Gen. Jackson's Negro Speculations, and his Traffic in Human Flesh, Examined and Established by Positive Proof
Traffic in human flesh seems now to be generally condemned by all the civilized nations under the sun. The slave trade, though not entirely suppressed, is denounced under heavy penalties by most of the christian powers of the world, and its crying Injustice acknowledged by all. The buying, selling and transferring slaves as merchandize, from one state of this union to another, is prohibited under severe penalties by many of the slave states, while the practice, even where tolerated by law, is becoming exceedingly odious. The humane slave holder in those states where this species of servitude is recognized under the constitution detests it as cruel and subversive of the dearest ties of domestic affection: but the non slave holder of the free states, condemns it, as war with human rights, republican principles, and every feeling of the human heart. What then shall we say of those who follow this ignoble traffic? Are not private citizens, to say the least, liable to the reproach of all good society and of christians, who are guilty of this odious practice? Such we find to be the light in which those who are termed "negro buyers," and "negro sellers," are viewed. If citizens in the private walks of life are obnoxious to censure on this account, what should be the measure of disapprobation of such conduct in those who aspire to high trusts and exalted stations in the government. Generally, what may pass only as a reproach on a private citizen, operates in the minds of a virtuous community and a free people, as a total disqualification and unfitness for office.
We have been led to these preliminary remarks by a circumstance growing out of the pending presidential election.
General Jackson has set up extraordinary claims to the presidency; is a prominent candidate and stands charged with being guilty of the odious practice of "negro trading," and "trafficking in human flesh." This charge, if true, we think, ought forever to silence his claim and pretensions to that high office. This, of itself, (if there were not a hundred other good reasons why he ought not to be president) should be deemed and taken as conclusive against him by the free citizens of America. That this charge is true, we verily believe and aver, and offer the following proof to establish its truth:
When the subject of General Jackson's "negro trading" was first mentioned, it was stated there existed a written agreement in the General's own hand writing, in his bank book, which had been lying in the Nashville Bank for years, which shewed a partnership for the purchase and sale of negroes between him and Messrs Coleman and Green. After the bank book was referred to as containing the celebrated instrument of writing. General Jackson had it withdrawn from bank and deposited in the hands of the Editor of the Nashville Republican, a paper exclusively devoted to his cause. The Editor came out with a statement attempting to palliate, and, in some respect, to deny the charge as made against his patron and censuring the bank officers for having let the bank book be seen. W. Tannehill, Esq. Cashier, and a gentleman of the first standing made the following statement in the "National Banner" of the 15th of July last;
During the last year, a charge of 'negro trading' was preferred against Gen. Jackson in one of the Kentucky Papers. This charge,
the editors of the republican, in their usual temperate style pronounced an infamous falsehood. A few days subsequent to this denial, I was informed by a gentleman of this place of some circumstances which tended to establish the fact, and a short time after whilst looking over some old bank books, which had been lying in the Nashville bank almost unnoticed for twelve or fifteen years, I laid my hands on one belonging to Gen. Jackson, in which his account with the bank had been made up and settled, and which had been left there before I went into the bank. I am not aware that it was left in bank under any other than ordinary circumstances that is, for settlement, and after being written up was never called for. In the first page of this book was a memorandum of the character alluded to in the Republican, the tenor of which satisfied me of the fact, that the General was concerned with Coleman and Green in trading in negroes. This memorandum I did " exhibit' to five or six persons, amongst whom was a firm and decided friend of Gen. Jackson. The exhibition of this paper or memorandum was not made with any design of injuring Gen. Jackson in public estimation, or of producing any effect whatever on the approaching election; but for the purpose of showing to those few individuals that the editors of the Republican, in their great zeal to serve their friend and patron, had been too hasty in their denial, and that there were some grounds at least for the charge. If I had intended (as charged by the Republican) to have used this memorandum
the prejudice of the General, why did I show it to one of his particular friends? to one with whom he had freely conversed, a short time before, on the subject of this very charge against him of negro trading? Why did I not furnish it in reply to various letters which had been written me from other states, asking for information on this subject?"
