James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Elias Earle, 6 April 1812

From Elias Earle

House of Representatives 6th. april 1812


Agreable to Your request this morning I called on Genl. Dearborn to make a further Statement of my business. He gave me for answer that he thought it unnessasary to say more as the Case was before You & at Your discression—that the prices of the Iron & Iron tools could readily be got from the accountants office when Such articles had been settled for. That with respect to the Quantity of Land to be conveyed to me, it also rested with the President—but that he would See him & should Give it as his Opinion that one fourth of said purchase would be but reasonable for the purpose of said Works &. As General Dearborn is Expected to leave the city of Washington Soon—When Ever he comes to the presidents, Will it not be the only way to satisfy the president, by his asking Genl. Dearborn such Questions as he may think proper to satisfy himself—for Which purpose & that he may be fully satisfied on the Subject—I have Taken the liberty of enclosing Copies of Such letters—the Treaty—& the statement1 Given to me by Genl. Dearborn as I have in my possession at this time.

Which freedom I hope the President will Excuse me for. I am Very Respectfully Your Obt Sert

Elias Earle2

RC and enclosures (DLC). Docketed by JM. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1Earle enclosed the following documents: 1) an extract of Henry Dearborn to Return Jonathan Meigs, Sr., 28 Feb. 1807, mentioning that Earle wished to establish an ironworks in the Cherokee Nation, if a suitable tract could be ceded, and requesting Meigs to sound out the Cherokee chiefs (1 p.); 2) an extract of Dearborn to Meigs, 26 Mar. 1808, warning Meigs against allowing the Cherokee to cede a six-mile-square tract at the mouth of the Chickamauga Creek to the state of Tennessee, this tract having already been ceded to the U.S., though the Senate had not yet ratified the treaty (1 p.); 3) an undated extract from a letter from Dearborn to Meigs, apparently referring to the above-mentioned tract (1 p.); 4) a copy of Meigs to Earle, 20 June 1807, mentioning that the Cherokee chiefs were pleased by Earle’s proposed ironworks and listing possible locations for it (2 pp.); 5) a copy of the articles of a treaty made between Meigs and the Cherokee, 2 Dec. 1807, ceding a six-mile-square tract at the mouth of the Chickamauga Creek for an ironworks, signed by the Cherokee chiefs and warriors and witnessed by Earle and others (4 pp.; printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:753–54); 6) a copy of Meigs to Dearborn, 3 Dec. 1807, transmitting the treaty of 2 Dec. 1807 (2 pp.; printed ibid., 1:753); 7) a letterpress copy of [Dearborn] to [Meigs], 29 Oct. 1808, containing instructions to detain and punish the Cherokee James Vann for crimes committed against two U.S. citizens and also to remove intruders from the Cherokee lands near the Elk River (2 pp.); and 8) a copy of a statement from Dearborn, 29 Mar. 1812, summarizing the history of Earle’s efforts to establish an ironworks in the Cherokee Nation and declaring that either Earle was entitled to some compensation for his efforts or the treaty [of 2 Dec. 1807] should be enforced, that treaty having been suspended awaiting the resolution of a dispute between the U.S. and Tennessee over the land ceded (5 pp.).

2Elias Earle (1762–1823) was born in Virginia and moved to South Carolina in 1787. For several years beginning in 1807 he was engaged in an effort to obtain from the Cherokee the cession of lands containing iron ore deposits on which he planned to develop an ironworks and a government arsenal. The U.S. negotiated the cession, the opposition of some of the Cherokee leaders notwithstanding, but the scheme fell through after the state of Tennessee laid claim to the lands sought by Earle. By 1810 Earle had settled in the Pendleton District of South Carolina, where he managed both an ironworks and a plantation. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1794–95, 1796–97) and in the Senate (1798–99, 1800–1801, 1802–4) and was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served five terms between 1805 and 1821 (Edgar et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 4:176–77; McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic, pp. 109, 119–20, 122–23, 126–27, 133–34).

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