Desposition of Gov. Henry as to Purchase of Lands from the Indians, 4 June 1777

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Transaction details to purchase lands from the Cherokee nation. [1]

Letter text, June 4, 1777

Page 157

(From Va. State Archives, Executive Papers.)

The Deposition of Patrick Henry Esquire; who being first duly Sworn deposeth & Saith,

That early in the year one thousand seven hundred & Seventy four as well as he remembers the honble Wm Byrd Esqr decd, having said

Page 158

that the Cherokee Indians had offer’d to give him a Tract of Land some years before, & Falling into Conversation on that Subject with this deponent, He the said Wm Byrd together with the Honble [sic] John Page Esqr decd & this deponent agreed to send a Certain Mr Kennedy to the Cherokee Nation to see if they were willing to part with some of their Land on the Waters of their own River in Virginia, to convey the same to them & not for the State. Colo Christian was to be a Partner if the Scheme succeeded. Upon Mr Kennedy’s return he informed this Deponent that he had been to Colo Byrds & had let him know the answer of some of the Indian Chiefs & Communicated the same to this Deponent, which was, that they were willing to treat on the Subject. Not long after this, & before any Treaty was Resolved on, the Troubles with great Britain, seemed to Threaten Serious Consequences, & this Deponent became a member of the first Virginia Convention, & a member of the first Continental Congress, upon which he Determined with himself to disclaim all Concern & Connexion with Indian Purchasers for the Reasons following, that is to say. He was Informed, shortly after his Arrival at Congress, of many Purchases of Indian Lands, Shares in most or all of which were offered to this Deponent, & Constantly refused by him because of the Enormity in the Extent to which the Bounds of those Purchases were Carry’d Another Reason for this Refusal was, that Disputes had arisen on the Subject of these Purchases, & this Deponent, being a Member of both Congress & Convention, conceived it improper for him to be concerned as a Party in any of these Partnerships; on which it was probable he might decide as a Judge. The Deponent says he was further fixed in his Determination not to be concern’d in any Indian Purchase whatever on the Prospect of the Present War, by which the Sovereignty & Right of Disposal in the Soil of America would probably be Claimed by the American States. After conversing with the sd Wm Byrd & Communicating his Sentiments freely on the Subject, the Deponent saith that the Scheme dropt, nor did it proceed further than is above related. The Deponent further says that Mr Henderson & his Partners very soon after their Supposed Purchase joined in a Letter to this Deponent; in which was Contained as this Deponent might be a Partner with them. The Deponent also says he recd a great Number of Messages from Messrs Henderson &c. inviting him to be a Partner: That Mr Henderson in his own Person & Mr Allen Jones (a Partner in the Purchase) both apply’d to the Deponent to join them in their Scheme but the Deponent uniformly refused & plainly Declared his Strongest Disapprobation of their whole proceedings, giving as his Reason that the People of Virginia had a right to the back Country, derived from their Charter & the Blood & Treasure they Expended on that account. The Deponent says that he is not now nor ever has been Concern’d directly or Indirectly in any Indian Purchase of Lands & that he knoweth nothing of Mr Hendersons Contract.

The Deponent being asked whether Application to the Legislature or the Crown was made for leave to Purchase Lands of the Cherokees by the sb Wm Byrd or any other Person in the matter aforesaid- He answereth that no such Application was made that he knows of

Page 159

that the only proposal to the Indians was, to know if they would treat on the Subject & Further saith not- 198


Williamsburg Sc

Sworn to before

Jno: Prentis

R: Kellon

June 4th, 1777.

Foot Note

198For depositions of Arthur Campbell, Abraham Hite, Nathaniel Henderson, James Douglas and John Floyd, see Virginia “Calendar of State Papers”, Vol. I, p. 303 et seq.

Letter text, June 2, 1777

(From Journal of the House of Delegates.)
Monday June 2, 1777.

The Speaker laid before the House a letter from the Governor enclosing a state of the military stores belonging to this Commonwealth.

Ordered, That the said letter and state do lie on the table.

Ordered, That a message be sent to the Governor and Council, desiring they would inform this House whether Philip Love199 and William Grayson Esquires, resigned their appointments as colonels of two of the battalions of this Commonwealth, or refused to accept the same.

Foot Note

199Philip Love, brigade major Virginia Militia, 1777.

Letter text, June 3, 1777

Tuesday June 3.

Resolved, That the Governor, with the advice of the Privy Council, be empowered to employ proper persons to purchase, on account of the public, and at a generous price, all the salt that may be imported into this country in the course of the next twelve months, and that he be authorized to issue his warrant on the treasurer to pay for the same; that such salt when purchased, be immediately stored in some convenient and secure parts of the country, and distributed, by order of the Governor, with advice of the Council, amongst the inhabitants of the different counties, in such proportions as their exigencies may require and that the quantity procured may admit regard being principally had to such counties as are farthest removed from salt water, and that the receivers of the salt to pay into the hands of such persons as may be appointed for that purpose, at the time of delivery, so much per bushel as the Governor, with the advice of the Council, may judge reasonable, the money when received, to be paid with all convenient despatch [sic] into the treasury, for reimbursing the public.

