xt7fxp6txr8k https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7fxp6txr8k/data/mets.xml Wilson, Samuel M. (Samuel Mackay), 1871-1946. 1920  books b92-129-29191337 English [s.n.], : Lexington, Ky. : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Shelby, Isaac, 1750-1826. Henderson, Archibald, 1877-1963 Isaac Shelby and the Genet mission. Genet, Edmond Charles, 1763-1834. Review by Samuel M. Wilson of "Isaac Shelby and the Genet mission"  / by Dr. Archibald Henderson. text Review by Samuel M. Wilson of "Isaac Shelby and the Genet mission"  / by Dr. Archibald Henderson. 1920 2002 true xt7fxp6txr8k section xt7fxp6txr8k 






    A REVIEW
        By SAMUEL M. WILSON

               OF

"Isaac Shelby and the Genet Mission"
        By Dr. Archibald Henderson








        FXi1us acta probat








      Lexington, Kentucky
              1 9 20

 This page in the original text is blank.


 


                      REVIEW
                By SAMUEL M. WILSON
                            OF
   An article, by Dr. Archibald Henderson, entitled "Isaac
Shelby and the Genet Mission," published, first, in two chap-
ters, in a volume by Dr. Henderson, entitled "The Star of
Empire," and, later, as the leading article in No. 4, of Vol. VI,
of the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, for March, 1920,
pages 451-469.


     "To the historian, destitute of facts for his text, silence
  supersedes commentary."-Humphrey Marshall, Hist. of
  Ky., 1812 Ed., page 9.


  The chief fault the writer has to find with the article in
question is with certain of its comments and conclusions or
characterizations, and not with those facts narrated, which
are based upon indisputable records. The quotation extracted
from Marshall's History of Kentucky (Edition of 1812) bears
more directly upon the errors and omissions of Marshall him-
self, which appear to have unconsciously influenced the author
of the paper styled, "ITaac Shelby and the Genet Mission."
These errors might have been avoided by Marshall and their
effect on later histoyiins, beginning with Timothy Pitkin, in
1828, and ending, let us say, with Roosevelt, Winsor, Mc-
Elroy and Dr. Henderson, might have been minimized, if
Marshall had adhered more scrupulously to the principle
enunciated by him so tersely and so oracularly in the sentence
quoted above. It was Macaulay, I believe, who long ago
ventured the observation that egotism which is so offensive a
fault in conversation, is oftentimes an alluring quality in
written composition, and assuredly Humphrey Marshall's
haughty self-assurance in his histories is responsible for much
of the weight which those histories have had with later writers.
                            3

 


            A REvEW BY SAMUEL M. WILSON
By this I do not mean to deny that he is often picturesque,
sometimes brilliant, and, nearly always, forceful and readable.
But his facts were not always fairly or fully presented and his
conclusions were too frequently warped and colored by his
intense prejudices.
   The paper here under consideration is, in my opinion, sub-
ject to criticism in that it does not reveal a very marked ad-
vance over the effort of such a writer, for example, as Dr.
Robert McNutt McElroy, in the chapter entitled, "One Phase
of the Genet Mission," published as Chapter VI,' of his book,
"Kentucky in the Nation's History."
   Comparing this article by Dr. Henderson, as it first ap-
peared in the book, "The Star of Empire," with its later form
as it appeared in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, one
is led to surmise that McElroy may have influenced the changes
or modifications which slightly differentiate the second version
from the first version of this paper. However this may be, it
is to be regretted that Dr. Henderson did not seize the oppor-
tunity presented to show how deficient is the narrative and
how unjust and ill-founded are some of the comments which
disfigure the work of McElroy. The case for Isaac Shelby
might have been materially strengthened in the revised article
but, instead of that, the case appears to be accentuated against
him.
   It is plainly evident that neither Dr. McElroy nor Dr.
Henderson made any use of Michaux's Journal, a translation
of which is found in Vol. III of Thwaite's "Early Western
Travels," published in 1903, nor of the "Clark and Genet
Correspondence," as published in the Report of the Historical
Manuscripts Commission, of the American Historical Asso-
ciation in its Annual Report for 1896. McElroy (p. 169, note
2, and p. 170, notes 1 and 3), cites Michaux's Instructions and
the Correspondence of the French Ministers of the United
States, 1791-1797, published in 1903, in the Seventh Report of
the Historical Mss. Com., of the American Historical Associa-
tion, Vol. II (all in French and part of which had been pre-
viously published in 1896), but he seems to have been oblivious
of the important matter contained in the Report published in
                             4