Dr. Boyd McNairy, President of the bank, also made a statement in the same paper, in reply to the imputations of the Republicans that he had improperly exhibited Gen. Jackson's Bank book to public view. The following extract will shew the nature of Jackson's palliation or defence against this charge:
"You have been charged - but not by me, for I expressly disavow any agency in the matter with having been engaged, in on or more instances, in NEGRO TRADING - with having employed your capital and credit in the purchase and sale of slaves, for the sake of pecuniary profit. Is this charge true, or is it not? If be true, why do you not magnanimously and heroically admit it and defend yourself upon the ground, that the habits prevalent the country and the peculiar state of our society, in a community where slavery unfortunately exists, justified such speculations But I have already said that you are responsible for the statement of fact contained in the article in the Republican of the 11th inst. and permit me to tell you, that it was indeed an evil hour for you when you suffered it to be sent forth from your official press.
You have there admitted too much, and yet you presumed too much upon the supposed "profound ignorance" of your accusers, and the imagined weakness of their proofs. Before you venture again to make a public statement on the subject, I advise you carefully to review all those books and papers, which you have now so snugly concealed, but the contents of which may, perhaps, at some future day, be made to rise up in judgment against you. But I repeat it, you have admitted too much, and I now quote a sentence from thiS, your labored defence, as most conclusive against you.
- "On the 18th May, 1811, Joseph Coleman, Horace Green and Andrew Jackson entered into articles of agreement with R. Epperson for the purchase of a number of negroes. The terms of payment were, $2,050 in hand, $4000 at the expiration of six, and 4,000 more at the expiration of twelve months. For the payment of the two last mentioned sums, Coleman, Green, and Jackson, were to give their bills on a house in Philadelphia, and for further security in case the bills were dishonored, they gave their notes for similar sums, payable in the Bank of Nashville. These are the provisions of the contract, on which the charge of negro trading has been preferred against Gen. Jackson."
Here, sir, is your own confession, and what more is required to fix upon you conclusively the correctness of the charge? It is no longer necessary to search for old bank books, or papers, or secret memoranda. Here is your own statement published to the world, and founded on a copy of the original agreement, deposited with your printer?. You did then, in company with two other persons, enter into a written agreement for the purchase of negroes, amounting to $10,050, and you gave your notes and drew your bills in the name of the firm I suppose, "Coleman, Green, and Jackson" for the payment of the purchase money. It is not pretended that these negroes were bought for the permanent use of either of the partners. Neither yourself, nor Coleman, nor Green, intended to keep them. The avowed object of the purchase was a sale for profit. Here then the matter is at rest. You were, according to your own admission, concerned in negro trading. You were a partner to a contract, "a deliberate written contract," for the purchase of negroes amounting to $10,050, which negroes were bought solely for the purpose of being sold again for the sake of profit. It surely then is not necessary to argue further on this subject, nor to search among old rubbish for private papers to prove the charge. You have yourself publicly admitted it. I am not about to enquire into the degree of criminality or impropriety, if any, attendant on such a transaction. The fact is all I have now to do with. Whether it be right or wrong to deal in human flesh with a view to gain, to buy up and transport to a distant market, like so many cattle, unfortunate fellow creatures, who happen to be of a different color from ourselves, is a question which I leave for every man to settle for himself. But that you, Andrew Jackson, were once a partner to a speculation of that kind, cannot now be denied, for it has been admitted by yourself, and is proved by the written contract deposited by yoa in the hands of your printers.
"But it is still said, you were not a principal in the speculation - you were only a security. I will presently examine the strength of this amusing and shallow apology; but I must, in the first place, express my admiration of the conclusive and able argument by which it is attempted to establish the fuel of your securityship from the contract itself. The following is an extract from your defence:
- "The very face of the agreement indeed, would be sufficient to convince a man of business of this fact. Gen Jackson was known to be a man of property and credit. Green was a young man just commencing business, without fortune, and Coleman's circumstances any thing but flourishing. If then it had been the understanding of the parties, that Gen. Jackson was a principal in the transaction, would not his name have been put first in the contract? Would it not have been Jackson, Coleman, and Green, instead of Coleman, Green, and Jackson? This consideration of itself is sufficient to rebut the supposition, that he was a principal in the transaction."
