorously acted will Not permit me Even if I was inclined to Let go; Viz Capts. John Mayfield, Benjn. Wofford Wm. Hunt, Danl. Stagner, Jacob Stack. Cause of their being Sent will Appear; but at Any Rate they Are Not to be Let at Liberty till Matters are Settled as they are Look'd Upon as Active and pernicious men. I am Now joined by Col Thomas with about 200 Col Neel as Many. Col Lyles abt one hundred. Together with Col Thomson's his Regt Rangers & Militia with my own, may make in the Whole about 2500 and I Rec’d Last Night Accts of Col Polk's being Near with 600. An army if it was a favorable time of Year Might go or do any thing Required which hope we Shall, I hear of their moving about, but yet have made no opposi­tion. In the State I am Now in Can Say no More than that when 1 make a Stand & have it in my power will transmit Such things as May occur.

I am Sir Your Most Obed’t Humble Servant
Rich’d Richardson

The unification of forces from North and South Carolina can be attributed to the letter from Stuart to Gage intercepted when Kirkland was captured. Patrick Cuningham had retreated with his Loyalists (a force that by now was apparently around 150 men in the field, see below) about four miles into the Cherokee Nation at the Canebrake of the Reedy River, near the home of Richard Pearis, in fact, on Pearis’s land. Apparently, Cuningham believed that they would be safe inside Cherokee territory and under the wing of Richard Pearis. However, on 12 December 1775, Richardson arrested Richard Pearis and other suspect Tory-Loyalists. On 16 December, the captives were sent from Richardson’s camp at Liberty Hill to Charles Town. Apparently, they were accompanied with a letter to Henry Laurens stating that “the young Pearis” (George Pearis/Parris was about 20 years old) was going up to bring down the “Indians” personally. It is not clear what this means out of context. In all likelihood, the Patriots anticipated that with the arrest of Richard Pearis, his son would rally the Cherokee against them as advocated by Stuart. The tragedy here is that the Cherokee were not mobilized and were effectively neutral.

On the snowy evening of 21-22 December 1775, Col. Thompson led the 3rd Ranger Regiment with about 1,300 men into Cherokee territory and surrounded the Loyalist camp. By the time that the Loyalists knew what was happening it was too late. In a brief firefight, 6 Loyalists were killed and 130 captured while the Patriots suffered only one wounded. Patrick Cuningham escaped by leaping on a horse and riding off bareback. George Pearis/Parris was captured. This action was called the Snow Campaign and was the only action in the war by Richardson who was promoted to Brigadier General of the Patriot militia. It is significant that at no time did the Cherokee intervene in the Snow Campaign even though their territory was violated. Soon the Tories/Loyalists of upcountry South Carolina were forced to sign papers stating that if they every raised arms against the Patriots, their lands would be confiscated. It was not a good day for the Pearis family. Richard and George were part of the group of 136 men sent (on 2 January 1776) by Richardson to Charles Town jail under the tender care of Col. John Thomas, Sr. They may have expected to be released soon, but the Patriots had other plans.

To their credit, Danger Thompson and Richard Richardson avoided punitive measures such as unnecessary bloodshed or destroying homes, businesses and crops. Rhoda Pearis was left at home with her daughters Sarah and Margaret and her young son Richard, Jr.

Document obtained from

Mr. Richardson to the Council of Safety

The Honorable the Council of Safety.
CONGAREES, January 2d, 1776.

By Col. Thomson of the rangers, you will receive, if nothing happens, the prisoners, we thought proper to detain, which, upon examination, find were the most leading and active, in taking the powder at Ninety-Six, and the late camp. They were long out before taken, and have been some time since in durance, from which circumstances they of course will make but a despicable appearance, adding also, that the spirit of humility and contrition takes place of the opposite character. I shall say but little now, as I wrote so fully yesterday by express. I am at a loss to know how to recommend my brother Colonel, will only say his behavior has been as becomes him, and deserves your notice. My hurry in getting off the people provisions, etc., obliges me to desist, and only add that
I am, gentlemen,

Your most obedient humble servant,


1. Colonel Fletchall
2. John Mayfield, Ninety-Six, Militia Captain.
3. Benjamin Wofford, Militia Captain.
4. Richard Pearis, Scopholite Captain, Ninety-Six.
5. Math. Floyd, Ninety-Six, Militia Captain.
6. David George, Militia Captain.
7. Pat. McDade.
8. Wm. Hunt, Scopholite Captain, Ninety-Six, Mulatto.
9. Geo. Zuber, Ninety-Six, Militia Captain, said to murder a prisoner.
10. Jacob Fry, Scopholite Captain, Ninety-Six.
11. Capt. Jones, Scopholite Captain, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Colored, Powder Man.
12. Capt. Pearis, Scopholite Adjutant, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
13. Capt. Bowman, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Militia Captain.
14. Captain Harvey, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Militia Captain.
15. Capt. Clery, Scopholite, Ninety-Six.
16. Capt. Lindley, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Militia Captain.
17. Capt York, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Militia Captain, Press Master General, deemed a bad man by both parties, to be delivered by Maj. Williamson.
18. David Cunningham deemed a bad man by both parties, to be delivered by Captain Williamson.
19. George Nealey, Commissary General, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Pow­der Man.
20. Thomas Combs, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
21. Thomas Tomlin, Cane Break, Powder Man.
22. Jeremiah Ward, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, and a very bad man.
23. Henry Green, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Militia Captain.
24. Sam. Proctor, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Militia Captain.
25. John Norris, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
26. Benj. Stone, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
27. John Davies, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
28. David Reese, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
29. Thomas Carter, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
30. James Derumple, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
31. James McGill, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
32. Wm. Johnston, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
33. Thomas Wisdom, Cane Brake, Powder Man, Lieut. in the Militia, and an extreme active man.
34. Abraham Nabors, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
35. Isaac Nabors, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
36. George Carter, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
37. Thomas Gill, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
38. William Stone, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
39. Robert Proctor, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man, a very bad man.
40. Caleb Stone, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
41. James Carter, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
42. Robert Grey, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
43. Captain Hilburn, an active man.
44. Elisha Watson, Cane Brake.
45. John Helms, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
46. Thomas Alison, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
47. Wm. Matthews, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
48. David Alison, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
49. Wm. Alison, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
50. Robert Wood, Cane Brake.
51. John Miller, Ninety-Six, sent from Ninety-Six.
52. Henry Strum, Ninety-Six.
53. Thomas Neville, Cane Brake.
54. Christopher Reuben, Cane Brake.
55. Robin Brown, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Powder Man.
56. John Reid, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
57. James Reid, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
58. Adam Frelick, Ninety-Six.
59. Fred. Bagwell, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
60. John Wright, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
61. James Johnston, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
62. James Camell, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
63. Wm. Cox, Cane Brake.
64. Fred. Reuben, Cane Brake.
65. Thomas Good, Cane Brake.
66. Moses Casey, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
67. Adam Purdue, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
68. John Casey, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
69. Jesse Casey, Cane Brake.
70. John Rigdell, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
71. John Rigdell, jun., Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
72. Emanuel Miller, went from Ninety-Six to join the opposite party.
73. Henry Attolph, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, Lieut. Major.
74. John Meek, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
75. James Mills, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
76. Francis Regan, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
77. Wm. Burrows, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
78. Benj. Stone.
79. Joshua Niblet, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
80. Joshua Fowler, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
81. Richard. Fowler, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
82. Samuel Harris, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
83. John Goff, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
84. Robert Westmoreland, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
85. Thomas Welch, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
86. Holl’y Power, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
87. Hugh Abernathy, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
88. David. Reese, mentioned before.
89. Jacob Wittherow, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
90. John Wittherow, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
91. Chris. Tongues, Cane Brake.
92. John Burrows, Ninety-Six, Cane Broke.
93. Hen. Centerfitts, Ninety-Six.
94. Wm. Mills, Ninety-Six.
95. Henry Citeman, a very bad man.
96. Wm. Caldwell, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
97. And. Aventer, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
98. Abel Bowling, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
99. Owen Reid, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
100. Dennis McCarty, Ninety-Six, Powder Man.
101. Tho. Rogers, Cane Brake.
102. Harmon Dildine, Cane Brake.
103. Isaac Evans, mentioned.
104. Benjamin Gregory, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
105. Joseph Turner, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
106. James Nicholl, Cane Brake.
107. Edw'd. Lang, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
108. James Wright, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
109. John Evans, Cane Broke.
110. John Welch, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
111. Wm. Elliott, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
112. Leon'd. Nix, Cane Brake.
113. Wm. Payne, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
114. Henry Goff, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
115. David. Nielson, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
116. John Morgan, Cane Brake.
117. Fred. Hartwell, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
118. Dan. Allen, Cane Brake, lame.
119. Henry Counts, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
120. Elisha Robinson, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
121. James Burgess, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake, an old man, but bloody-minded.
122. Thomas Gill, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
123. Holly Goff, died on the road.
124. John Tominson, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
125. Hugh Nealey, Ninety-Six, but surrendered himself to Col. Richardson.
126. Witnall Warner, supposed to rob Mr. Pendleton's lodgings at Ninety-Six.
127. Wm. Watson, harmless man, but at the Cane Brake.
128. Christopher Casey, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
129. John M. Williams, the machine maker to set fire to the Ninety-Six Fort.
130. Jos. Alexander, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
131. James Davies, Ninety-Six, Cane Brake.
132. Phil. Wells, Ninety-Six.
133. Jacob Stack, Ninety-Six.
134. Dan. Stagner, Ninety-Six.
135. Capt. Nealey Carghill, and
136. Capt. Edgehill, one sick, but both to be delivered up 1st February.

Moses Kirkland (circa 1730-1787)

Moses Kirkland has already been mentioned several times in this story. It is worth focusing on his career in more detail. He was born in Prince William County, Virginia the oldest son of Richard and Mary Kirkland. The family moved to the Wateree region of Craven County (later Camden District), South Carolina about 1753. The family grew wealthy as planters with lands in the Camden and Ninety-Six Districts and upon his father's death in 1772, Moses inherited the properties, businesses and salves. Along the way, Moses Kirkland became a Captain in the Royal Militia reporting to Colonel Thomas Fletchall. He also had a seat in the South Carolina Assembly. Politically, his loyalties seem to have been divided between South Carolina and the British. Overall, he was not in favor or conflict, but likely believe that the British would ultimately prevail.

Kirkland, Cunningham and Brown developed high profiles as Loyalists in the 1775 confrontations and he fled via Charles Town and East Florida to Boston with his 12-year-old son in September 1775. The 1776-1777 period was spent in Virginia and New York. He returned to Florida in April-May 1777 carrying dispatches and was made Deputy Superintendent of Indians on 22 May 1777. He spent some time among the tribes, but was back in St. Augustine by March 1778.

Some historians seem to give Kirkland credit for planning the British invasion of the southern colonies in 1780, but at best, from his (limited) knowledge of the Native American tribes, he may have suggested some elements of the strategic plan. Once the British had established control over South Carolina on 6 July1780, Kirkland received a command under Robert Cunningham in the Ninety-Six District and became garrison commander in Augusta.

After the British evacuation in 1782, Moses Kirkland, Sr. settled in Jamaica and married a second time. He was lost at sea in December 1787 on a trip to England. A son by his second wife (Richard Bruce Kirkland, b. 1786) became a planter in Jamaica.

The Highlanders Rise in North Carolina (January-February 1776)

North Carolina and western South Carolina were potentially the most fertile ground for British opinion to take root and grow. Unfortunately for the British and the Tory Loyalists, the Loyalists militias of the Carolinas moved before the British were prepared to offer support. Moreover, they were not willing to take the cold-blooded actions needed to suppress the Patriots who had the advantage of the conviction of their cause. As it turned out, the British support was too little and too late. The first group to rise up (with their usual tragic valor, lack of tactical sophistication and terrible political timing) were the Highland Scots at Moore’s Creek Bridge (27 February 1776).

In early 1776, British Governor Josiah Martin (who succeeded Governor Tryon) lost control of the colony and tried to escape to Fort Johnston at Southport, North Carolina. The Patriots destroyed the fort before he could get there; so, he took to a British ship in the mouth of the Cape Fear. From there, he was able to convince the Loyalists (primarily the Highland Scots on the upper Cape Fear) to come to his aid. They responded to the Royal Governor by assembling a force and marching towards Wilmington from Campbell Town (on Cross Creek, present-day Fayetteville, NC).

Learning of the Highlander’s plans, Colonel James Moore of North Carolina gathered Patriot militia. Among the Patriot militia was “2nd Major” George Pearis (Paris, Richard Pearis’s brother) who served in Graham’s Regiment from (old) Tryon County (now Rutherford County). He served for 35 days in January-February 1776 on the Cross Creek expedition. The Patriots wisely dug in on the Wilmington side of Moore’s Creek with two cannons and were mostly armed with muskets. To augment their defense, they took boards off of the bridge and greased the remaining timbers. Perhaps they were well aware of the Highland method of fighting, for this was the ideal way to counter the Highland charge.

When the Highlanders reached the bridge, their though was to swarm the defenders and use their claymores. Many of them did not even have muskets. They were led by a group of particularly bold and foolish young men (led by Colonel McLeod and Captain Campbell) who ran onto the bridge and were covered with musket fire before they realized that they could not simply charge across. Most of them died while trying to grapple with the slippery timbers. Those who were not shot to death simply fell into the creek and drowned. When called upon, the Patriot cannon ended the attack.

The stunned Highlanders retreated in disarray and were soon rounded up in great numbers. Their senior commanders in the rear were also captured.

The Cape Fear valley was thus generally pacified until the war was lost in 1781 when Cornwallis retreated from Guilford Court House to Wilmington seeking support and David Fanning created a wave of terrorist activity.

The First British Attack on South Carolina (1776)

The plan for British attack on the south was targeted to begin about the first of July 1776. However, the British objective was limited to isolating the port of Charles Town. They may have been prepared to actually capture the port and move in land, but that was certainly contingent upon the outcome of the initial battles. Nonetheless, Stuart worked to coordinate attacks in the upcountry by Loyalists supported by a few aggressive Cherokee with the planned attack on Charles Town. It soon became clear that (a) the Cherokee as a Nation were going to remain neutral and not support his plans, (b) the few Cherokee that were willing to fight with his Loyalists were not suited to carry out selected raids against high-profile Patriots some of who lived a hundred miles from Cherokee Territory as established by the Proclamation of 1763. Thus, when it came to execution of his plan to support the British assault on Charles Town; Stuart was forced to use Loyalists disguised as Cherokee. Richard Pearis and George Pearis were in jail in Charles Town having been captured and arrested in December 1775.

The British blundering, which led to grief for the Cherokee, began on 1 June 1776 when British Admiral Parker brought his fleet of fifty ships to an anchorage a few miles north of Charles Town. The South Carolina militia were soon alert and within a short time about 6,500 men from South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia were manning batteries and forts to defend Charles Town under Continental Major General Charles Lee (who took command on 8 June). Forts at the mouth of the harbor protected the city: Fort Sullivan on Sullivan Island to the north and Fort Johnson on James Island to the south. (Morris Island in the middle of the harbor’s entrance was un-fortified; it later became Fort Sumter.) Fort Johnson was commanded by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Fort Sullivan (now Fort Moultrie) was commanded by William Moultrie. Within the sea forts, the bay opened up to about two miles wide. Charles Town was perched at the tip of a peninsula between the Ashley River on the west and the Cooper-Wando River on the east; and it was positioned such that the Cooper River side was more exposed to ships coming into the harbor. Batteries were positioned all around the town as part of the defense. With attack seeming to be at hand, civilian buildings were razed where necessary to give the guns a better field of fire. (This may have been an excuse to destroy some Loyalist’s property.) However, from the British point of view, a frontal assault on the city was not desirable (many Loyalists lived there, e.g., Richard Pearis was imprisoned there) or feasible.

The approach attempted by the British in 1776 was to land on undefended Long Island (now Isle of Palms), which was just north of Sullivan Island and from there (1) capture Fort Sullivan and (2) move to the mainland from where they hoped to encircle or bypass Charles Town. If they could control Fort Sullivan or get behind Charles Town, they could neutralize the military and economic value of Charles Town to the Patriots. When these intentions became clear, the Patriots made efforts to protect the rear of Fort Sullivan (garrisoned with about 435 soldiers) from land assault and Col. William ("Old Danger") Thompson moved 780 troops to the island between Long Island and the mainland. From here, Thompson’s guns could cover the short gap between the south end of Long Island and the north end of Sullivan Island. These were excellent moves by the Patriots and actually defeated the British before the first shot was fired.

The British managed to land 2,200 regulars on Long Island in good order, but everywhere they turned, their way was blocked. Finally, on 28 June 1776, the British decided to attack Fort Sullivan by bombardment from the sea. In spite of the far superior firepower of the British fleet, this turned out to be a disaster. The shore batteries of the fort slowly and methodically picked the anchored wooden ships apart. A belated attempt by the British infantry to force a landing on the north end of Sullivan Island also failed as Thompson’s guns shot them to pieces as they tried to ford from Long Island to Sullivan Island. The British efforts were a complete failure.

Unfortunately, for the Loyalists and the Cherokee, the British failure could not be communicated in time to call off the attack on the frontier. Starting about 30 June 1776, the Loyalists supported primarily by the Dragging Canoe-faction of the Cherokee, launched a series of raids in the Carolinas.

The following letter was apparently published September 4, 1776
The Pennsylvania Gazette (

South-Carolina, Ninety-six district.

“Before me, John Purves, one of the Justices of the Peace for said district, personally appeared David Shettroe, of Keowee, who being duly sworn, maketh oath that yesterday morning, about a quarter of an hour before the first cock crew, two Indians came to his house on the river bank, near fort Prince George, and called to him to get up, which he did and opened the door, when they came in and asked for water, which he gave them. The youngest of the two, named the Glass, desired him to make some fire that they might see; the other named the Tarapin; as he went up to the chimney to blow up the fire, the Glass laid hold of him, and told him he was his slave, it was very bad times, the white people were going to break out, and he should not run away from him; then the Tarapin stepped up to an old man named William McTeer, who was lying on the floor, and told him he was his slave, and must go along with him. They drove this deponent and McTeer before them until they came to the house of Mr. James Holmes in Keowee, where he saw a great number of the Lower Towns Cherokee Indians, where they had taken Mr. Holmes and his wife and a white child prisoners; also Thomas Holmes, John Lammas and his wife, and two or their children (boys) and a man that had gone from Enoree on business. That while he staid there they also brought one John Garrick, and a man that came from Rocky run, prisoners. That the Indians took all Mr. Holmes’s effects, drank as much rum as they chose, and then stove a hogshead, and let the rum that was in it run out; that about dawn of day the Indians drove all the white people out of the house, and sent a party up the river with them to guard them, except this deponent, who staid and saw them plunder Mr. Holmes’s house. The fellow who took this deponent prisoner gave him two deerskins, told him to make shoes for himself, to walk over the hills to Mr. Cameron, for he must go with him there; that during his confinement one Ratcliffe, a white man, kept riding about among the Indians, laughing and scoffing at the prisoners; that an Indian fellow told him, when in confinement, that George Parris, a half breed, was gone down to acquaint the King’s people over Saluda to come to join the Indians, to help and to fight for the King; that the Indian, who pretended to be this deponent’s master, sending him to hunt a horse for him to ride, about two hours before sunset yesterday, he made his escape from them; farther that he saw them bring several guns, pipe hatchets, and sundry other effects, the property of Edward Wilkinson, Esq; to the house where he was taken, and that he was in the employ of Edward Wilkinson, Esq; and that he cannot write.

Signed DAVID SHETTROE his mark.
Sworn before me this 30th day of June, 1776.

Note that it is likely that George Parris was still in jail in Charles Town, SC at this time.

The Cherokee-faction was assigned to attack several forts mainly as a show of force (without expectation of actually capturing the forts). Forts that were attacked included Eaton's Station and Ft. Watauga in North Carolina. Meanwhile, the British and (European) Loyalists had targeted certain high-profile Patriots for assassination. In fact, Loyalists dressed as Native Americans may have done most of the killing. [They were certainly involved in force (dressed as Native Americans) by 15 July.] One of the first raids occurred near Francis Salvador (an English Sephardic Jew) who owned several thousand acres of land in the Ninety-Six District (i.e., between the Saluda and Savannah Rivers). In present-day Spartanburg Co., another well-known Patriot was targeted. Mr. Anthony Hampton and his wife, his son Preston, and his infant grandson were murdered at his home on Tyger River. The Jacob Hite family was also murdered. Both the Hamptons and the Hites were friends of Richard Pearis and it is hard to believe that the Loyalists or the Cherokee would attack either family. The killings appear to be more likely the product of personal feuds or lawlessness than an Indian uprising. Francis Salvador reported the attack to Major Andrew Williamson who gathered militia at Due West, South Carolina (50 miles from Cherokee territory).

On 10 July 1776, David Fanning assembled Tories at the Pearis homestead on Reedy River. On 15 July, Patriots from the Saluda River Valley who had gathered at Lyndley’s Fort on Rayborn Creek were attacked by 100 Loyalists (including David Fanning) dressed and painted as Cherokee and 88 Cherokee. Apparently, the Loyalists did not know that 150 Patriot militia had reinforced the fort. The Patriots sallied forth and captured nine disguised European Loyalists. (This may have been the first time the Patriots knew that the “Cherokee” were primarily European Loyalists. It is not clear how the Patriots determined the number of real Cherokee. Presumably, the Europeans they captured gave them the number. If so, it was likely inflated.)

It is not clear when George Pearis (Parris) was paroled from Charles Town. Some say that he was now with the Cherokee, but that seems unlikely. In all likelihood, Richard and George were paroled together from Charles Town about 12 July 1776. Robert Cuningham also appears to have been paroled at this time. It is not clear what the motive of the Whigs was. Perhaps the Whigs felt that the threat of British invasion had passed (they were euphoric over the British disaster) or perhaps they wanted Richard and George to mitigate the conflict that was arising on the frontier. It is said that the parolees took an oath of neutrality and that Richard Pearis was actually paid compensation of 700 pounds. Whatever the conciliatory thinking in Charles Town, the thinking in the upcountry was different.

On the morning of 15 July 1776, Colonel John Thomas, Sr. led his Spartan Legion (100 Patriot militia) to the Pearis homestead where he took the Pearis family (wife Rhoda, daughters Sarah and Margaret and son Richard, Jr.) prisoners. Their houses were burned and their personal possessions were stolen. The Pearis family was forced to walk about 25 miles that day without food or protection from the heat as the Spartan Legion made its escape. They were then moved by open wagon about 100 miles in three days without food. [I believe they were taken to the vicinity of present-day Columbia, but sources are unclear about the location. One source says “on the Broad River.”] There they were dropped to fend for themselves among hostile Whigs without money or provisions. At almost this exact time, 19 July 1776 Richard Pearis and Robert Cuningham reached the Pearis homestead and discovered it burned and the family missing. They probably also learned of the havoc that had been brought down on the Hamptons and Hites. Pearis and Cuningham went to Major Williamson’s camp (Patriot's headquarters in the upcountry) near DeWitt Corner (Due West) presumably looking for the Pearis family. I would assume that George Pearis had by now headed into the Cherokee Nation to find his mother and sister. Richard apparently received leads and went looking for Rhoda and his family.

While Andrew Williamson and Andrew Pickens raised a militia, Francis Salvador received a letter from William Drayton of Charles Town dated 24 July 1776. William Drayton urged that in retaliation for the attacks attributed to the Cherokee all their villages be burned, all their cornfields be destroyed and all captured Cherokee be made slaves. A few days later, fear and Patriot propaganda had brought about 1,150 soldiers to Williamson and Pickens including Georgians under Captain Jack.

On 28 July, Captain Jacob Ross of Williamson’s militia searched the Hite plantation and surmised that Mrs. Hite and her daughters had been taken captive since they were not among the dead. Ross’s troop proceeded to the Pearis homestead where he was pleased to see the destruction and burned buildings. They camped there for several days (31 July - 3 August).

From his scouts, Williamson heard that Alexander Cameron (one of the British contacts with the Cherokee) and 13 Loyalists were camped on the Oconore Creek near the edge of Cherokee Territory (extreme western tip of South Carolina). Andrew Williamson with Drayton’s urging decided to pursue and capture Cameron.

With a force of 330 mounted militia (including Captain Ross’s detachment), Williamson moved to Keowee River, which he was forced to ford at Essenceca Ford. Two captured Loyalists, whom he threatened to kill, led him. His movements were made loudly and one gets the impression that Williamson was both an idiot and very arrogant with no military experience. In the early morning hours of 1 August, a force of Cherokee led by Alexander Cameron raided Williamson’s troop of 330 militia. It is not clear how the South Carolina Patriots counted the Cherokee in the dark, but they claimed 1,200 warriors attacked them! Fortunately, the brave Col. Leroy Hammond managed to get about 20 militia on their horses and charged the Cherokee driving them off into the darkness. [The numbers cited in various texts make the entire action implausible. History has romanticized the roles of these South Carolina icons.] Andrew Pickens arrived with another force just before daylight and (i.e., still in the dark) and blasted away with what some history books call “well-directed fire.” The casualty figures are more likely to be realistic. In the light of day, one dead and three wounded Cherokee were found while Andrew Williamson’s group lost three dead and fourteen wounded. Oh, by the way, the unfortunate Mr. Francis Salvador, the only Jew in miles, was one of the dead and was scalped while alive. According to Henry Lumpkin (in From Savannah to Yorktown, 1981), “Captain Smith…viewed the scalping [in the dark], but in the wild confusion of the ambush and retreat, Smith thought the dark figures bending over the helpless Salvador were his servants trying to aid their master.” My opinion of the events of the summer of 1776 in upper South Carolina is that the same lawless forces (who had plundered the countryside as outlaws a few years earlier) took the opportunity to rob, rape and pillage their more wealthy (law abiding and primarily Loyalist) neighbors and the Cherokee in the name of a cause that eventually became venerated in American history. In the process, heroic myths were created to justify the actions of the outlaws become Patriots.

The Watauga Raids and The Response of the Virginians (July-October 1776)

The American settlements at Watauga and Nolichucky were clearly well beyond the line set in the Proclamation of 1763 and they were the greatest immediate threat to the Overhill Cherokee settlements. Thus, one of the strategic efforts of the Cherokee and British at the outset of the war was to attempt to push these settlers back into Virginia. According to David H. Templin , Nancy Ward of the Cherokee warned four traders (Isaac Thomas, William Falling, Jarret Williams and John Bryan(t)) who were among the Cherokee near Chota in July 1776 that hostilities were about to erupt and that they should leave. They did and carried the warning to Watauga. Three parties of Cherokee attacked the area in July: Dragging Canoe led a group of 170 to 200 warriors against Long Island of Holston. They were met and defeated by five companies of militia (under Capts. James Thompson, John Campbell, James Shelby, William Buchanan, William Cocke and Thomas Madison) on 20 July 1776 at Island Flats. Dragging Canoe was wounded in this battle. The Raven led a raid that went as far north as present-day Abingdon, Virginia meeting little resistance. Old Abram of Chilhowee raided Fort Caswell on the Watauga River 21 July 1776.

