Western Lands and the American Revolution

By Thomas Perkins Abernethy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
THE MOVEMENT FOR NEW WESTERN STATES, 1784-1785

DURING 1783 William Blount and his North Carolina company had obtained the consent of the Cherokee Indians to settle the Muscle Shoals country, but the transaction was not to be complete until the stipulated quantity of goods should be delivered to the natives. The fact that the Spanish were planning a settlement at the Shoals had a bearing upon the question. Blount now appealed to the Georgia assembly for a grant; on February 20, 1784, this object was accomplished to his satisfaction although an outright grant was not made. By a resolution of this date, a board of seven men was created to inspect and report on the Muscle Shoals lands. These seven were furthermore given the status of justices of the peace for the "District and County of Tennessee." They were authorized to appoint military officers and to grant lands at the rate of an eighth of a dollar per acre, but no person was to have more than a thousand acres. The next day Lachlan McIntosh, Junior, William Downes, Stephen Heard, John Morell, John Donelson, Joseph Martin, and John Sevier were named to constitute the commission. The four Georgians were members of the assembly; the three Carolina members were Blount's appointees. Patrick Henry was not apparently a member of Blount's company, but he took a lively interest in it.1

On May 31 Blount wrote to the Georgia commissioners saying that he supposed their object in going into the enterprise was the same as his own, namely, private emolument. He offered to make to each of them a donation of an equal share in the stock of the company. The resolution creating the commission had apparently provided that its members should be compensated for their services, but Blount interpreted the ambiguous wording to mean that they had a right to make a compensation to the company in the form of a land grant, and he urged that this should be as large as possible. He thought, in fact, that

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1
Allen D. Chester ed., The Revolutionary Records of the State of Georgia ( Atlanta, 1908) II, 738-739, III, 492, 525-526; Henry to Joseph Martin, Feb. 4, 1785, Draper MSS., 15ZZ25-28; Alexander Martin to Joseph Martin, Feb. 11, 1784, ibid., 1XX69; copy of Blount's petition, Feb. 28, 1784, J. G. Blount MSS., N.C.H.C.

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