Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Redick, 19 April 1798

From David Redick

Washington April 19th 1798


The evening before I left Philadelphia Messrs. Baird and Isreal waited on me in my bedchamber, after I had got to bed, and Mentioned to me your desire of Seeing me on the Subject of Mr Luther Martins attack I Should with pleasure have done myself the honour but that the Stage in which myself and Son had taken Seats for Lancaster Set out at 6 OClock the next morning—I haveing observed a letter in Porcupines Gazette addressed to Mr Martin by a Mr Corbin, of whom I have Some acquaintance, expressing his, and the publics Satisfaction, with respect to Cresops inocence in the Murder of Logans friends and finding in Several Circles a disposition to give Currency to1 falshood, in this respect, I wrote a little heasty paper Stateing that I knew the universal belief of Cresop having killed the Indians Alluded to, to have prevailed in the Western Country, that the Indian tribes Charged him with it, that Cresop and Greathouse were the Subjects of their Constant Execrations and appealed to Mr Heckewelder one of the Moravian Missionaries for the last flact—I sent the paper to Mr Feno, for publication in hopes it might in Some degree check the Currant of untruth, but I find Mr Fenno has Not published it. The only appology I can make for him, as he told the boy who dilivered it, that it Should have a place, is, that he being a printer of Correct taste, and the paper being heastily drawn up without revision; he might have thought it undeserving a place—be this as it may, I have been at Some pains to procure the Most Authentic documents that this late day admits of, to establish the facts; and I believe I have not failed altogather. I enclose you a Certificate of William Huston a man of Established reputation in point of Integrity I have been in the Country to day makeing enqurey at a Mr Chambers who is intimate with Secrets on the Subject of killing the Indians at Bakers bottom, a few days after, Cresops, Skirmish he Also is in possession of the real history of Cresops attack on Logan’s family; he had it from a Mr Smith one of Cresops party—his relation of the Case to me goes fully to Justify the opinion of Mr Huston—Mr Chambers has promised to wait on me Shortly and make an Affidavit of the Whole; which I hope to be able to Send you ere long—I think, to take up the affair of killing the Indians at Bakers bottom of Some importance, tho not appearently connected with the Subject principly in view at present: but as it will go far in developeing Several important facts which has never been yet divulged, So far as I know, it will furnish Criticle documents for the Philosophical historian of Virginia, it will go compleatly to the depravity of Mind which reigns in a frontier Country—Compariscon will be the better made between the Natives, intrely Savage, and the first adventurers2 who claim Some Small Share of Civilization.—Mr Chambers will prove that Cresops party, particulary Mr Smith of Virginia whom he Mentions as having but one Arm Acknowledged that the Indians passed the encampment of Cresop in their Canoa without any apparent animosity and peaceably encamped at Some Small distance below them on the bank of the River that they went Silently down and fired on them, that the Indians took Arms and wounded one of Cresops Men Chambers will also prove that he was Solicited to be of a party to kill the Indians at Bakers bottom Several days before it hapned, that his intimate Companion, Edwd. King, was of the party. that Baker had been engaged by Greathouse to invite the Indians over and Make them drunk that they might become an easy prey—when the particulars are properly detailed it will make a horrid picture. these facts have Never been made known. even the greater part of Greathouses party were Ignorant of the true State of Things. Chambers refused being of the party least he Should become a Murderer of the inocent. I am Sir with Sentiments of very great Esteem

yours Sincerely

David Redick

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson Esqr.” Recorded in SJL as received 26 Apr. 1798. Enclosure: Certificate of William Huston of Washington County, Pennsylvania, 18 Apr. 1798, attesting to what he learned in 1774, from “a party of Armed men” led by Michael Cresap, about two instances in which they had killed Indians (MS in DLC; in Redick’s hand, signed by Huston; printed in the Appendix to the Notes on Virginia Relative to the Murder of Logan’s Family, with variations in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, and the omission of the word “wouded”—i.e., “wounded”—from the clause “they had with them one man on a litter who was wouded in the skirmish”; see Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, Chapel Hill, 1955 description ends , 236–7). Other enclosure printed below.

Messrs. Baird and Isreal seem likely to have been Thomas Baird, a Pittsburgh merchant who was part of an increasingly influential group of Republicans in western Pennsylvania, and either Israel Israel or John Israel, who during 1798 moved from Philadelphia to Washington, Pennsylvania, to begin publication of the Herald of Liberty and involve himself energetically in Republican politics, founding the Tree of Liberty in Pittsburgh two years later (Russell J. Ferguson, Early Western Pennsylvania Politics [Pittsburgh, 1938], 164–5, 167; Carl E. Prince, “John Israel: Printer and Politician on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1798–1805,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877- description ends , 91 [1967], 46–55).

In a letter of 10 Mch. 1798 addressed to Luther Martin and published in porcupines gazette on the 28th of that month, Francis Corbin declared that Martin had so “abundantly vindicated” the reputation of the Cresap family that TJ must certainly acknowledge the error of his assertions about the Logan affair: “Candid and a lover of truth, polite and a gentleman as he is, nothing can restrain him from this but pride or personal contempt. The avowed tenets of his political creed, if he be not inwardly an infidel, forbid us to suspect him of the former, and your respectability for talents and learning must, doubtless, protect you from the latter.—It follows then that being a republican and a philosopher (I use this last word as a literal compound of its derivatives) it is impossible for him to refuse you that satisfaction.—Having full credit in my estimation for the double character he sustains, I shall be extremely sorry indeed, if by his silence, he should forfeit his title to both or either.” Corbin, of “The Reeds” in Caroline County and previously of Middlesex County, had been born in Virginia in 1759 but received his education at Cambridge University. During the Revolution he remained in England, where he was admitted to the Inner Temple. Serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1784 to 1794, in 1785 he strongly opposed TJ’s bill for religious freedom. An active proponent of ratification of the U.S. Constitution, in 1788 he gained notoriety by mocking Patrick Henry in the General Assembly, only to be bettered by Henry’s withering reply. Corbin aspired unsuccessfully to a seat in either the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , 30 [1922], 315–17; Madison to TJ, 22 Apr. 1788, 23 Oct. 1792; Monroe to TJ, 12 July 1788, 16 Oct. 1792, 27 Mch. 1793; TJ to Short, 6 Apr. 1790; Vol. 2:548–9).

Corbin and TJ were in communication during the period in which Corbin’s letter to Martin appeared in Porcupine’s Gazette, but the subject of their correspondence is not known. According to SJL, they exchanged five letters between 11 Sep. 1797 and 8 Apr. 1798 and another nine between 5 Dec. 1798 and 20 Oct. 1800, none of which has been found. They do not appear to have communicated again until 1814, when they traded letters on the disposition of the estate of Lucy Ludwell Paradise (Corbin to TJ, 30 Apr., TJ to Corbin, 20 May 1814).

On 20 Apr. 1798 James Chambers gave a deposition concerning what he knew of attacks led by Daniel Greathouse and Michael Cresap against Indians along the Ohio river in the spring of 1774. Redick sent the deposition to TJ who included it in his Appendix in 1800 (MS in DLC; in Redick’s hand, signed by Samuel Shannon, justice of the peace of Washington County, Pennsylvania, and by Chambers; with attestation by Redick, 26 Apr. 1798, as prothonotary of the court of common pleas for the county; endorsed by TJ; printed in the Appendix with minor variations in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization; see Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, Chapel Hill, 1955 description ends , 238–41).

1Redick here canceled “what I was fully persuaded.”

2Word interlined in place of “Settlers.”

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