The Virginians assembled a army under Col. William Christian that left Long Island on the Holston on 1 October 1776. The next day they were joined by Watauga troops and a battalion was formed under Major Evan Shelby that included Capts. James Robertson, John Sevier, James Thompson, Daniel Smith, and Gilbert Christian. The army, now totally about 1,800 men proceeded to the Nolichucky River where they received information that the Cherokee would try to keep them north of the French Broad. The army approach the French Broad at Buckingham Island. As described below, the Cherokee were also being attacked by the South Carolinians. The major portion of the Cherokee simply wanted peace and neutrality. Dragging Canoe wanted to abandon the towns along the Little Tennessee and withdraw south (along the Tennessee into present-day Alabama) from where he could continue the war. Nathaniel Gist was sent by the Cherokee to negotiate a peace with the army led by Col. Christian.

Regardless, the army crossed the French Broad about the evening of 15 October 1776. Most of the Cherokee fled into the Valley of the Hiwassee River. The Virginians passed by the site of present-day Marysville, TN and crossed the Little Tennessee near Toqua (e.g., Tomotley Ford) on 18 October. The army continued down the river to old Fort Loudon (destroyed in 1760) and the Great Island (Mialaquo, near present-day Vonore, TN). Here the army camped for about six weeks without significant encounter with the Cherokee. They returned to Virginia as winter set in early December.

The Attack of the South Carolinians on the Cherokee (August-October 1776)

Andrew Williamson and Andrew Pickens sent out parties on 4 August and 10 August from their camp on Twenty-Three-Mile Creek to burn Cherokee villages in western South Carolina. These included Sugar Town, Soconee, Keowee, Estatoe, and Tugaloo. No encounters with the Cherokee were made. Captain Ross reportedly found Mrs. Hite dead 100 yards from Keowee on 9 August 1776. The South Carolinians moved to the Little River and Andrew Pickens (whose name is now on the county) took 25 men and a guide named Cornell to go on a scouting party.

The Pickens party had only traveled two miles (a distance where gun shots could be heard from the main camp where at least 645 militia were located) when they were ambushed by 200 Cherokee. Somehow the brave patriots survived against odds they estimated at 10 to one. Apparently, there were few, if any, European casualties. This episode is apparently called the “ring fight” because Pickens moved his men into a ring. By the time Andrew Pickens’s brother Joseph arrived with reinforcements, all the Cherokee had apparently melted away into the forest. [The conventional description of this episode is likely an exageration. In all likelihood, a few Chrerokee took a few shots at the Pickens group and fled. If there had been an intrentional abmush by a superior force of Cherokee, they would have chosen a better spot further from the main body of militia.]

The entire Williamson force advanced on 12 August and apparently there was a serious battle with Cherokee because the South Carolinians suffered 6 dead and 17 wounded and claimed 16 Cherokee dead and no Cherokee wounded. [The absence of Cherokee wounded is an ominous sign; it likely means that Cherokee wounded were killed in the field.] Pickens then burned three more Cherokee towns (Tomassy, Chehohee, and Eustash) before returning to Twenty-Three-Mile Creek only to find that most of the force left there had gone home or were furloughed (according to Lumpkin, 1981, because they “lacked the necessary clothing for winter campaigning”). [Remember, it was August in South Carolina.] Williamson gave orders to the militia to join him on 28 August 1776 at Esseneca, where he returned with his 600 men and built Fort Rutledge.

Meanwhile, the alarm about all the (alleged) trouble that the Cherokee were causing in South Carolina had traveled far and wide. South Carolina organized a multi-prong strike against the Cherokee by Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. The North Carolina militia was led by General Griffith Rutherford and consisted of 2,300 men including Capt. George Paris . The North Carolinians began their campaign on 29 July 1776. On 13 September, Williamson who was now quite a hero, left 300 men to guard Fort Rutledge and took 2,000 militia over the Raburn Gap onto the headwaters of the Little Tennessee. The highlight of the expeditions first few days (as recounted by two men who kept journals) was the wounding of a Cherokee woman who happened to cross the path of the advancing army. A soldier then shot the wounded woman to death. The journals also describe the soldiers scalping Cherokee some while still alive.

On 17 September, the South Carolinians made it to Coweechee River and followed the Coweechee River for two days before they walked into an ambush on 19 September (about 9 miles south of present-day Franklin, NC). The South Carolinians lost 13 killed and 18 wounded (out of a force of 2,000). Nonetheless, they broke through the ambush. The North Carolina and South Carolina militias finally joined on 26 September 1776 at Hiwassee. Now there were about 4,000 Patriot militia burning Cherokee towns, cutting their corn and running off their cattle. Over the next few weeks the European militia (fired with religious anger) burned and destroyed everything and everyone they could fine in the valleys: A total of 36 Cherokee towns. The Cherokee, for the most part, had picked up the corn and essentials needed for the winter and moved up into the hills where the Europeans dared not tread. When the frost came, the Patriots declared the war over and returned to their homes.

The Cherokee came down from the mountains and suggested that there should be peace. The South Carolina militia had suffered a total of 99 killed and wounded with even fewer casualties from the other states. Clearly, the Cherokee had done little more than snap at the Europeans. There had been only one small ambush and no pitched battles. Cherokee dead were estimated at 2,000 of both sexes and all ages . The Treaty of DeWitt's Corner was signed on 20 May 1777 at which the Cherokee ceded all the lands now in upper South Carolina including Pickens, Anderson, Oconee, and Greenville Counties (i.e., all the Lower Cherokee lands) to South Carolina. This cession included the lands previously granted to George Pearis/Parris. [Although it transferred the sovereignty of the lands to South Carolina, it should not have invalidated the private land ownership that was already established.] The Cherokee, who had never systematically defended their land, even offered to provide 500 warriors to the European Americans to fight the British. The South Carolinians did not accept this offer.

In July 1777, another treaty was signed at Long Island (Holston), which ceded most of the remaining Cherokee land east of the mountains to North Carolina. Of course, the Cherokee continued to live in these territories; but now the Europeans (not the Cherokee) were sovereign.

The Europeans called this disgusting episode the “Cherokee War”.

While the Lower Cherokee prepared for assimilation into the European culture (it might be colonial rule or it might be independent states; in the back country, the outcome of the War of Independence would have little effect), the Dragging Canoe-faction (Chickamauga) who had started the slaughter with their Loyalists allies continued to resist. European settlements were attacked in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky through 1780. The second Treaty of Long Island of Holston in July 1781, which confirmed and extended the 1777 cessions, ended these hostilities.

Eventually, the die-hard Chickamauga Cherokee moved north and joined the Shawnee in Ohio in 1790. This precipitated what was known as Little Turtle’s War (1790- 1794). Turning again south, the Chickamauga Cherokee were encouraged by the Spanish in Florida and Louisiana to attack American settlements. Near Nashville, they almost killed Andrew Jackson (1767 -1845) who was at that time a young attorney speculating in former-Native American lands. Andrew Jackson would eventually become President of the United States and this encounter may have been the foundation of his incredibly hard-hearted and unreasonable behavior toward the Cherokee during his administration (1829 - 1837).

Sequoya (George Gist, 1776 - 1843)

Richard Pearis was not the only trader who fathered Cherokee sons of note. In 1776, Nathaniel Gist (Richard Pearis’s former trading partner) fathered a boy who the Cherokee called Sequoyah (Sikwo-yi, pig-foot). The boy was born to the Cherokee woman Wut-teh at the Overhill village of Taskeegee. Sequoya eventually moved to Georgia and became a skilled silversmith. Mr. George Hicks suggested that he should sign his work and this introduced Sequoyah to the idea of capturing sounds on paper. He soon moved to Alabama.

In the war against the Creek Redsticks, Sequoyah fought in support of Andrew Jackson as a member of the Cherokee Regiment at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814) on the Tallapoosa River. During the war, he saw many advantages to being able to communicate in writing. After the war, he began working on a Cherokee alphabet called the “Talking Leaves,” which eventually contained 85 letters representing the sounds of Cherokee speech. The effort took about 12 years. The surprising thing that he discovered was how easy it was for Cherokee to learn to write the language. Once it was made public, thousands of Cherokee became literate in a few months. In 1828, the Cherokee Phoenix was being published by Cherokee at New Echota, Georgia in Cherokee and in English.

In the meantime, Sequoya had moved to Arkansas. He was also active in Cherokee politics. He eventually moved to Oklahoma before the removal of 1838. From there, he moved to Mexico where he died in 1843.

22.5 The War of Independence in South Carolina (1780-1781)

Interlude (1776 - 1778)

Between November 1776 and November 1778, the Patriots held the South contested only by periodic Loyalists partisan attacks. Richard Pearis, who was released on parole from Charles Town in mid-1776, had pretty much lost everything he had worked for between 1763-1776. He found his family who had been cast out from their home and tried to live as a neutral with them. Predictably, the upcountry Patriots continually harassed him and his family. Thus, he moved his family to Charles Town in the hope that the more civilized Patriots in that city would be less vindictive. His brother Robert was also in Charles Town and may have been able to provide some support and protection.

In August 1777, Richard Pearis apparently felt secure enough to take up the British fight. In all likelihood, he attempted to secure his property rights from the South Carolina Congress and was rebuffed. [This is my hypothesis as to what he would have reasonably done. He, of course, would not have mentioned this in post-war claims to the British because it would suggest that he could have been turned into a Patriot if his lands had been returned. This would explain why he then tried to retake them by force against substantial odds. Remember that in 1777, he was not a young man any more, he was about 52 years old, which is a little old for a front-line partisan leader.] He traveled to Ninety-Six where he attempted to raise a force of Loyalists to fight from sheltered bases in West Florida one of his co-conspirators was David Fanning. His efforts were disclosed to the Patriot militia who attacked the fledgling group and captured David Fanning.

Upon his release from prison in the summer of 1776, George Parris (Richard’s son) likely moved immediately to the Cherokee Lower and Middle Towns. I hypothesize that he then began the procreation of a number of children with Cherokee and mixed-race women. Remember that he had title to about 100,000 acres of land that was recognized by the Cherokee and the British (who were a long way from out of the war). He was about 22 years old by my calculation (b. 1754). He spoke Cherokee and English; and he was a naturalized British citizen. On top of this, the cohort of young male Cherokee had just been cut in half by the “Cherokee War.” In my hypothesis, George Parris fathered children from Greenville to Spartanburg, to Hendersonville, to Asheville, to Hiwasee. These families took the name “Parris.” {Note that no children of George Parris are specifically identified in records for the period 1775-1800 in the Carolinas, but about 10 children with two wives are known in Georgia after 1809. It is hard to believe that he did not leave behind some kin in the Carolinas in the 25 years he lived there as an adult.) Meanwhile, his Uncle George Pearis Jr. started a family or two in the area east of Hendersonville (just east of Cherokee territory). These families were frequently called “Paris.” I argue that because George Pearis Jr. did not have access to the Cherokee territory few “Paris” families made it west of Hendersonville. This pattern is shown clearly on current plots of Parris and Paris families in the Carolinas.

David Parris (b. circa 1778)

David Parris is of great importance to the Parris families of western North Carolina. He is said to have been born in 1778 and some say in Louisa County, Virginia. However, he married Mary Marrow (probably born near Great Plains, Greenville, SC) in/near Spartanburg, SC about 1799. The couple then moved into Haywood County, North Carolina (near Sylva, NC) before 1830. The hypothesis in this analysis is that George Parris fathered David Parris in Cherokee territory most likely between the fall of 1776 and the spring of 1777. Given that George was in West Florida by late March 1777, he must have fathered David in February or returned to South Carolina from Florida during the latter part of 1777 (i.e., April-November), which is quite possible. Given the chaotic state of up-country South Carolina in this period, it is little wonder that David's records would be lost and his affiliation with George would be tenuous. It is worth noting that there is also a cluster of Parris families from Bainbridge, Georgia to Valdosta, Georgia who do not seem to be related to the North Georgia Parris families.

David Parris versus David Paris

Because some genealogists have identified David Parris as coming from Louisa County, Virginia, I believe it is necessary to correct the record.

My opinion is that the early genealogists (circa 1930) of the Parris family of western North Carolina (1) did not recognize the relationship of the “Pearis” name to “Parris” and (2) were not eager to associate the Parris family of western North Carolina with the Cherokee. The question for the genealogists working backward from documented persons to earlier undocumented persons is then “Where did David Parris of Haywood Co. North Carolina come from?”

It is true that a "David Paris” appears in the records of Louisa County, Virginia during this time period . This David Paris appears on the Louisa County tax roles of 1782 owning 161 acres and he is in the 1785 Virginia census with a family of "5 white souls, 1 dwelling house and 2 out buildings." (Thanks to for the lookup). Obviously, the David Paris of Louisa County Virginia cannot be the David Parris of Haywood County, NC. David Parris (b. 1778) was only 7 years old in 1785. Thus, the David Paris of Louisa County is simply too old to be the David Parris born in 1778.

Regardless, David Parris is identified as the senior Parris in western North Carolina and a number of children are attributed to him. These will be discussed in due course in this document. I not only believe that David Parris was a son of George Parris , I doubt that he was the only son of George Parris born near Spartanburg before 1800.

West Florida (1778)

Richard Pearis escaped from his abortive attempt to rally Loyalists in Ninety-Six in the summer of 1777 and made his way into the Cherokee nation on foot. Likely he looked for protection with his son George. From there (still on foot), he traveled with his son George and about six companions to British West Florida (which then extended to the Mississippi River). They ultimately arrived in Pensacola. Ironically, Pearis’s former adversary John Stuart was now the Colonel in charge of West Florida. According to land grant records provided by Robin F. Fabel of Auburn University (1999), on 26 March 1777, the West Florida Council awarded George Pearis (Parris) 600 acres of land on Bayou Pierre (100 acres for a family right plus 500 acres as a Loyalist bounty). On 1 October 1777, Richard Pearis similarly received 1,100 acres on the eastern side of Pascagoula River (100 acres for a family right and 1000 acres as a Loyalist bounty).

On 13 December 1777, Richard Pearis was commissioned as a captain to lead a company of West Florida Kings Rangers. George Parris apparently became a lieutenant.

In the spring of 1778, Pearis’s first mission in West Florida was to attack a small Spanish fort on the Mississippi River near present-day Baton Rouge. This fort was on the boarder of Spanish Louisiana and British Florida. In this time period (1699 - 1799), and especially during the period of British occupation of West Florida (1763 - 1783), the main route from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico was via a complex series of water ways that split from the current main channel of the Mississippi at this point. The modern levies have channeled the lower Mississippi via New Orleans. In 1778, however, everything below Baton Rouge was just meandering swamps with a large portion of the water actually following the route: via Bayou Manchac to the Amite River, to Lake Maurepas, via Pass Manchac, Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Borgne and into the Gulf. This was the rear or “back passage” . Thus, the Spanish fort controlled the lower Mississippi and was strategically important. Spanish supplies were sent up the Mississippi to support the American George Rogers Clark who was contesting the British in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley.

Details of the Pearis expedition to the Natchez area are obscure. According to Barton Starr (Dons, Tories and Rebels, Gainesville, Florida, 1976), Richard Pearis led a company of Loyalist with the aid of two lieutenants Adam Chrystie and George Pearis (Parris). When the party got to the Nitalbany River, only Lts. Chrystie and George Parris with 15 men pushed on to Fort Manchac. George Parris (Pearis) led the company in storming the main guard, which consisted of about 40 men, before dawn on 14 March 1778. Richard Pearis left his company in control of the fort and returned to Pensacola. The Americans apparently called it Fort Bute. They apparently abandoned it and returned to Pensacola in May 1789 (shortly after John Stuart's death, see below). The fort was was re-occupied by the Spanish Governor of Louisiana (Bernardo de Galvez) 21 September 1779. (Stuart was replaced as the Superintendant of Indian Affairs by Thomas Brown, which gave Brown some unique control over the British military.)

Great Britain, Public Record Office, Treasury, Class 1, Volume 553, folio 54.

Return of two Companys of Loyal Refugees, Whereof The late Honorable John STUART Esquire His Majestys Sole Agent and Superintendant of Indian Affairs for the Southern District of North America (who died the 21st March) was Colonel, from the 30th March to the 30th April 1779 both days included. Their head Quarters at Natchez.

Capt. Wm. McINTOSH’s Company

1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Ensign, 1 Surgeon, 2 Sergeants, 2 Drummers & Fifers, 9 Rank & File Present & fit for duty; 1 Rank & File Sick in Quarters; 3 Rank & File on Command; 3 Rank & File Recruiting; 3 Volunteers; 19 Rank & File Total. 31 Rank & File wanted to Complete to Allowance.

Capt. Richd. PEARIS’s Company

2 Lieutenants, 2 Sergeants, 1 Drummer & Fifer, 10 Rank & File Present & fit for duty; 7 Rank & File on Command; 2 Rank & File on Furlough; 19 Rank & File Total. 31 Rank & File wanted to Complete to Allowance.

1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 1 Ensign, 1 Surgeon, 4 Sergeants, 3 Drummers & Fifers, 19 Rank & File Present & fit for duty; 1 Rank & File Sick in Quarters; 10 Rank & File on Command; 3 Rank & File Recruiting; 3 Volunteers; 2 Rank & File on Furlough; 38 Rank & File Total. 62 Rank & File wanted to Complete to Allowance.

On Command—
Captain PEARIS, His Fifer and 2 rank & file, by Colo. STUARTs Orders on Duty in East Florida.

On Furlough— One Sergeant and 2 Rank & file, by Colo. STUARTs leave at Pensacola &ca.

Not Join’d— Thomas NEWMAN Ensign Imprisoned at New Orleans, on attempting to Join His Corps with recruits.

6 Contingent Men.

Captn. Commanding

Upon arrival in Pensacola, Richard Pearis sent a sergeant and Mr. David Holmes along with some Creek Indians to the assistance of St. Augustine in East Florida, which was under attack by the Americans (700 miles away). Meanwhile, Richard Pearis was sent to Mobile Bay to suppress the rum trade between the Spanish and the Creek. He then traveled to East Florida himself. Richard Pearis and the men detached to East Florida were paid for their services of 397 days in West Florida.

Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 93, page 620.

Abstract of Pay due to Captain Richard PEARIS Commanding a Company of Colonel STUARTs Corps of Loyal Refugees in West Florida for himself 1 Serjeant & 3 Privates upon Detachment in Georgia & East Florida.

To Capt. PEARIS's pay from the 1st July 1778 to the 1st August 1779 Inclusive
397 days at 10s/ 198. 10. 0.

To Serjeant EARNESTS do from do to do 397 days at 1/ 19. 17. 0.

To Pay for three Privates Viz. Thos. SMITH,
William ALLEN & William NIBBITT
from do to do 397 days each at 6d 29. 15. 6.

To Forage, Baggage & Batt Money
from the 19th October to the 1st August 1779 54. 8. 6.

£ 302. 11. 0.

While Richard Pearis was in West Florida (late 1778-1779), his son George Pearis had apparently joined “Burnt Foot” Brown’s Georgia King’s Rangers. Richard’s European family was still in Charles Town and he was concerned for their safety if he took up arms against the Americans in South Carolina. Thus, in the fall of 1778, he asked Governor Tonyn of East Florida to arrange a prisoner/hostage exchange with the Americans to bring the Richard’s European Pearis family to St. Augustine. This was apparently done.

The Spanish declared war against the British in 1779, and Galvez raised an army of about 7,000 soldiers from Puerto Rico to fight in support of the French and the American Patriots. Their primary contribution was to drive the British out of West Florida in the period 1779-1783. As noted above, the campaign began by retaking Baton Rouge in 21 September 1779. Bernardo de Galvez led Spanish troops to capture Mobile by siege in 1780. They also laid siege to Pensacola from 9 March to 8 May 1781 when they finally captured the city.

George Rogers Clark (1752 - 1818)

George Rogers Clark was born and raised in Virginia and became part of the movement into Kentucky in the 1770s. He, in fact, appears to have been the person who convinced the Virginia government to identify Kentucky as a county. He was involved in the wars with the Shawnee between 1763 and 1776.

When war broke out with the British, the British Lt. Governor Henry Hamilton of the territory claimed from the French in the northwest was located in Detroit. His method of encouraging the Shawnee to be aggressive in their resistance to the American settlers was to pay a bounty for European scalps. Among the Americans he acquired the name “Hair Buyer.”

George Rogers Clark asked Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, for support to attack the British in the upper Mississippi valley. He received a commission of Lt. Colonel and was authorized to raise seven companies of 50 men each. Henry also gave Clark secret orders to attack Kaskaskia (present-day Champaign, Illinois). Ultimately, Clark could only sign-up 150 men who departed from Fort Pitt and set up a supply base on Corn Island. Here they received some supplies from the Spanish and some reinforcements from settlers on the Holston River. However, few of his troops had any desire to go as far west as Illinois.

Nonetheless, Clark left for Kaskaskia on 26 June 1778 by raft and soon reached the mouth of the Tennessee River (Paducah, Kentucky). From there, they traveled overland by foot to Kaskaskia arriving there on 4 July. The fort surrendered without a shot being fired. Several other forts also surrendered with out resistance as most of the people were French Canadians who had no interest in supporting the British. During August and September, Clark attempted to enlist the Native American tribes to his cause.

Meanwhile, Hamilton moved the vanguard of his forces to Vincennes (present-day southwest Indiana) on the Wabash River by 17 December. But, rather than attacking the Clark expedition immediately, Hamilton chose to wait until spring and build up his forces during the winter. This information was relayed to Clark by a Spanish trader (Francis Vigo) who was supplying the Americans goods from Spanish Louisiana. Clark decided to move against Hamilton immediately at Vincennes while the odds were still even.

On 6 February 1779, Clark sent his supplies on a rowed boat (the Willing) up the Wabash while he led 172 men (about 50% French Canadians) towards Vincennes by land. They covered the 240 miles in a difficult 17 days. About 150 British troops and some Shawnee manned the fort. George Rogers Clark attacked the fort 23 February 1779. Clark spread his troops around the fort making the British believe that he had a large force. He also brutally killed some Shawnee who were supporting the British. These actions intimidate the British commander to surrender on 25 February. He was sent to Williamsburg as a prisoner and the victory secured all the lands south of the Great Lakes for America when the war was over.

David Fanning (1755 - 1825)

David Fanning was born in 1755 in Amelia County, Virginia and his family moved into North Carolina where his father and mother died by 1764. Needham Bryan, Jr, then raised him. In 1773, Fanning moved to Raeburn’s Creek about 40 miles southeast of Richard Pearis (present-day Laurens County, SC).

Fanning apparently sided with the Tories after his trading goods were stolen by Whigs in early 1775. In July 1775, he joined the Upper Saluda Provincial Militia Regiment, which had been called together to support the Patriots, but which remained Loyalist. When the Patriots arrested Robert Cunningham in November 1775, Fanning was among the Loyalist of Fletchall who resisted. Later he was a participant in the siege of Ninety-Six (22 November 1775) and he was with Patrick Cuningham when he was overrun at the Big Canebrake on Reedy Creek (22 December 1775). Fanning (like Cuningham) escaped; George Pearis was captured. Nonetheless, Fanning was rounded up by the Patriots and jailed until about July 1776. He may have been released at the same time that Richard and George Pearis were released.

He immediately got involved in the fighting again at Lindley’s Fort (15 July 1776) and between July 1776 and March 1777, Fanning was captured and released three times. In March 1777, he came to the call of Richard Pearis at Ninety-Six and this time he was captured while Pearis escaped. He was jailed at Ninety-Six for 4 months, and tried for treason but released again.

Early in 1778, Fanning became the commander of Loyalist militia in his area and he led his men on the Georgia-East Florida boarder. They carried out raids along the Savannah River. In October 1778, he was captured yet again and jailed at Ninety-Six until February 1779. In August 1779, he was severely wounded and became a Whig guide to obtain a pardon.

When Charleston was captured by the British (12 May 1780), he returned to the Loyalist’s cause and joined Cunningham’s partisans scouting for the British. He was present at Musgrove’s Mill on 18 August 1780 during a British defeat. He became a scout for Patrick Ferguson’s expedition into North Carolina and was on Deep River in Chatham County North Carolina on 7 October 1780.

In 1781, Fanning continued scouting for the British as they moved through North Carolina. Between May and September 1781, Fanning established himself as a leader of the North Carolina Loyalist militia. His activities were centered initially around Cox’s Mill in Randolph County, but by July he had enter the upper Cape Fear where he terrorized the Whigs. His actions initiated a round of civil violence among the Whigs and the Tories in the region. He joined Colonels McNeil and McDugald in attacks along the Cape Fear to Wilmington, North Carolina. Later on 12 September 1781, he led the capture of Governor Burke and the North Carolina government at Hillsborough. The next day, Colonel McNeil was ambushed on Cane Creek (Lindley’s Mill) by General Butler. Fanning came to his rescue and was severely wounded. The war soon ended with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on 19 October 1781.

Unfortunately, David Fanning seems to have enjoyed terror tactics too much to just stop. He continued to engage in attacks, some of which were little more than murder, into 1782.

David Fanning (now 27 years old) married 16-year old Sarah Carr in April of 1782. The left North Carolina to Charles Town and arrived there in June 1782. When the British evacuated Charles Town in November 1782, he moved to Saint Augustine, Florida. Like Richard Pearis and other Loyalists, he was forced to seek a new home when the British returned East Florida to the Spanish in 1783. Fanning’s life took a new turn when he shipped for Natchez on the Mississippi River in March 1784, but storms stopped the ship at Key West. The ship then turned to Nassau and from there the Fanning family moved to New Brunswick, Canada. In Canada he wrote his war memoirs in 1790 and he became a wealthy and respected man. Perhaps the character shown in North Carolina reappeared as he was convicted of rape in October 1800. He was pardoned in 1804 and moved to Nova Scotia where he died in 1825.

The East Florida - Georgia Campaign (1778 - 1779)

By November 1778, Richard Pearis had made his way to St. Augustine, East Florida. There he joined the forces of Lt. Col. Augustine Prevost and Georgia Loyalist partisans under Thomas Browne in the campaign that captured Sunbury, Georgia (30 miles south of Savannah) and then Savannah, Georgia on 29 December 1778. This was the first combat for the Patriots of South Carolina in two years. In response to the British threat, Washington sent General Benjamin Lincoln to command southern American forces from Charles Town, SC. Lincoln took command on the Charles Town garrison on 19 December 1778. He immediately moved a defensive force to Purysburg , South Carolina across the river from Savannah, Georgia.