" Whether this argument were original with your amanuensis, or were suggested by yourself or some of your council of war, I cannot say; but it is a specimen of logic worthy the brain of a profound attorney at law, a judge of the supreme court, senator in congress, and aspirant to the presidency! The man, whose name is placed last in the style of a firm, if he happens to possess more capital or credit than the others, is to be regarded as security and not as a partner!! It would be difficult, I imagine, according to this rule, to determine whether the 'junior editor,' so called, in your printing establishment, is really a partner or only a security. Which of the ostensible members of that firm has the largest amount, either of capital or credit, I at least, am unable to decide. But who does not feel the full force of the argument contained in the above extract? ' Gen Jackson was known to be a man of property and credit. Green was a young man just commencing business, without fortune, and Coleman's circumstances any thing but flourishing;' therefore, it most conclusively and irresistibly follows, that the two last, without money and "without credit, were the principals in the transaction, and that the former was involving himself assuming responsibilities, and running risks, without the slightest chance or hope of profit, merely as security to the triffling amount of $10,000, for a young man 'just commencing business, without fortune,' and for a man whose 'circumstances were any thing but flourishing!!!' The irresistible force of this reasoning will not surely be denied by any Jacksonite in the land."
But it remained for Col. Andrew Erwin, of Bedford County, Tennessee, who had also been defending himself against some violent personal attacks, made from two of Gen. Jackson's presses, to probe the subject of negro speculations to the bottom, and exhibit full proof of the truth of the charge. The facts and proof contained in his address to Gen. Jackson, have never been refuted, or denied. It may be found in the National Banner of August 1st, last, and republished throughout the union.
COLONEL ERWIN'S ADDRESS To Gen. Andrew Jackson.
I have remained silent for some time, in order to afford you an ample opportunity to display your boasted candor and Scorn for concealment, by coming out in your own name, with a full statement of facts in relation to your negro speculations. You have not done so, but have furnished such of your private papers as suited your purpose to the printers of your favorite newspaper, and have permitted to go forth, in that paper, uncontradicted, statements, professedly founded on competent authority, not only of your actions, but ot your intentions and desires in relation to your dealing in slaves. You have justly been held responsible for those statements, inasmuch as they were clearly intended to be regarded by the community as your own representation of the case; and indeed, the information could not have been derived from any other source but yourself. You cannot now shrink from this responsibility, because, although it is not supposed that you wrote the articles in question, it is clear you must have furnished the statements therein contained, and by permitting them to pass uncontradicted, you have given them the sanction of your approbation. To suffer them to go forth through the official organ of your party as your defence and to remain sub silentia, while you know them to contain palpable falsehoods, would be an act of imposition on the public, as gross and as outrageous as if they had been issued under your own signature. I shall continue to regard them therefore, as coming from yourself, and shall use them accordingly. You know, Sir, that I have not come forward as your voluntary and unprovoked accuser. If your too-ready vindicators had permitted me to remain unmolested, I should have pursued my ordinary avocation on the farm on which I reside in Bedford county, without interfering with you or your ambitious projects; but i was called forth by a slanderous attack upon my own character, and in self-vindication, I felt it due to myself to throw back in the teeth of my accusers the charge of negro trading as applicable to you, their leader and idol. As an excuse for attacking me, it was falsely asserted that I was the writer of the numbers signed A Tennessean, published, so much to your annoyance, in the Kentucky Reporter, That matter is effectually put at rest, the real author is known, and has received as the reward of his presumption, not only the growling of the 'sick lion,' and the 'indignant flashing of his eye,' but the inefficient ravings of his Jackalls, and the still more serious assaults of his subservient bullies. It seems. Sir, from this scandalous outrage, that if your are muzzled and pinioned down by the strong arm of public opinion, your followers, who partake of the spirit so well described by your friend Col. Benton, are not restrained by the same power, but are perhaps too ready to resort to the passports by which you resolved to secure a free passage by the agency house of Col. Diasmore for yourself and your negroes.
Whether this is a specimen of what the people of this nation must expect from your elevation to the presidency, I leave to the people themselves, after viewing all the outrages on personal liberty and safety committed by yourself and your followers, impartially to decide As it respects the slander upon my character, founded on Mr. Wirt's one-sided report, I have only now to say, that it is completely refuted, by the certificates given in 1824, by the Jury and Bar at Milledgevilie, Georgia, who heard all the evidence and arguments in court, in refutation to the facts referred to in that report. They thoroughly understood the whole matter, and have given an impartial opinion, whereas, Mr Wirt's report was founded on ex parte statements, procured by my bitter political enemies, E;iton, Calhoun, and Clarke, and was called up nearly two years after all the ostensible objects of government had been accomplished (by the removal of General Mitchell,) for the purpose, as I believe, of using it as an electioneering engine against me in this state. I ask only a candid perusal of the statement furnished by me to the Baltimore Marylander, and republished, at my request, in the Nashville Whig and Banner of the 20th July, in order to satisfy every impartial mind of my complete vindication against those malignant, unfounded charges of my enemies, around which they have rallied for several years, with your approbation and advice, as I verily believe. I am warranted in saying so, from the free use made of it in the press of your former partner and then devoted friend and agent, P. H. Darby, when I was a candidate, with fair prospects of success for Congress. The free circulation your influence then gave this unfounded and malignant charge, caused me to loose my elections in 1823 and 1825, and I verily believe your minions circulated and vouched for its truth throughout the district on both occasions.