 


          ISAAC SHELBY AND THE GENEr MISSION
1896, and of other important source materials which could
have been found with the slightest diligence. He pays not the
slightest attention to "The Mangourit Correspondence in
Respect to Genet's Attack upon the Floridas, 1793-94," edited
by Frederick J. Turner, and published by the American His-
torical Association, in its report for 1897, pp. 290, 569-679, nor
to the pamphlet, privately printed in 1899, by George Clinton
Genet, entitled "Washington, Jefferson and Citizen Genet,
1793," nor to the valuable article by Frederick J. Turner,
entitled "The Origin of Genet's Projected Attack on Louisiana
and the Floridas," published in 1898, in No. 4 of Vol. III of
the American Hist. Review, pp. 490-650, nor to C. DeWitt's
Life of Thomas Jefferson, published in Paris in 1861, nor to a
lot of other interesting authorities, which have been ignored or
thrown into the discard. McElroy cites Butler's History of
Kentucky, 2d Ed. of 1836, in his Bibliography, but he mani-
fests very little acquaintance with it. His citations of Butler
appear to refer to the 1st Edition of 1834, which, on this par-
ticular subject, is not so satisfactory as the 1836 edition. Use
is made by Dr. Henderson of a portion of the valuable docu-
ments published as Appendices to Butler's History of Ken-
tucky, 2d Ed., but little or no account has, apparently, been
taken of Butler's text, dealing with the same subject. (See,
particularly, pp. 222-235.) The following sentence from Butler
(p. 227) will illustrate the studied unfairness of Shelby's polit-
ical adversary, Humphrey Marshall: "These (views) histor-
ical justice, no less than the author's deep respect for the great
public services of Governor Shelby, impels him to record. He
is more eager to do this, because this defense, though in part
produced by a motion of Mr. H. Marshall, is totally omitted
by him in his History." (Marshall had introduced the Reso-
lution of November 12, 1794, in the Ky. Legislative Session of
November, 1794, which called forth the Governor's message of
the 15th November, 1794, to the House of Representatives of
Kentucky.)
   The Clark and Genet Correspondence (Am. Hist. Assoc.
Report, 1896), was collected and edited by the Historical
Manuscripts Commission of the American Historical Associa-
                            5

 

             A REVIEW BY SAMUEL M. WILS0N
tion, and that Commission was composed of four leading his-
torians of the country, two of whom were J. Franklin Jameson
and Frederick J. Turner. It is fairly evident that the actual
work was done by Frederick J. Turner. In his Introduction to
the correspondence, Turner (at page 934) uses this language:
"These documents seem to support Shelby's explanation."
This is in accord with the conclusions reached by Mann Butler,
sixty years before, and is the conclusion which most commends
itself to the impartial investigator today.
   The Correspondence of Clark and Genet tends to show that
the idea of an armed expedition down the Mississippi against
the Spanish possessions did not originate with Genet but with
those who sent Genet to America and with George Rogers
Clark himself, who, as early as February 2 and February 5,
1793, was addressing letters on the subject to the "French Min-
ister" to the United States. McElroy, in a casual sort of way
(p. 170), alludes to this possibility, saying, "It seems probable
that Clark suggested the whole scheme, and that Jefferson, the
Secretary of State, deliberately encouraged it." He, neverthe-
less, exerts himself to "whitewash" Clark, with all the zeal of
a special pleader. However this may be, it is plain that Clark
was keen for the adventure, just as he had, in former years,
been avid for employment by Spain, and lent himself to the
reciprocal overtures of Genet, Michaux and other emissaries
of the French with the utmost readiness and willingness.
   After Genet and Clark, the central figure in the affair was
no less a person than Thomas Jefferson, at that time Secretary
of State of the United States. Alexander Johnston, the able
expounder of American History, who, until his untimely death,
occupied the chair of History at Princeton University, has
said:
     "The most ambiguous position in regard to the whole
  affair of Genet and his mission is that of Jefferson."
  (Lalor's Cyc. of Political Science.)
  Von Holst, in his Constitutional and Political History of the
United States, Vol. I, p. 116, says that Jefferson so far hindered
the action of the government as to justify the charge that "he
                             6

