Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig
Isaac Shelby letters
University of Kentucky Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40506
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Isaac Shelby letters, 1796-1815, 1VF67M50, 1VF68M105, 1VF63M206, AAP2167LM, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.
Governor of Kentucky, soldier. Isaac Shelby was a militia officer, surveyor, Indian fighter, member of the Virginia legislature and member of the North Carolina legislature before removing to Kentucky in 1783, where, after participating in military affairs and in politics, including the first Kentucky Constitutional Convention, he was elected the newly-formed state's governor in 1792. During his administration some of Shelby's most important acts included stabilizing the government of the new state and lending support to General Anthony Wayne's campaigns in the Northwest Territory. Shelby declined to serve a second consecutive term, but was called from retirement in 1812 because of the war with Great Britain and was again elected governor.
In his second term Shelby aided the federal government in its prosecution of the war and personally led the Kentucky Volunteers in General William Henry Harrison's invasion of Canada, which resulted in a victory for the United States in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. After his second term as governor, Shelby continued to serve on various boards and committees, including those of Transylvania Seminary (now University) in Lexington and Centre College in Danville. In 1817 Shelby declined President James Monroe's offer of serving as the Secretary of War. The following year he served with General Andrew Jackson on a commission to negotiate with the Chickasaw Indians concerning their lands west of the Tennessee River. Shelby died and was buried at his home, "Traveler's Rest," near Danville, in 1826.
This is an artificially assembled collection of four accessions containing five Isaac Shelby letters. The earliest is a 1796 letter in which Shelby inquires about military lands for sale in the Barren and Green River areas of southwest Kentucky (1VF67M50). Shelby writes at length to Henry Clay about the siege at Fort Meigs on the Maumee River in Ohio in a letter dated May 16, 1813 (1VF67M213). In two letters of 1813 to his son, Thomas Hart Shelby, Governor Shelby mentions the encounter with the British frigate Shannon and the American frigate Chesapeake, and he notes plans for a rendezvous at Newport, Ky. of volunteers who are to be marshalled to fight in the Canadian campaign at the Battle of the Thames (1VF68M105). Secretary of War William Harris Crawford is the recipient of a Shelby letter of July 2, 1815 dealing with financial receipts for treasury notes deposited in Kentucky by the War Department for public purposes (1VF63M206).