And now. Sir, it remains for me to redeem the pledge I have given to the public, to prove you a negro trader, if you dared to deny it. I consider the publications of the 30th May and 11th July in the Republican, as intended to be a flat denial on your part, of the charge, particularly the latter publication - and both evidently by your authority. It is manifest indeed you do not wish it to be believed. It has been pronounced by your supporters a calumny seriously implicating your character, and has even been called by your printers, under the impulse of a too hasty zeal, "an infamous falsehood." Yet when a statement is made by those same printers, on your own authority, of the circumstances of one transaction of the kind, enough, more than enough, is admitted, completely to sustain the charge. This has been already shewn in the very conclusive and unanswerable letter of Dr McNairy, which neither you nor any of your partizans have even attempted to controvert. It is remarkable, however, that you did not contrive a story in the first instance, which you and your friends could steadily adhere to. On the contrary, we find your newspaper giving one account on the 30th of May, and quite a different one on the 11th of July.
Besides other material variations, it will be seen that the former represents the amount of the first payment at $2000, while the latter fixes it at $2030. Yet great exultation is expressed, on the presumption of the minute accuracy of the latter statement, in the idea that the i3um of j^929 45 is not a proportional part of $2050, and consequently could not have been your share of the first payment to Epperson. But before I proceed with any further comments on your own admission, I will lay before you and the public, a little evidence on the subject, derived from another source. A purchase of negroes is acknowledged to have been made, in 1811, by the firm of Coleman Green and Jackson. The members of this firm were. Jos. Coleman, Horace Green, and yourself. I will, in the first place, present you with the statement of your partner, Mr. Horace Green, who, you know, was in Nashville a few days since, and was seen and conversed with by a number of your warmest partizans, they did not procure from him an account of the transaction, will be readily seen on the perusal of the following letter;
- Nashville, 13th July, 1828.
Sir: Your note, inquiring of me information in relation to some negroes in which Gen. Jackson was concerned, I have received; To give a correct view of the transaction, as I understood it, I must connect it with another. In the latter part of the year 1810, Capt. Joseph Coleman proposed to me to join him in the purchase of some cotton and tobacco of a Mr. Bennet Smith, to which I assented. He stated to me that Mr. Smith would require security which he would procure. Some short time after this understanding with Capt. Coleman, he informed me that Mr. Smith would take no other security than Gen. Jackson, and that Gen. Jackson would be such, but that he must be placed in the light of a PARTNER, in order that he might have a controlling power if he thought it necessary. The cotton and tobacco were accordingly purchased, and taken by me to New-Orleans. I placed them in the hands of Gray and Taylor, then commission merchants of that place, for sale, as the property of Coleman, Green, & Jackson. The article of cotton being somewhat depressed at the time, I was advised by them to ship it round to Philadelphia. I left it with them, and instructed them to do so for our benefit, and returned to this place.
After my return in May, 1811, we purchased a number of negroes of Mr. Apperson, for which we were to pay a part in hand I paid one third, and understood the balance was paid by Captain Coleman and Gen. Jackson. The negroes were taken by me to Natchez for sale, and a part of them sold. In the month of December (I think) of the same year, I received letters from Gen. Jackson, (which letters are at this time mislaid,) advising me he had purchased out Capt. Coleman in both these transactions, and offering to sell out to me at cost by securing him, or to buy me out, and refund to me the advances which I had made. I thought proper to sell - In relation to the purchase of the negroes, although I had no understanding to the effect from either Capt. Coleman of Gen. Jackson, I thought it probable he stood in the same situation as Id the purchase of the cotton and tobacco, from the circumstance, as I then believed, it was his credit that had enabled us to make the purchase. Capt. Coleman made the negociation, and I made the selection. The negroes were, at the time of the transaction, at Capt Coleman's plantation, near this place, and I do not now recollect that he saw them before they descended the river. I am,
- H. GREEN.