 

ISAC SHELBY AND THE GENET MISSION



played a masked part, and valued the friendship of France
-more than the honor of his own country." Based upon Genet's
dispatch of July 25, 1793, to the French Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Von Holst charges that Jefferson "indirectly, but with
a knowledge of Genet's plan, advocated that an uprising against
Spanish rule in Louisiana, with the aid of the Kentuckians,
should be provoked." Genet had written home:
     "Mr. Jefferson me parut sentir vivement l'utilit6 de ce
  projet;    cependant il me fit entendre qu'il pensait
  qu'une petite irruption spontanee des habitans de Ken-
  tukey dans la Nouvelle-Orleans pouvait avancer les
  choses; il me mit en relation avec plusieurs deputes du
  Kentukey, et notamment avec Mr. Brown."
  In spite of all this, it is only fair to say that Johnston
endeavors to exonerate Jefferson, and as an admirer of Jeffer-
son, I have no quarrel with his vindication. The sense of
nationality was as yet but embryonic not only with John
Brown, John Breckinridge, Isaac Shelby, and others of Ken-
tucky, but with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Henry
Lee, and others of Virginia, as will be more distinctly shown
before this review is ended. Respecting Washington's Proc-
lamation of 'Neutrality,' of April 22, 1793, (which nowhere
uses the word "neutrality"), James Madison wrote to Jeffer-
son, under date of June 19, 1793: "The proclamation was in
truth a most unfortunate error. It wounds the national honor,
by seeming to disregard the stipulated duties to France. It
wounds the popular feelings by a seeming indifference to the
cause of liberty." (Rives, Life and Times of James Madison,
Vol. III, pp. 334-335.)  (See, also, the letters, signed 'Hel-
vidius,' written by Madison, in answer to a series of letters by
Hamilton, signed 'Pacificus.')
   Let me pause here to say that Genet, at heart, was not a
bad man. It is established by documentary evidence, says Von
Holst (Vol. I, p. 117, note 2), "that Genet received express in-
structions to involve the United States in the war." "His
virtues," says James Parton, in an interesting article, entitled,
"The Exploits of Edmond Genet in the United States," pub-
lished in the Atlantic Monthly, for April, 1873, (Vol. XXXI,
                             7

 


            A REVIEW BY SAMUEL M. WILSON
pp. 385-405), at page 403, "were his own; his errors were those
of the time in which he was called upon to act." Allowing for
the difference in time and popular sentiment, his conduct was
quite as decent and as considerate as that of Von Bernstorff,
prior to his expulsion from the United States, in 1917. A
grandson of Genet, by the way, is said to have graduated from
the United States Military Academy, at West Point, and to
have served in the United States Army, and another descendant
was killed in the World War. Parton opens his article, men-
tioned above, with this-striking paragraph:

     "It seemed an odd freak of destiny that sent Edmond
  Genet, a protege of Marie Antoinette, to represent the
  Republic of France in the United States. Gouverneur
  Morris, in his neat, uncompromising manner, sums up this
  young diplomat, aged twenty-eight, in 1793, as 'a man of
  good parts and very good education, brother to the queen's
  first woman, from whence his fortune originates.' Even so.
  He was a brother of that worthy and capable Madame
  Campan, first femme de chambre to Marie Antoinette, and,
  after the queen's death, renowned through Europe as the
  head of a seminary for young ladies in Paris. It was she
  who wrote a hundred circulars with her own hand because
  she had not money to get them printed, and received sixty
  pupils the first year,--Hortense, ere long, from Napoleon's
  own hand."

