Tennessee Documentary History
  Multiple Collection Search     View bookbag 
your bookbag has 0 items 

Title:[Letter] 1797 May 8 [to] Governor John Sevier / Andrew Jackson : a machine readable transcription of an image
Author:Jackson, Andrew

This work is the property of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243-0312. (615) 741-2764.

Date: May 8, 1797
Extent: 4p
Summary:This document is a letter dated May 8, 1797 to Governor John Sevier from Andrew Jackson regarding letters written by the Governor calling Jackson "scurrilous" at a recent election for officers of the militia. Jackson demands an explanation as to why Sevier did not come to him first with his complaints.
Collection:Tennessee Historical Society
Box: Miscellaneous documents J1

Page [1]  view page image

May 8th 1797Sir

From your friendly Communications to me whilst I was in Philadelphia , I was convinced, you had been rightly informed of the expressions, made use of by me at the election of the general and field officers of the Militia for this District, with respect to your official Conduct, in Transmitting Communicating your Constitutional power as the Executive of the State to another and had truly construed it, to be the right of every citizen, to take notice of the official Conduct of any officer of government and express their Sentiments, thereon;

But Sir behold my surprise, when I returned, and found that amidst, those friendly Communications to me, you had wrote a letter to General James Robertson , and another to Mr Joel Lewis , in which you had made use of the following Language respecting me, "that you [added: did not] regard — the scurrilous Expressions of a poor pitifull [pitiful] petty fogging Lawyer, and you treated them with Contempt" Those Sir, are Expressions, that my feelings are not accustomed to, and which my Conduct through life by no means merits, and which, Sir, I will not, tamely submit to.

With Respect, to the scurrillity [scurrility] mentioned in your letters, as having been made use of by me, it is necessary here to state facts and from thence enquire [inquire] whether the Expressions deserves the Epithet "scurrilous"

I was present, at the Election as a private Citizen, and Conceived I had no right to interfere, as the representatives of the Citizens (the officers Elected by them) were Convened for the purpose of Electing the officers, pointed out by the Constitution, to be Elected by them, and who alone were Legally and Constitutionally authorised [authorized] to Conduct, and debate upon any question at the Election and when I heard your Constitutional powers to transfer any — of your—

Page [2]  view page image

[of your] official duties to another, questioned and brought under Debate, was still determined to be Silent; But Seeing Mr Joel Lewis rise upon the question, and to enforce his reasoning produce a private letter wrote him by you, and viewing him in the same situation of Every other private Citizen, without Just right of Debate; Viewing sir with horror, a private letter from the Executive of the State, produced to influence the Officers to do that, which in my oppion [opinion] was an unconstitutional act, and which would Establish a precedent dangerous to the rights of the people, I proceeded to reply to Mr Lewis with some warmth, and observed in substance as follows; that I was sorry, that I was Compelled to Expose the ignorance of the governor, in his attempting to Communicate to another, those duties, that by the Constitution was Confined to him alone, and in the Debate I further observed that it matters not, that the power was transferred to a good man, the Constitutional right, busy tacitly Surrendered and the president Established, the Executive Might transfer the power to any person, Even to Thomas Mcfarlen if living. These were the substance of my Expressions as they related to the Executive, in Reply to Mr Lewis, without personal referrence [reference] to your character have further than the rules of argument and the Conduct of Mr Lewis Justified

Mr Lewis, Certainly Meant, to put himself, indecently at the head of a party, and when I saw him produce your Letter to influence unconstitutionally an Election, in which he ought to have had no concern—

The first Idea that Struck me was that he was authorised [authorized] so to do, by you, otherwise, he would not, have taken the Liberty, to produce your letter, whether this was the case, you alone can determine

miscellaneous symbols penciled in
— from

Page [3]  view page image

which I Must Still Conclude, that my Expressions did not merrit [merit] the Epithet "Scurrilous"

But sir let me ask why those private letters Containing those Expressions respecting me, why not If you thought I had injured you; the letter directly to me, calling upon me for an Explanation of the Injury I had done you, why sir, this private attack on my Character to a Man [added: (in Lewis)] that was my Enemy, who publickly [publicly] shew [show] it in the Court yard, which I suppose was Countenanced by you, or he would not have taken the Liberty of Shewing [Showing] it to the publick [public], but this rests with you, whether this is the case or not, & all this in my absence, this Conduct requires an Explanation and the Injury done my private Character and feelings requires redress

An answer to this Letter is expected

I am sir your mo. ob. serv. [most obedient servant]
Andrew Jackson
Governor John Sevier

Page [4]  view page image

His Excellency John Sevier—= Present
[added: And. [Andrew] Jackson ][added: Published in part as marked in correspondence of Andrew Jackson by Bassett Vol. [Volume] Page 32 & 33]

A product of DLPS
To comment or inquire about content, contact UTK Special Collections
To report errors, contact UTK Special Collections