George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Mero District, North Carolina, 30 November 1789

From the Citizens of Mero District, North Carolina

State of North Carolina Miro District
30th Novemr 1789

His Excellency the President, and the Honorable the Congress of the United States.

We the underwritten in behalf of ourselves and others, Inhabitants of the State and District afforesaid, situated on Cumberland River, beg leave to lay before Your Honorable and much esteemed body a true State of the numerous, Singular hardships, dangers and disadvantages, attending a Settlement which (tho of little Significance in its present State) will, we trust in a short period become a valuable member of the United Community.

This Country previous to the late glorious revolution, was purchased, together with that known by the name of Kentucky by Richard Henderson and his associates from whose encouragement many of your petitioners removed and Settled with their families at a place then well known by the name of the French lick, now the Town of Nashville, at the risque of their lives and properties in the heart of a Country Surrounded by Savages, with a flattering prospect of being the means of encreasing population and cultivation, of this truely rich and valuable country.1 These pleasing prospects were however for a short period obscured by the War carried on with our late mother Country (an Epoch that we look back to with the greater pleasure as it has been the happy Cause of our present state of Independance) at the conclusion of which the State Seized and appropriated that part of the Said Country, where the whole of your Petitioners live, to the purposes of rewarding our brave defenders, many of whom have Since removed to and Settled here under a confidence, in that Community’s afording them a protection against their Savage Neighbours, whose lives, Liberties and properties they had at the risque of their own So Gallantly defended: In this situation, we continued at this place Subject to all the hardships and inconvenances naturally attending the Settling a wild uncultivated Country, with the additional disadvantage of constant depredations from our Savage Neighbours, who have afforded us little, or no respite, for about ten Years, from all the terrifying calamities of a Savage War, until the Year 1786, when at the constant pressing Solicitations of the Inhabitants the General Assembly of the State Summoned so much humanity as to afford their distressed Supplicants a small Batallion Consisting of two hundred men properly officered, for two Years at the expiration whereof they were disbanded and Your Petitioners left as before without any other dependance than their own strength and determined resolution to support their little growing Settlement⟨.⟩ those fiew troops, however advantagious to the Settlement were far from being able to remove all the disadvantages the Settlers laboured under on account of the ennemy or preventing many valuable Citizens from being killed at their habitations on the frontiers and Since the expiration of their time, the list has been dailey encreasing So that the number killed Since the first day of January 1788 (from an exact Register that has been kept) Amount to 54 Persons who have been barbarously murdered while at their domestic employment without the most distant prospect of any further assistance from the legislative body of the State than overtures to the Indians for a Treaty of peace and amity which we have the most alarming reasons to believe from the accounts received in this place of the Indignities offered by McGilvray to the Commissioners delegated by your Honorable Body to treat with the Creek Nation will never avail us any thing untill an army is Sent into the heart of their Country Sufficient to extirpate their whole Savage race.

We do with the utmost Candour acknowledge that as Members of the State of North Carolina we have not at present the least pretence for making this address and prayer to Your Honorable Body: But in full confidence the Convention that is now sitting will adopt the Federal Constitution,2 we are encouraged to hope that Your Honorable Body will take our Situation into your most Serious consideration, and afford us Such protection and Support, as You in your wisdom may deem Sufficient to prevent the future depredations of our merciless and Savage Enemies—and Your Petitioners, will, as in duty bound, ever pray &c.

Copy, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. This petition is signed by James Robertson, lieutenant colonel commandant of Davidson County, and Isaac Bledsoe, lieutenant colonel commandant of Summer County. A note at the bottom of the letter states that the “commanding officer of the District (General Daniel Smith) is now absent at the General assembly of this State, which is the reason his name is not to the foregoing petition.”

The Mero (Miro) District in western North Carolina included settlements extending about eighty-five miles along the Cumberland River. The area is now in Tennessee.

1Richard Henderson & Company was organized in August 1774 by Richard Henderson and Nathaniel Hart, who negotiated an agreement with the Cherokee for all the land south of the Ohio River between the mouth of the Great Kanawha and Tennessee rivers. The firm was reorganized in January 1775 as the Transylvania Company with additional members and in March signed new agreements with the Cherokee accepting the Kentucky River instead of the Kanawha as the northern and eastern boundaries and the area of the Cumberland River rather than the Tennessee as the southern and western boundaries. For a detailed account of the settlement of the area, its difficulties with Indian raids, and the separatist movement arising on the Cumberland, see Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, description begins Thomas Perkins Abernethy. Western Lands and The American Revolution. 1937. Reprint. New York, 1959. description ends 124–25, 228, 338–43.

2The North Carolina Ratifying Convention convened at Hillsboro on 21 July 1789 and adjourned on 4 August. Word had evidently not reached the Mero District that the state had formally ratified the Constitution on 21 Nov. 1789.

Index Entries