Loyalist Col. John Hamilton was sent towards Augusta. On 14 February 1779, this force was turned back by Patriots under Andrew Pickens at Kettle Creek (present-day Washington, Georgia, north of Augusta). On 3 March 1779, the British forces were victorious in a battle at Briar Creek (near present-day Waynesboro, Georgia) and thus threatened Augusta, Georgia. Lincoln countered this threat by moving his main body of troops up the north side of the Savannah River towards Augusta. William Moultrie was left guarding the direct path to Charles Town. Having successfully spread the Americans out along the river from Purysburg to Aiken, Prevost concentrated the British forces and pushed across the Savannah River directly towards Charles Town. Moultrie was caught off guard by a superior force and was pushed aside. Prevost was getting into position to cut off Charles Town. Lincoln attacked his flank from his position to the west, and Prevost cautiously retreated with the British forces in good order to Savannah by July 1779.

The French fleet and coordinated with Benjamin Lincoln in attempting to trap the British forces in Savannah about 4 September 1779. A full siege was established 16 September - 19 October 1779, but the British held out successfully in what was a disappointing showing for the Franco-American alliance. The alliance lost 800 troops including Count Casimir Pulaski of Poland while the British lost only 140. It is not clear where Richard Pearis was during this time. He was likely either in Savannah or riding with Georgia Loyalist partisans around Augusta during this time. He likely spent some time in St. Augustine with Rhoda and his European family.

Patriots of Ninety-Six District (1779)

A census of residents in Ninety-Six District was prepared in 1779. This was likely an accounting of Patriots who could be counted upon in the coming battles with the advancing British. The document was published on the Internet ( No Paris, Parris, or Pearis names are mentioned. However, the Thomas clan of Spartan County is listed in force: Charles, Daniel, Evan, James, James, John, John, Joseph, Nehemiah, Samuel, and William. These are part of the 2,154 heads of family (i.e., adult men) listed in the roll.

Sir Henry Clinton’s Southern Strategy

The success at Savannah, led to a complete change in the British strategy for the war. In the North, five years of fighting had resulted in a stalemate. Eventually, the British would be forced to yield their positions; but there would be no decisive battles in which they could overcome the Patriots. The South presented the possibility of an easy victory and perhaps recovery of at least a fragment of the colonial empire. The move was facilitate by the strategic fact that the British had much more manpower in the North than they need to maintain a successful defense, but they did not have enough manpower to go on the offensive in that theater. By draining the excess manpower from the North and adopting a defensive position, Clinton would have a superior force capable of offensive action in the South. This is the essence of the military principle of “economy” and was exactly the same concept that led Abraham Lincoln (about 80 years later) to advise his generals to campaign in the West rather than staying stalemated between Washington and Richmond.

On 26 December 1779, Sir Henry Clinton (1730 - 1795) sailed with 8,500 men from New York to attack Charles Town. This was essentially a large flanking move designed to circumvent the forces that Washington had massed in the North. With the British navy, he could move his troops faster than Washington could move the Continentals. The only flaw in his plan was that he could not/did not immobilize the Americans in the North with feints of offensive action in that theater. Over the next year, the Americans would be able to gradually match his efforts in the South.

Lord Cornwallis (1738 - 1805) would command the British regulars and had overall command of the operations to capture Charles Town. There were a number of officers within his command, but two would find their way deep into American history. A young Scottish Major named Patrick Ferguson (1744 - 1780) was initially in command of a unit of American Volunteers. These were Loyalists from the North that had been formed into a regular British infantry unit. Ferguson had gained a certain amount of attention by claiming to be an expert in firearms. His name is attached to the “Ferguson rifle,” but in fact his contribution was a minor refinement to a design developed by others. Ferguson was personable, and was willing to communicate with the “uplanders” of South Carolina , but he had little real understanding of the frontiers men (as will be demonstrated later) and poor military judgment (strategically or tactically). Some might say he was just another courageous and foolish Scot who might well have led the charge at Moore’s Creek bridge had his parents immigrated to the upper Cape Fear.

Another personality that will soon be introduced and can be mentioned here is Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton (1754 - 1833) who was to command Cornwallis’s light scouting forces. Tarleton was very young and had climbed from to his rank in a mere four years. His unit was known as the British Legion and was composed of dragoons (sometimes described as heavily armed cavalry or mounted infantry) who also were Northern Loyalists formed into a regular British unit. Unlike Ferguson, Tarleton was very “English” with a great disdain for the rebels. Neither of these young men had much military judgment; but Tarleton was luckier and apparently had a faster horse. Tarleton became very well known because, in the mobile warfare of South Carolina, his troops often were the first and only force capable of engaging the Patriot partisans with names like Marion, Sumter, Pickens, Davie, and Clarke, and regular American troops under the likes of Daniel Morgan.

The initial objective of Clinton’s force was to capture Charles Town, South Carolina. This opening battle will be described shortly, but some of the politics need to be mentioned. To a certain extent, Clinton was an interloper in the South. Savannah, Georgia had been captured and held with great effort and skill as described above by the British and Loyalists forces from Florida under Lt. Col. Augustine Prevost who had nearly captured Charles Town himself. Once Clinton and his crew arrived, Prevost’s name drops out of the history books. The southern Loyalists (led by men like Thomas Browne, Robert Cunningham and Richard Pearis) who had been fighting in the theater for years were largely ignored during the initial operations. However, after the capture of Charles Town, Clinton appointed Major Patrick Ferguson to the post of Inspector of Loyalist Militia. This created an independent command that was outside the normal control of Cornwallis. This fact will explain some of the behavior of the British in subsequent battles.

The Capture of Charles Town (February-May 1780)

The Americans soon realized the British intent to attack Charles Town and planned for the defense of the city. In late December 1779, the harbor of Charles Town was reinforced with American and French ships. The American General Benjamin Lincoln (1733 - 1810) also demanded and received a string of reinforcements who gradually packed the city. But, the British were not going to make the same mistakes they had made before. With the experience of 1776 in mind, the British approached Charles Town over land that had been closely examined by the forces under Prevost during the Savannah campaign. They began landing on Simmons Island (present-day Seabrook Island) on 11 February 1780. By 14 February, most units were on shore and had moved to Johns Island from which they were seeking access to James Island via the Stono Ferry; but it was not until 10 March that most of the troops reached the mainland. The approach of the British had been lightly opposed in the field as Benjamin Lincoln continued to pack troops into Charles Town.

The British fleet positioned itself in the Stono River where it could provide logistics support to the ground troops. They took up station at the point that Wappoo Creek joins the Stono. The other end of Wappoo Creek joins the Ashey River. Here, the British impressed blacks taken from the local plantations to build an artillery fort to threaten the Ashley River side of Charles Town. On 22 March, the Cornwallis sent General Alexander Leslie up the river to Middleton Palace and Drayton Hall, which were soon occupied. By 30 March, the British had crossed the Ashley north of Charles Town and were preparing to lay siege to the city. As the British slowly worked their trenches down towards Charles Town, the east bank of the Cooper River was still in American hands and this was the conduit through which the Americans continued to reinforce the city (and planned to escape).

The British plan to neutralize the American route into and out of Charles Town was to capture a key road junction called Monck’s Corner 32 miles north of Charles Town. A surprise raid on the evening of 13-14 April 1780 accomplished this with Banastre Tarleton’s troops. In this action, the British Legion under Tarleton gained its reputation for brutality to soldiers and civilians alike; and it would live up to and surpass its notoriety in a few weeks. The Americans considered evacuating their army from Charles Town, but the civilian authorities refused to let them leave. Regardless, by 23 April, Cornwallis crossed the Cooper in force and cut off any chance of escape.

The Americans surrendered unconditionally on 12 May 1780 handing over 5,000 prisoners to the British. The same civilians who had demanded that the soldiers defend the town could not accept that the town would be damaged during the defense! For the moment, the organized American resistance in the south was destroyed. Many notable military and civilian officials were captured. Most of these men were soon paroled and many of these signed a public notice denouncing the Patriot cause.

Loyalists Disarm the Patriots in the Upcountry (May 1780)

Richard Pearis was, of course, a participant in these events. On 1 May 1780, he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel of the Loyal South Carolina Militia and sent by Clinton to Ninety-Six District to raise Loyalists. He obviously had an interest in re-establishing British control in the upcountry and bringing peace to the countryside. This may have been the high point of his career. His family was still intact; all he had to do was reclaim his lands and re-establish his businesses.

Great Britain, Public Record Office, Treasury Office, Class 1, Volume 645, folios 214-215.

Head Quarters Camp before Charlestown
His Majesty having thought proper to direct a Force to be sent to Carolina in order to re-establish His Government, and to extinguish the most wicked and daring Rebellion which Still Subsists notwithstanding the Gracious Terms repeatedly offered in order to reclaim His Rebellious Subjects in the Colonies;

Their Excellencies the Commanders in Chief of the Army and Navy, have come hither in person with a very powerful Fleet and Army for those purposes and to rescue the King's faithful Subjects from the misery and oppression they are now Suffering from those Men whose ambitious Politicks have overwhelmed North America with Misery and Ruin.

Although the Force already in the province may be Sufficiently compleat for every purpose of Conquest yet the Exertions of the Kings loyal Subjects will much accelerate and facilitate the Establishment of the Peace and quiet of the Country and it is not to be doubted but that they will use their utmost endeavours to accomplish as Soon as possible a Measure so conducive to their own Safety, Interest and happiness-

And His Excellency Sir Henry CLINTON hath judged it proper to send fit Persons amongst the Inhabitants of the interior parts of the Province in whose loyalty from their past exertions & late professions there is much reason to confide in order to inform them of these his intentions that they may be the better enabled to be assisting in re-establishing His Majestys Government together with Peace and happiness in this almost ruined and distracted Country.
And as you have agreed to go upon this Service, it is His Excellencys pleasure that in endeavouring to execute it you will have Regard to the following Rules for your Conduct.

1st You will proceed with all convenient expedition to Such places in the Country as are Inhabited by the loyal Subjects, and be diligent to inform them of the Force which is arrived, and you are authorized to give them the Strongest Assurances of Effectual Countenance, Protection and Support.

2dly You will inform them that it is the General's intentions as Soon as Charlestown is reduced to march a Force into the back Country and that it is therefore his pleasure that they should hold themselves in readiness to assemble on the first nottice of the Kings Troops being in Motion and in the mean time advise them to collect as much ammunition and Provisions as the[y] can procure that they may not be distress'd for want of those Articles until they join the Royal Army.

3dly As soon as they are assembled in Sufficient numbers they will endeavour to Seize and Secure Such of the People as have been most Subservient to the purposes of the Rebellious Leaders in enforcing their Tyrannical Laws, and thereby prevent the mischief they will attempt and the distresses they will cause to the defenceless Familys left behind, but is must always be remembered that no time is to be lost, and that their Junction with the Kings Troops as soon as possible is of the first consequence and every other Consideration must be postpon'd it.

4thly As it will be of great Consequence to procure as many Horses as possible they will be careful to bring with them all they can collect and also any Provisions that belongs to the Rebels, or if it cannot be brought away with convenience let it be destroyed but not so as to leave the Women or Children absolutely destitute; but they must not destroy the Corn in the Ground as the distress it would occasion would probably chiefly fall upon themselves.

5thly If in their March down the Country they Should be opposed by the Rebels they must resolutely endeavour to cut their way through them, but it will be prudent not to attempt any doubtful Offensive operations that can be avoided until they meet the Kings Troops & they themselves are formed under proper Officers to guide and conduct them.

6th Whenever they join the Kings Troops they will be furnished with Ammunition and Arms where they are wanted; it is the intention of His Excellency the Commander in Chief to embody them as Militia, to appoint Such fit persons as will be agreeable to themselves to be their Officers, to employ them only for the purpose of extirpating the Rebellion in this and the two adjoining Provinces and as soon as that is effected to dismiss them to their own Habitations, after establishing nevertheless Such a Police as will be effectual Speedily to assemble them upon any Emergency or to repel any hostile attempts of the Rebels, and whenever they are in actual Service they will receive the same Pay & draw the same Rations as the Kings Troops.

7thly When they March down the Country they will of course destroy all Stores and Provisions belonging to the Rebels if they cannot bring them away, and they will also destroy all Posts or places of Strength erected by the Rebels if any shall fall in their way.

Although the Commander in Chief is persuaded that the loyal disposition of most of the Inhabitants in the back Country, will be Sufficient to induce them to exert themselves on the present occasion yet in Order more Speedily to procure peace & good Government to the Country, the Powers vested in the Crown by the Laws and Constitution will be recurr'd to and the pains and penalties in Cases of Disobedience or neglect will most assuredly be inflicted on all Delinquents.

8th It will be proper not to make the purposes of your Errand generally known amongst the common people until you have disclosed it to Such persons whose consequence and Influence amongst them will probably induce their Example to be followed, and it will also be right to digest with some Men of Sense and Discretion a proper Plan for conducting them, until that Care shall devolve upon Persons properly Commissioned for that purpose and lastly you must not omit frequently to Send fit and Intelligent Persons to Head Quarters to give information of your proceedings & Success.

It cannot fail to occur to you that much will depend on the Secrecy with which you conduct yourself until the time Shall arrive when the people are to assemble, and that Vigour & dispatch after they are Assembled will be necessary to crush any Attempts of the Rebels to withstand them:

The Exigency of the moment must Govern your Conduct but you must never forget the Junction with the Kings Army is the object to which every other consideration must give way.

I am Sir
your very Humble Servant
Signed James SIMPSON
Secry. to the Commr. in Chief

Head Quarters Charlestown Neck
May 3d 1780
To. Captn. Richard PEARIS
of the West Florida Loyalists

On 22 May 1780 (the same day that Major Ferguson was appointed to lead the South Carolina Loyalists see below), Richard Pearis captured Fort Rutledge (Fort Seneca) in the Cherokee Nation. In the Cornwallis Papers of the British Public records office the following letter from Richard Pearis (12 June 1780) to Col. Ennis can be found:

Camp 12 ~ June 1780 ~
I recc. Yours of the [no date] Ins[tant] by Express ~ Inclosed is a Copy of Instructions from his Excellency the Comm[ander] in Chief [Clinton] and also a Copy of Capitulation with the Persons therein mentioned on behalf of the People on the South side of Saluda. By the former you will perceive that my conduct and aspirations have been conformable thereto. I am now on my March to White Hall (the Habitation of Gen. Williamson) to receive the Arms he deported there; from thence I shall proceed to Fort Rutledge on the same Business.

I am
Yr. Mo. Obd. Ser. [Your most obedient servant]

Rich. Pearis Capt.

W.F.Loyalist~ [West Florida Loyalist]

In June, Pearis captured Ninety Six without combat from the dispirited Patriots. Then he advanced to Williamson’s Plantation at Whitehall where he accepted the submission of Williamson and provided parole and protection to Williamson and his men (two companies). Here he captured 14 swivel guns. On 13 June 1780, Pearis sent a letter to Henry Clinton describing the terms of Williamson’s surrender. This letter was reproduced in the Royal Gazette (22 July 1780, Charles Town, SC) according to Robin Fabel (personal communication, 1999). Three days later, Pearis even had the pleasure of accepting Andrew Pickens submission (along with 300 men) and facilitating his parole.

Detachments from Tarleton’s Legion scattered Patriot opposition and Pearis’s Loyalist militia went about the countryside “from the Savannah River to the Broad River” collecting weapons and trying to ensure the peace. But, unlike the British officers who soon took up residence in Ninety Six (Colonel Alexander Ennis, i.e., Innis) and Camden, Pearis knew that the Patriot partisans were not beaten and were still very dangerous.

The Waxhaws (29 May 1780)

Unfortunately, almost before any one could savor the sweet taste of success, Banastre Tarleton gave the Patriots the one thing they needed most: a reason to fight on. As the British consolidated their positions, a few Patriot units had been left scattered in the countryside. One of these consisted of about 350 Virginia Continentals (regular army) commanded by Colonel Abraham Buford who was ordered to withdraw all the way to Hillsborough, North Carolina. Unfortunately, Cornwallis decided to move a large body of his army to Camden on 18 May with his light troops under Tarleton scouting the way. Tarleton started on 27 May 1780 with the mission of pushing Buford out of the way. [It happened that the Patriot Governor of South Carolina, John Rutledge had escaped from Charles Town and was hiding out just north of Camden; but Tarleton apparently did not know that as he pursued Buford.]

The heat took its toll on Tarleton’s men and horses as they relentlessly pursued Buford’s retreating troops. Contact was not made until Buford had almost reached the North Carolina line. Buford formed a line of battle and as will be seen again and again in fighting in the South, the British though nothing of attacking the defended position. In this case, the Patriots fired one musket volley as the horsemen charged. Although the British horsemen lost a number of men, they were able to ride down the line of American infantry. The American line broke. The fact is that an infantryman cannot re-load a musket while running and the horsemen with their sabers were in charge of the battlefield. If you realize that the British were far from reinforcements, exhausted and outnumbered, and that their only advantage was the initiative which could only be maintained by keeping the American infantry in motion; then the events of the day may seem more reasonable. The saber is not a killing weapon; it is a wounding weapon. The horsemen had to wade into the American infantry and slash repeatedly leaving many live but mangled victims to tell the tale. The story was that as the Americans tried to surrender, but that they were given no quarter. The British butchered the defenseless. Great American propaganda; and the Americans made the most of it. In the end, the Americans suffered 113 killed, 203 captured including 150 wounded. The British only lost a handful of men. Tarleton became “Bloody Ban” to the Americans and American commanders never hesitated to invoke the memory of “Tarleton’s Quarter” on their troops before battle.

On the British side, Tarleton won recognition, which was justified for a stunning victory in the field against odds. Unfortunately for the British, in this victory we see the seeds of ultimate defeat. Tarleton had recklessly attacked a superior foe with worn out troops and horses. In this case, neither side had had long to prepare. Overall, it was a “meeting battle,” i.e.; the two sides came into contact and hastily formed for battle without preparing the ground.

In meeting battles, the British usually won because their troops (although they may have been Americans fighting as regular British units) were disciplined in the basic tactical drill (march in formation, load, fire, re-load, hold your ground, and bayonet charge). However, Tarleton especially would make the mistake of attacking prepared American defensive positions with the same hasty and reckless manner that he approached Buford’s lines in May 1780. Time and again good American general-ship (and just plain common sense) would deal humiliating defeats on the British over the next two years.

Through June and into July 1780, elements of Tarleton’s Legion chased organized partisans out of South Carolina in a number of small battles and skirmishes with minimal losses to the British. The Waxhaws battle was merely the largest and most notorious. South Carolina partisan bands quickly formed under Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter, joining Georgians under Elijah Clarke. In North Carolina, forces were also assembling to meet the anticipated approach of the British.

Inspector of Militia Created (22 May 1780) and Operational (20 July 1780)

Clinton had every reason to believe that he had broken the back of resistance in South Carolina if not the entire South. He turned his military command over to Lord Cornwallis with the mission of consolidating British strength in South Carolina and advancing to the north. Before returning to his northern troops, Clinton made another appointment: He made Major Patrick Ferguson his Inspector of Militia for the southern district on 22 May 1780. Ferguson, thus, was not inside the normal chain of command; he reported to Clinton, not to Cornwallis. Moreover, his mission was vaguely defined. He was nominally to pacify the upcountry civilians and create an environment in which Cornwallis could pursue the war without fear of Patriot militia. However, Cornwallis could see that Ferguson was prone to carry on his own independent military operations with the Loyalist militia. Cornwallis correctly feared that Ferguson would blunder into some sort of conflict that would pull the British plans apart.

On a separate issue, the relationship between Cornwallis and Clinton had deteriorated. Clinton had been trying to resign his command for sometime. Cornwallis had taken the job as his second in command assuming that he would soon receive Clinton’s job. However, on 19 March 1780, Clinton had heard from his government that his resignation was not accepted; he would continue in command. Cornwallis (understandably) had thus informed Clinton that he no longer wanted to share decision-making with Clinton. It is likely that Cornwallis wanted to escape a position in which he could be blamed for errors and Clinton would benefit from any successes. These included the occupation of Georgetown, SC (on the coast); Augusta, GA (on the Savannah); Camden, SC (along with nearby Hanging Rock and Rocky Mount); Cheraw, SC (on the Pee Dee River).

Pearis and Ferguson must have known each other, but there is little in the record to show that they interacted. Apparently, Pearis did not learn of Ferguson's appointment until about 1 June 1780 and it was a few weeks after that before Ferguson could actually take over the Loyalist militia. In the meantime, Pearis and Brown voiced their displeasure.

Clinton returned to New York on 5 June 1780 assuming that victory had been won .

However, with the introduction of British administration and Patrick Ferguson's command of the Loyalist militia, Pearis and other experienced Loyalists lost control of events. In particular, Richard Pearis was dismayed when weapons were returned to the partisans and he soon resigned from active service and moved his family to Augusta, Georgia out of harm’s way. The following quote is from Richard Pearis’s claims made 22 August 1783 to the British government: “…on my arrival there [Charles Town] I was ordered by General Clinton to go to the frontiers of South Carolina, there to raise the Friends of Government, which I completed to the amount of 5 or 6,000 men; disarmed all the Rebels from Savannah River to Broad river near the boarders of North Carolina, being upwards of one-hundred miles in breath; destroyed their forts and imprisoned their leaders to the number of 40; took 3000 stand of arms, 22 swivels, 27 blunderbusses and a quantity of ammunition; and this service was no sooner completed than Colonel Innes, and afterwards Colonel Balfour arrived to take upon them the command. And in a short time after they returned the arms and ammunition into their hands and released their leaders. On seeing this, I returned to Georgia, [and] settled my family near Augusta….”

Pearis was not the only Loyalist militia leader shoved aside to make room for Maj. Patrick Ferguson. On 16 July 1780, Thomas Brown wrote to Cornwallis complaining about having his militia command disbanded (British Public Records Office, obtained through the Virginia Colonial Records Program):

Attempted transcription of Letter from Thomas Brown to Lord Cornwallis 16 July 1780.

Augusta July 16th 1780

My Lord

I had the honor of writing to your Lordship at Camden which letters, I am informed by Lord Rawdon was forwarded to Charles Town~

By a letter yesterday from Col….[Ennis] your commander in at Ninety-Six, I have received orders to send my corps (the Kings Rangers) in the action of Lt. Col. Crugos (sp.?) [ Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger ?] at this place to Savannah and to remain at Augusta or such place as may be deemed proper for carrying on the Indian business and then to send how the Kings Rangers or Major [Ferguson]’s corps are to recruit in South Carolina.

It affords me the most sensible concern to perceive from this order, I have unknowingly incurred your Lordships displeasure~

If I may be permitted to suggest to your Lordship that the Kings Rangers were principally raised in South Carolina are composed of Nth. Sth. Carolinians and Indian traders. Up-countrymen who have a perfect knowledge of the languages, customs, manners, and dispositions of the different tribes of Creeks and Cherokee; are … woodsmen capable of swimming any river in the province, have many of them served with me during the rebellion with our Indian allies, and are the best guides in the Southern District.

The officers having acquired in the course of …a knowledge of the Indian language & being personally acquainted with the chiefs, have on various occasions enabled me to curb their natural ferocity & prevent any acts of wanton barbarity or indiscriminant outrage.

With the assistance of officers & men trained in the woods, a prospect of advantages (to which this other troops are strangers) from a knowledge of the Indians, inhabitants & country, I could …. of the force & security of the frontiers~

My own influence & ….I believe are extensive perhaps more so, than any person in the ….of the southern provinces. My real, I trust, … to those who have the honor to serve His Majesty--my reasons for hazarding such a declaration, I flatter myself, modesty forbids me not to mention.

Previous to the commencement of the rebellion, I was engaged in the cultivation of my lands in South Carolina & Georgia with 300 manuals I brought with me from Yorkshire~

Being obnoxious to the rebels on account of my principles & being resented by some ….. as an emissary of administration and a son of Lord North, sent its force on the minds of the people. I was induced to appear before a committee then sitting in Augusta and on my refusal to attend, a party consisting of 130 armed men headed by the committee surrounded my house in South Carolina and advised me to surrender myself unless … & …a… …- I told them my determination to defend myself if any person presumed to molest me – On this attempting to disarm me, I shot one of the ringleaders (a Captain ….)- being empowered, …in many places, my skull fractured by a blow from a rifle, I was dragged in a state of insensibility to Augusta: my brain was then chiefly , …the …,what commanded, dropped off by knives- my head ….in 3 or 4 different places- my legs… & burnt by lighted torches from which I took the ….of loss of my toes and rendered incapable of setting my feet to the ground for 6 months- In this condition after …trying waite a very considerable property & … I was retrieved by my friends & conveyed to the … of South Carolina.

Having … the inhabitants, I … … … 2500 .. enter into a league to .. the measures of the C… and to support at the risk of their lives & fortunes His Majesty… and dignity—

I believe, I can say without the … & …, that to my condition government is indebted for the loyalty of the inhabitants of the …..of South Carolina.

Previous to the arrival of Col. Campbell in Georgia with 28 rangers ….in that same province, from ambush I beat back the rebel army consisting of 600 men with a train of artillery, killed two of their captains & wounded & took (the commanding officer) of the head of this column ….—I believe my … I can say with truth, I have been engaged in as great a variety of service as any provincial officer of my years standing and have the good fortune hitherto never to receive a reprimand or rebuke from a superior officer. On the contrary in the course of service, I have had the honor to receive the thanks of General Howe, Lord Dawstonworth [sp?] Lord Gorman…Henry Clinton & Governor Tonyn and in consequence of my services His Majesty was pleased to confer on me the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

Howsoever, I have succeeded with the Indians, is I presume, well known to the people of the country—having received them on eight different occasions with success I gained their confidence & attachment. On the late invasion of West Florida I prevailed, at the request of Major General Campbell, on 1600 Creeks (a larger body of Indians, than I believe was ever assembled for service by …William Johnson or Col. Stuart) to march to his aid—how far I may be able to retain these future attachments by being separated from the affairs a man who can also be useful to me, I cannot pretend to determine—

The disaffected Indians of the Creek nation have sent to inform me, they propose to pay me a visit to adjudicate misunderstandings after their Buck the later end of August. The Buck is an annual festival (after a general purification) on the ripening of the corn—The Cherokee …were driven from their towns by the rebels & reduced to …discuss, inform me they purpose to accompany them, in order to procure that relief to their respective wants, that their ….& services … entitle them to—

Nothing shall be wanting on my part to keep the different tribes in my department in good temper & a favorable disposition toward government—I am apprehensive it will be a task of extreme difficulty to prevent the Cherokee harassing the rebels who are in position of their hunting ground, too near to their villages, it is in fact, as disturbing to them as the loss of their houses & corn as they are reduced to this … alternative, either to repossess them …of their hunting grounds or to encroach on the territory of the Cheers or Chickasaws—the consequence of the latter is obvious.

