Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy

By Boynton Merrill Jr. | Go to book overview

19
THE PRESBYTERIAN
LEWISES

THE REVEREND David Rice, widely known as “Father Rice,” was one of the most important figures in the early years of the Presbyterian church in Kentucky. Born in Hanover County, Virginia, Rice, was encouraged in his early manhood by the Reverend Samuel Davies to obtain a sound education, and when Davies became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), Rice matriculated there and graduated in 1761. A year later he became a minister, and for thirteen years cared for a parish in Bedford County, Virginia. During this period he was instrumental in founding the college that would become Hampden-Sidney.1 In 1783, when Rice was fifty, he moved with his large family to Danville in the district of Kentucky where three hundred residents had petitioned him to establish a church. Immediately after his arrival, he became involved in founding Transylvania Seminary. He was chosen to be chairman of the board, and the first classes were held in his cabin home. Among others serving on the board were George Rogers Clark, John Crittenden, and two future Kentucky governors, Isaac Shelby and Christopher Greenup.2

Throughout his long ministry Rice was opposed to slavery, and even though he failed in his effort to have Kentucky admitted as a free state, his memorable pamphlet, Slavery Inconsistent with Justice and Good Policy, became an anti-slavery classic.3 He was equally adamant in opposition to any use of alcoholic beverages, which he condemned in the strongest terms. Although Father Rice believed in revivals, he nevertheless criticized the extreme emotionalism that came to be associated with them. One Methodist minister, recalling Father Rice, said that at revivals when the “Methodism and enthusiasm … would get very high—which they often did after sermon—he would rise to his feet, look over the assembly with great solemnity, and exclaim, 'High sail and little ballast!' then gather up his hat and cane, and take his departure.”4 Father Rice was a force for unity in his denomination, but worked in vain to moderate the sharp controversies that divided and weakened it.5

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Jefferson's Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Constructing Jefferson's Nephews ix
  • Preface xxv
  • Preface to First Edition xxix
  • Acknowledgments xxx
  • 1: Colonial Days 3
  • 2: The Fight for Freedom 12
  • 3: A Colonel in the Militia 20
  • 4: Prosperity 29
  • 5: The Virginia Planter 38
  • 6: The Shipwreck of the Fortunes 44
  • 7: Craven Peyton, Thomas Jefferson, and the Hendersons 55
  • 8: Jefferson and the Lewises 71
  • 9: The Plan to Emigrate 84
  • 10: The Trip to Kentucky 97
  • 11: The Land and Towns 111
  • 12: Houses and Crops 123
  • 13: The Smithland Neighbors 134
  • 14: Issues in West Kentucky, 1808 143
  • 15: The County Court 151
  • 16: The Year of Trouble, 1809 163
  • 17: Lilburne Enters Public Life 175
  • 18: The Church in West Kentucky 189
  • 19: The Presbyterian Lewises 203
  • 20: Insecurity 215
  • 21: Community Affairs, 1810 226
  • 22: Slavery in Livingston 234
  • 23: Tremors in the Dynasty 240
  • 24: Annus Mirabilis 248
  • 25: The Murder 256
  • 26: After the Murder 266
  • 27: The First Grand Jury 274
  • 28: The True Bill 285
  • 29: The Graveyard 293
  • 30: The Orphans 303
  • 31: During the War 312
  • 32: The Aftereffects 322
  • 33: The Epilogue 329
  • Appendix 1 - Notes on Lewis Genealogy 339
  • Appendix 2 - The Colle Sale 348
  • Appendix 3 - The Interview with Matilda 351
  • Appendix 4 - Medical Notes 353
  • Appendix 5 - Lilburne Lewis's Estate 359
  • Index 441
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