It seems then from this statement, that a partnership was formed in the year 1810 between yourself, Joseph Coleman, and Horace Green. You were applied to, in the first place, it is true, to become a security, but you insisted on being placed in the light of a partner. A firm was therefore constituted under the style of "Coleman, Green, and Jackson;" and in the spring of 1811. a purchase was made by the firm with your assent, (for your printers admit that the contract with Epperson was signed by yourself, as well as by the other partners) for the purchase of negroes to the amount of ten thousand dollars. One third of that portion of the purchase money which was required in advance, Mr Green expressly tells us, was paid by him, and the other two thirds, he understood, were paid by Capt. Coleman and Gen. Jackson. Now, Sir, let us see what you yourself any, as to the payment of the two thirds. The following is an exact copy of a memorandum, in your own hand writing, which, in connexion with the above statement of Mr. Green, leaves no room for the slightest doubt, as to the nature of this transaction.
"A. Jackson amount of proportion of cash for negroes bot. of Richard Epperson, $929 45. J. Coleman is to pay the note in Bank for interest on purchase of cotton from B. Smith, for $613 39, and the sum of $191, which he is to pay, and the sum of $125 for boat makes up his proportion. A. Jackson has paid for Keelboat $50. To Capt, Wetherall discount, this 20th Nov. 1811, on the bill remitted W. Jackson & Co. on James Jackson & Co. $14.51; and also $16 on note endorsed by J. H. Smithâ - Note - provisions furnished cotton boat, 500 lbs. pork, and flower, and meal, in all $17.50."
The above is in your own hand writing - all in one paragraph, and could not have been written previous to the 20th of November, yet it correctly recites your payment to him of the 21st of May, and was my authority for saying it appeared, by your own hand writing, that your two proportions of the first payment were 1858 90; and for saying you wrote it six months after the date of the purchase of the negroes, and your first payment to Epperson. Now sir, I know nothing about the amount of your first payment (and never said I did) except from your own statement above quoted, and now from the additional statement of Horace Green. But it will not do for you to rely upon any private memorandum or agreement of your own, in contradiction of these statements, unless you candidly develop the whole matter, bring back all your books and papers which you have withdrawn from bank with so much trepidation, and release the bank officers from all obligations of secrecy, so that we may have a full view of this transaction, as well as of some others perhaps of a similar kind. It has been said, indeed, that the $929 45. spoken of in the memorandum, as paid by you to Epperson, might have been the expenses attending the attempt to sell the negroes, ascertained and refunded by you after they were brought back. Miserable subterfuge ! That amount, Sir, you know full well was paid by you to Epperson, three days after the alleged date of the contract for the purchase of the negroes, and the above memorandum conclusively shows, that Coleman was to pay a sum almost precisely equal. By adding together the three sums $613.39, 191.33, and 125, we have the amount of $929.72, which is 27 cents more than the sum paid by yourself. Green likewise paid a similar amount , and he tells us distinctly that he paid one third, and that the balance, as he understood, was paid by Capt. Coleman, and Gen. Jackson.
It is possible indeed that the aggregate sum thus advanced, may have paid not only the first instalment to Epperson, but also sundry expenses attending the transportation, such as the purchase of a boat, provisions, &c. ; and this is the more probable, as it is stated in the memorandum, that $125 of the amount paid by Coleman, was for a boat. But it is unnecessary for me to puzzle myself about the details of these transactions : it is enough that you are conclusively established as a negro trader, not as security, for that idea is perfectly ridiculous, but as a partner in the transaction.