  It seems to me that the article under review does not suf-
ficiently bring out the relation of Genet to Michaux and of
Jefferson to both of these men, before Governor Shelby was
ever approached on the subject of an expedition "down the
river." It was Jefferson who, at the instance of Genet, gave to
Andr6 Michaux a letter of introduction to Shelby, fully accred-
iting Michaux, not only as a botanist and man of science, but
as the trusted political friend of Genet, the French Minister.
When Jefferson did this, he knew that Michaux was the con-
fidential agent of Genet. He could not fail to realize that the
tendency of his letter of introduction would be to throw Gov-
ernor Shelby off his guard and lull him into a sense of security
so far as Genet and Michaux, and their subordinates, were
concerned. Genet operated on Depauw (not Depeau nor
                            B

 


          ISAAC SHELBY AND THE GENEr MISSIoN
Delpeau), LaChaise, Mathurin, and Gignoux (or PisGignoux),
through Michaux, and therefore, Governor Shelby's bearing
and demeanor toward Depauw and LaChaise can only be
properly understood by taking into account the fact that the
way for their reception had been paved by Michaux, who
called upon Governor Shelby, armed with flattering letters of
introduction from Thomas Jefferson and John Brown, the
latter then at Philadelphia as U. S. Senator from Kentucky.
   At the same time, it is fairly apparent from Michaux's
Journal that he did not make much headway with Governor
Shelby, respecting the political aspects of his visit to Kentucky,
for he fails to record any expression or utterance of Shelby's
which betokens approval of or sympathy for the proposed ex-
pedition. He called to see Governor Shelby two or three times,
once before and once or twice after, the enterprise had col-
lapsed, but on no occasion does he represent the Governor as
falling in with the plans of Clark and Genet. The contrary
is true as to General Ben Logan, George Rogers Clark, Henry
Lee (of Mason County, cousin of General Henry Lee, Gov-
ernor of Virginia), Alexander D. Orr (at that time a Repre-
sentative in Congress from Kentucky), Thomas Barbee, and
others, and, in a qualified way, as to Col. George Nicholas.
Read Michaux's Journal and judge for yourself. My personal
opinion is that Shelby's transparent honesty and integrity re-
pelled Michaux and it may be doubted whether he ever directly
broached to Shelby the subject of a warlike expedition down
the Mississippi, to be sponsored by responsible citizens of Ken-
tucky. Shelby's attitude, moreover, taken at its worst, was
simply symptomatic of a condition that existed all over the
country and was by no means limited to Kentucky or the
Southwest. In the Presidential election of 1792, Kentucky's
four electoral votes were cast for Jefferson. Of the fourteen
(14) delegates who represented the Kentucky District in the
Virginia Convention of 1788, only three (3), one of whom was
Humphrey Marshall, acting contrary to the known will of his
constituents, voted in favor of ratifying the Federal Consti-
tution. Marshall, by the way, had been denied membership in
the Danville Political Club in 1787, five members voting in the
                            9

 


            A REVIEW BY SAMUEL M. WILSON
negative on the motion to elect him. John Breckinridge, Pres-
ident of the Lexington Democratic Society, in 1793, and, after
December 19, 1793, Attorney General of Kentucky, and, there-
by, the official legal adviser of Governor Shelby, five years
later became the proponent, in the Kentucky Legislature, of
Jefferson's "Kentucky Resolutions of 1798." Humphrey
Marshall defeated him for the U. S. Senatorship in 1795 but,
in 1801, Breckinridge turned the tables on him and, in 1805,
passed from the Senate to the post of Attorney-General in
Jefferson's Cabinet. He was Jefferson's right-hand man in the
movement to acquire Louisiana. John Brown had been a
student in Jefferson's law office in Virginia, and these and
other ties greatly complicated the situation in Kentucky. The
affair with Genet was not a detached episode but an event
inextricably caught in the intricate web of state and national
politics.
   But insofar as Isaac Shelby is concerned, the point of the
whole matter is, not that he knew of the scheme, but that he
knew, or, at least, felt morally certain, that it would fail. The
evidence on this point leaves no room for reasonable doubt, and,
as Frederick J. Turner has expressed it, "supports Shelby's
explanation" of November 15, 1794, and of July 1, 1812. It
requires no assumption of senility to excuse his vigorous and
convincing statement of the latter date. The remark to which
Dr. Henderson has given place in his article that "There seems
to be no doubt that Shelby has clearly fallen into error, after
the lapse of years," etc., not only does Governor Shelby an in-
justice in its implication of a failing or untrustworthy memory
(a favorite fling of Roosevelt's), but it is out of harmony with
the evidence. More than a year after the letter of July 1, 1812,
was written by Governor Shelby to Martin D. Hardin, the Gov-
ernor of Kentucky had strength and vigor, both mental and
physical, sufficient to assemble, command and lead four thou-
sand Kentucky volunteers to victory in Upper Canada. Hold
him responsible for whatever faults or mistakes he may fairly
be chargeable with, but don't try to excuse him by making him
out a dotard.
   The remark last referred to warns the reader that Governor
                            10

