DescriptionHugh Williamson Rare Autograph Letter Signed "Hu Williamson," 2.5 pages, 7.75" x 9.5", front and verso. Philadelphia, January 7, 1796. Addressed by Williamson on verso of the third page to "Mr Moses Fisk/ Indian Queen/ Philadelphia." The Indian Queen was a tavern/hotel across the street from Independence Hall. In part, "Not having seen the Land called the military reservation in the South Territory I cannot possibly give such description of it as your Note of yesterday would seem to require. Hearsay Evidence, & such is mine, would not be good in any Court of Law, perhaps in Conscience it might be satisfactory. The Lands were reserved for out Troops in consequence of a Bill that I brought into the Assembly in 1782 when I wished much to be of use to those men with whom I had served & suffered. From the most correct Information I could get I believed it then to be the best Tract of vacant Land in N Carolina. That whole Country beyond Cumberland Mountain was at first called Davidson County, from Genl Davidson a maternal Unkle [sic] of mine who fell in the Year 1781. My Aunt and Family afterwards settled within that reservation on the Land laid off for her Husband...From all that I have heard I infer without Doubt That the Military Reservation, except the Ridge between the Waters of Duck & Cumberland, is a Tract of very good Land. That the Lands on Red River, the NorthWest Corner of the Tract are light Lands, but generally arable and such as would be called pretty good in this Country. That the Lands to the Eastward of Red River and all the Land within the Reservation on the South Side of Cumberland River, the above described Ridge excepted, abound in Lime Stone and that those Lands in Point of Strength or fertility are not equaled by any thing that we have on this Side of the Mountain unless by the Lime Stone Land on Susquehannah beyond Lancaster, making this difference that the rich Cumberland lands being in Latitude 36 have the benefit of a more temperate Climate & longer Season of Vegetation and consequently will produce valuable Crops such as Cotton that would not grow in Pensylvania [sic], also better Crops of Corn...in many Cases there is a scarcity of Springs. Such a scarcity is also observed in Kentucke [sic], it is also observed above Lancaster & in Cumberland County in Pennsylvania & perhaps in all Counties where Lime Stone abounds...The Lands on the small Rivers that run into the Mississippi viz Hotike, forked Deer, Obion, Reel foot are very different in quality from those on Cumberland...The Land as I understand for Indigo Cotton or Wheat is rather better than the Cumberland Lands and equally good for Corn..."
Hugh Williamson (1735-1819), a signer of the Constitution, was surgeon general of the North Carolina troops in the American Revolution (1779-1782) and represented N.C. in the Continental Congress (1782-1785, 1788), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1790-1793). The N.C. Military Reservation was created in1782 in what is today known as north Middle Tennessee. Military warrants were issued to North Carolinians who served in the N.C. Continental Line during the American Revolution. They were redeemed for land within the Military Reservation. Moses Fisk (1760-1840) went to the areas he asked Williamson to describe. In 1805, Fisk surveyed the first village in what is now Hilham, Overton County, Tennessee. He moved there, becoming postmaster, road surveyor, and founder, in Hilham, of the first female academy in the south. Five months after Williamson wrote this letter, on June 1, 1796, President Washington signed the act stating, in part, "that the whole of the territory ceded to the United Sates by the State of North-Carolina shall be one State, and that the same is hereby declared to be one of the United States of America, on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever, by the name and title the State of Tennessee." The second page of the letter has been affixed to an 8.25" x 11" red card by a 1.5" x 0.5" strip of tape at the lower edge (light show-through) covering the last few words of the last line of the page which is hidden in the image. There are tears and paper loss on the address leaf (verso of third page) not touching any writing and a small tear at the edge of the first leaf where the letter was opened by Fisk. Hugh Williamson's autograph is rare in any form. This is a particularly attractive example in fine condition with interesting North Carolina/ Tennessee content.
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