You were solicited to be a security for Coleman and Green, in the purchase of cotton and tobacco, but would not, on account of the magnitude ofthe risk, consent to lend your capital and credit unless admitted as a partner ; and Mr. Green, one of your firm, says that although nothing special was said about the relation you were to occupy in the negro speculation, he considered you as standing "in the same situation as in the purchase of the cotton and tobacco," for the very obvious reason, that your credit enabled the firm to make the purchase ; and he might have added the still more conclusive circumstances, that you signed the Contract as a partner, and actually paid down in cash one third part of the amount, required in advance. It is perfectly ridiculous, indeed, for you to expect to escape the odium of this transaction by representing yourself as a security and not a principal. You paid your money, risked your credit, signed your name to a contract, drew bills, gave notes, wrote checks, and afterwards purchased out the interest of your partners, became yourself sole owner, went to the lower country, and finding yourself unable to sell them to advantage, you brought part of the objects of your speculation back with you, passed the Choctaw agency in triumph, and afterwards, no doubt, disposed of them in some other way, as you admit you sold the greater part of them. Is it not then a pitiful story to say you were not a voluntary agent in those transactions ? You were a security forsooth ; and how do you attempt to prove a thing to improbable and absurd ? Not by your friend, who was himself concerned in the transaction. He says you refused to be a mere security and insisted on being a partner!! -- that your credit enabled the firm to make the purchase, and that he understood, you advanced your proportion (one third) of the purchase money. How then do you attempt to prove your ridiculous tale? The only particle of proof offered by you, is an alleged copy of a memorandum of your own, by contradicting all your other memoranda, and exhibited only to a few of your chosen confidants. If you are so ready to refer to a part of your documents, why are you not equally ready to expose them all ? Why have you not candidly exhibited all your books and papers, which cannot fail to discover how the transaction really was, and boldly called upon friend or foe to come forward and examine them ? We. should then see when the payment was made to Epperson, which, I assert, was three days after the alleged date of your agreement. On the contrary you have hurried all your documents away to your private desk, where they remain carefully concealed ; and in the vain hope of preventing the production of evidence, you have taught your printers not only to hint "at the indignant flashing of your eye" but to attempt to intimidate peaceable citizens by threats, on their part promptly to assail the private character of any man, who shall dare to give testimony unfavorable to you. What confidence then, under such circumstances, can be reposed in this alleged memorandum, on the back of your agreement? Does it not rather create suspicions of something worse than has hitherto been discovered. But sir, without dwelling longer on this point, I will call your attention, and that of the American people, to the following letter from a gentleman whose high standing is well known to the citizens of Tennessee â€” a gentleman not only above reproach in private life, but distinguished for his public services in the legislature of the state, and the congress of the nation.
- Col. Andrew Erwin - Lockeland, June 14, 1828.
Sir: In answer to your letter, addressed to me, of the 26th ult. making inquiry relative to what knowledge I have respecting Gen. Andrew Jackson's buying and selling negroes for profit, and his bringing negroes from Natchez in the year 1811 or 12, I understood that a Mr. Horace Green, took from Nashville a number of negroes to Natchez, for sale, and that those negroes were the property of the late Joseph Coleman, of Nashville, Gen. A. Jackson, and said Horace Green, (yet I do not know this of my own knowledge.) Some time after, / /icarc/ Gen. Andrew Jackson say he went to Natchez, or somewhere in that country, and had brought said negroes back to Tennessee; and about that time, a Mr. Dinsmore, the United States agent for the Choctaw nation of Indians, was in the habit of stopping all persons travelling through said nation with a negro or negroes, who had not a passport. The General observed, that he had taken no passport, and on the morning he was to pass the agency, that/ie armed two of his most resolute negro men, and put them in front of his negroes, and gave them orders to FIGHT THEIR WAY, if necessary.
He further observed, that a friend had put into his hand, the night before, or that morning, a good rifle; that when he came opposite to the agency, he directed his negroes to go on to a branch, and eat their breakfast, that he rode up to the agency, where he saw several Indian countrymen, inquired of them for Mr Dinsmore. who informed him Mr. Dinsmore was not there, or from home. He told them to tell Mr. Dinsmore he should have been glad to have seen him, but he could not wait, that he was going on home with his negroes. A fellow named John Amp. whom I raised, and was sold by the then Capt. John Brahan to the said Joseph Coleman, was one of the negroes armed and put in front, as the General then stated.
