Surname: Claiborne

Natchez Trace

In 1792, in a council held at Chickasaw Bluffs, where Memphis, Tennessee, is now located, a treaty was made with the Chickasaws, in which they granted the United States the right of way through their territory for a public road to be opened from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. This road was long known, and no doubt, remembered by many at the present time by the name “Natchez Trace.” It crossed the Tennessee River at a point then known as “Colberts Ferry,” and passed through the present counties of Tishomingo, Ittiwamba, Lee, Pantotoc, Chickasaw, Choctaw, thence on to Natchez,...

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Vaundreuil and the Chickasaws

At this juncture of affairs, May 10th 1743, the marquis of Vaudreuil arrived at New Orleans, and assumed command of the colonies, Bienville having been again deposed. As soon as the Chickasaws learned that Bienville had been superceded by a new governor, they sent four of their chiefs, at the close of the year 1743, to sue for peace; but Vaudreuil informed them he would enter into no treaty with them, unless they would drive all English traders from their territories; and not even then would he treat with them unless in concert with the Choctaws. Thus again were the...

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The Meeting in 1811 of Tecumseh and Apushamatahah

The meeting in 1811, of Tecumseh, the mighty Shawnee, with Apushamatahah, the intrepid Choctaw. I will here give a true narrative of an incident in the life of the great and noble Choctaw chief, Apushamatahah, as related by Colonel John Pitchlynn, a white man of sterling integrity, and who acted for many years as interpreter to the Choctaws for the United States Government, and who was an eye-witness to the thrilling scene, a similar one, never before nor afterwards befell the lot of a white man to witness, except that of Sam Dale, the great scout of General Andrew...

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Early Incidents in the Mississippi Territory

Napoleon Bonaparte had turned his eagle eye to the rich province of Louisiana, and it was ceded by Spain to France. He contemplated its occupation, with a large army, and probably entertained designs of conquest against portions of the United States; but, becoming deeply involved in wars with the whole of Europe, he reluctantly relinquished these intentions, and ceded Louisiana to the United States for sixty millions of francs. Governor Claiborne, with a large number of emigrants, who had already flocked to Natchez from all parts of the Union for the purpose of occupying Louisiana, sailed down the Mississippi, with Wilkinson and his forces, and took formal possession of the city of New Orleans, in behalf of the United States. He had been appointed the Governor of the Louisiana Territory. He left the people of the Mississippi Territory duly impressed with a deep sense of obligation for his valuable public services. Cato West, the Territorial Secretary, discharged the executive duties until his successor arrived. The distance of Natchez from the Tombigby was so great that Congress authorized the President to appoint an additional Superior Court Judge for the benefit of the people settled upon that river. The Hon. Harry Toulmin was selected. He was born at Taunton, in England, the 7th April 1766, and descended from a learned and respectable family. He became a pastor of the Unitarian church,...

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The British Invasion

Paterson and Ross had struck the Baratarians just in time. The fortnight asked of the British by Lafitte expired the next day. The British themselves were far away eastward, drawing off from an engagement of the day before, badly worsted. A force of seven hundred British troops, six hundred Indians, and four vessels of war had attacked Fort Bowyer, commanding the entrances of Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound. Its small garrison had repulsed them and they retired again to Pensacola with serious loss, including a sloop-of-war grounded and burned. Now General Jackson gathered four thousand men on the Alabama River, regulars, Tennesseeans, and Mississippi dragoons, and early in November attacked Pensacola with great spirit, took the two forts – which the Spaniards had allowed the English to garrison – drove the English to their shipping and the Indians into the interior, and returned to Mobile. Here he again called on Claiborne to muster his militia. Claiborne convened the Legislature and laid the call before it. His was not the toaster-spirit to command a people so different from himself in a moment of extremity. On every side was discord, apprehension, and despondency that he could not cure. Two committees of safety engaged in miserable disputes. Credit was destroyed. Money commanded three or four percent a month. The Legislature dawdled until the Louisianian himself uttered a noble protest. “No other evidence...

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Burr’s Conspiracy

On one of those summer evenings when the Creoles, in the early years of the century, were wont to seek the river air in domestic and social groups under the willow and china trees of their levee, there glided around the last bend of the Mississippi above New Orleans “an elegant barge,” equipped with sails and colors, and impelled by the stroke of ten picked oarsmen. It came down the harbor, drew in to the bank, and presently set ashore a small, slender, extremely handsome man, its only passenger. He bore letters from General Wilkinson, introducing him in New Orleans, and one, especially, to Daniel Clark, Wilkinson’s agent, stating that “this great and honorable man would communicate to him many timings improper to letter, and which he would not say to any other.”Claiborne wrote to Secretary Madison,” Colonel Burr arrived in this city on this evening.” The date was June 26, 1805. The distinguished visitor, a day or two later, sat down to a banquet given to him by the unsuspecting Governor. He was now in full downward career. Only a few years before he had failed of the presidency by but one electoral vote. Only a few months had passed since, on completing his term, he had vacated the vice-presidency. In the last year of that term Alexander Hamilton had fallen by his hand. Friends and power, both,...

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The General in Natchitoches

Late in September the General had arrived at Natchitoches, and had taken chief command of the troops confronting the Spanish forces. On the 8th of October, one Samuel Swartwout brought him a confidential letter from Colonel Burr. He was received by Wilkinson with much attention, stayed eight days, and then left for New Orleans. On the 21st, Wilkinson determined to expose the plot. He despatched a messenger to the President of the United States, bearing a letter which apprised him of Colonel Burr’s contemplated descent of the Mississippi with an armed force. Eight days later, the General arranged with the Spaniards for the troops under each flag to withdraw from the contested boundary, leaving its location to be settled by the two governments, and hastened toward New Orleans, hurrying on in advance of him a force of artificers and a company of soldiers. Presently the people of New Orleans were startled from apathetic tranquillity into a state of panic. All unexplained, these troops lead arrived, others had re-enforced them; there was hurried repair and preparation; and the air was agitated with rumors. To Claiborne, the revelation had at length come from various directions that Aaron Burr was plotting treason. Thousands were said to be involved with him; the first outbreak was expected to be in New Orleans. Wilkinson had arrived in the town. In the bombastic style of one...

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