Letter text, June 4, 1777

Wednesday, June 4.

That the Governor and Privy Council be desired to lay before this House an estimate of the probable expense of the army the ensuing

Letter text, June 5, 1777

Page 160

Thursday June 5.

Mr. Lee reported to the House, that the committee appointed, had, according to order, waited on the Governor, and notified to him his appointment, and that he was pleased to return the following answer:

GENTLEMEN,- The signal honour conferred on me by the General Assembly, in their choice of me to be Governor of this Commonwealth, demands my best acknowledgements, which I beg the favor of you to convey to them in the most acceptable manner.

I shall execute the duties of that high station, to which I am again called by the favor of my fellow citizens, according to the best of my abilities, and I shall rely upon the candor and wisdom of the Assembly to excuse and supply my defects. The good of the Commonwealth shall be the only object of my pursuit, and I shall measure my happiness according to the success which shall attend my endeavors to establish the public liberty. I beg to be presented to the Assembly, and that they and you will be assured that I am, with every sentiment of the highest regard, their and your most obedient and very humble servant.


Letter text, June 9, 1777

Monday June 9.

Resolved, That the Governor with the advice of the Council, be desired to fill up the vacancies of field and other officers which are or may happen to in the three battalions belonging to this Commonwealth; the field officers and captains to be preferred according to the seniority in the whole line, the subalterns in the particular battalions to which they belong.

[Agreed to be the Senate on June 11]

Letter text, June 10, 1777

Tuesday, June 10.

Resolved, That the Governor be empowered, with the advice of the Privy Council, to suffer the persons who have agreed to take their passage to Great Britain in the ship Albion, now in the hands of the enemy, to go on board any other vessel, or either of the British ships of war in the bay, as shall be most convenient to them and proceed on their voyage, with their necessary provisions and stores, under the same regulations on which they were to have embarked on the board the ship Albion.

The Speaker laid before the House a letter from the Governor, enclosing an estimate of the probable expenses of the army for the ensuing year.

Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor and the Privy Council be desired to have the accounts of the money due from the continent to this Commonwealth settled by the commissioners appointed by Congress for that purpose, and transmit the same to our delegates in Congress, who are hereby instructed to procure the payment thereof.

The Speaker laid before the House a letter from the Governor, enclosing one from Lieut. Col. Thomas Blackburn, resigning his said office.

Letter text, June 10, 1777

Page 161

(From Va. State Archives, Ex. Com.)
In Council, June 10th, 1777.


By an order of the House of Delegates of the 4th Inst. the Governor and Privy Council were desired to lay before the House an Estimate of the probable Expence [sic] of the army the ensuing year. I have now the honor to send it herewith. It may be observed the Calculation is made upon one Regiment, and it will be increased according to the Number taken into pay. The Board of Council cannot give a satisfactory Estimate of the Expence of the Hospital Business because the number of Troops is not yet known & because the prices of almost every necessary, are so very fluctuating. I have therefore annexed a List of Articles containing general Heads of Expences, [sic] I am

Your mo. obedt Servt

The Honble George Wythe esqr Speaker of the Honble House of Delegates.

Letter text, June 10, 1777

(From Journal of the Council.)
Tuesday June 10th 1777

The Board of War having by Order of Congress sent to Dumfries in this Commonwealth four Hessian Field Officers as Prisoners of war to be there closely confined, and the County Lieutenant of Prince William having by Direction of the Committee of that County ordered thirty six men of the Militia into service as a Guard upon the said Prisoners, which Number he has since reduced, this Board do approve of the Conduct of the County Lieutenant in this matter from the necessity of such a measure although he cou’d derive no authority from the proceedings of the said Committee. And his Excellency the Governor is advised to direct the County Lieutenant aforesaid to keep such a Guard over the nental Paymaster for the amount of such pay rolls as the said County Lieutenant may from Time to Time certify to be just.

Letter text, June 11, 1777

(From Va. State Archives, Ex. Com.)
In Council June 11th 1777.


The Expence [sic] of the Guards kept over Goodrich200 and McCan, at Charlottesville, is great; and in order to avoid it in future the Council Board are inclined to send them to Stauntown in Augusta and to give orders that they do remain at that place without a Guard: at the same Time requiring that in Case of their Misbehaviour [sic] they be committed to close

Page 162

Goal and orders may be given that in Case of an Escape they be immediately pursued & probably they may be apprehended before they can reach the lower Country. But in as much as one of these people was thought a very dangerous Person some time ago, and it was judged necessary to secure him under a Guard, the Board of Council, do not chuse [sic] to alter his Situation without the opinion of the Assembly. Will you be pleased, Sir, to favor me with their Sentiments on this Subject- I have the Honor to be

Your mo Obedt Servant,

The Honble

George Wythe Esqr Speaker of the

Honble House of Delegates.

Foot Note

200 For the inimical activities of the three Goodriches, John Sr., John Jr., and Bartlett, see V. H. M., Vol. XV, pp. 160-65. Deposition in regard to John Goodrich, XVIII, p. 400.

