Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Cocke, 17 August 1796

From William Cocke

Tennessee, Mulberry-grove August 17. 1796.


By your friend, Doctor Rose, I have the pleasure to inform you, that the people of this State, of every description, express a wish that you should be the next President of the United States, and Mr. Burr, Vice President.

I believe it is upwards of twenty years since I had the pleasure of seeing you; during which time, I have entertained a high respect as well for your person, as political sentiments, and shall be glad to receive a line from you, in return for which, I shall certainly give you the politics of this State, with such other information, as you may wish to have from this quarter. With respect, I am, Sir, Your real friend,

William Cocke

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 15 Sep. 1796 and so recorded in SJL.

William Cocke (1748–1828), a legislator and Indian agent who was born in Amelia County, Virginia, had served with TJ in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1777–78. A man of the frontier, Cocke lived in Kentucky, where he became active in the politics of the short-lived colony of Transylvania. In the mid 1780s in the western counties of North Carolina he became a leader of the unsuccessful movement to establish the state of Franklin. After the reorganization of these counties into the Southwest Territory, Cocke served in the territorial legislature and the constitutional convention of 1796, which brought Tennessee into the Union in time to cast three electoral votes for TJ and Aaron Burr during the presidential election of that year. Cocke represented Tennessee in the Senate in 1796–97 and again from 1799 to 1805. Commended by General Andrew Jackson for his bravery in the Battle of Enitachopko during the Creek War in 1814, Cocke was subsequently appointed as United States agent to the Chickasaws (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Leonard, General Assembly, description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends 127; Jackson, Papers description begins Harold D. Moser and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, Knoxville, 1980– , 5 vols. description ends , i, 60–1n, iii, 408–9, 473; Samuel C. Williams, “The Admission of Tennessee into the Union” Tennessee Historical Quarterly, iv, [1945], 301–17).

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