Captain Johnson of the King’s Rangers is the bearer of this letter & returns on the receipt of your Lordship’s commands.

I have the honor to be My Lord with just respect
Your Lordship’s Most Obedient and Most Humble Servant

Thomas Brown

Ferguson was finally established in an advance post near present-day Greenville, SC by 20 July 1780.

Camden, South Carolina (16 August 1780)

The battle of Camden, South Carolina (coming quickly after the collapse of Charles Town and the highly publicized success of Banastre Tarleton at the Waxhaws) would be the final act in inflating the British ego before setting them on the road to defeat. For the purposes, of this book, minimal detail is needed. Briefly, General Horatio Gates was rushed to the South by the Colonials to take charge of the defenses. Gates quickly formed an army near Charlotte, North Carolina and advanced towards Camden. About this same time, Cornwallis moved up the same road towards Charlotte. The two forces met in another “meeting battle” where Gates quickly placed his troops (many of them inexperienced) into formation on unprepared and un-scouted ground. Once again (but on a scale much greater than at Waxhaws), British organization and discipline broke the Americans. Gates, himself, abandoned the field and did not stop running until he was well into North Carolina. The British were now supreme in South Carolina. Their only weaknesses were that Patrick Ferguson had by now raised his own army of Loyalist militia and was about to prove himself to be the blundering officer that Cornwallis knew he was.

Apparently, Richard Pearis saw the calamity that Ferguson was likely to bring and quietly left the service preferring to remain a live landowner, rather than a dead hero. If you have a choice, get you name in the deed book, rather than the history book. Ferguson thus eclipsed Pearis’s contributions.

Musgrove’s Mill (18 August 1780)

Patrick Ferguson moved his headquarters to Fair Forest Ford (between present-day Greenville and Spartanburg) by 20 July 1780 and was busy trying to raise a Loyalist militia to support Cornwallis’s main efforts.

At exactly the same time that Horatio Gates was leading the Regular American army to Camden, several Patriot partisan leaders hatched a plan to raid a Tory stronghold about 50 miles north of Ninety-Six. Elijah Clarke (who had been chased out of Georgia) had found a base of supply with Joseph McDowell in Burke Co. North Carolina. About this time, Isaac Shelby had also arrived at McDowell’s camp with Over-Mountain Men from settlements on the Watauga, New and Clinch Rivers. Clark and Shelby were two fine partisan leaders and soon decided to attack a group of about 200 Tory militia at a place called Musgrove’s Mill, which was located on the Enoree River. They assembled about 200 Patriots with good horses and traveled during the evening of 17-18 August 1780 to within striking distance of the Tories. There they discovered that the 200 Tory militia had been reinforced with about 300 regulars mounted militia under the command of Col. Alexander Innes.

Realizing that they were too deep into British-held territory with tired horses to make a run for it, they made a very sensible move of setting up a defensive position. The numerical odds were about 5 to 2 in favor of the British, but in a good defense the Patriots would have an even match. Moreover, the Patriots came upon a clever plan to ensure that the British attacked the heart of their defense head-on. They disguised their positions and sent a small force to draw the over-confident British into the ambush. The plan worked brilliantly. Within an hour the British lost 223 total killed, wounded and prisoners while the Americans lost only 11. Shelby and Clarke wisely did not rest on their laurels, but rather retreated as quickly as they had come to North Carolina.

The importance of this battle is that it was repeated at Blackstock’s Farm (18 November 1780) and ultimately at Cow Pens. But, before these battles would take place, Major Patrick Ferguson led the Loyalists of the upcountry to disaster.

Augusta, Georgia and George Walton

Richard Pearis and George Parris crossed paths with many people who played important roles in American history. George Walton, who signed the Declaration of Independence and accepted the U.S. Constitution for Georgia, was one of those people. Walton was yet another man born in Virginia (in 1749) who migrated to the South to find his fortune. Walton established a law practice in Savannah and became a Patriot with the outbreak of the War of Independence. In 1776 he was the Georgia representative to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence. During the war, he fought as a colonel in the Georgia militia. He was wounded in the leg, captured by the British and exchanged for a British officer in 1779.

With the British in control of Savannah, Walton set up the Georgia government in Augusta and was chosen governor of Georgia by the new General Assembly in late 1779. He obviously was displaced during the British occupation of 1780, but by the end of the war, Walton was back in Augusta. He became a leader in the reconstruction and expansion of the city into the 1790s.

He was elected Governor again in 1789 and in October of that year, he accepted the U.S. Constitution on behalf of the People of Georgia. He was soon elected chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and managed to have the court physically located in Augusta rather than move in a circuit. In spite of his promotion of Augusta, the state chose a more central location (Athens) for new colleges.

Some one said, “power corrupts.” And, in his later years, George Walton became one of a series of very powerful political figures in Georgia who had a large impact on the disposition of lands in the state. Judge George Walton died 2 February 1804.

Clarke’s First Siege of Augusta (Late-September 1780)

The wily Elijah Clarke was soon back in Georgia and laid siege to Augusta where Richard Pearis had moved his family. Obviously, the partisans did not have enough resources to take Augusta at this time. Nonetheless, this adventure did play a part in the subsequent maneuvering of Patrick Ferguson when he heard about Clarke’s raid around 1 October 1780.

Patrick Ferguson Penetrates into North Carolina (September 1780)

The raid on Musgrove’s Mill was the only blemish on the British picture of South Carolina and it happened almost under Patrick Ferguson’s nose. Ferguson obviously felt pressure to avenge the loss and the insult, and to do it quickly. Thus, he raised his Loyalist militia and set out to pursue Clark and Shelby into North Carolina on 2 September 1780. Richard Pearis realized that Ferguson had misjudged the character of the Over-Mountain Men and wisely kept his family at home in Augusta. By 7 September 1780, Ferguson’s troops arrived at Gilbert Town (about 50 miles west of Charlotte) which was by itself a notable achievement. By the 15th of September, Ferguson had parties as far north as Pleasant Garden and could generally move through the countryside at will. Charles McDowell was forced to retreat with his troops over the mountain into the Watauga settlements with Shelby.

Ferguson predictably overplayed his hand about 10 September 1780 when he sent Samuel Phillips a paroled patriot to Shelby’s camp threatening to follow him over the mountains and destroy the Watauga settlements. Ferguson’s threat was exactly what Shelby needed to rally the Over-Mountain Men to organize against Ferguson. Within four days he had enlisted the aid of Colonel John Sevier. Shelby then began raising the Virginia militia (including Col. William Campbell of Washington Co. Virginia) while Sevier raised the North Carolina militia. By 26 September, a substantial force had gathered at Sycamore Shoals. They traveled very light, crossed Roan Mountain at Yellow Gap (4,682 feet) in snow on 27 September, and reached Quaker Meadows to join more militia raised by McDowell on 30 September including local militia from Wilkes and Surry Counties North Carolina under Colonel Benjamin Cleveland . All together, there were about 1,400 men now in the party.

On 1 October, the Over-Mountain Men (Virginians and North Carolinians) arrived at a gap in South Mountain near the head of Cane Creek . Meanwhile, starting on 27 September, Ferguson had moved his troops southward, in part, because he realized that a large body of militia was being raised to the north and in part to try to catch Elijah Clarke who had recently attacked and unsuccessfully laid siege to Augusta, Georgia and was expected to retreat to join Shelby. On 1 October, Ferguson wrote an appeal to North Carolina Tories to join his ranks unless they wanted to be overrun by the Over-Mountain Men. Over the next several days, Ferguson moved southward at a fairly leisurely pace. He did not seek shelter with Cornwallis, he did not retreat deep into South Carolina, nor did he prepare a defensive position. From this point on, he gives the impression of a man who is totally out of his depth, paralyzed from reasonable action by indecision.

Kings Mountain (7 October 1780)

The Over-Mountain Men reached Gilbert Town on 4 October 1780. Leaving a large part of their force behind and only moving with those (about 700) who were well mounted, the Over-Mountain Men tried to overtake Ferguson. On 5 October, they temporarily lost Ferguson but soon they had him located. By now, Ferguson knew he was being pursued and apparently though he could take a defensive position on high ground. The place he chose was absolutely the worst choice he could have made and along with the fact that he did not have patrols out to keep contact with the Over Mountain men (if not to ambush them) shows how poor Ferguson was at military leadership.

King’s Mountain is a flat open field less than 400 yards wide with steep wooded slopes all around. Ferguson positioned his troops in an open killing zone where his enemy could attack from beyond the British musket’s effective range from the cover of the slope and the concealment of the trees. British musket fire simply passed over the heads of the Over-Mountain Men below the crest of the hill. The only way the British-led Loyalists could get at the Americans was disorganized bayonet charges into the woods and down the steep slope.

About 3:00 in the afternoon of 7 October 1780, the Over-Mountain Men (who did not even have a unified command) merely surrounderd Furgeson’s Loyalists army who allowed themselves to be trapped in the meadow on Kings Mountain. The Patriot rifles outranged the British muskets and after 120 Loyalists died they gave up without attempting to escape. Save one. Furgeson (as the legend goes) tried to rally his troops and attack the Rebels on horseback. Forgive me, but I think he was deserting when he was shot from the saddle. To the great credit of the Loyalists, they managed to kill about 40 Over-Mountain Men primarily in bayonet charges.

Wounded Loyalists were left to die on the mountain. Obviously, the vast majority of the Loyalists became prisoners and were marched into North Carolina. However, on 14 October 1780, the Patriots convened a bogus court to try the Loyalists leaders. About 12 were conviceted and 9 hanged (including Col. Ambrose Mills who by all accounts was a very honorable man). Clearly, this was merely retribution and assination on the part of the Patriots.

Robert A. Pearis/Paris (1750 - 1838)

Robert Alexander Pearis was the second son of George Pearis who was the first son of George Pearis, the elder. His brother Capt. George Pearis (III, 1746 - 1810) will be mentioned below. Robert A. Pearis is the source of many of the Paris families now found in Kentucky and Indiana.

He (along with his brother George) stayed on in Montgomery County, Virginia when his uncles Richard and Robert moved to South Carolina about 1765. Robert A. Pearis joined the militia under Captain Isaac Campbell in September 1774 and for the next several years he periodically supported missions in defense and offense against the Cherokee and Shawnee. Perhaps the most interesting of these expeditions recorded in his pension request was under Daniel Boone begun on 24 July 1775 to Boonesboro, Kentucky. During the middle of the war, he occasionally was in his brother’s (Capt. Pearis’s) company in actions against the Indians.

In the spring of 1780, Robert A. Pearis/Paris moved to what became Green Co., North Carolina (Tennessee). There he came under the command of Col. William Campbell. It was not long before Cols. Sevier, Shelby and Cleveland had him marching over the mountains in pursuit of Patrick Ferguson. He participated in the battle at Kings Mountain as recounted above.

Robert A. Pearis then returned to Green Co.; and in 1781, he accompanied Capt. Richardson and Col. Martin in an offensive against the lower Chickamauga (Cherokee) towns. His services continued periodically until 1783. He obtained 200 acres of land on Sinking Creek in Green Co. 11 September 1789. About 1793 he moved to Madison Co. (now Gerrard Co.), Kentucky and about 1803 he moved to Shelby Co., Kentucky. He married Anne Howe and they had about 12 children including two sons named Robert and George Paris (? - 1835).

Amy Paris of Sturgis, Kentucky has described this line of the family (1984).

Captain George Pearis/Parris (1746-1810)

Richard Pearis' other nephew of note, i.e., the oldest son of George Pearis (Richard's brother) and the brother of Robert A. Pearis/Paris mentioned above, was destined to become a hero of the War of Independence. Some light is shed on his early service in the pension claims of Henry Walker (; provided by Jeff Radcliffe, 2001):

State of Illinois, Fayette County

Be it remembered that on this third day of September Eighteen hundred and thirty two, personally appeared before the County Commissioners Court of the County of Fayette, no sitting, the same being a Court of Record, Henry Walker Senior, a resident of the County of Fayette, and State of Illinois, aged seventy four years on the Eighth day of October last, who being first duly sworn according to Law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1832.

That he was born according to the best of his knowledge at Prince Edward County in the State of Virginia, on the Eighth day of October 1758, but has no record of his age. That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated.

About two years before the battle of Kings Mountain on the seventh of March, but cannot remember the year [about 1778]. He then living in Montgomery County, Virginia, he volunteered as a Spy in Capt. George Parris's company of militia in Col. Wm. Preston's regiment, which company was raised in either Wythe or Montgomery County in the State of Virginia. The company was that year employed in the Spy Service on the waters of the New River in the State of Virginia, and between that river and the Clinch river in said State, and also upon the waters of the Greyandotte, that he continued in said company in the service aforesaid from the time aforesaid (7th March) to October or November of the same year. The next year, in February or March, he was employed in the same service and upon pretty much the same ground, as a member of Capt. Frederick Edward's Company in Col. Preston's regiment, and continued in the same service until sometime in the month of October following. In the following year [1780], as near as the deponent can recollect, in August or September, he joined Capt. George Parris's Company, in the regiment aforesaid, and rendezvoused at Chissel's Mines on the New River in the said State, and then moved to Wallings Bottoms up the New River, and from that place to or near the Mulberry Fields in North Carolina, where on hearing that Furguson was embodied on Kings Mountain, the regiment was divided, and part sent against Furguson, and the other to go against the Tories embodied at the Moravian Towns. Among the later was this deponent - That he met the Tories at the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River and had a battle in which the Tories were defeated, and made their escape. In the battle, Capt. Parris was wounded and carried to Hoozer Town where this deponent staid (sic) until December, detailed to guard and take care of the wounded. The next February or March, he volunteered in Capt. Henry Pattons Company, under the command of Col. Preston and marched immediately to the Moravian Towns and from thence down the Reedy Fork of the Haw River, where he had a battle with the British, which battle was called the battle of Whitesells Mills, on the Reedy Fork of the Haw River, our troops being beaten, he retreated and rendezvoused at Gilford C. House N.C. and from thence marched to join Gen. Greene at the Iron Works, which was in May or June of the same year [1781], when he was discharged and returned home.

He never obtained a written discharge. He knows of no one living, by who he can prove any of the services enumerated, unless some of his old friends may yet be living in the State of Virginia, from whom he has not heard from for five and twenty or thirty years - unless a brother which ten or eleven years ago resided in Kentucky (but whether now living, or where, this deponent cannot say) may have some remembrance of some of said services, That the Rev. Charles Radcliffe and Robert K. McLaughlin have known him for many years and can testify to his character for veracity, and their belief of his services as a soldier of the Revolution. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

And this deponent further says that since his services aforesaid, he has resided in the State of Virginia, about seven or eight years in Kentucky, and for the last twenty eight or nine years in the State of Illinois.

Sworn and subscribed this 3rd day of September 1832 in open court

Signed Henry Walker

James W. Berry, Clk

We Charles Radcliffe a preacher of the Gospel residing in the County of Fayette and Robert K. McLaughlin residing in the town of Vandalia in the same county, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Henry Walker, who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration. That we believe him to be seventy four years of age - that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood in which he resides to have been a soldier of the Revolution, and concur in that opinion.

Sworn and subscribed this 3rd day of September 1832 in open court

Signed Charles Radcliffe
R.K McLaughlin

James W. Berry, Clk

The Battle of Shallow Ford (14 October 1780)

In response to Ferguson’s pleas some Tories in North Carolina were assembling parallel to the activities of the Over-Mountain Men. A number of Loyalists were in Richmond in Surry Co., North Carolina. In support of the advance of the Over-Mountain Men, Patriots in Surry Co. had been gathering forces (about 80 men) to block any movement by the local Tories to join Ferguson. Patriot militiamen under Captain Henry Smith with Captain David Humphreys and Lieutenant John Blalock formed on the most obvious concentrating point, the ford of the Yadkin River. A man, who was familiar with the likely line of advance of the Tories, rode to Charlotte to enlist the aid of General William Lee Davidson of the North Carolina militia. General Davidson gave him 52 men. This small force of Patriots returned north and decided to intercept the Tories (if possible) at the Yadkin River ford. Similarly, Patriot leader Jethro Sumner near Salisbury, NC heard about the Tory activity in the Richmond area about 4 October. He sent a company of 30 infantry under Captain Jacob Nichols to the Fork of the Yadkin and Deep Creek. He soon reinforced these with a company of 30 cavalry under Captain Miller as a screening force. The total North Carolina force numbered about 190 and was not likely to stop the Loyalists.

Fortunately, for the cause of independence, the Virginia militiamen were also forming. In Montgomery County (southwestern) Virginia, Major Joseph Cloyd mobilized four companies (about 160 men) of militia under Captains Isaac Campbell, Henry Francis , George Pearis (1746- 1810, son of George Pearis, Jr.), and Abraham Trigg. These men had first attempted to go to the Kings Mountain battlefield, but when that battle ended before they arrived, they diverted to Surry Co. The Virginians, thus, arrived before the soldiers from Salisbury; and Major Cloyd took overall command organizing a defensive line on a creek now called Battle Branch. Thus, the actual Patriot force on line that morning was the Virginia forces and local North Carolinians (about 350 men).

At about 9:00 AM on 14 October, the head of the Loyalist column led (apparently without scouts) by Tory Captain Bryan stumbled into the Patriot line. For his lack of foresight Captain Bryan was the first to fall with five rifle balls hitting him and his horse. In the initial excitement, Captain Isaac Campbell of Virginia is said to have fled. Had the larger Loyalist force been properly organized, all the Patriots should have fled to fight a flanking battle. However, the Tories presented only the front of their column to the massed Patriots who were able to advance into the Tories causing panic and confusion. Nonetheless, Virginia Captain Henry Francis was killed near his sons Henry and John. Soon, it was the Tories who were forced to flee. Ironically, a free black man named Ball Turner sacrificed himself as a rear guard, sniping at the Patriots until he was located and riddled with bullets.

In the brief battle, the Tories lost about 14 dead including Francis and Turner. The Patriots had four wounded including Captain George Pearis whose wounds were described as "serious." Additional forces from Salisbury (300 men under Col. John Peasley) arrived shortly after the battle. Captain Pearis was presented with the sword of the slain Tory Captain Bryan with the dedication: "He being considered the best marksman in the detachment and also having received a wound in the engagement."

The day following the engagement, General Smallwood brought his men from Guilford Court House and pursued the Tories back north. The Tories were asked to surrender and be disarmed upon which they were given pardons by Martin Armstrong. However, Hezekiah Wright was shot and wounded in his own home and his brother Gideon fled to British-held Charles Town, South Carolina where he died August 9, 1782.

Pearisburg in Giles County, Virginia

When the old Orange Co. Virginia was split to make Frederick Co. in 1743, Augusta Co. was left to the south. Augusta soon gave rise to other subdivisions including Botetourt Co. in 1770 which was subdivided to form Fincastle Co., Virginia and Greenbriar Co., West Virginia (1772-1777). Fincastle Co. gave rise to old Montgomery Co. in 1777 and Montgomery was split into Floyd, Giles, Pulaski and Wythe in the early 1800s.

Captain George Pearis (1746 -1810, grandson of the original George Pearis, nephew of Richard Pearis and cousin of George Pearis/Parris the half-blooded Cherokee) served in the Montgomery County, Virginia militia during the American War of Independence. He led a company at the battle of Shallow Ford in North Carolina. In 1793, he was recommended by the Executive of Virginia to be the Major of the 75th Regiment. Samuel Pepper and George Pearis established a ferry across the New River in 1785. His first wife (Elizabeth) died and he married Rebecca Clay with whom he had nine children.

In 1806, Captain Pearis donated land for a town to be named Pearisburg in Giles County, Virginia (now on the boarder with West Virginia). The first Giles Co. Court was held in George Pearis’s house on 13 May 1806. Mr. Henley Chapman (from Charles County, Maryland) presented his license to practice law in superior and inferior courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Pearisburg was established in 1808 and incorporated for the first time in 1835. (It was re-incorporated in 1914.)

During the War between the States in May 1862, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes U.S.A. led Union troops in a battle at Pearisburg where Confederates forces under General Henry Heth defeated them.

Cornwallis Falls Ill (Autumn 1780)

While Ferguson and his Loyalists were meeting defeat at Kings Mountain, Cornwallis was only a few miles away with the regular British army at Charlotte, North Carolina. Although Cornwallis certainly did not take pleasure in Ferguson’s defeat, it is likely that he felt detached from it. Nonetheless, one would have expected him to perhaps attempt to catch and attack the Over-Mountain Men. Quite the contrary, Ferguson was not revenged and no attempt was made to draw the Over-Mountain Men to battle. It appears that this lack of aggressive action can be attributed to Cornwallis’s personal illness as much as anything else . The young Lord Rawdon took command retreated with the British army into winter quarters at Winnsboro, South Carolina. Cornwallis’s illness (a flare up of malaria) effectively changed the course of the war. Had he been up to par, the Over-Mountain Men might have had a different experience before or after Kings Mountain and the next major milestone in the British road to defeat (Blackstock's Farm) would certainly have been avoided.

The American regular army was in disarray. To his credit, Gates encouraged Marion and Sumter to execute harassing actions in South Carolina when he realized that the British army had withdrawn. This took Marion to Black Mingo Creek in the east and Sumter moved his forces to the southwest.

Blackstock's Farm (20 November 1780)

Tarleton was dispatched to drive Francis Marion away from the British supply lines, and while he was doing that, Sumter moved into a position to threaten Winnsboro. When Sumter’s presence was discovered a force was sent to chase him off. This force, with some unusually good intelligence, succeeded in catching Sumter by surprise on 8 November and only Sumter’s good luck saved his life. Nonetheless, with Sumter located, Tarleton was called from the east to track him down.

By the time that Tarleton reached Winnsboro, Sumter was reported to be at Hawkins Mill on the Tyger River. During his move, Sumter had been joined by Elijah Clarke’s partisans and others to bring his force to about 1,000 men. They were setting out to attack some Loyalists at Williams Plantation on 19 November when they were informed that Tarleton with elements of the 71st Highlanders under Archibald MacArthur and other troops were tracking him.

On the 20th, Sumter retreated to a good position at Blackstock’s Farm on the Tyger River. Tarleton characteristically shed all his slower elements trying to catch Sumter. With Tarleton fast approaching, Sumter made the decision to stand and fight. Tarleton brought his leading elements on line (his legion and the 63rd Regiment totaling about 270 men) and attacked in piecemeal fashion up an open hill into Sumter’s 1,000 concealed riflemen. The British were cut to pieces. There were only about 5 American casualties and ironically Sumter was one of the seriously wounded. The British left 92 dead and 100 wounded on the field. Sumter and his force soon abandoned the site and Tarleton reported the battle as a victory.

Things were about to get worse for the British, as Nathaniel Greene took charge of the American army at Charlotte, NC on 2 December 1780. He was joined by Daniel Morgan who had returned to the army in its time of need.

Cornwallis was trying to take stock of his forces. Among other things he discovered that Richard Pearis was now once again a Captain in Col. Innis’s (Ennis’s) Corps. At the end of a letter to Rawdon, Cornwallis wrote (20 December 1780): “I should be glad to see a list of the Officers of that Corps. It is very extraordinary if Parris is a Captain in Col. Innes’s Corps as he assured me in June last that Parris was one of the greatest scoundrels in the whole country.” It appears that the many self-serving messages from Stuart and Cameron (the British Indian Agents) over the years had poisoned Pearis's reputation. It is also possible that the Parris mentioned as a captain in Innes's Corps is actually Richard's son George, who may have been confused with his father.

Expedition against the Overhill Villages (December 1780)

Returning from Kings Mountain the Over-Mountain-Men conducted a campaign against the Cherokee who were though to be plotting to attack the Watauga settlements again. Col. Sevier had about 270 men who were joined by Col. Campbell with 300 to 400 men on 22 December 1780 at a camp near Buckingham Island on the French Broad River. The army crossed the Little Tennessee at Tomotley Ford on 24 December 1780 and reached Chota the next day. The Virginians burned Chota, Tellico, and Tuskegee on 28 December after stripping them of food. From there, they moved to Katie on the Tellico River. The army found that the Cherokee had abandoned Hiwassee when they arrived on New Years Day 1781.

The Battle of Cowpens (17 January 1781)

Greene’s plan of action was somewhat like that initiated by Gates except that Greene was commanding elements of the regular army. In particular, he led a portion of the American army to the east while he sent Daniel Morgan toward Ninety-Six in the same area that Sumter had just fought. Sumter’s wound kept him out of action and out of the hair of the regulars.

A detachment of Morgan’s force intercepted a group of Loyalists near Hammond’s store and killed or captured nearly 200. This put Cornwallis on notice that Morgan could not be ignored. On 1 January Cornwallis sent a detachment of 550 men including the 1st/71st Highlanders to deal with Morgan. Tarleton made many of the same mistakes in pursuing Morgan that he made in pursuing Sumter. He finally, and unfortunately for the Highlanders, caught up with Daniel Morgan and Andrew Pickens at the Cow Pens. There, he conducted a set piece attack on the early morning of 17 January. Once again the American losses were very light (12 killed and 60 wounded) while the British (mainly the Highlanders) suffered 100 dead, 229 wounded and most of the rest taken prisoner. Tarleton saved himself by riding off the field with American dragoons in pursuit. The 2nd/71st Highlands virtually refused to cooperate with Tarleton after this destruction of their sister battalion.

Cornwallis in North Carolina (February - March 1781)

Upon his recovery from his illness in early 1781, Cornwallis found that the tide of war in the South had turned decidedly against him. The period from October 1780 to January 1781 had seen the British and the Loyalists suffer defeat after defeat, while inflicting minimal injury on the Americans. Cornwallis was duty-bound to continue, but his actions from this point look like a man who was looking for a merciful death or honorable surrender. Had he been fit in September, when he began his move to the north, some of the most damaging blunders of the British would have been avoided. Imagine what would have happened if he had covered Ferguson’s boast by moving north to Guilford Court House while the Over-Mountain Men were coming over the Roan Mountain. However, the history cannot be undone. Cornwallis did not pursue Gates to Guilford Court House in September 1780; he pursued Greene there in March 1781. In that battle, on 15 March 1781, the British traded light losses with the Americans and as usual held the field and claimed the victory. However, they were exhausted and soon had to retreat to Wilmington to refit.