Letter text, June 11, 1777

(From Journal of the Council.)
Wednesday June 11th 1777

The Board taking into Consideration the heavy Expence [sic] the keeping Guard over John Goodrich and Andrew McCann two Tory prisoners at Charlottesville in the County of Albemarle, are of Opinion that the same might be well saved if the said Prisoners were sent to Staunton in Augusta County on their Parol [sic] to confine themselves within the Limits of that Town, & to be of good Behaviour; [sic] but for as much as the Case of the said Goodrich has been frequently under Consideration of the late Convention the Board were unwilling to determine on this Measure without consulting the General Assembly now siting; and they accordingly advised his Excellency the Governor to write a letter to the Speaker of the House of Delegated on that Subject.

Letter text, June 12, 1777

(From Va. State Archives, Ex. Com.)
June 12th 1777


The inclosed [sic] Letter from Mr Blackburn, I have thought it necessary to communicate to the general Assembly, which I beg the Favor of You to do. With great Regard I have the Honor to be

Yr mo. obt & very
hble Servt

The honble

George Wythe Esqr

Speaker of the House of Delegates.

[Endorsed:] Governor’s Letter June 12 1777 Inclosing Colo Blackburns resignation.

[“An Express arrived in town last night from General Washington to his Excellency the Governor informing him that on Saturday the 14th ult. A fleet of 100 transports sailed from New York, whether they had troops on board, or where they were bound the General was not

informed, but recommends to the Governor to have the militia put on the best footing, that we may be ready to receive them.” – Virginia Gazette, June 13, 1777]

Letter text, June 13, 1777

(From Va. State Archives, Ex. Com.)
June 13th 1777


The inclosed [sic] Letter from Gen1 Washington, containing some Matters of an interesting Nature, I have judged it necessary to lay before the general Assembly without Loss of Time. This, I intreat [sic] the Favor of you to do, & to be assured that I am


Yr mo. obedt & very
Hble Servt

The honble George Wythe Esqr

Speaker of the House of Delegates

[Endorsed:] Refd to Com: on State of the Commonwealth

Letter text, June 14, 1777

(From Journal of the Council.)
Saturday June 14th 1777

Upon considering Mr James Callaways Letter of the eleventh Ult. setting forth that the allowance made him as Manager of the Lead mines is by no means adequate to the Service, and proposing to continue to manage the working of the said mines for one hundred and fifty Pounds per annum and all expenses paid; The Board being well satisfied with Mr Callaway acquainting him thereof.

Letter text, June 16, 1777

(Journal of the House of Delegates.)
Monday, June 16.

The Speaker laid before the House a letter from Governor, enclosing a state of the public trade.

[A letter of Governor Henry of the 18th June 1777 must have touched on provisions shipped from Virginia, for, in the “Journals of the Continental Congress,” Vol. VIII, p. 515, occurs the following:]

The Committee on the Treasury reported, that they have taken into consideration the letters referred to them, from Governor Henry, or Virginia, Mr. Aylett,201 deputy commissary general, and Mr. Finnie, deputy quarter master general, and an account of provisions purchased in Virginia, for the use of the United States; and find, that besides twenty cargoes of flour, amounting to 10,282 barrels, shipped from different parts in Virginia, on continental account, by order of

the commissary general, there remains stored in different places of that commonwealth 10,676 barrels of flour, 1,100 barrels of pork and 5,790 barrels of Indian corn, which, exclusive of several cargoes and expenditures not accounted for, amount to £48,107 9 3 ½, of which Mr. Aylett has received £23,727 2 8, and he claims a balance in his favour of £24,383 6 7 ½; that this state of his accounts is collected from a rough estimate transmitted by Mr. Aylett, unattended by proofs or vouchers, that they cannot but express their apprehensions that the flour and corn which remain stored in Virginia, are in great danger of perishing, and being lost to the public from the heat of the weather, and the difficulty of transportation, unless some effectual means should be speedily adopted for their preservation,

Resolved, That the accounts of provisions shipped from and stored in Virginia, for the use of the United States, be referred to the Board of War, in order

That the proper enquiry be made into the state of these provisions, and the most effectual means be adopted to prevent their perishing, or being lost to the public:

That a warrant be drawn by the president on Benjamin Harrison Esqr deputy pay master general, in Virginia, in favour of Mr. Aylett, deputy commissary general in the southern department, for the sum of sixty thousand dollars, on account of his preset demands, and that Mr. Aylett be informed by the Treasury Board, that agreeable to the late regulations of the commissary general’s department, no money can be furnished in future for the use of his department, but through the commissary general of purchases, to whom he must apply.

The Board of Treasury further reported, That William Finnie, Esqr deputy quarter master general in the southern department, should have leave, agreeable to his request, to repair to Philadelphia in order to settle his accounts with the Commissioners of accounts holding their office at the treasury under the direction of the Board of Treasury.

Foot Note

201 For miscellaneous correspondence of William Aylett, see Tyler’s Quarterly, Vol I.

See also


  1. Desposition of Gov. Henry as to Purchase of Lands from the Indians, 4 June 1777, in Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia, vol. 1, The Letters of Patrick Henry, ed. H. R. McIlwaine (Richmond: Superintendent of Public Printing, 1926), 157-164.

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