The above is a true statement of what I heard Gen. Andrew Jackson say in Nashville, after his return from Natchez. It may not be the precise words, but it is the substance, to the best of my own recollection. I am, sir, yours respectfully,
- R. WEAKLEY
It seems from this letter, that the purchase from Epperson was not the only negro speculation in which your firm was concerned. You bought of John Brahan, and probably, if all the transactions could be brought to light, of several other persons. But my main object in introducing the above letter, is to show your respect for the laws and constituted authorities of your country. You even boasted, it seems, of having armed your negro slaves, in order to fight their way, if necessary, rather than to conform to the regulations of government, and procure and produce a passport for them. This sir, is perfectly consistent with your declaration, in your celebrated letter to G. W. Campbell, about sweeping from the earth the invader of legal rights, and involving Silas Dinsmore in the flames of his agency house. Is this a spirit to be patronized and cherished by the people of these United States? Does this not also explain the height and depth of your untiring, malignant persecution of myself, who, alone, or nearly so, defended my unsuspecting, poor, but honest neighbors, against your swindling combination, to deprive them of their houses and homes, so fairly and honestly bought and paid for by them, as set forth in transcripts from the records by the "Tennessean" in his numbers two to seven, each included. Dinsmore was threatened with consuming fire for giving you the trouble of obtaining a passport, in strict conformity with the laws of the country, and in the faithful execution of the confidence reposed in him by government. My crime was of a deeper dye. I deprived you of sweeping three or four hundred thousand dollars worth of my neighbors lands into your own pocket, (by taking advantage of your own agency, so well described in Judge Anderson's letter in the 7th number of the Tennessean.) for which you had not paid one dollar; neither had your partner, P. H. Darby, who got $5000 of the $10,000 you so unrighteously extorted out of the people, rather than be longer harrassed by you and him. You also got 6 to $7000 worth of land from me for your individual benefit in said compromise, about which you have been very silent, and are yet, in open violation of that article; of compromise - causing five or six of my worthy, but poor neighbors, to be harrassed with law suits; although every iota of the agreement has been complied with on our part. This accounts for the perpetual torture I have undergone for ten years by your printers, partisans, dependants and expectants, and particularly for my present persecution here and elsewhere, by co-workers in the fire side business, Eaton and Calhoun, who used Wirt's official character for your special benefit, I do not positively say knowingly on his part. Is a man to be elevated to the Presidency who will not only resist, himself, the constituted authorities of the country, and boast of his arms as his only passports, but will even encourage his negro slaves in rebellion, and order them to fight their way, and if resisted, to spill the blood of respectable freemen, engaged in the discharge of public duties!!!
I will now ask your attention to the following brief extract of a letter written by you to a gentleman on business, (not in bank) and dated Hermitage, March 20th, 1812.
"Having to attend Wilson circuit court, it will not be in my power
to be in Nashville next week. I am very much engaged to arrange my business, so that I can leave home on the trip with my negroes for
The letter containing the above sentence is in your own hand writing, and is signed ANDREW JACKSON.
I shall not trouble myself to conjecture whether it relates to some of the same negroes purchased of Epperson, by the firm of Coleman Green and Jackson, or whether it refers to another speculation, it is enough to show, at any rate, that you did not hesitate to speak freely at that time of your being actually engaged in negro traffic. Nor is it necessary to dwell upon a dispute between yourself and Epperson, which was referred to the arbitration of Judge Haywood and Judge Overton, respecting a negro fellow you bought for the express purpose of selling to Kenner and Henderson, at New Orleans, expecting to obtain for him the enormous sum of $2000, provided you could procure the certificate of D. Moore, and others, as to his being a good black smith. You, no doubt, recollect the circumstances of that case, and notwithstanding the reluctance which may be felt, to encounter unnecessarily the indignant flashing of your eyes, something can be produced in relation to it, in your own hand writing likewise, if it should be found expedient to recur again to the threadbare topic.
I have already made this communication so long, that I will only trouble you at present with one other little document, relative to another instance of negro traffic in which you were concerned. The writer of this letter is a respectable citizen of Sumner county, and he is well supported by the records of a controversy about this same negro in court, of many years standing, in the name of Jackson and Hutchins vs. Rollings. The following is Mr. Blythe's letter to a friend:
- Ash Grove, July 20th, 1828.
Sir: In reply to your inquiry as to my knowledge of General Jackson being concerned in buying and selling slaves, I will briefly state, that about the year 1805 or 6, Gen. Jackson and a Mr. Hutchings, (his nephew by marriage) had a store in Gallatin. About that time, they purchased of Dr- Rollings a negro boy, and sent him to the lower country to sell The negro had been previously in the hands of Dr. Rollings to cure a sore leg, and was sold by Rollings to them, with a knowledge, by both parties, of that fact, as I understood at the time. Some time afterwards, I had been up the Ohio, and oh my return by the way of Smithland, I came to the place called the Horse Ford, below Eddyville, where boats were compelled to stop by reason of low water, where I saw the negro above alluded to, in a barge, on his return from the lower country, where they had been unable to sell him, by reason of his leg breaking out afresh. When the negro came home, he was put under Dr. Ward, and died. Jackson and Hutchings sued Rollings for a fraud in the negro; the suit was pending several years, and finally decided in favor of Rollings. I was summoned as a witness in the case. I have heard that there were other slaves purchased by Jackson & Hutchings and sent to the lower country for sale; but it is so long since, that I do not now recollect any other particular case than the one named; and this one is impressed on my memory from the long and vexatious lawsuit to which Dr. Rollings was subjected, and the other facts related as above.