The British victory at Guilford Court House left Greene and Cornwallis with serious decisions to make concerning future strategy: Where should the focus of the fighting proceed. From New Burn, Cornwallis had essentially three options. He could continue to fight in North Carolina; he could return to South Carolina; or he could move north into Virginia. Continued fighting in the South could not bring the British a conclusive victory. The Patriot partisans were too strong and would continue the war indefinitely even if Greene could be defeated. In the North (Virginia), Cornwallis might bring the American army to some decisive battle and force the American Congress to end the war on favorable terms. Thus, although the risks were high, Cornwallis continued his move to the north where a meaningful victory might be won. As part of this move, he may have expected that Greene would have followed him thus taking some of the pressure off of the British in the South. However, Greene merely passed Cornwallis off to Washington and took his army back to South Carolina where he attacked the British garrisons.

It is the southern campaign of Nathaniel Greene after the battle of Guilford Court House that is the most relevant to the Pearis/Parris family. At this time, Richard Pearis and his family were in Augusta, Georgia and George Parris (his son) was serving with Thomas Brown’s Kings Carolina Rangers defending the area. The British held Charles Town, Georgetown, Camden, Ninety Six and other towns in South Carolina, but the Patriot partisans and militia constantly cut supply and communication lines. Francis Marion continued to operate from the swamps in the eastern part of South Carolina. Andrew Pickens (though paroled) took up arms in the west and Thomas Sumter commanded the South Carolina Militia. Greene sent Henry Lee with about 300 men to support Marion and had Pickens isolate Ninety Six while he took the bulk of the regular American army (about 1,200 men) to Camden, which was controlled by British troops under Francis Lord Rawdon.

Hobkirk Hill-Camden (25 April 1781)

In maneuvers to support Marion and Lee, Greene separated his artillery and baggage from his men while he marched and counter-marched through a difficult swamp northeast of Camden. The end result was that he occupied a strong position on Hobkirk Hill on the Waxhaws Road two miles north of Camden with only his infantry and dragoons 24 April 1781. About this time, the young Lord Rawdon received orders to withdraw towards Charles Town because his position could not be defended with Cornwallis away in Virginia. As we have seen before (at Musgrove’s Mill, Blackstock’s Farm and Cow Pens), the British seemed to be unable to resist the opportunity to attack superior American forces established on good defensive ground. Lord Rawdon mustered about 840 troops of various qualities and moved out of Camden against Greene on the morning of 25 April 1781. The British move was unexpected by Greene and in the battle of Hobkirk Hill the British actually took the ground (which they could never hold) while exchanging casualties on an even basis with Greene’s forces. From the second floor of the Camden jail, a young rebel captured in the Waxhaws named Andrew Jackson watched the battle through a peephole he cut in the boarded-up window. His brother was already sick with small pox and Andrew Jackson would soon come down with the same disease. After the battle, their mother would retrieve them to the North Carolina boarder country in an exchange of prisoners.

Lord Rawdon achieved a pointless tactical victory through surprise and almost immediately was forced to send orders to Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger to fall back from Ninety-Six to join Thomas Browne at Augusta, Georgia while he evacuated Camden on 10 May 1781. Rawdon’s orders never got to Ninety-Six. Rawdon ended up near Monck’s Corner, which became the front line of British defense of Charles Town. The upcountry was left to fend for itself.

Augusta and Ninety-Six (April - June 1781)

By 15 May, Henry Lee (Robert E. Lee's father) had captured Fort Granby (now Columbia, SC) isolating the upcountry. Ninety-Six and Augusta were the only points remaining in British hands. Greene selected Augusta as the most important target; if it fell, Ninety-Six would have to surrender.

Three forts (Galphin, Cornwallis and Grierson) defended Augusta. Fort Galphin was about 12 miles south of Augusta and on the north side of the Savannah River. It was the first to fall on 19 May. The story goes that the Americans lured the British and Loyalists out and then rushed the gate with few deaths on either side. The garrison of 126 men and stores intended for the Cherokee fell into American hands.

By 21 May, Lt. Col. Henry Lee of Greene’s army joined Andrew Pickens (South Carolina Militia) and Elijah Clarke (Georgia Militia) to surround Augusta. Fort Grierson (present-day 11th and Reynolds Streets) commanded by Col. Grierson (Georgia Loyalist) was the weaker of the remaining forts. It had a garrison of only 80 Georgia Loyalist Militia and was separated from Fort Cornwallis by a swamp. On 23 May, Lee, Clarke and Pickens attacked the fort and captured it after some bitter fighting. Ominously, Col. Grierson was murdered after he surrendered.

The siege of Fort Cornwallis was a classical duel between Lee, Pickens and Clarke on the outside and Browne, the Pearises and other Loyalists on the inside. Thomas Brown had a long and bitter history especially with Elijah Clarke and this complicated the situation. In particular, the Loyalists had every reason to believe that they would be slaughtered if they surrendered. Richard Pearis had everything to lose. His whole family was present. George Parris was a member of Brown's immediate company and even young Richard Pearis, Jr. was an ensign in the army. The garrison of Fort Cornwallis consisted of 320 Loyalists who had fought against the Americans for years and about 200 slaves who were owned by the Loyalists. The slaves proved to be very helpful in providing labor to maintain the fort and oppose the siege tactics.

Fort Cornwallis was located in the center of Augusta (present-day Saint Paul’s on Reynolds Street) on the flat river plain. A few log houses were in the neighborhood. The bank of the river provided cover for the Americans to advance to within a moderate distance of the fort. The Americans began digging a siege trench from the bank of the Savannah River soon after the fall of Fort Grierson. Loyalists from the fort attacked this trench on the evenings of 28 May and 29 May. The Patriots had recently rediscovered the tactic of building siege towers to fire over the walls of forts. The idea was apparently suggested by a Mr. Mayham (a.k.a., Maham) and had worked at Ft. Watson to the east. Construction of a similar tower was begun on 30 May (present-day location 8th and Reynolds Streets) behind an old house. Browne attempted to defeat the tower with small artillery mounted on the wall of the fort, but construction of the two-story tower was complete on 1 June. The Americans dragged a 6-pounder to the top of the tower and soon commanded the interior of the fort with their fire.

Parties from the fort burned two log buildings that were being used for cover by the attackers who were puzzled why a third building was not also burned. The Patriots were preparing to use the remaining house in the final assault when it blew up. The Loyalist’s slaves had been used to tunnel under the house and plant a mine, which was exploded prematurely (about 3 AM, 4 June).

All this time the Patriots had been trying to establish negotiations with Browne. When it was finally discovered that “Light Horse Harry” Lee was in charge of the Patriots and Pickens (whom Pearis had honorably paroled) was also present, a submission and parole was arranged. The Loyalists marched out and laid down their arms on 5 June and soon, Browne, Pearis and other Loyalist officers were escorted to safety at Savannah. George Parris who served with Browne was captured and was likely part of this group. On this same day, Francis Marion attacked Georgetown and its garrison fled by ship to Charles Town.

Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 93, page 616

I do hereby acknowledge myself to be a Prisoner of war on parole to His Excellency the Commander in Chief of the American forces and that I am thereby engaged until I shall be exchanged to remain within the British Lines and that I will not in the mean time do or cause to be done anything prejudicial to the success of the American Arms, or have intercourse or correspondence with the Enemies of the United States.
Witness my hand this 8th Day [of] June 1781-
Capt. W.F. Loyts.
Geo: Carrington
Cort. P.L.D.

Nathaniel Greene had personally begun the siege of Ninety-Six on 22 May. Here the defenses consisted of a well-built star-fort garrisoned by about 200 men. Three new regiments of British regulars arrived at Charles Town on 2 June and on 7 June, Rawdon began a march to attempt the relief of Ninety-Six. The defenders were informed of this support and held out through a strong assault on 18-19 June. With Lord Rawdon coming on as quickly as the heat would allow with about 1800 fresh troops, Greene was forced to abandon his siege on 20 June. The Loyalists abandoned Ninety-Six and returned with Rawdon to Charles Town.

On 17 July 1781, the advancing Americans were held up in a fight at Quinby Bridge about half way between Monck’s Corner and Charles Town. The British lines were shrinking. On 2 August a party of Loyalists landed by boat near Georgetown and burned a number of houses. By September the British had established a 2,000 man blocking force at Eutaw Springs under command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart. Greens army of about 2,400 troops attacked the British achieving surprise on 8 September 1781. The fighting was intense and neither side was totally broken so it continued for some time. The British losses mounted to about 85 dead with over 300 wounded and nearly 400 captured. Stewart was forced to retreat within the protection of Charles Town’s defenses. The British threat to South Carolina was finally ended.

Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia on 19 October 1781, but the British still held Charles Town and other coastal strong points.

According to one historian (Lumpkin cited elsewhere), a Loyalist renegade known as “Bloody” Bates led a party of Loyalists dressed like Indians and perhaps a few Indians against Thomas Fort (apparently the John Thomas family homestead near Spartanburg) in November of 1781. The majority of the family was hacked to death. There is no hint that Richard Pearis or George Parris was involved.

Meanwhile Cornwallis Surrenders in Virginia (19 October 1781)

Every American school child knows what happened to Cornwallis next. His army became trapped on the Yorktown peninsula in Virginia near where the British colonization of the New World had begun. During September and October 1781, Washington’s army closed on him and the French fleet prevented his removal by the British fleet. Thus, he was trapped and surrendered the British cause in America. The point that must be made is that the British still held substantial strong points in the North and in the South during and after Cornwallis’ surrender.

British Evacuation of the South (1782-1784)

The British forces held Charles Town, Savannah and East Florida while the Americans and the British negotiated the Treaty of Paris ending the War of American Independence. Occasionally, there were armed confrontations as in August 1782 when the Americans attempted to blockade Charles Town with a field gun. On the 23rd of August 1782, several British units captured the gun crew and set an ambush for the oncoming relief party. The ambush was sprung and a number of Americans including Colonel John Laurens were killed. Four months later, the British sailed out of Charles Town taking Loyalists with them. Robert (Richard’s brother) Pearis unfortunately had died on 7 December 1781 in Charles Town. Richard Pearis and George Parris registered their deeds to the land around present-day Greenville on 17 July 1782 in British-held Charles Town.

In 1783, pursuant to the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the British evacuated Charles Town and Savannah. Richard Pearis's family was in Savannah and moved to East Florida where they settled on the Saint John River (near present-day Jacksonville). Unfortunately, for the Pearises, the British soon abandoned East Florida leaving it to the Spanish. This put the Pearis family and some of their long-term Loyalist friends (e.g., the Cunninghams) looking for a new home in the Bahamas. The Pearises moved to Great Abaco Island.

George Parris apparently returned to the upcountry and spent the next the period 1783-1809 between Augusta, GA, Ninety Six District, and Cherokee Territory in North Georgia and western North Carolina. He never had the gall to attempt to reclaim his lands, but the State of South Carolina and individuals never had the nerve to claim them either. Ultimately, the Pearis-Parris lands gave rise to Paris [sic] Mountain State Park. If Richard's brother (George) had been very clever, he could have used his solid Patriot credentials to acquire this land, but he did not.

Part 23: The New United States

23.1 Establishing a New Nation

The Articles of Confederation (1777-1786)

Shortly after the beginning of the War of Independence, the colonies claimed the status of independent states and banded together under a confederation primarily for the purpose of pursuing the war against the British. Articles of Confederation, which gave very limited power to the unified states, were agreed by the Congress of the states, 17 November 1777. This document was not fully ratified until relatively late in the war (1 March 1781) when Maryland finally agreed.

The individual States remained the only sovereign entities into the mid-1780s. However, they realized that the Confederation was so weak that the states were in danger of being picked apart by foreign nations or their own rebellious elements. The issue of forming a stronger union came up spontaneously at a routine meeting of the committee on trade issues at Annapolis in 1786. It was recommended to the Congress of the Confederation that a constitution should be developed and a convention was called in 1787 at Philadelphia. Rhode Island realized that it was such a unique and small state that any change in the Confederation would likely work against it. Thus, Rhode Island did not participate in the convention.

The Treaty of Paris (3 September 1783)

After the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, the British (i.e., King George III) who still controlled important territory in America decided to negotiate a conditional peace treaty with the United States government. The negotiations were held in Paris (France) and went through a series of drafts and a final document that was produced on 3 September 1783 and ratified in 1784 by the U.S. and Britain.

In reading this document, remember that George Parris (a.k.a., Cherokee George, son of Richard Pearis) was a naturalized British citizen, who had legally received a land grant of 150,000 acres from his maternal grandfather and other Cherokee head-men, which was duly recorded in Charles Town, South Carolina (during British occupation) 17 July 1782. These lands had been partitioned with George Parris personally retaining 100,000 acres including present-day Greenville, South Carolina. This land had been summarily taken from the Pearises/Parrises by force by the actions of John Thomas, Sr. in 1776 while Richard and George were imprisoned by the Patriots/Rebels.

The Definitive Treaty of Peace 1783

In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch-treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse , between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony; ….

… agreed upon and confirmed the following articles.

Article 1:

His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., NewHampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

Article 2:

And that all disputes which might arise in future on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared, that the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz…. [The boundary included basically present-day U.S. territory east of the Mississippi except East and West Florida]

Article 3:

[Deals with Fishing Rights]

Article 4:

It is agreed that creditors on either side shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling money of all bona fide debts heretofore contracted.

Article 5:

It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the legislatures of the respective states [The Constitution had not yet been signed and power resided with the States] to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights, and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty's arms and who have not borne arms against the said United States. And that persons of any other description shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights, and properties as may have been confiscated; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent not only with justice and equity but with that spirit of conciliation which on the return of the blessings of peace should universally prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states that the estates, rights, and properties, of such last mentioned persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession the bona fide price (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights, or properties since the confiscation.

And it is agreed that all persons who have any interest in confiscated lands, either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.

Article 6:

That there shall be no future confiscations made nor any prosecutions commenced against any person or persons for, or by reason of, the part which he or they may have taken in the present war, and that no person shall on that account suffer any future loss or damage, either in his person, liberty, or property; and that those who may be in confinement on such charges at the time of the ratification of the treaty in America shall be immediately set at liberty, and the prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.

Article 7:

There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between his Brittanic Majesty and the said states, and between the subjects of the one and the citizens of the other, wherefore all hostilities both by sea and land shall from henceforth cease. All prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty, and his Brittanic Majesty shall with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any Negroes or other property of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets from the said United States, and from every post, place, and harbor within the same; leaving in all fortifications, the American artillery that may be therein; and shall also order and cause all archives, records, deeds, and papers belonging to any of the said states, or their citizens, which in the course of the war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper states and persons to whom they belong.

Article 8:

The navigation of the river Mississippi, from its source to the ocean, shall
forever remain free and open to the subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of the United States.

Article 9:

In case it should so happen that any place or territory belonging to Great Britain or to the United States should have been conquered by the arms of either from the other before the arrival of the said Provisional Articles in America, it is agreed that the same shall be restored without difficulty and without requiring any compensation.

Article 10:

The solemn ratifications of the present treaty expedited in good and due form shall be exchanged between the contracting parties in the space of six months…

Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.


The Constitution of the United States of American (1786-1789)

The Constitution that was developed can be discussed in terms of the organization of the government and the rights guaranteed to the People. The organization of the government was the focus of most debates. From early in the process, it was agreed that the functions of government should be isolated in three independent branches of government with specific functions and powers limited by the Constitution. These were the legislative branch where the laws would be made by democratic votes of representatives; the executive branch that would enforce the laws and provide the focal point for military action (the President would be the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces); and the judiciary branch that would provider the courts to administer justice (through trial by jury) to those accused of breaking the law and resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature concerning interpretation of the Constitution.

For the most part the body of the Constitution merely creates an administrative framework. The key issue was how the legislative power would be divide up among states of varying sizes. The solution to this problem was compromise with the creation of a bicameral legislature with one unit (the Senate) giving equal weight to each of the states and the other unit (the House of Representatives) giving weight to population of the states. The number of senators was fixed (arbitrarily) at two per state. The House of Representatives was apportioned by population to the states. In both cases, the legislature was organized by state and all the individuals in the legislature were elected within their states (e.g., not appointed or elected “at-large”). A sub-issue that arose was the issue of slaves. In this regard, it should be noted that the states voted for the President through an Electoral College apportioned by population. Population was both an indicator of number of affected individuals and a surrogate measure for the wealth (commercial power) of the states. Thus, a second compromise was reached in which slaves were counted as fractional population compared to non-slaves. South Carolina and Virginia were probably the leading slave-owning states and benefited most from inclusion of any recognition of the slaves within the apportionment of the seats in the House of Representatives. Of course, slaves did not vote; they merely multiplied the power of the slave-owning states.

In the end, the constitution was ratified in 1789 by 2/3rd of the states, although North Carolina held out until November 1789 and Rhode Island held out until 1790.

The Bill of Rights

This is not the time or place to go into a long discussion of the history or function of the U.S. Constitution. However, I cannot resist making several points that have proven to have relevance over the last 200 years and where I believe the current debate is straying.

The Constitution begins with the stirring words of the Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This preamble is followed by a description of a compromise form of government, which attempts to balance representation of States and representation of Individuals, by creation of two houses of Congress (the Senate representing states and the House representing population). Of course, there are provisions for a Chief Executive and Supreme Court. The details of the function of these bodies are not critical here. However, there are several principles that deserve comment. The President (Chief Executive) was made the titular Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The principle is clear that the elected civilian government is to use the military as a tool of (foreign) policy, the military is not to govern the nation.

The Congress is given the authority to make just about any law it wants to within the scope of the Constitution (see Bill of Rights below). However, the Federal government and the States are specifically prohibited from creating ex post facto laws. That is, neither the Federal nor the State governments can create a law that makes people civilly or criminally liable for their past actions (which were legal at the time). Suppose for example, that after allowing fetal abortions to be performed for may years, a law was pasted making that practice into murder. The rule against ex post facto laws, would prevent physicians who had conducted abortions (under the old laws) from being tried for murder under the new set of rules. This may seem elementary, but we have a case in the 1980-2000 period where the government introduced a law which a regulatory agency has attempted (successfully) to apply retro-actively. In the case of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, 1980), the Congress clearly planned to cleanup environmental contamination that was created through legal actions in earlier years. The Congress even created a specific taxing mechanism (the Superfund tax) to provide the money for these actions. However, in the hands of the enforcement agencies (see below), retro-active liability for remediation was created for land owners and business operators and even financial institutions that were involved with the now-prohibited “releases of hazardous substances to the environment.” The simple fact was that the enforcement agencies (and courts) were very zealous in trying to execute this law and the money that was obtained from the Superfund tax was only a tiny amount of the funds necessary to comply with the act. Effectively, the enforcement agency (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) took it upon itself to craft an promulgate procedures and definitions that went far beyond what Congress had Constitutional power to do. The entire process was facilitated by a public clamor for environmental remediation that was reflected in various court decisions.

This brings us to an important point. The congress does not usually write the laws in great detail (although it may include any arbitrary specific it wants). For reasons that are historical, the President has been charged with enforcing the laws and under the Executive Office has grown a professional Civil Service. The Civil Service of agencies (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency) is nominally empowered by Congress to enforce the laws that Congress passes. However, usually the laws are so vague and non-specific that the Federal agencies (in the Executive branch) are allowed to promulgate enforcable regulations (published in the Federal Register and then reduced to the Code of Federal Regulations and the U.S. Code). Unfortunately, herein lies a fallacy. The President (Executive Office) appoints the chief of each enforcement agency and thus controls the ultimate formulation of the regulations that are actually enforce. The Congress has thus lost much of its law making power to the Executive.

It was interesting to watch recently when the Congress (in an attempt to eliminate “Pork-Barrel” spending projects put into various bill to appease local contingencies) voted to give the Chief Executive “line-item veto” power. Meaning that Congress allowed the President to eliminate free-standing budget items so that they could only be passed on their individual merit by the entire Congress. Interesting, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down this vote by the Congress as an unconstitutional deferral of power to the Executive. One can only wonder why some enterprising lawyer does not sue the Congress for allowing the Executive to write most of the laws through the promulgation process. In fact, what should happen is that the rule-writing activities that have become embodied in the Federal agencies that report to the Executive, should be stripped out and placed into new independent agencies (headed by professional technical experts) who are budgeted directly by the Congress and report to Congressional Committees.

The framers of the Constitution made one (moderately successful) attempt to defend the rights of the people who had just won the nation’s independence with their blood. It was called the Bill of Rights and it attempted to capture various principles based largely upon the recent experience of the colonials. These defended rights include the following concepts:

(1) Ultimate Empowerment of the People to Protect their rights against foreign or domestic authorities.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Notice that these are the same “people” mentioned in the Preamble (i.e., all the citizens). This statement has been much debated. The essential element is that the individual people should be as well armed as the police or the army. In practice, this means that the people should be able to carry on a guerilla war if necessary against an oppressive government. No other principle ensures that democracy will prevail.

Unfortunately, the death toll from modern weapons in the hands of criminals or incompetents or the merely distressed has become alarming. It is therefore within the spirit of the Constitution to “infringe” to the extent that the general population stays well armed with combat ready weapons (suitable for an insurgent war against the government) and classes of weapons are forbidden. In the current context, handguns would seldom be the weapon of choice for a militia and are clearly the biggest culprit in crime and accidents. Thus, I believe that hand guns could be constitutionally limited as long as long arms are available.

(2) Freedom of the Communication and Thought

The principle is that all ideas are allowed and may be freely transmitted as long as they are not threats to individuals (intimidation) or orders to carry out illegal acts.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In the afterglow of the war, the framers of the Constitution realized that peacefully assembly was an essential element in communication. In this modern time, peaceful assembly would include cyberspace (the Internet).

(3) Privacy and Protection of the Rights to Private Property

The principle of privacy and ownership of private property is that people can keep their lives and business private from the government (except as allowed by law) and the general public.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

In this regard, we should remember that real estate is a bundle of rights. When you buy real estate, you should be clear what is included and what is not. For example, in some placed, the State may own the ground water (or other minerals) under the property. In such a case, the owner of the “land” (i.e., the person with right to occupy the land and exclude others from the land) usually has the right to use the ground water, but is not allowed to deteriorate its quality. The point made here is that the States or Federal government may have assumed to themselves certain of the bundle of rights potentially associated with the ownership of real estate. One point that is very sticky here is the issue of introduction of environmental regulations after a person has acquired the property. If the government makes laws that restrict the use of the real estate, they must provide just compensation for the rights that have been removed. Note that the government has the right of Eminent Domain, which allows them to condemn private property (e.g., some or all the bundle of real estate rights for a parcel of land) for public use, but the private party is due just compensation. In the case of construction of roads or public buildings, this principle is fairly well accepted on all accounts. However, the majority of the public (many of whom have no real estate or have none that is affected by the change in attitude) are leaning towards environmental protection as a national philosophy. Thus, laws that prevent or infringe other activities that might modify habitat (e.g., cutting trees, building houses, filling wetlands) are being accepted as not requiring just compensation. This is, of course, an outrage. Private lands are being turned into public parks, without compensation. Obviously, city dwellers do not understand why this is a “taking” since the real-estate they bought was valued in such a way that such a taking does not affect them. However, men like Washington, Jefferson, and later Lincoln would have clearly rebelled at the idea that the Federal government could determine what areas could be farmed on their lands, etc. These are invasions of privacy and takings of property that are many times more repugnant than a tax on tea.

(4) Limitations on the Federal Government

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution made it clear that the People and the States empower the Federal government not the other way around. The Federal government can only have the power that the People and the States explicitly give it.

The basic Bill of Rights was ratified 15 December 1791.

The Evolution of Democracy and Congressional Roles

The Parliament and the Congress are devices that were invented to implement democracy under a certain set of technological constraints (i.e., poor communications). Communications technology (both dissemination of information and receipt of opinions from the People) is advancing very rapidly. As I write (1999), Congress (and politicians at large) has become very sensitive to the public opinion as expressed in political polls (statistical samples of the population). There is, however, a problem with the fact that polls are difficult to regulate and may not reflect the true sense of the “citizens eligible to vote.” Polls, of course, can be couched so as to obtain the answer the poll-taker wants. For example, during the 1960s (a revolutionary time in the U.S.), certain revolutionary groups attempted to discredit more conservative opinion by presenting polls in which individuals were asked to agree or disagree with some of the more flaming rhetoric from the Declaration of Independence. A person of moderate views would likely not agree with these statements out of context. For example. If you are shown the following text, you might think twice about agreeing with it (without qualification):

“…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

Of course, the Founders of the United States did not sign that statement (in isolation). What they signed reads more completely:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. “
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

And, this statement is followed by a long list of specific greivances such as quartering troops in private homes during peacetime. The Declaration of Independence was carefully crafted by fairly conservative people.

Regardless, “democracy by political poll” is becoming a real-time phenomenon. Our leaders are frequently literally professional actors (e.g., Ronald Ragan, Fred Thompson) and other media personalities who speak well and project an authoritative image while relying on technical experts for advice and following the polls for use as to where to stand on the issues. The idea of a candidate for public office stating his/her opinions and asking the People to vote up or down on that is fading. Instead, the process is becoming one of maintaining flexibility, espousing a few simple ideas that are non-controversial, and working the polls to discover a combination of voters who will provide the necessary majority.

However, the poll may itself give way to immediate communication response. The Internet and similar devices hold out the prospect that individuals will be able to express their opinions instantly on any issue. The key problem here is multiple voting through uncontrolled mechanisms.

There will likely always be some sort of Congress, but its role will be changed by technology, even if the laws stay the same.

23.2 The United States and the Cherokee

The Treaty of Hopewell (28 November 1785)

Soon after the Americans won their independence they voluntarily began to enter into treaties with the Cherokee to (1) secure the title to land that had previously been owned by the Cherokee as recognized by the British colonies and had been taken from the Cherokee concurrent with the war with the British, (2) ensure peace. It is relevant that in this document, the Cherokee are represented by the head-men of towns and areas, which was similar to the status of the Euro-American signatories at the time. Once established in 1789, the United States would recognize the Cherokee as a separate nation.

Concluded at HOPEWELL, on the KEOWEE,
of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, of the one Part,
HEAD-MEN and WARRIORS of all the CHEROKEES of the other.

THE Commissioners Plenipotentiary of the United States in Congress assembled, give peace to all the CHEROKEES, and receive them into the favor and protection of the United States of America, on the following conditions.

Art. 1. The Head-Men and Warriors of all the Cherokees, shall restore all the prisoners, citizens of the United States, or subjects of their allies, to their entire liberty: They shall also restore all the negroes, and all other property taken during the late war from the citizens, to such person, and at such time and place, as the commissioners shall appoint.

