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Father of Middle Tennessee Brigadier General James Robertson (1742-1814) related one-page handwritten reparation document to the Cherokee, addressed to Dr. Anthony Foster and issued by order of Robertson "…in consequence of two Indians being kill'd [sic] on Stones River [in Murfreesboro, TN] by White people (to Wit)" dated November 21, 1797. Below is a list of items, such as an iron pot, yards of cloth, silk, buttons, thread, linen, and a rifle, with columns of numerical amounts, totaling approximately thirty-one dollars, with an additional notation indicating that the items had been delivered to the Cherokee, witnessed by A. Lewis and Francis B. Sappington, dated January 30, 1798. Nashville, TN framing label, en verso. Float mounted and matted under glass in a carved wooden frame. Sheet: 12 3/4" H x 7 3/4" W. Framed: 18 3/4" H x 13 3/8" W. Biography: "James Robertson, early leader of both the Watauga and Cumberland settlements, has been called the 'Father of Middle Tennessee.' Born in 1742 in Brunswick County, Virginia, he was the son of John and Mary Gower Robertson. In late 1769, as [James] Robertson grew increasingly frustrated with the provincial rule of North Carolina Governor William Tryon, he became intrigued by the stories of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains and began to consider relocating his family there. Late that year, he crossed the mountains and found a suitable site in the upper Holston Valley near the Watauga River. To establish his claim, he planted corn and built a corncrib and a cabin. On the return trip, Robertson became lost and wandered aimlessly for approximately two weeks before hunters directed him across the mountains. Encouraged by his favorable description of the land, several of Robertson's North Carolina neighbors decided to accompany him to the new frontier. In May 1772, when the Watauga settlers met to establish a government, they selected Robertson as one of the five magistrates to lead the Watauga Association. In addition, he was elected commander of the Watauga Fort. He was also an early companion of explorer Daniel Boone. In 1777 Richard Henderson of the Transylvania Land Company purchased a large tract of land from the Cherokees, including most of what constitutes present-day Middle Tennessee. In the spring of 1779 Robertson and a small party of Wataugans, acting on behalf of Henderson's claim, traveled to a site along the Cumberland River known as French Lick. There they selected a suitable location for a new settlement. Late that same year, Robertson returned with a group of men to prepare temporary shelter for friends and relatives, who planned to join them in a few months. The men arrived on Christmas Day and drove their cattle across the frozen Cumberland River. Crude cabins were erected for immediate winter housing, and a fort was built atop a bluff along the river. The fort was named Fort Nashborough, in honor of Francis Nash, who had fought alongside Robertson at the battle of Alamance in 1771. A faction of Cherokees known as the Chickamaugas opposed the Transylvania Purchase and warned the new settlers that trouble would follow their claim to the land. Attacks on the Cumberland settlement lasted several years and reached a peak between 1789 and 1794. Robertson's brothers, John and Mark, were killed, as were his sons, Peyton and James Jr. Another son, Jonathan, was scalped. Robertson narrowly escaped death on two occasions. In 1790 Congress created the Territory South of the River Ohio, and Robertson became lieutenant colonel commandant of the Mero District. The following year, President George Washington appointed him brigadier general of the U.S. Army of the same region. Occasionally, Robertson acted on behalf of the federal government to assist in the treaty negotiations with various Indian tribes. In 1804 he was commissioned U.S. Indian agent to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. His final mission took him to the Chickasaw Agency at Chickasaw Bluff. In his seventies, Robertson made the trip during heavy rains that forced him to swim several swollen creeks along the way. As a result, he became ill and died on September 1, 1814. His remains were later returned to Nashville, where he received a formal burial in the City Cemetery." (source: "James Robertson" written by Terry Weeks, Tennessee Encyclopedia, published by the Tennessee Historical Society, on October 8, 2017, accessed October 21, 2022, http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/james-robertson/).
PROVENANCE: By descent from the estate of Stanley Horn, Nashville, Tennessee.
CONDITION: Light toning, areas of loss, largest 1/4" x 1/4", tears, largest 1 1/2", primarily to fold lines, areas of dampstaining, largest 2 3/4" x 1", to top left corner, errased later pencil inscriptions and other general handling wear. Signatures and writing in overall good, legible condition. Not examined outside of frame.