- Respectfully Yours,
- S. K. BLYTHE.
It will be clearly seen that you have by your manner of treating this subject, given it much more consequence than it really deserved. You have greatly enhanced the magnitude of your offence against the moral sense of the community by the sensitiveness which you have displayed, by the prevarication, shuffling and misrepresentation which have been resorted to, in order to avert from you the character of a negro trader. But Sir, honesty and plain dealing, are the best policy. This course enables men to go ahead fearlessly, (even in the face of such enemies as I have to encounter,) who are but desperadoes under the discipline of a mob and riot aristocracy, a principle never countenanced by a brave man, a moral man, nor a man who had any regard for the rights of others, and the mild precepts recommended in holy writ. Such men are inoffensive and law abiding, and consider themselves accountable to whoever they may happen to injure or offend by the laws of their country, of their church, or of society, in an open and manly way, and none other. They require no vaults to conceal their crimes on this side of the grave, to which we are all on our passage. And suffer me, in return for the unauthorized liberties yourself and your weak, inexperienced, and deluded young printers here, and your aspiring partizans of higher pretensions, to whom I have alluded, elsewhere, have taken with me, to tell you and them, that every attempt to conceal or misrepresent the occurrences with which you are connected, is a serious injury to you and your cause. You should show by your practice as well as your professions, that you are incapable of manoeuvering, to avoid responsibility.
Witness what has befallen you by denying that you made any advances of cash to Richard Epperson, for those negroes, and the introduction of your own certificate attested J. A. upon your own agreement to buy negroes, which you considered conclusive; when the fact is, it is conclusive against you, as three days after that date, your payment to Richard Epperson for $929.45, which you stated six months after, was made for that express purpose, renders your own certificate null and void to all intents and purposes, and places you before the American people in a new dress, which I would not wear for ten times as many bubbles as have been floating about you, and the favor of all your aiders and abettors in concealing your crimes.
Now Sir, you ought to have had some knowledge, and certainly had, of the brittle glass house in which you live, before you permitted your responsible editors to throw stones at every window which was not thrown open to illumine your path to the presidency. How did you expect your declaration of war against me, brought forth by your celebrated biographer of Timber-lake memory, was to pass off without an effort on my part to place truth in opposition to falsehood? In that I have succeeded, and I wish never to be put to the trouble again.
I confess your superior skill in blood and carnage, and, when displayed against the enemies of our country, you have always had my hearty approbation. Whether the result of fortuitous circumstances or of generalship, it has been the same to the country, yet I must confess the recital of the slaughter of John Woods (who was in your general order accused of previous desertion, which I know to be untrue, by the express words of his captain and many other men of first rate character for integrity and truth,) tarnishes your military fame in my estimation, very much indeed, and cannot fail doing so in that of others.
Lastly, I never had a slave brought before me for offending, against whom I gave an unmerciful sentence, such as you are said to have done at or near your own fire side at the Hermitage of late, in the attempt to execute which, it is said your own slave was killed, and all hushed up without any proceedings in court against the man, who, it is said, in executing your order, or on the way to do it, killed said slaves.
Now, Sir, it is possible you may have some preparation for washing the blood of this human being from the escutcheons of the Hermitage, but as there is no bank secret about this matter, and I have been written to of the subject, and must still presume you above concealment unless in bank matters, it is quite as important to the American people, to know the truth about this affair, as it was that Mr. Wirt should be duped into a false report against me, on ex parte testimony procured by your wire-workers, Eaton, Calhoun, and Clarke, in 1822, which was proved totally false in the very place where all the facts in the case were known, in 1824, and again brought into use against me, when in retirement in 1828, for your special benefit and iheiru also, as we ail know you sink or swim together on your late violent South Carolina resolutions. It is with you to say when this organized persecution against me shall cease. I will defend against it until you cause it to cease. You began it of choice, if you have been benefitted by it, your object is answered.
- ANDREW ERWIN