Art. 2. The Commissioners of the United States in Congress assembled, shall restore all the prisoners taken from the Indians, during the late war, to the Head-Men and Warriors of the Cherokees, as early as is practicable.

Art. 3. The said Indians for themselves, and their respective tribes and towns, do acknowledge all the Cherokees to be under the protection of the United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever.

Art. 4. The boundary allotted to the Cherokees for their hunting grounds, between the said Indians and the citizens of the United States, within the limits of the United States of America, is, and shall be the following, viz. beginning at the mouth of Duck river on the Tennessee; thence running north-east, to the ridge dividing the waters running into Cumberland from those running into the Tennessee; thence eastwardly along the said ridge to a north-east line to be run, which shall strike the river Cumberland forty miles above Nashville; thence along the said line to the river; thence up the said river to the ford where the Kentucky road crosses the river, thence to Campbell’s line, near Cumberland gap; thence to the mouth of Claud’s creek on Holston; thence to the Chimney Top mountain; thence to Camp creek, near the mouth of Big Limestone, on Nolichuckey; thence a southerly course six miles to a mountain; thence south to the North-Carolina; thence to the South-Carolina Indian boundary, and along the same south-west over the top of the Oconee mountain till it shall strike Tugalo river; thence a direct line to the top of the Currohee mountain; thence to the head of the South fork of Oconee river.

Art. 5. If any citizen of the United States, or other person not being an Indian, shall attempt to settle on any of the lands westward or southward of the said boundary which are hereby allotted to the Indians for their hunting grounds, or having already settled and will not remove from the same with six months after the ratification of this treaty, such person shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Indians may punish him or not as they please-provided nevertheless, that this article shall not extend to the people settled between the fork of French Broad, and Holston rivers, whose particular situation shall be transmitted to the United States in Congress assembled for their decision thereon, which the Indians agree to abide by.

Art. 6. If any Indian or Indians, or person residing among them, or who shall take refuge in their nation, shall commit a robbery, or murder or other capital crime on any citizen of the United States, or person under their protection, the nation, or the tribe to which such offender or offenders may belong, shall be bound to deliver him or them up to be punished according to the ordinances of the United States; provided that the punishment shall not be greater than if the robbery or murder, or other capital crime, had been committed by a citizen on a citizen.

Art. 7. If any citizen of the United States, or person under their protection, shall commit a robbery or murder or other capital crime, on any Indian, such offender or offenders shall be punished in the same manner as if the murder or robbery or other capital crime, had been committed on a citizen of the United States; and the punishment shall be in presence of some of the Cherokees, if any shall attend at the time and place, and that they may have an opportunity so to do, due notice of the time of such intended punishment shall be sent to some one of the tribes.

Art. 8. It is understood that the punishment of the innocent under the idea of retaliation, is unjust, and shall not be practiced on either side, except where there is a manifest violation of this treaty; and then it shall be preceded, first by a demand of justice, and if refused, then by a declaration of hostilities.

Art. 9. For the benefit and comfort of the Indians, and for the prevention of injuries or oppressions on the part of the citizens or Indians; the United States in Congress assembled shall have the sole and exclusive right of regulating the trade with the Indians, and managing all their affairs in such manners as they think proper.

Art. 10. Until the pleasure of Congress be known, respecting the ninth article, all traders, citizens of the United States, shall have liberty to go to any of the tribes or towns of the Cherokees to trade with them, and they shall be protected in their persons and property, and kindly treated.

Art. 11. The said Indians shall give notice to the citizens of the United States, of any designs which they may know or suspect to be formed in any neighboring tribe, or by any person whosoever, against the peace, trade or interest of the United States.

Art. 12. That the Indians may have full confidence in the justice of the United States respecting
their interests, they shall have the right to send a deputy of their choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.

Art. 13. The hatchet shall be forever buried, and the peace given by the United States, and friendship re-established between the said states on the one part, and all the Cherokees on the other, shall be universal; and the contracting parties shall use their utmost endeavors to maintain the peace given as aforesaid, and friendship re-established.

IN WITNESS of all, and every thing herein determined, between the United States of America, and all the Cherokees--We their underwritten commissioners, by virtue of our full powers have signed this definitive treaty, and have caused our seals to be hereunto affixed.—

DONE at Hopewell on the Keowee, this twenty-eighth of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.

BENJAMIN HAWKINS, .......... (L.S.)
ANDW. PICKENS, .......... (L.S.)
JOS. MARTIN, .......... (L.S.)
LACHN. M'INTOSH .......... (L.S.)
KOATOHEE, or Corn Tassell of Toquo, his X mark .......... ()
SCHOLAUETTA, or Hanging Man of Chota, his X mark .......... ()
TUSKEGATAHU, or Long Fellow of Chistohoe, his X mark .......... ()
OOSKWHA, or Abraham of Chilkowa, his X mark .......... ()
KOLAKUSTA, or Prince of North, his X mark .......... ()
NEWOTA, or the Gritz of Chicamaga, his X mark .......... ()
KONATOTA, or the Rising Fawn of Highwassay, his X mark .......... ()
TUCKASEE, or Young Tarrapin of Allajoy, his X mark .......... ()
TOOSTAKA, or the waker of Oostanawa, his X mark ()
UNTOOLA, or Gun rod of Seteco, his X mark .......... ()
UNSUOKANAIL, Buffalo White Calf New Cussee his X mark .......... ()
KOSTAYEAK, or Sharp Fellow Wataga, his X mark .......... ()
CHONOSTA, of Cowe, his X mark .......... ()
CHESCOONWHA, Bird in Close of Tomotlug, his X mark .......... ()
TUCKASEE, or Tarrapin of Hightowa, his X mark .......... ()
CHESETOA, or the Rabbit of Tlacoa, his X mark .......... ()
CHESECOTETONA, or Yellow Bird of the Pine Log, his X mark .......... ()
SKETALOSKA, Secon Man of Tillico, his X mark .......... ()
CHOKASATAHE, Chickasaw Killer Tasonta, his X mark .......... ()
ONANOOTA, of Koosoatee, his X mark .......... ()
OOKOSETA, or Sower Mush of Kooloque, his X mark .......... ()
UMATOOETHA, the Water Hunter, Choikamawgee his X mark .......... ()
WYUKA, of Lookout Mountain, his X mark .......... ()
TULCO, or Tom of Chatuga, his X mark .......... ()
WILL, of Akoha, his X mark .......... ()
NECATEE, of Sawta, his X mark .......... ()
AMOKONTAKONA, Kutcloa, his X mark .......... ()
KOWETATAHEE, in Frog-Town, his X mark .......... ()
KEUKUCH, Talkoa, his X mark .......... ()
TULATISKA, of Chaway, his X mark .......... ()
WOOALUKA, the way layer, Chota, his X mark .......... ()
TATLIUSTA, or Porpus of Tilassi, his X mark .......... ()
JOHN, of Little Tallico, his X mark .......... ()
SKELELAK, his X mark .......... ()
AKONOLUCHTA, the Cabbin, his X mark .......... ()
CHEANOKA, of Kawetakac, his X mark .......... ()
YELLOW BIRD, his X mark .......... ()

.......... WM. BLOUNT,
.......... SAM TAYLOR, major,
.......... JOHN OWEN,
.......... JESS WALTON,
.......... JOHN COWAN, capt. commandant,
.......... THOS. GEGG,
.......... W. HAZZARD.
.......... JAMES MADISON,
.......... ARTHUR COODEY, .......... Sworn Interpreters.

The Proclamation of (1 September) 1788

By the United States in Congress Assembled,

WHEREAS the United States in Congress assembled, by their Commissioners duly appointed and authorized, did on the Twenty-eighth Day of November, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-five, at Hopewell, on the Keowee, conclude Articles of a Treaty with all the Cherokees, and among other things stipulated and engaged by Article fourth, "That the Boundary allotted to the Cherokees for their Hunting Grounds, between the said Indians and the Citizens of the United States, within the limits of the United States of America, is and shall be the following, viz. "Beginning at the mouth of Duck river on the Tennessee; thence running northeast to the ridge dividing the waters running into Cumberland from those running into the Tennessee; thence eastwardly along the said ridge to a north-east line to be run, which shall strike the river Cumberland, forty miles above Nashville; thence along the said line to the river; thence up the said river to the ford where the Kentucky road crosses the river; thence to Campbell's line near to Cumberland Gap; thence to the mouth of Claud's Creek on Holstein; thence to the Chimney-Top Mountain; thence to Camp Creek, near the mouth of Big Lime Stone on Nolichuckey; thence a southerly course six miles to a mountain; thence south to the North-Carolina line; thence to the South-Carolina Indian Boundary, and along the same south-west over the top of the Oconee Mountain, till it shall strike Tugalo river; thence a direct line to the top of the Currohee Mountain; thence to the head of the south fork of the Oconee river." And by Article fifth, that "If any Citizen of the United States, or other person not being an Indian, should attempt to settle on any of the lands westward or southward of the said Boundary, which were allotted to the Indians for their Hunting Grounds, or having settled previously to concluding the said Treaty, and not removing from the same within six months after the ratification of the said Treaty, such person should forfeit the protection of the United States, and that the Indians might punish him or not as they please; provided, that the said fifth Article should not extend to the People settled between the fork of French Broad and Holstein rivers, whose particular situation should be transmitted to the United States in Congress assembled for their decision thereon, which the Indians agreed to abide by." AND WHEREAS it has been represented to Congress, that several disorderly Persons settled on the Frontiers of North Carolina, in the vicinity of Chota, have, in open violation of the said Treaty, made intrusions upon the said Indian Hunting Grounds, and committed many unprovoked outrages upon the said Cherokees, who by the said Treaty have put themselves under the protection of the United States, which proceedings are highly injurious and disrespectful to the authority of the Union, and it being the firm determination of Congress to protect the said Cherokees in their rights, according to the true intent and meaning of the said Treaty; THE UNITED STATES IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED, have therefore thought fit to issue, and they DO hereby issue this their PROCLAMATION, strictly forbidding all such unwarrantable intrusions, and hostile proceedings against the said Cherokees; and enjoining all those who have settled upon the said Hunting Grounds of the said Cherokees, to depart with their Families and Effects without loss of time, as they shall answer their disobedience to the injunctions and prohibitions expressed in this Resolution at their peril: Provided, that this Proclamation shall not be construed as requiring the removal of the People settled between the fork of French Broad and Holstein rivers, referred to in the said Treaty: Provided also, that nothing contained in this Proclamation shall be considered as affecting the Territorial Claims of the State of North Carolina.

DONE in Congress, this First Day of September, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eight-eight, and of our Sovereignty and Independence the Thirteenth.


The Treaty of Holston (2 July 1791)

One of the first issues that George Washington and his government had to face was establishing normal relationships with the Native Americans on the frontier. In the case of the Cherokee, Washington was aware of the long history of this nation and their tribal claims. He set about to negotiate and bind the United States to a treaty with the Cherokee that would ensure mutual protection and allow the United States to explore and settle lands to the west of the Cherokee homeland. The negotiations were held on the Holston River in June and July 1791 and the result was the Treaty of Holston, which is clear and unambiguous with respect to the status of the Cherokee nation and the solemn promise of United States to respect its territory.

A Treaty of Peace and; Friendship made and concluded between the President of the United States of America, on the Part and Behalf of the said States, and the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, of the Cherokee Nation of Indians, on the part and Behalf of the said Nation.

The parties being desirous of establishing permanent peace and friendship between the United States and the said Cherokee Nation, and the citizens and members thereof, and to remove the causes of war, by ascertaining their limits and making other necessary, just and friendly arrangements: The President of the United States, by William Blount, Governor of the territory of the United States of America, south of the river Ohio, and Superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern district, who is vested with full powers for these purposes, by and with-the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States. And the Cherokee Nation, by the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors representing the said nation, have agreed to the following articles, namely:


There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States of America, and all the individuals composing the whole Cherokee nation of Indians.


The undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, for themselves and all parts of the Cherokee nation do acknowledge themselves and the said Cherokee nation, to be under the protection of the said United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever; and they also stipulate that the said Cherokee nation will not hold any treaty with any foreign power, individual state, or with individuals of any state.


The Cherokee nation shall deliver to the Governor of the territory of the United States of America, south of the river Ohio, on or before the first day of April next, at this place all persons who are now prisoners, captured by them from any part of the United States: And the United States shall on or before the same day, and at the same place, restore to the Cherokees, all the prisoners now in captivity, which the citizens of the United States have captured from them.


The boundary between the citizens of the United States and the Cherokee nation, is and shall be as follows: Beginning at the top of the Currahee mountain, where the Creek line passes it; thence a direct line to Tugelo river; thence northeast to the Occunna mountain, and over the same along the South-Carolina Indian boundary to the North-Carolina boundary; thence north to a point from which a line is to be extended to the river Clinch, that shall pass the Holston at the ridge which divides the waters running into Little River from those running into the Tennessee; thence up the river Clinch to Campbell's line, and along the same to the top of Cumberland mountain; thence a direct line to the Cumberland river where the Kentucky road crosses it; thence down the Cumberland river to a point from which a south west line will strike the ridge which divides the waters of Cumberland from those of Duck river, forty miles above Nashville; thence down the said ridge to a point from whence a southwest line will strike the mouth of Duck river.

And in order to preclude forever all disputes relative to the said boundary, the same shall be ascertained, and marked plainly by three persons appointed on the part of the United States, and three Cherokees on the part of their nation.

And in order to extinguish forever all claims of the Cherokee nation, or any part thereof, to any of the land lying to the right of the line above described. beginning as aforesaid at the Currahee mountain, it is hereby agreed, that in addition to the consideration heretofore made for the said land, the United States will cause certain valuable goods, to be immediately delivered to the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, for the use of their nation; and the said United States will also cause the sum of one thousand dollars to be paid annually to the said Cherokee nation. And the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, do hereby for themselves and the whole Cherokee nation, their heirs and descendants, for the considerations above-mentioned, release, quit-claim, relinquish and cede, all the land to the right of the line described, and beginning as aforesaid.


It is stipulated and agreed, that the citizens and inhabitants of the United States, shall have a free and unmolested use of a road from Washington district to Mero district, and of the navigation of the Tennessee river.


It is agreed on the part of the Cherokees, that the United States shall have the sole and exclusive right of regulating their trade.


The United States solemnly guarantee to the Cherokee nation, all their lands not hereby ceded.


If any citizen of the United States, or other person not being an Indian, shall settle on any of the Cherokees' lands, such person shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Cherokees may punish him or not, as they please.


No citizen or inhabitant of the United States, shall attempt to hunt or destroy the game on the lands of the Cherokees; nor shall any citizen or inhabitant go into the Cherokee country, without a passport first obtained from the Governor of some one of the United States, or territorial districts, or such other person as the President of the United States may from time to time authorize to grant the same.


If any Cherokee Indian or Indians, or person residing among them, or who shall take refuge in their nation, shall steal a horse from, or commit a robbery or murder, or other capital crime, on any citizens or inhabitants of the United States, the Cherokee nation shall be bound to deliver him or them up, to be punished according to the laws of the United States.


If any citizen or inhabitant of the United States, or of either of the territorial districts of the United States, shall go into any town, settlement or territory belonging to the Cherokees, and shall there commit any crime upon, or trespass against the person or property of any peaceable and friendly Indian or Indians, which if committed within the jurisdiction of any state, or within the jurisdiction of either of the said districts, against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof, would be punishable by the laws of such state or district, such offender or offenders, shall be subject to the same punishment, and shall be proceeded against in the same manner as if the of fence had been committed within the jurisdiction of the state or district to which he or they may belong against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof.


In case of violence on the persons or property of the individuals of either party, neither retaliation or reprisal shall be committed by the other, until satisfaction shall have been demanded of the party of which the aggressor is and shall have been refused.


The Cherokees shall give notice to the citizens of the United States, of any designs which they may know, or suspect to be formed in any neighboring tribe, or by any person whatever, against the peace and interest of the United States.


That the Cherokee nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen and cultivators, instead of remaining in a state of hunters, the United States will from time to time furnish gratuitously the said nation with useful implements of husbandry, and further to assist the said nation in so desirable a pursuit, and at the same time to establish a certain mode of communication, the United States will send such, and so many persons to reside in said nation as they may judge proper, not exceeding four in number, who shall qualify themselves to act as interpreters. These persons shall have lands assigned by the Cherokees for cultivation for themselves and their successors in office; but they shall be precluded exercising any kind of traffic.


All animosities for past grievances shall henceforth cease, and the contracting parties will carry the foregoing treaty into full execution with all good faith and sincerity.


This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall have been ratified by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States. In witness of all and every thing herein determined between the United States of America and the whole Cherokee nation, the parties have hereunto set their hands and seals, at the treaty ground on the bank of the Holston, near the mouth of the French Broad, within the United States, this second day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one.

William Blount, governor in and over the territory of the United States of America south of the river Ohio, and superintendent of Indian Affairs for the southern district,

Chuleoah, or the Boots, his x mark,
Squollecuttah, or Hanging Maw, his x mark,
Oecunna,or the Badger,his x mark,
Enoleh, or Black Fox, his x mark,
Nontuaka, or the Northward, his x mark,
Tekakiska, his x mark
Chutloh, or King Fisher, his x mark,
Tuckaseh,orTerrapin,his x mark,
Kateh, his x mark
Kunnochatutloh, or the Crane, his x mark
Canquillehanah, or the Thigh, his x mark,
Chesquotteleneh, or Yellow Bird, his x mark,
Chickasawtehe, or Chickasaw Killer, his x mark,
Tuskegatehe, Tuskega Killer, his x mark,
Kulsatehe, his x mark,
Tinkshalene, his x mark
Sawntteh, or Slave Catcher, his x mark,
Auknah, his x mark
Oosenaleh, his x mark
Kenotetah, or Rising Fawn, his x mark,
Kanetetoka, or Standing Turkey, his x mark.
Yonewatleh, or Bear at Home, his x mark,
Long Will, his x mark
Kunoskeskie, or John Watts, his x mark,
Nenetooyah, or Bloody Fellow, his x mark,
Chuquilatague, or Double Head his x mark,
Koolaquah, or Big Acorn, his x mark
Too wayelloh, or Bold Hunter, his x mark
Jahleoonoyehka, or Middle Striker, his x mark,
Kinnesah, or Cabin, his x mark,
Tullotehe, or Two Killer, his x mark
Kaalouske, or Stop Still, his x mark
Kulsatche, his x mark,
Auquotague, the Little Turkey's Son, his x mark,
Talohteske, or Upsetter, his x mark,
Cheakoneske, or Otter Lifter, his x mark
Keshukaune, or She Reigns, his x mark,
Toonaunailoh, his x mark,
Teesteke, or Common Disturber his x mark,
Robin McClemore
John Thompson, Interpreter.
James Cery, Interpreter.

Done in presence of-

Dan'l Smith, Secretary Territory United States south of the river Ohio
Thomas Kennedy, of Kentucky.
Jas. Robertson, of Mero District
Claiborne Watkins, of Virginia.
Jno. McWhitney, of Georgia.
Fauche, of Georgia.
Titus Ogden, North Carolina.
Jno. Chisolm, Washington District.
Robert King.
Thomas Gegg.

Additional Article To the Treaty made between the United States and the Cherokees on the second day of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one.

IT is hereby mutually agreed between Henry Knox, Secretary of War, duly authorized thereto in behalf of the United States, on the one part, and the undersigned chiefs and warriors, in behalf of them selves and the Cherokee nation, on the other part, that the following article shall be added to and considered as part of the treaty made between the United States and the said Cherokee nation on the second day of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one; to wit:

The sum to be paid annually by the United States to the Cherokee nation of Indians, in consideration of the relinquishment of land, as stated in the treaty made with them on the second day of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, shall be one thousand five hundred dollars instead of one thousand dollars, mentioned in the said treaty.

In testimony whereof, the said Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and the said chiefs and warriors of the Cherokee nation, have hereunto set their hands and seals, in the city of Philadelphia, this seventeenth day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two.

H. Knox, Secretary of War,
Iskagua, or Clear Sky, his x mark (formerly Nenetooyah, or Bloody Fellow),
Nontuaka, or the Northward, his x mark,
Chutloh, or King Fisher, his x mark,
Katigoslah, or the Prince, his x mark,
Teesteke, or Common Disturber, his x mark,
Suaka, or George Miller, his x mark,

In presence of-
Thomas Grooter.
Jno. Stagg, Jr.
Leonard D. Shaw

Any reasonable reading of this document makes it clear that

(1) The Cherokee Nation was considered to be an independent sovereign nation in the status of protectorate of the United States. It had a well-defined territorial border and exercised the power of law within that border over its citizens and visitors.

(2) The Cherokee individually were considered to be citizens of their nation and Americans we not citizens of the Cherokee nation and visa versa.

(3) This treaty was won through allied warfare against common enemies and was in the interest of preventing future warfare between the two parties.

There would, of course, be subsequent treaties between the United States and the Cherokee. I will argue that the subsequent treaties can universally be invalidated because they were contracts obtained through fraud, threat, bribery or negotiations with individuals that were not duly empowered to negotiate for the entire Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee at this time had no written language and at this time had no formal democratic process or written constitution. Both a written language and a formal constitution would come within a few years consistent with the terms of the Treaty of Holston in which the U.S. government urged the Cherokee to take up farming and give up hunting. This treaty recognized that individuals of both nations (the U.S. and the Cherokee) might cause violence; but that was to be dealt with due process and did not abrogate the treaty.

Dragging Canoe (circa 1738-1792)

Dragging Canoe (Tsi'ui-Gunsin'n, Cui Canacina) born around 1738 is believe to be one of the oldest children of Atakullakulla (Little Carpenter). His brothers were Little Owl and Turtle at Home. When Atakullakulla led an expedition against the Shawnee in the Ohio Valley about 1750, his young son, of course, wanted to go. Atakullakulla is said to have told him that if he could drag a fully loaded canoe out of the water by himself, he could go. Thus, Dragging Canoe (about 12 years old) proved his strength and determination and earned his name.

Dragging Canoe was destined to represent the more traditional Cherokee viewpoint, which refused assimilation and compromise with the Europeans. His following was located in present-day southeastern Tennessee, but his followers may have come from all parts of the tribe. As early as 1775 at the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, Dragging Canoe expressed his opinion (which was correct) that the Europeans would continue to make demands on Native American lands. He also expressed the view that the Cherokee could successfully resist by force of arms (which was not correct).

The following quote is attributed to Dragging Canoe (17 March 1775):

Whole Indian Nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance. They leave scarcely a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delewares? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Tsalagi (Cherokee) land. They wish to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Tsalagi (Cherokees). New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Tsalagi (Cherokees) and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of the Ani Yvwiya, The Real People, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Tsalagi (Cherokees), the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than to submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land.

Obviously, Europeans paraphrased this quote from remarks remembered at the time. Alexander Cameron is a likely source of this glorification of Dragging Canoe.

Naturally, Dragging Canoe much favored the British at the outbreak of the War of Independence because they were trying to enforce the Proclamation of 1763 against the colonists. About March 1776, he escorted Alexander Cameron and Henry Stewart (the British Indian agents) from Mobile (West Florida) to Chota to attempt to secure Cherokee support for the British. Cameron and Stewart reminded the Cherokee that there were many British Loyalists (especially in South Carolina). Thus, the British agents encouraged the Cherokee take up arms only were they could be sure that the Europeans were American Patriots. Obviously, the settlers in Watauga (then North Carolina) were beyond the line of the Proclamation of 1763 and were likely to be exclusively Patriots. In South Carolina, the British used Loyalists dressed as Cherokee to conduct targeted assassinations of key Patriots.

These events brought to a head the fundamental split in Cherokee politics. Nancy Ward, Oconostota and other mainstream Cherokee (especially the lower and middle towns of the Carolinas) realized that war with Europeans could only lead to ruin. Dragging Canoe listened to the advice of Alexander Cameron and organized a series of attacks on the Watauga region. This brought the invasion by forces from Virginia into the territory of the Overhill Cherokee at the same time that the South Carolinians were leading an attack on the lower and middle towns. Dragging Canoe simply gathered up all the young men that were hungry for revenge and moved into the Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Running Water Creek area. This band became known as the Chickamauga Cherokee and waged a guerilla war for the next 20 years against Europeans. In the closing stages of the War of Independence, Dragging Canoe may have been part of the Georgia King’s Rangers under Col. Thomas Browne. One Internet source says that he assisted Browne at the siege of Augusta.

After the war, Dragging Canoe became less selective about where he found help. He befriended the Spanish, French and British as well as the Shawnee to obtain aid in fighting the European (American) settles. The highlight of this fighting was the victory over General Arthur St. Claire at the Wabash River in Indiana (4 November 1791). But, most of the actions of the Chickamauga band were little more than renegade raids, robbery and murder with no direct political significance. Unfortunately, Dragging Canoe badly blemished the reputation of the mainstream Cherokee.

His death was as disgusting and pointless as most of his life. The story goes that Dragging Canoe died suddenly 17 February 1792 near Look Out Town (present-day Trenton, Georgia) after an all-night “scalp dance” celebration with Glass and Turtle at Home. The victims were the family of John Collingsworth from near Nashville. The image of drunken, middle-aged men grinding the scalps of a family between their teeth as they danced around a campfire all night should put the situation in perspective.

George Washington noted the problems caused by this group in his fourth State of the Union Message (1792):

George Washington
Fourth Annual Message to Congress
Philadelphia, PA, 1792-11-6

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

It must add to your concern to be informed that, besides the continuation of hostile appearances among the tribes north of the Ohio, some threatening symptoms have of late been revived among some of those south of it.

A part of the Cherokees, known by the name of Chickamaugas, inhabiting five villages on the Tennessee River, have long been in the practice of committing depredations on the neighboring settlements.

It was hoped that the treaty of Holston, made with the Cherokee Nation in July, 1791, would have prevented a repetition of such depredations; but the event has not answered this hope. The Chickamaugas, aided by some banditti of another tribe in their vicinity, have recently perpetrated wanton and unprovoked hostilities upon the citizens of the United States in that quarter. …

It is not understood that any breach of treaty or aggression whatsoever on the part of the United States or their citizens is even alleged as a pretext for the spirit of hostility in this quarter.

Unfortunately, John Watts (Old Tassel's nephew) stepped forward to lead the renegade band after Dragging Canoe's death and is credited with the massacres at Buchanan Station and Cavett’s Station (both in 1793) near Nashville, TN. The point is that there was never any realistic hope that these actions would reverse of even slow the tide of European settlers. The raids did not even have consistency or design that would influence the government. It is unfortunate that some historians cling to the Chickamauga as an example of Cherokee will to be independent. In fact, the Chickamauga may have be born of young men that were displaced by the American attacks in 1776, but when the war was over; there was no hope of securing a military solution. The Cherokee patriots drifted away and the Chickamauga simply became a band of maladjusted outlaws with their families centered on Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River in north Alabama.