 

          ISAAC SHELBY AND THE GENET MISSION
Shelby has clearly fallen into error, after the lapse of years,
"in his assertion that on January 13, 1794, he was assured of
the failure of the Franco-American expedition against Louis-
iana-unless, indeed, he possessed a prophetic vision, based on
reliable sources of 'inside information' available to but few."
Shelby does not say that he "was assured" of the failure but
that he "saw evidently that the whole scheme of Lachaise
would fall to the ground without any interference." (Lachaise
was so hard up that he tried to borrow money from Shelby
and a loan was refused.-See Am. Hist. Assoc. Report, 1896,
pp. 1105-1106.) Again, Dr. Henderson remarks, "It is dif-
ficult to understand, looking at the events after the lapse of a
century and a quarter, how Shelby could have had access to
sources of information 80 positive, to the effect that the French
enterprise would not even be attempted." Why is this so dif-
ficult Shelby was on the ground; he had been one of the
earliest pioneers to Kentucky; he had been continuously a resi-
dent of the State for ten years; he not only knew but was known
by his contemporaries in Kentucky as few other men of his
time were, and he was believed in and trusted by the vast
majority of his fellow-citizens. Much of his correspondence
and papers of that period has been lost but enough for that and
later times remains to show that he was advised and consulted
about public affairs by practically every man of consequence
in Kentucky. As Governor of Kentucky, he came into fre-
quent contact, either at his home, "Traveller's Rest," near
Knob Lick, or at the Executive Mansion, in Frankfort (in later
years commonly called the "Palace"), with all the prominent
people in Kentucky. One of the first acts of his first admin-
istration was to commission all of the Militia officers of the
State, practically all of whom were personally known to him.
(See Ms. Exec. Journal, 1792-1796.) He knew that George
Rogers Clark had "fallen from grace" and, to a large extent,
had lost his influence years before Genet and Michaux and
their subordinates appeared upon the scene. He knew that
Clark was "broke" and was "sore" on the government; he
could easily have learned from Logan and Nicholas, his neigh-
bors, and from John Breckinridge, John Bradford, Robert Pat-
                            11

 