Predictably, some European settlers eventually took things into their own hands. In 1794, Col. James Orr of Nashville led a raid against Nickajack that caught mostly women and children. In 1796, another treaty was signed at Tellico and signed by John Watts. He was replaced by still other outlaws (Will Weber and Bowl). These men took their families to Texas and Mississippi by 1799 ending the Chickamauga band.

The Americans, the British and the Spanish (1783-1794)

Almost as soon as the War of Independence was won, the United States was faced with the problem of maintaining peace between its citizens who had begun to pour into the valleys of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers an the Native Americans. The Creeks, Cherokee, Shawnee, etc. had not been a party the negotiations in Paris and there was a big difference in the British giving up their claims to the land and the Americans establishing their claims. The overlapping historical claims of Spain and France on the lands given up by the British were a further complication. It was one thing to fight the Native Americans on the frontier and quite another thing to become involved in a war with a power that could invade the eastern U.S. and attack U.S. commerce at sea.

Spain was the biggest problem. Indeed, war with Spain and Spain’s colony of Mexico was inevitable for the U.S., but George Washington did not want to pick up this challenge immediately. Spain had controlled the Far West and southwest for two hundred years. France ceded Spain the mid-west (west of the Mississippi) in 1763. Spain recovered East and West Florida from the British in 1783. And, Spain did not recognize the U.S. as a sovereign country. In the long term, Spain would work through the early 1800s to induce the Americans west of the mountains to form a separate nation that would buffer Spanish claims from American aggression. England still held Canada and shared Spain’s anti-American strategic goals in the upper mid-west. Leading American frontiersmen (including George Rogers Clark) had already aligned themselves with Spain. The future of “The West” was almost set into stone in 1781 when the Continental Congress expressed a willingness to accept the crest of the eastern mountains as the western border of the United States.

Although the western settlers were treated as American citizens and wooed by the new government, it would require action to win their hearts and minds. In the end, the thing that the settlers wanted (that the Spanish were not providing) was peace with the Native Americans. While the Americans were raising a small force of regular troops to attempt to patrol the Ohio region, the unexpected (yet inevitable) happened. England and Spain came into conflict in 1790 over their ambitions in the west. The eastern American politicians soon found themselves debating whether to support Spain and hope to win Canada (Jefferson’s view) or to Support Britain and hope to win Florida (Hamilton’s view). The westerns (including the Yazoo Land Company of South Carolina led by Dr. James O’ Fallon ) were inclined to follow an independent course and make maximum gains (primarily from the Spanish) east of the Mississippi.

Getting back to the original American plan to send a small force into the Ohio to neutralize the Native Americans, the eastern politicians now had to consider the impact that expedition would have on potential alliances with Britain and Spain. Since the expedition was originally planned into territory occupied by Native Americans friendly to the British, it would likely harm chances of siding with the British. However, by the end of 1790, all of these concerns were rendered moot, when the French abandoned their Spanish ally. Without support of the French, Spain was not going to challenge Britain (a point that Jefferson should have considered).

The American expedition against the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory was poorly organized and led. They were met by Little Turtle who managed to out maneuver the Americans killing about 200 while losing only about 20 warriors. When the American regular army withdrew, the settlers were now more in danger than ever. The next year (4 November 1791), a second American expedition under Governor Saint Claire of the Northwest Territories was beaten even worse with the loss of 900 men. The Native Americans under Little Turtle lacked discipline and the will to pursue the fleeing Americans or to immediately press their advantage on the settlers. For their part, the settlers sat through the winter of 1791-92 expecting to be killed in the spring.

While Washington worked to prepare yet a third army under General Anthony Wayne, he bought time by offering the Native Americans peace through appeasement. Various messengers were tried and finally Joseph Bryant (English-educated Canadian Native) met with Washington and was given financial rewards to arrange a peace with the Ohio Natives. Nothing came of this either. However, the Natives of Ohio called their own convention at the junction of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers in Ohio. Delegates came from all over North America and the Natives offered to consider the Americans a proposition to make the Ohio River the boundary between the settlers and the tribes.

This offer inadvertently gave the Americans the motivation they needed to train and mobilize Anthony Wayne’s army, which moved to Fort Washington (a.k.a., Cincinnati). There they waited through 1793 while the government attempted to negotiate. A delegation was sent to Detroit (via Fort Niagara) under British protection. Although the British pretended to assist the Americans communicate with the Natives; in fact, they were undermining the peace process at every step. Ultimately, an American offer of very substantial material goods was rejected.

By the spring of 1794, the international issue was confuse again, this time, by the French Revolution. Americans in the west easily identified with the French Revolutionaries (a.k.a., Jacobins). Moreover, the French were now restating their claims in North America and provoking conflict with Spain and Britain. The American government was paralyzed by these developments. In this context, most Americans west of the mountains simply chose to disregard the authority of Washington and resist efforts to tax them. This resistance to taxation and control by the American government was trivialized as the Whisky Rebellion (summer 1794) in the East, but it was near an outright succession in the West. However, the union was saved by an external threat by the British from Detroit who moved into Ohio (Fort Miami on the Maumee River) to support Native American claims. The British threatened to eject American settlers in Ohio back to Kentucky. This action, of course, gave the western settlers a reason to side with the eastern American government.

Fully anticipating that war with the Natives would produce war with the British, Washington sent the army of Anthony Wane into the field. Little Turtle, however, decided to rely on his British allies and established a defensive position in a “blow-down” of trees (the result of a tornado in the forest) near the new British fort. Anthony Wayne was not dissuaded; and with confidence in the troops he had personally trained for two years, he attacked with the bayonet into the mass of “fallen timbers.” The forces of Little Turtle were not ready for a determined fight. They were surprised by the ferocity of the Americans (who they had humiliated on two previous occasions) and fled to the British fort. However, as they approached the fort, with Americans in hot pursuit, the British closed the gates. For whatever reason, the British support of the Natives turned out to be a bluff. Over the next few days, Anthony Wayne’s army destroyed the villages of the Natives with the full knowledge of the British. The absence of British response completely undermined the alliance with the Natives and Ohio was forever to be American.

The 1794 Treaty

In an attempt to implement the Treaty of Holston (of 1791), the Cherokee agreed to an amendment in 1794.

WHEREAS the treaty made and concluded on Holston river, on the second day of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, between the United States of America and the Cherokee nation of Indians, has not been fully carried into execution by reason of some misunderstandings which have arisen:


And whereas the undersigned Henry Knox, Secretary for the department of War, being authorized thereto by the President of the United States, in behalf of the said United States, and the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, in their own names, and in behalf of the whole Cherokee nation, are desirous of re-establishing peace and friendship between the said parties in a permanent manner, Do hereby declare, that the said treaty of Holston is, to all intents and purposes, in full force and binding upon the said parties, as well in respect to the boundaries therein mentioned as in all other respects whatever.


It is hereby stipulated that the boundaries mentioned in the fourth article of the said treaty, shall be actually ascertained and marked in the manner prescribed by the said article, whenever the Cherokee nation shall have ninety days notice of the time and place at which the commissioners of the United States intend to commence their operation.


The United States, to evince their justice by amply compensating the said Cherokee nation of Indians for all relinquishments of land made either by the treaty of Hopewell upon the Keowee river, concluded on the twenty-eighth of November one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, or the aforesaid treaty made upon Holston river, on the second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, do hereby stipulate, in lieu of all former sums to be paid annually to furnish the Cherokee Indians with goods suitable for their use, to the amount of five thousand dollars yearly.


And the said Cherokee nation, in order to evince the sincerity of their intentions in future, to prevent the practice of stealing horses, attended with the most pernicious consequences to the lives and peace of both parties, do hereby agree, that for every horse which shall be stolen from the white inhabitants by any Cherokee Indians, and not returned within three months, that the sum of fifty dollars shall be deducted from the said annuity of five thousand dollars.


The articles now stipulated will be considered as permanent additions to the treaty of Holston, as soon as they shall have been ratified by the President of the United States and the Senate of the United States.

In witness of all and every thing herein determined between the United States of America and the whole Cherokee nation, the parties have hereunto set their hands and seals in the city of Philadelphia, within the United States, this twenty-sixth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety four.

H. Knox, Secretary of War
Tekakisskee, or Taken out of the Water, his x mark
Nontuaka, or the North arc, his x mark,
Cinasaw, or the Cabin, his x mark,
Skyuka his x mark,
Chuquiiatague, or Double Head, his x mark
John MeCleemore, his x mark
Walaliue, or the Humming Bird,
Chuleowee, his x mark,
Ustanaqua, his X mark
Kullusathee, his x mark,
Siteaha, his x mark,
Keenaguna, or the Lying Fawn, his x mark,
Chatakaelesa, or the Fowl Carrier,

Done in presence of-

John Thompson,
William Wofford, of the State of Georgia.
Arthur Coodey, Interpreters,
W: McCaleb, of South Carolina.
Cantwell Jones, of Delaware.
Samuel Lewis, of Philadelphia

Thomas Jefferson’s Analysis of Native American Rights and Policy towards the Native Americans

Thomas Jefferson’s analysis of the situation of the Native Americans relative to the Euro-American settlers that composed the citizens of the United States evolved during his public life. In 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, he was willing to use the Native American raids as an example of British mischief in the colonies. But, in attempting to rationalize his arguments that “all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights…” Jefferson, was soon describing the Native Americans in high-minded philosophical terms:

--Thomas Jefferson to Henry Knox, 1791.

"I am of opinion that government should firmly maintain this ground: that the Indians have a right to the occupation of their lands, independent of the States within whose chartered lines they happen to be; that until they cede them by treaty or other transaction equivalent to a treaty, no act of a State can give a right to such lands; that neither under the present constitution, nor the ancient confederation, had any State or person a right to treat with the Indians, without the consent of the General Government;... that the government is determined to exert all its energy for the patronage and protection of the rights of the Indians, and the preservation of peace between the United States and them; and that if any settlements are made on lands not ceded by them, without the previous consent of the United States, the government will think itself bound, not only to declare to the Indians that such settlements are without the authority or protection of the United States, but to remove them also by the public force."

However, these positions were not consistent with political reality. The Natives did not vote, and the settlers did. Moreover, the American policy towards the Natives was a victim of its own success from 1790-1880. Namely, the western expansion of the United States always outstripped the wildest dreams of the policy makers and they consistently promised the Native Americans things (e.g., land and autonomy), which within a decade was untenable to the expectations of the surging sea of Euro-American settlers. Thus, the concept that Jefferson espoused during most of his terms in office (1800- 1808) was one of assimilation, which, in fact, would be the preferred fate of the natives:

--Thomas Jefferson: Confidential Message on Western Exploration, 1803.

“In order peaceably to counteract [their] policy [of refusing absolutely all further sale of their land], and to provide an extension of territory which the rapid increase of our numbers will call for, two measures are deemed expedient. First: to encourage them to abandon hunting, to apply to the raising stock, to agriculture and domestic manufactures, and thereby prove to themselves that less land and labor will maintain them in this, better than in their former mode of living. The extensive forest necessary in the hunting life will then become useless, and they will see advantage in exchanging them for the means of improving their farms and of increasing their domestic comforts. Secondly: to multiply trading-houses among them, and place within their reach those things which will contribute more to their domestic comfort than the possession of extensive but uncultivated wilds. Experience and reflection will develop to them the wisdom of exchanging what they can spare and we want, for what we can spare and they want. In leading them thus to agriculture, to manufactures, and civilization; in bringing together their and our settlements, and in preparing them ultimately to participate in the benefits of our government, I trust and believe we are acting for their greatest good."

Jefferson saw and criticized the concept of stagnation of the Native American culture. It is one thing to have respect and reverence for ones history; it is something totally different to attempt to stop evolution of that culture. Moreover, there is nothing unseemly for a culture to abandon historical practices, and adopt the practices of a new culture that clearly offers more potential for development. The following quote from Jefferson is applicable to day as it was when he wrote it (I am thinking specifically about those natives who now find themselves living on or claiming lands that have been used for nuclear development and testing):

--Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural, 1805.

"[Crafty individuals] inculcate a sanctimonious reverence [in the Native Americans] for the customs of their ancestors: that whatsoever they did must be done through all time; that reason is a false guide and to advance under its counsel in their physical, moral, or political condition is perilous innovation; that their duty is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being safety and knowledge full of danger. In short,... among them is seen the action and counteraction of good sense and bigotry. They, too, have their anti-philosophers who find an interest in keeping things in their present state, who dread reformation and exert all their faculties to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of improving our reason and obeying its mandates."

The Cherokee people were, in fact, falling into two camps. By the early 1800s, a number of influential people who identified themselves as Cherokee and lived within the lands of the Cherokee all their lives were of mixed blood (even blue-eyed). This contact with European-American culture was obviously influencing the Cherokee; but it would be a mistake to assume that the Cherokee were dividing strictly along racial lines. Some of the Euro-Cherokee were very conservative and some of the some of the pure-blooded Cherokee were rather liberal with respect to adopting Euro-American customs (e.g., agriculture, religion, laws). It is worth noting that the Cherokee hunter culture was a relatively new development that had evolved in response to the deer skin trade via Charles Town, SC in the early and mid-1700s. Traditionally (pre-Columbian), the Cherokee had tended the soil and only supplemented their needs with hunting. There was really nothing fundamentally standing in the way of assimilation of the Cherokee into Euro-American culture. The only real barrier to assimilation was education and especially the absence of a written language among the Cherokee.

It is my opinion that the Cherokee-Americans and the Euro-Americans each manipulated the other. The Cherokee had possession of large portions of land (at least in the Euro-American tradition of land ownership) by virtue of traditional occupation of the land. The same could be said for most Native American tribes. It is true enough that the Cherokee had occupied towns and traversed river valleys in the mountains of the south east unchallenged for many generations, but much of the open land was never occupied and was nothing more than a convenient buffer from Europeans and other Native Americans and “hunting ground” with no intrinsic value (economical or social) to the Cherokee. The Cherokee were “spoiled” early on in their relationship with the Europeans when they found that the Europeans would pay (money and goods) for land that the Cherokee did not even conceive of “owning.” More over, the Euro-Americans would promise to recognize the Cherokee’s inherent right to large areas of land. The fact is that with a population of 25,000 to 50,000, the Cherokee did not need, could not develop and could not hold by force the lands ascribed to them by the Europeans. And, the Cherokee knew it, even if the Europeans did not. Hence, the Cherokee were almost always ready to trade away land to the Europeans, because only the Europeans recognized Cherokee ownership of the land in the first place.

On the European side, the common settlers perceived that their leaders/government had blundered. A handful of Native Americans were being reserved large tracts of land for no reason. By the 20th Century some tribes (principally in the American West) would claim some spiritual kinship with the earth/nature, which was popular with the neo-pagan “mother earth” (anti-industrial) philosophy of the environmental movement. The Native Americans became a convenient symbol of the European’s (“Whiteman’s”) abuse of the earth. The fact is that it was the Native Americans who had hunted the mammoth to extinction and would have done the same with the buffalo if they had had the need and the technology. The American Natives’ lack of technical sophistication and powerlessness to control their environment should not be mistaken for a reverence for the environment.

Thus, let us strip away any mystique of the Native Americans. They were a weak tribe who was being encroached upon by a more powerful and successful tribe. Both tribes were equally moral. They deserved to be treated as individual humans and had they had a successful government, they could have asserted the power of their nation. It was not the responsibility of the Europeans to provide them a government or make them into a nation. In spite of thousands of years of isolation, they had failed. Jefferson was correct to express his annoyance at those individuals (anti-philosophers) who urged the Cherokee and other tribes to cling to their failed culture. The law of Nature is evolution and succession. The unfit and the inflexible perish.

--Thomas Jefferson
8th State of Nation Washington, DC, 1808-11-08

To the Senate & House of Representatives of the United States:

“With our Indian neighbors the public peace has been steadily maintained. Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place, but in no wise implicating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi the Ioways, the Sacs & the Alabamas have delivered up for trial & punishment individuals from among themselves accused of murdering citizens of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi the Creeks are exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind, & the Choctaws have manifested their readiness & desire for amicable & just arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of their tribe. And, generally, from a conviction that we consider them as a part of ourselves, & cherish with sincerity their rights & interests, the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining strength daily - is extending from the nearer to the more remote, & will amply requite us for the justice & friendship practiced toward them. Husbandry & household manufacture are advancing among them more rapidly with the Southern than Northern tribes, from circumstances of soil & climate, & 1 of the 2 great divisions of the Cherokee Nation have now under consideration to solicit the citizenship of the United States, & to be identified with us in laws & government in such progressive manner as we shall think best.”

The Cherokee regardless of racial heritage were forming into those who would willingly assimilate and those who would not. This was complicated with a separate dichotomy of those who valued a Cherokee nation and those who did not. Individuals could be arranged in a matrix as shown below:



(U.S. Citizenship)

Assimilate as individuals A
Retain traditional culture commingled with Europeans B

Cherokee Nation

Maintain a sovereign nation adopting European
Standards C
Separated, sovereign, traditional nation D

A) This is the Jeffersonian ideal, which European immigrants had acknowledged if not accepted upon coming to the New World

B) This approach was in principle possible and was practiced (by the Quakers and other) European immigrants who insisted upon and retention of values, but accepted the necessity of political integration. In practice, a hunter-gather culture cannot co-exist with a modern culture of cities and farms. Nor, is it likely that self-impressed ignorance and poverty can co-exist with affluence and enlightenment.

C) This would potentially have been the most lucrative position of the Native Americans. The Cherokee almost moved from a stone-age culture to mainstream European-ism between 1763 and 1838. This will be discussed more below.

D) The attempt to maintain a separate nation without full assimilation has led the Native American tribes into a life of reservations where they have been forced generally into undesirable lands and make their living from gambling and tourism (a sad state of affairs).

The option of maintaining a traditional lifestyle (B or D above) is not a stable condition. It is only a theoretical condition aspired to by the “anti-philosophers” (native Americans and non-Natives) that Jefferson mentioned. Change will occur; it needs to be guided into the best outcome.

What the Cherokee lacked was a functioning government; without which, their “nation” existed only in the Whiteman’s mind.

--Thomas Jefferson to James Jay, 1809.

"The plan of civilizing the Indians is undoubtedly a great improvement on the ancient and totally ineffectual one of beginning with religious missionaries. Our experience has shown that this must be the last step of the process. The following is what has been successful: 1st, to raise cattle, etc., and thereby acquire a knowledge of the value of property; 2d, arithmetic, to calculate that value; 3d, writing, to keep accounts, and here they begin to enclose farms and the men to labor, the women to spin and weave; 4th, to read 'Aesop's Fables' and 'Robinson Crusoe' are their first delight."

The Cherokee, at any particular time prior to about 1820, were informally governed by “head-men” or “chiefs” who were apparently self-appointed. Although they may have had senior statue within their immediate community (or may have been delegated that position), in all likelihood, they represented “the Cherokee” to the Europeans because they were the ones who showed up at the meetings. Because they had no written language, any Cherokee who was not at the meeting could not possibly know what actually happened there. Moreover, because the communications with the Europeans was conducted via interpreters who may or may not have understood the language or the politics of the tribe (the interpreters seem to have usually been European or mixed-blood in most cases) the communications were generally imprecise. No doubt the Europeans were the ones who reminded the Cherokee what the agreements were once the original participants in the negotiations dispersed or died.

Those Europeans who realized the nature of the Cherokee weakness and who wished to use the situation to their advantage could easily cajole and bribe the “head-men” into almost any concession that was plausible. Apparently, the only law that the Cherokee managed to institute and enforce in this area was an eventual prohibition on any territorial concessions by head-men under penalty of death.

But, the evolution of bilateral relations between the new American nation and the Indian Nations was not allowed to proceed in isolation. The War of 1812, introduced new dynamics into the relationship, which caused the Euro-Americans to ask themselves whether they really wanted to assimilate with the Native Americans or whether they should adopt a policy of isolating the Native Americans. In Jefferson’s words from 1813, we see that the policy of the United States was shifted from one in which the door to assimilation was open to the Native Americans to a policy in which the United States would remove the Natives from their lands.

--Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813

“The interested and unprincipled policy of England [in the War of 1812] has defeated all our labors for the salvation of these unfortunate people. They have seduced the greater part of the tribes within our neighborhood, to take up the hatchet against us, and the cruel massacres they have committed on the women and children of our frontiers taken by surprise, will oblige us now to pursue them to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach.”

23.4 The Southwestern Frontier 1783 - 1811


At the end of the War of American Independence, Georgia was still little more than Savannah, Augusta and a few small towns along the coast. But, its historical English land grant was an enormous expanse of land between the Atlantic and the Mississippi. This land was very attractive for agriculture with fertile soil, plenty of water, mild climate and few real mountains. Thus, it was a prime territory for land speculation and land fraud, all at the expense of the Native American tribes/nations that lived there and were protected by treaties with the Americans. Part of the problems arose because the Constitution of the United States was not ratified until….1789? and between the expulsion of the British and the establishment of the Administration of George Washington, the states could do more or less as they pleased. In the case of Georgia, this meant that a handful of politically powerful men led by George Walton from Augusta were in a position to influence the settlement of this large land mass that they now claimed.

The Georgian’s land claim was not uncontested by Europeans. In particular, the Spanish had land expectations north of West Florida and the British still held out along the Mississippi. But none of the European powers were in a position to truly defend their claims in part because they were constantly at war with one another nearer their homelands. Thus, the Europeans attempted to woo the Native Americans to support their interests in America. Altogether in 1780 - 1790, there were about 60,000 Natives in the southeast (Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws). As we have seen, the Cherokee were arguably a nation at this time although they lacked a formal central government. They were a fairly homogeneous group and sent headmen of villages to represent the nation. On the Other hand, the Creeks were in part an arbitrary creation of the Europeans. The term “Creek” was applied to a confederacy of (historically local) tribes that had become dominated by the Muskogee-speaking tribe that migrated from the west. Historically, the Creeks were subdivided into the Upper group (about 25 towns just south of the Cherokee) and the Lower group primarily along the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. The Chickasaw dominated the Choctaw and were historically a war-like tribe to the south and west of the Creeks who had defended their lands from the Europeans since the time of DeSoto.

Alexander McGillivray and the Creeks

Because of the nature of the Creek confederacy they were more likely to become led if not dominated by Europeans and mixed-blood descendants of European traders and agents. The mixed-blood children spoke both languages, understood both cultures and had the advantages of relative material wealth and technical education provided by their European father. One such man was Alexander McGillivray (17xx - 1793). McGillivray was the son of Lachlan McGillivray, a Scot loyal to the British cause, and a Creek-French woman. His father had lost all his property to the Americans (Georgians) during the War of Independence and he had no love for the new United States.

Alexander McGillivray fancied himself to be the Emperor of the Creeks and acquired a large tract of land on the Coosa River. Through the War of Independence (1776-1783), he managed Creek trade to Britain via Pensacola. Among other powers that he assumed was the authority to license traders doing business with the Creeks. He favored Panton, Leslie & Company (later known as John Forbes and Co.) of Edinburgh, Scotland because William Panton was a close family friend. The company received a trading license in 1783 and began operating near the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers. Stores were also opened in Pensacola and St. Augustine. After the war, the British abandoned Florida to the Spanish and McGillivray became the Spanish agent in 1784. His title was Commissary of the Creek Nation. Trade went on much as before with Panton, Leslie & Co. doing the great majority of the business.

The firm of Miller, Bonnamy & Co. was connected to John Murray, British Governor of the Bahamas (where Richard Pearis had recently retired). In 1788, Miller, Bonnamy & Co hired William Austin Bowles a former-Loyalists that lived among the Creeks to attempt to persuade McGillivray to give them a favorable license to trade with the Creeks. Bowles used charm and force as he attacked the Panton, Leslie & Co. store at St. Marks with some of his Creek friends. The Spanish captured Bowles and shipped him to Spain. Panton, Leslie & Co. was compensated for their damages with Spanish land grants at Prospect Bluffs (now Fort Gadsden) on the Apalachicola River. These were augmented with grants from the Creeks to pay off debts. These lands (including present-day Apalachicola, Florida) were later known as the “Forbes Purchase” and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1835.

Mr. Bowles escaped from the Spanish between the Philippines and Spain and made his way to London via Sierra Leone. In the mean time, Richard Pearis and Thomas Browne were sent to Florida to attempt to establish trade with the Creeks in 1794.

The Treaty of Augusta (1783)

One of the first things the new state of Georgia did after the War of Independence was to enter into an illegal treaty with the Creeks. The conference was held in Augusta in 1783. Neither the Creeks nor the Cherokee were appropriately represented, and even under the Articles of Confederation, Georgia was overstepping its treaty-making authority. But, the “treaty” became the basis for the abuses that came next. In the U.S. Congress, the actions of Georgia soon attracted attention as the lawmakers realized that the self-serving land speculation that was obviously contemplated by the Georgians would undermine the authority and tranquillity of the new nation. Thus, a commission consisting of Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin, and Lachlan McIntosh was appointed to review the treaties and decide whether or not they should be allowed to stand. It was less clear what remedy would be imposed if they were found to be invalid. They had facilitated Georgian settlement in Native American lands and it was supposed that the Natives would need to negotiate new treaties to workout conflicts peacefully. The commission attempted to meet with the Creeks at Galphington, on the Ogeechee River, on 24 October 1785, but Alexander McGillivary did not attend and only a few of the Creek towns were represented. Nonetheless, the Georgians used the opportunity to sign another treaty with the unauthorized Creeks who showed up.

The U.S. Commission thus moved to Hopewell, South Carolina where they met with over 900 representatives of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw on 28 November 1785.

The Creeks finally signed a valid treaty in November 1786 at Shoulderbone. The participants disputed the meaning of this treaty after the fact.

War Between the Creeks and the Georgians (1786 - 1787)

The disputes between the Georgians and the Creeks following the treaty signed at Galphington in October 1785 eventually led to systematic violence. Alexander McGillivray organized this and his forces inflicted pain in a series of raids on the Georgians. When Washington became President under the new Constitution, he attempted to have George Walton of Georgia and Alexander McGillivary work out their differences, but attempts at a cease-fire failed.

The conflict between Georgia and the Creeks continued sporadically to 1789. At that point, Henry Knox (Washington’s Secretary of State) warned the Creeks that a delegation of Commissioners would be sent to negotiate a new Federal treaty (to replace the disputed Georgia treaties) and if that failed, the Creeks would be forced to deal with the Federal government and its troops. Washington hoped that this would not only bring peace, but also quash the over-reaching of Georgia power that threatened to undermine the Constitution. Washington also had to prevent the southeastern tribes/nations from joining together or with European powers against the United States. Ideally, the treaty could bring the tribes/nations to the side of the Americans.

The Commission of 1789 included Benjamin Lincoln, Cyrus Griffin, and David Humphreys, and they met with McGillivray at Rock Landing in mid-September 1789. The efforts failed primarily because one of the standard positions of the United States was that the Native American Nations should be under the protection of the United States and reject European influences. Of course, McGillivray who was a paid agent of Spain and British Loyalist would not accept that. This was a personal grudge and not in the interest of the Creeks. When the negotiations broke down, the United States declared that all of the Georgia treaties were valid.

But, Washington still wanted to win over McGillivray from the Spanish and could not tolerate the Constitutional abuses of Georgia. Thus, he invited McGillivray to visit him in New York. Benjamin Hawkins conveyed the invitation in March 1790. Spain opposed such a meeting but McGillivray accepted . In spite of the absence of a new treaty, Washington issued a proclamation in August 1790 declaring that the Georgia land grants to individuals and companies were not valid because they overstepped Georgia authority to deal with the Native Americans. With this show of good faith, McGillivray was willing to sign the Treaty of New York on 7 August 1790. The treaty gave back part of the lands disputed in the treaty of Galphington to the Creeks and the Creeks only acknowledged sovereignty of the U.S. within the U.S. boarders (not over territories). It also authorized the Creeks to eject settlers from the Yazoo lands, but this was not really feasible for them to do. In secret articles, McGillivray was given a larger payment than the Spanish were giving him (basic graft) and Washington promised that if war (with Spain) cut off Creek trade, the U.S. would provide trade goods to the Creek to offset the loss. Washington also included one of his pet plans, namely providing the Creeks with farm implements to guide them to agriculture and away from hunting. By August of 1790, it was apparent that a number of settler homesteads had been established on lands promised to the Cherokee under the Treaty of Hopewell. To his credit, Washington issued a proclamation on 14 August 1790 reminding the settlers to respect the treaty.

Unfortunately, Washington’s proclamations did not stop the new Governor of Georgia William Blount from fomenting trouble and keeping the Yazoo grants active until 1796. With McGillivray’s death in 1793, there was no way for the Federal government to control the conflicts being pushed by the Georgians on the one side and the Spanish on the other. The Creeks were led into war with the Georgians and with the Chickasaws who supported the United States as a defense against their historical enemy the Spanish. (The Chickasaws disliked the Spanish for much the same reasons that the Creeks dislike the Georgians.) Through 1793 and 1794, the situation became worse and Andrew Pickens was consulted about the possibility of a full Federal war with the Creeks.

Fortunately, the crisis subsided and Washington sent a new commission (Benjamin Hawkins, George Clymer, and Andrew Pickens) to the Creeks in 1795. Part of his plan was to stop the fighting between the Creeks and the Chickasaws. The commissioners met with the Creeks at Fort Colerain on the Saint Mary River in the spring of 1796. The negotiations produced the Treaty of San Lorenzo (29 July 1796) which included a surveyed boundary and provisions for trading post, which the Creeks often opposed.

The Transoconee Republic (1794)

Elijah Clarke Georgia’s leading Patriot partisan during the War of Independence rounded out his career by attempting to establish a new nation in north central Georgia. During the decade after the war, settlers had drifted into the Cherokee territory in north central Georgia and assimilation of the cultures was underway. Clarke recognized an opportunity to bring government to this area and secure political and military power for himself. In May 1794, he announced the formation of the Transoconee (literally across the Oconee River from South Carolina) Republic. He recruited militia and built forts, which challenged the sovereignty of Georgian and the United States. He also negotiated with the French with and eye to attacking Spain in Florida. This was not a bad plan because the Spanish had a strong land claim, but a weak army, in Florida. Capturing Florida from Spain would have been a relatively easy way to build an empire. (Andrew Jackson did essentially that about 1818.)

But, it did not take long for the Georgia militia and the federal troops to put an end to Clarke’s dreams of empire. Clarke was forced to surrender on 28 September 1794 and his forts were burned.

The End of Richard Pearis?

Richard Pearis spent his waning years trying to recover his loses from the British government. In the fall of 1783 he had sent a summary of claims to Britain, but the were lost when the ship went aground crossing the Saint Augustine bar. He subsequently collected and filed affidavits from many notable Loyalists and British officers testifying to his loyalty, efforts, sufferings and losses. Some of these losses were exaggerated. For example, he clearly had sold the “Swan Ponds” in Winchester, Virginia in 1763, but he listed them among his wartime losses. Perhaps he felt that he had had to sell hastily and under duress thus warranting compensation. In 1786, he was finally granted 5,624 English pounds and an annual allowance of 70 pounds.

About March 1792, the Georgia Gazette stated in an advertisement that Richard Pearis, formerly of Ninety-Six District, SC, but now of New Providence in the Bahamas left his account books and other papers at the time of the capitulation of the Fort of Augusta (Fort Cornwallis) in June 1781 with Rowland Reigly (a South Carolina merchant) as security for a promissory note for 400 pounds of Jacob Hite and Richard Pearis. He offered anyone 50 guineas for the delivery of these papers to Patrick Cunningham of the Ninety-Six Districts or John Cunningham of Charles Town district.

Richard Pearis died 1 November 1794 at the age of 69, but no one now seems to know where he died or where he was/is buried. His will (written 9 December 1790) gave all of his holdings in the United States (if they could be claimed) to his son Richard, Jr. Apparently, he left George Parris at Savannah immediately after the war and never communicated with him again. However, this may be too simple. Among the Creek Indian Agency Passports, the following affidavit is found:

“William Jones, of the county of Wilkes, in the state aforesaid [Georgia], being duly sworn, maketh oath, and saith, that, about four months ago [that would be April 1794], he was employed and did go the Creek country, to carry a letter to Ford Reid & Company at Pensacola, the Lieutenant Governor directed him to go to the principal Govenor at New Orleans, which the despondent did; that, returning from New Orleans, and arriving again at Pensacola, about four weeks since, he saw there Colonel [Thomas] Brown[e] and Colonel Richard Paris [Pearis], of and from the Island of new Providence, with letters from Lord Dunmore to the Governor of Pensacola, to obtain a passport to the Creek country, which letters he saw delivered; and that the despondent understood they had a large quantity of goods for the Creeks, and was told by Baillee China, and the Indian trader Russel, that they were to hold a treaty with the Creek nation….”

William Jones [signed]

Sworn to in Seriven county, the 15th day of August, 1794.

“In addition, the despondent further saith, that although he had been promised a pass to return to Georgia, after the arrival of Brown[e] and Paris [Pearis], he was refused, otherwise the circuitously by water.”

Sworn as above, before me.

Geo. Walton
One of the Judges of the Superior Court
for the body of the said State [Georgia]

This document implies that Mr. William Jones crossed Creek territory by land to deliver a letter to Pensacola and there encountered Col. Brown and Col. Pearis bringing presents to the Creeks from the British Governor of the Bahamas about May 1794. They were apparently there to form a treaty with the Creeks and did not want Mr. Jones following in the area so he was forced to return to Augusta, Georgia by sea. In the absence of a known gravesite in the Bahamas, I am inclined to wonder if Richard spend his last days in a Spanish prison or died of a fever in the swamps.

The State of Muskogee (1802-1803)

Bowles returned to Florida in 1799, but was shipwrecked on the eastern end of St. George’s Island. From there, he moved up the Ochlockonee River (near Tallahassee, Florida). Here he established the State of Muskogee in defiance of both Spain and the United States. The Spanish and Bowles fought until Benjamin Hawkins (U.S. Indian Agent) captured Bowles in 1803 and handed him over to the Spanish. He died in a Spanish prison in Cuba in 1805.

Land Speculation and Fraud in Georgia (1779 - 1796)

The Governors of Georgia had the authority to make small land grants (200 to 1000 acres) to heads of families. But, in the exciting days that followed the War of Independence, the Governors lead by George Walton (1779 - 80, 1789 - 90), George Matthew’s (1787 - 88, 1793 - 96), George Handley (1788 -89), Edward Telfair (1786 -87, 1790 - 93) and Jared Irwin (1796 - 98) made numerous excessive grants in the pine barrens of central Georgia to friends and sold some for profit. There was plenty of opportunity for fraud since most of the land was not surveyed and had been poorly inspected. For example, in Montgomery County (about 400,000 acres), the governors gave (sold) grants totaling nearly 3 million acres.

The pine barren land fraud began to unravel about 1795, but the scandal was soon obscured by an even bigger fraud that had major national implications. About 1785, Georgia realized that it possessed “river front property” on the Mississippi around Nachez (and between the Mississippi and the Yazoo), which would become much more valuable as trade from New Orleans to Pittsburgh became a reality. An early short-lived conspiracy (1785 - 88) called the Combined Society worked towards establishing Bourbon Co. Georgia in this area for their personal profit. Although Georgia initially began forming a county with administrative functions, it repealed the Bourbon Co. Act in 1788. Nonetheless, Georgia made it clear that it was willing to sell large tracts of land (occupied by the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws) to land development companies and did so between 1789 and 1796. The sales were accompanied by a variety of fraudulent practices and graft (e.g., legislators making the sales were large stockholders in some of the companies). James Jackson led a movement that rescinded the contracts (18 February 1796) and he then was elected governor (1798 - 1801). In 1802, to escape liability for these frauds, Georgia ceded the Mississippi Territory (modern Mississippi and Alabama) to the federal government. Unfortunately, some of the land had been resold to individuals and the entire activity ended up in court. Interestingly, in 1810 the U.S. Supreme Court (in Fletcher v. Peck) ruled that the well-intentioned reversal of the Yazoo sales was illegal because it interfered with private contracts.

The Chickasaws and the United States (1792)

The area along the eastern shore of the Mississippi around Nachez was occupied by the Chickasaw tribes/nation and their ‘little brothers” the Choctaws. They were invited to an important conference at the “Conference Grounds” near Nashville, Tennessee by George Washington and met there with his representatives between 7 and 11 August 1792. It is interesting to look in on this conference as revealed in the minutes of the meeting. In particular, the Chickasaw and Cherokee observers got into a discussion about boundaries and maps that is revealing.

Tuesday, August 7th, 1792

Present, on the part of the United States, William Blount, Governor in and over the territory of the United States of America south of the river Ohio, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern district, and Brigadier General Andrew Pickens.

Chenambe, king of the Chickasaws, Lootematlah, Mookleshamingo, Monleshawkek or Wolf's friend, Piamingo, Chooshemataha or Billy Colbert, Tootemastubbe or George Colbert, Piahatche, Mookleshappye, Hoolatenpich, Tathnlah, Piamoko, Chickasaw Holatekapieh, Pianemtlah, Piahatche, Ustemingo, John Brown, Thomas Brown, Moocklashaunapah, on the part of the Chickasaws.

Ileepoenautlau, or Shot in the Mouth, Itlehenmastubbe or Redwood, Piamustubbe, great medal chiefs; Tunnathoemah, Chillashoomastubbe or Red Shoes, Hooletenah, Piahoomah, small medal chiefs; Nootoolemastubbe, Taskaastubbe, Oaklateloemastoinastubbe, Obephamby, Emealtubby, Tootcheomah, Tasmunaconbege, Onakosh, Fannemecastubbe, Shephahoomak, Kooshehoomahleader, George James, Son of Ben, Oshapoiah, Uskenasnpoiah, Oleaquetlay, Uskonoapoiah, the old chief, gorget captians on the part of the Choctaws.

John Thompson, Nontuaka, Skinka, agents from the Cherokees, and about twenty other Cherokees;

Malcom M'Ghee and John Pitchlyn, interpreters.

Governor Blount to the Head-men and Chiefs of the Chickasaws and Choctaws.

Friends and Brothers:

[Blount introduced himself and Pickens] …Governor Blount then proceeded to address the. Friends and Brothers:

It is now seven years since General Pickens and myself had the pleasure of seeing your nations in council at Hopewell, in South Carolina, when you formed treaties with the United States. Here is a copy, (holding it up.)

The object of the present meeting is not to alter these treaties, but to strengthen and keep alive that friendship of which these treaties are the basis, … [and make presents to you and your chiefs.]

You have been told that we want, and will ask you for your land; we shall not; we wish you to enjoy your lands and be as happy as we ourselves are; nor do we want the land of any red people; the United States have land enough.

At the treaty of Hopewell, you requested that a trading post should be established at the mouth of Bear creek. The reason it was not immediately done after that treaty was, that the United States were not in a situation to do it; but they are now grown strong and rich, and have for their President the illustrious General Washington, the greatest of all men; and we inform you that he will shortly afford you a trade from that place, as agreed by that treaty.

Friends and Brothers: We have reason to believe that a chief called Double-head, of the Cherokees, a signer to the treaty at Holston, with some other Cherokees, and some Northwards and Creeks, in all about forty, have settled on the south side of the Tennessee, near the mouth, on your lands, as we suppose; this Double-head, otherwise Tuscalateague, and his party, have killed a number of the citizens of the United States; and as your nations and the United States are friends, and we hope ever will be, it will be well for you to drive these people off your lands, or give us leave to destroy them as we please; and to the end that it may in future be known on whose land the people reside, who commit depredations on the citizens of the United States, it is essential that the bounds which divide your lands from those of other red people, should be marked out and made known to us.


Wednesday, 8th August, 1792

Wolf's Friend, in reply. --- I call you friend and brothers; we have met about half way between our nations, were we each of us have our warriors. I have not been here before to talk myself; the Mountain Leader is here, who is a great warrior under me; whatever he has done on the part of the nation, is binding on the whole. I am glad to hear your talks, and that your talks are so good; they please me very well.

…[a gift was given to Blount.]

I must explain the truth; I was somewhat suspicious you wanted land; I am glad you did not; and if ever the President calls us together again, I request that land may never more be mentioned to us.

I always look on the whites and ourselves as one people; I love to use them well, and as brothers.
We are naked and have no doubt that the United States have great feeling for us; but I think it is
not so far from the nation, but that trade can be carried on from this place, and we hope it will not be brought nearer to us than the line agreed upon at Hopewell.

[Wolf's Friend was explaining that the Natives really did not want a trading post at Bear Creek. Although he welcomed the trade, he realized that this would bring conflict likely with the Creek Nation. This point was discussed and explained more later.]

Ilepooemaatla, alias Shot in the Mouth. --- I came from the Choctaw nation, a stranger, but
hope the longer we are acquainted, the better we shall both like each other, and have our talks
renewed by treaties hereafter. I am here, have smoked the pipe of friendship, and do give my talk
and nation into your care.

I wish to explain my friendship in a short way; we have met in the middle ground, where we hope
to meet often. I am sorry I have no token of friendship to give, but I hope my talk will be received
as well as though I had.

Governor Blount. --- It will.

Tunnahthoomah, or Red Enemy. --- I am from the Choctaws, to this mid-land. I believe the
whites have great trouble and fatigues in getting here, but we have got here to my great joy, and
speak in friendship; in my own country, I never dreamed of finding such people as I here find, for which I may thank my elder brothers, the Chickasaws.

It is good for younger brother to be advised by an older; what our elder brothers the Chickasaws
do, I will abide by, and am happy we have so good talks.

Red Breath. --- I was at the treaty of Hopewell; to convince you I have held it fast, I have come
to see you again; that has been several years past, but I find you remember it as well as I do, which makes me happy. …

Piamingo, rising, --- I have nothing to talk, only I wish to have boundaries settled…

[After a sidebar conversation among his colleagues, he produced a map from the treaty of Holston, which was spread on a table for review.]

Wolf's Friend said the line between the Chickasaws and the United States was right; and the Governor replied the United States would never want to pass it.

Piamongo. --- I will describe the boundries of our lands: It begins on the Ohio, at the ridge which divides the waters of Tennessee and Cumberland, and extends with that ridge, eastwardly, as far as the most eastern waters of Elk river; thence to the Tennessee, at an old field, where part of the Chickasaws formerly lived, this line to be so run as to include all the waters of Elk river, thence, across the Tennessee, and a neck of land, to Tenchacunda creek, a southern branch of the Tennessee, and up to same to its source; then to the waters of Tombigby, that is to the west fork of long leaf Pine creek, and down it to the line of the Chickasaws and Choctaws, a little below the trading road.

[To the Cherokee representatives] At the treaty of Holston, I am told, the Cherokees claimed all Duck river. I want to know if it is so.

Nontuaka. [speaking for the Cherokee]--- It is true. I told the President so, and coming from him I told my nation so. I never knew, before the present, that our people divided land and made lines like a white people.

Piamingo. --- I am the man who laid off the boundry on the map; and to save my own land, I made it plain; I knew of the fondness of the Cherokees to sell land.

Nontuaka. --- As to the boundry, I do not look to it. The President advised us to let one line
serve for the Four Nations [Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee]; he would never ask for any land south of it, nor suffer others; all the hunting ground within said boundry should be for the Four Nations.

Piamingo. --- By marking my boundry, I did not mean to exclude other nations from the benefit of hunting on my lands. I knew the Cherokees had often pretended to take the whites by the hand, but instead of doing it on good faith, they are always sharpening their knives against them. I feared the whites, in retaliation, would fall on the Cherokees and that they might take my land, supposing it belonged to the Cherokees; for this reason I have marked it.

Nontuaka. --- This is not right; I want but one line between the Four Nations and the whites; it is true the Cherokees have disposed of their best hunting grounds.

Piamingo. --- I never understood the matter in this light, nor did I, as before said, intend to bar the Cherokees from hunting on our lands; I only meant to preserve them.

Governor Blount to Nontuaka. --- I was not at Philadelphia to hear what you said respecting your claim to land; but when you returned, you brought me a great book, said to contain all the talks held there. In that book, it was written that it would be proper for the Four Nations to explain their boundries between themselves; this is one of the reasons I asked the Chickasaws how far the bounds of their claim extended. It is not meant that one nation should restrain another from hunting on their lands, but allow it, like good neighbors. There is another reason; if any red people should come and settle in any of your countries, and do mischief to the whites, when their different boundries are known, it would be easy to know to whom to apply to have the injuries redressed.

Nontuaka. --- I know very well that Governor Blount was not there to hear what the President said. I was, and heard the words drop out of his mouth; the words were, there ought to be one line between the Four Nations and the whites, but not lines between the Four Nations; that they must not sell it; but, if they would sell it, it was be only [something left out, ?the United States] who should buy.

Piamingo. --- I want no long talk on this subject; the Cherokees are blood thirsty; they never go out but they bloody their weapons in the white people, and I knew the whites, in retaliation, would take their land; this I have before said, and for fear they should take mine, supposing it to be Cherokees', is my reason for explaining the boundary.

Wolf's Friend. --- What I say is, that we are friends, and that the meaning of this line is not to hinder the Cherokees from hunting on our lands, but we wish to keep bad people from settling on it.

Nontuaka. --- Here is the map belonging to the Chickasaws; my own people are jealous [i.e., you never gave us a map] ; let me carry this map and show it to the head men [of the Cherokee]; the whites can make another like if for Piamingo.

Piamingo. --- I am satisfied with the Cherokees having a copy. When my uncle, the Little Turkey, sees it, and is informed that it is not intended to prevent the Cherokees from hunting on our land, he will be pleased.

John Thompson [speaking for the Cherokee]. --- We do not find fault with the line between the white people and the Chickasaws, nor with the place where the Chickasaws' line crosses the Tennessee; but I have not been so fully informed of the claim of the Chickasaws.

Piamingo. --- I have made endeavors to preserve our land, and have ever refused to part with it.

Wolf's Friend. --- The map is plain; I know not what objection they can make to it, since we have explained our motive. It is right to mark our boundaries on the map; some red people are good, others have sharp hearts. I came here to hear good talks, and have heard them. Be not uneasy that everyone does not speak; the King, myself, and Piamingo, were appointed to do business; what we say in binding on the nation. I speak for the king and myself.

General Pickens. --- It gives me much pleasure to accompany Governor Blount to this place, to meet the Chickasaws and Choctaws, and delivering the good talks from our Great Father, who has appointed Governor Blount to receive your good talks and to deliver his; you may be assured his talk is the same as though you heard it from the mouth of our Great Father, General Washington; his heart glows with love both to the Chickasaws and Choctaws.

Since the time you took us by the hand at Seneca, it has never been known that a Chickasaw or Choctaw has spilled the blood of an American; we have come here, if possible, to strengthen that friendship, and make it last between us, while the sun shines. It is the wish of our Great Father General Washington, as well as all your brothers here to make you a great and happy people.

We will always look upon it that your enemies are our enemies, and ours, yours.

We know you have been told that, when you were invited here, you would be asked for land; you are now convinced to the contrary, and you will now be able to give the lie to such reports.

What makes the President and ourselves unhappy is, that it is with difficulty trade can be extended by the United States to your country.

These presents, sent you by your Great Father the President, were brought here with great danger and difficulty. Wolf's Friend has expressed his objections to having it brought nearer to you than this place, but he is wrong, because the path to and from this place, and which your people and the traders would have to pass, is often bloodied by the enemy; to remove that difficulty, we wish, for the good of both parties, to have trade established at the mouth of Bear creek, the place agreed upon by the treaty of Hopewell.

I am apprehensive bad people will say, we mean not to establish a post, but form settlements; but that is not true. Trade at that place will be most advantageous to you, where, beside clothing and other necessaries, arms and ammunition shall be kept in plenty. The people living south of you supply you very sparingly; the President wishes you to have all things in plenty, and be happy, and that you should be in a situation to defend yourselves against your enemies.

Piamingo. --- You have spoken a second time, therefore I conceive I have a right so to do.

Governor Blount. --- It is our wish that you should; we will hear you with pleasure, and wish you to speak freely.

Piamingo. --- There is the man (pointing to Mingatuska) who was the first occasion of this mark, (pointing to the post as marked down at the mouth of Bear creek and as agreed on by the treaty of Hopewell) but I do not now want a post established there, because it would occasion blood to be spilled. We are, as you say, both one people; if a post is settled there, it will bring on an open war. I know how it would be, and so may you, by seeing how your people are killed or wounded even at this place.

Governor Blount. --- We have heard that you complained that that article of the treaty, which respected the post at Bear creek, was not complied with; and the President would not wish you to have complaints against the United States.

Piamingo. --- All people are not alike; to prevent shedding of blood we object, that good men may not be lost. If all things were on a right footing, I should have no objections; but it seems as though I had reached over the heads of enemies, to take hold of you. Could I once see the day that whites and reds were all friends, it would be like getting new eye-sight.

Governor Blount. --- To-morrow I will meet you again; I have a little more to say to you, and close our business.

Thursday, August 9th, 1792

[Blount discussed the war against tribes in the north and assured the Chickasaw that the war was about attacks by the tribes on the settlers; not about land.]

Piamingo. --- I have something more to say; it is concerning useful implements of husbandry, such as I hear our Great Father gives the Creeks and Cherokees. We want a great many axes and hoes, but not so many plows, and we hope he will give them to us also.

Governor Blount. --- Do you think your people will use them?

Piamingo. --- They know how to use axes and hoes, and some to plow.

Governor. --- I cannot promise them to you, but I will make your request known to your father, the President, who would be happy in seeing you live like the white men, by cultivating the earth, in preference to hunting.

[Administrative issues were discussed.]

Friday, 10th August, 1792

[Presents were presented.]

Saturday, 11th August, 1792

[Closing ceremonies.]

The State of Franklin (Western North Carolina, 1784-1788)

John Preston Arthur (1914) described an interesting development in western North Carolina in his book History of Western North Carolina. Jeffery C. Weaver (1998) has placed the chapter dealing with the State of Franklin on the Internet.

The North Carolina colonial charter reached to the Mississippi River. The principal settlement west of the mountains at the close of the War of Independence was the Watauga Settlement (east of present-day Johnson City, Tennessee). Most of these people were from Virginia or had ties to Virginia, not North Carolina. In 1784, North Carolina attempted to give this territory to the Federal government so that the Federal government could sell of the land to pay its debts. But, this offer was withdrawn when resistance came from the Watauga residents. Thus, North Carolina appointed John Sevier (born in Virginia) to govern Watauga and the rest of the western lands. In the absence of opposition from North Carolina and the Federal government, Sevier and his neighbors called a convention at Jonesborough (just south of Johnson City) in August 1784 and Greenville (just southwest of Johnson City) in November 1785. Through these conventions, they established a new state that adopted the North Carolina Constitution with minor modifications.

The legislature of the State of Franklin with John Sevier as Governor met at Greenville (the capitol) in 1785. Franklin was still an appendage of the State of North Carolina, but by allowing them their independence, North Carolina could easily avoid any claims for their debts and avoided compensation of the Cherokee who they had agreed to compensate. These conflicting claims of sovereignty naturally led to disputes between the North Carolina representatives in Watauga (Col. John Tipton and Col. Robert Love) and John Sevier. Early in 1788, North Carolina attempted to exercise control over Sevier. The sheriff and Tipton enforced a writ that took Sevier’s slaves. Sevier gathered 150 men and attacked Tipton at his home on Sinking Creek. In February 1788, the North Carolina militia rescued Tipton and capturing Sevier’s sons. Negotiations followed and in the end, Sevier fled west to Knoxville.

John Sevier after the State of Franklin Collapsed

Hostilities between the European Americans the Cherokee and the Shawnee continued sporadically throughout this period. West of Watauga the government of North Carolina had no effect. Sevier had influence through the loyalty of individual settlers. Some would compare Sevier at this time to the leader of a band of outlaws. The incident that lost him most support involved the murder of several well-known friendly Cherokee including “Old Tassel” at Chuhowa. Sevier’s band included a John Kirk whose family had been murdered at his home near Knoxville by the Chickamaugas (Cherokee splinter group) under Dragging Canoe. In Sevier’s absence, Kirk took the friendly Cherokee into custody and without provocation beat them to death with a tomahawk while other members of the band stood by.

This episode not only revolted fair-minded authorities, but it also was recognized as the type of provocation that would bring retribution upon ordinary settlers. Andrew Pickens from Abbeville, South Carolina and William Blount from North Carolina condemned the episode and the behavior. For the next few months, Sevier led a lawless spree against the Cherokee while the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. In Jonesborough, Tennessee (the fringes of the law) in October 1788, Sevier crossed one of Tipton’s men. By the next day, Sevier was in irons headed for Morganton, North Carolina and justice. Morganton was the court for Burke County and William Morrison was the county sheriff.

Because of his reputation Sevier was given substantial freedom upon his arrival at Morganton. His sons had followed him into town; and one evening, they assisted him in escape to the mountains.

© Copyright 1998 by George Parris, All Rights Reserved