A RESvw BY SAMUEL M. WISON



terson, Levi Todd and Thomas Todd, and others in Lexington,
how sorely in need of funds were the advocates and promoters
of the proposed filibuster, and he had had abundant military
experience of his own to satisfy him that, without adequate
funds, the expedition must inevitably "fall to the ground." In
these circumstances, and others, which may be readily imag-
ined, it did not require "prophetic vision" to forecast the fiasco
which did, in fact, come to pass.
   The population of Kentucky, at the time this project was
being agitated, was close to a hundred thousand (100,000),
with approximately fifteen to twenty thousand fighting men
available for service, in an emergency. How many of these did
Clark and his handful of noisy associates actually muster
McElroy (p. 171) asserts that "Clark's fame, together with
these glittering promises, induced many to volunteer for the
expedition,    confident that Clark would engage in no
enterprise which he believed to be contrary to the best interests
of his State and country." "Many" is, of course, a relative
term, but the glib historian has certainly "drawn a long bow"
as to the number of recruits, and the public confidence in
Clark, at that time, is painted in brighter colors than the cold,
unvarnished facts will justify. For he marshalled not exceed-
ing two hundred (200) at the outside, barely enough for a
modern Company, at full strength, or for what, in those days,
would have passed for a "battalion." (See Am. Hist. Assoc.
Report for 1896, p. 932.) The "two thouaand brave Ken-
tuckians" mentioned by Auguste Lachaise (whom I am tempted
to call a "four-flusher"), in his swan-song letter of May 14,1794.
to the Democratic Society of Lexington, existed only on paper
or in the fervid imagination of the sanguine Creole. They
had no more real substance than Falstaff's "rogues in buckram,"
whose numbers grew with repeated telling and the seeming
exigencies of his embarrassed predicament. Roosevelt (Win-
ning of the West, Part VI, Chapter II), says: "No overt act
of hostility was committed by Clark's people, except by some
of those who started to join him from the Cumberland dis-
trict, under the lead of a man named Montgomery." Also, says
Roosevelt, "His (i. e. Clark's) agents gathered flat-boats and
                            12

 

          ISAAC SHELBY AND THE GENvr MISION
pirogues for the troops and laid in stores of powder, lead and
beef. The nature of some of the provisions shows what a
characteristic backwoods expedition it was; for Clark's agent
(John Montgomery) notified him that he had ready (at what
is now Clarksville, Tennessee), 'upwards of eleven hundred
weight of Bear Meat and about seventy or seventy-four pair
of Veneson Hams."' And, again, "Some of the Cumberland
people, becoming excited by the news of Clark's preparation,
prepared to join him, or to undertake a separate filibustering
attack on their own account." Only twenty-one (21) "free-
booters" actually reported for duty at the mouth of Cumber-
land River, "allotted as the place of Rendezvous." (See Penna.
Gazette, June 4, 1794, and Am. Hist. Assoc. Rep. 1896, p. 1063.)
All of this happened, it will be observed, outside of and south
of Kentucky. William Blount, Federal Governor of the "Terri-
tory South of the Ohio" (now Tennessee), interposed to arrest
the unlawful enterprise, and what men of sober-minded com-
mon sense thought of the wild scheme is well expressed by
Thomas Portell, Commandant at New Madrid, in a letter of
January 17, 1794, to Gen. James Robertson. Said Portell:
     "I have never doubted but that the thinking people of
  Kentucky and Cumberland would discountenance any
  measure that tended to a breach of that happy harmony
  and good understanding that subsist between the two
  nations" (i. e. Spain and the United States). See Am.
  Hist. Assoc. Report, 1896, p. 1035.
  Dr. Henderson's argument against what he is pleased to call
"prophetic vision" by Isaac Shelby, at the time the letter from
Shelby to Jefferson, of January 13, 1794, was written, and his
charge that, in 1812, "Governor Shelby has clearly fallen into
error," is based on the alleged fact that "at this very time (i. e.
January 13, 1794), General George Rogers Clark was exten-
sively circulating throughout Kentucky his 'Proposals for rais-
ing the volunteers, c."' Just what authority there is for this
assertion, that Clark's "Proposals" were being "extensively
circulated throughout Kentucky," I am not at this moment
aware.
   Certain it is that Clark realized the need of circumspection,
                            13

 


            A REVIEW BY SAMUEL M. WILSON
for, in writing to Genet from Louisville, under date of October
3, 1793, he had said:
     "I find that I shall have to be very circumspect in my
  conduct while in this cuntry and guard against doing any
  thing that would injure the U States or giving offence
  to their Govt., but in a few days after seting sail we shall
  be out of their Govermet I shall then be at liberty to give
  full scope to the authority of the Commission you did me
  the Honour to send." (Am. Hist. Assoc. Report, 1896,
  Vol. I, p. 1008.)
  Dr. Henderson proceeds with the further statement that
these "Proposals" were "so favorably received by the public,
that they were actually set forth, in full, in the Centinel of the
North-Western Territory, Cincinnati, January 25, 1794." The
logic of this proposition is not very obvious. I can't see that
their publication in a newspaper north of the Ohio River and
within the jurisdiction of General Arthur St. Clair, Federal
Governor of that territory, points to a "favorable reception"
in Kentucky. There is no evidence, that I know of, that they
had ever appeared in any public print anywhere in Kentucky
prior to their publication in the "Centinel of the North-West."
Furthermore, this publication in the "Centinel" was twelve
days AFTER Shelby had dispatched his letter to Jefferson,
Secretary of State. Continuing, Dr. Henderson informs the
reader that "contrary to Shelby's statement, quoted above, it
appears certain," etc., and the projectors of the enterprise
"were so emboldened by the favorable sentiment in Kentucky
that Lachaise and Depeau had the temerity to address the
Governor on the subject, and General Clark sent forth openly
and broadcast his 'Proposals,' etc., which doubtless were read
by Governor Shelby." This is, to some extent, reversing the
order of events. Shelby's "statement" to General Wayne bears
date February 10, 1794, some two months and a half after
LaChaise and DePauw had written him from Knob Lick, on
November 25, 1793, (on which date the Governor appears to
have been at the seat of Government, in Frankfort, the Legis-
lature being then in session). The question is, what was Gov-
ernor Shelby's "estimate of the situation," (to use a modern
                            14

 


          ISAC SHELBY AND THE GENEr MISSION
military phrase), on January 13, 1794, and, again, on February
10, 1794, and not what may have been the mood of the "pro-
jectors of the enterprise" in the end of the preceding Novem-
ber. Dr. Henderson then adds, "As a matter of fact, the text
of the 'Proposals' was printed at Lexington in the Kentucky
Gazette six days prior to the date of Shelby's letter to Wayne,"
i. e., February 4th, 1794 (really on February 8th, 1794, only
two days prior to the date of that letter). But, leaving out of
view the fact that the First Amendment to the Federal Con-
stitution and Section 7 of Article XII (the Bill of Rights) of
the First Constitution of Kentucky, were then in full opera-
tion, guaranteeing freedom of speech and of the press, we in-
vite attention to the fact that there was no publication of these
"Proposals" in the "Kentucky Gazette" until they had first
appeared in the "Centinel of the North-West," and it is shown
in the Gazette that they had been copied from the "Centinel."
If the Federal Governor of the Northwest Territory would
tolerate their publication in a newspaper within his jurisdic-
tion, why might not an editor in the State of Kentucky reprint
them with impunity For John Bradford (a sketch of whose
eventful life I have now in preparation), this much must be
said in vindication of his substantial loyalty to the Federal
Government, his respect for the Government of the Common-
wealth of Kentucky, and his essential conservatism (not unlike
that of Col. George Nicholas), toward this business, with
which he undoubtedly sympathized, that in December, 1793,
as shown by a letter of December 19, 1793, written by him
from Lexington to M. Chas. DePauw, at Knob Lick, he had
informed DePauw that so much of his "Address to the Inhab-
itants of Louisiana" as declared "That the Republicans of the
Western Country are ready (to go down) the Ohio and Mis-
sissippi," "is inadmissible into the Kentucky Gazette." To
this, Bradford, a warm personal friend of Shelby's, added:
"I think if it was to be published, it would excite opposition in
the Executive of this State to the measure." How could it
have been supposed by Bradford, a close friend of Gov. Shelby,
that the latter would "oppose" "the measure," if some such
intimation had not been conveyed to him from Governor
                            15

 

            A REVIEW BY SAMUEL M. WILSON
Shelby himself or if, as is now asserted, Governor Shelby was
"in hearty sympathy with the movement" (For Bradford's
letter, see Report of Am. Hist. Assoc. for 1896, pp. 1023-1024.)
And if such unanimity of sentiment favorable to the enterprise
existed in Kentucky (as has been represented), why should
Bradford have hesitated to print anything DePauw offered or
anything he pleased about it There was not only a "Spanish
party," but a formidable Federal element, or, perhaps, it would
be more accurate to say, a strongly conservative element in
Kentucky, as well as the party of "French Democrats." In
this connection, may I be allowed to say that I do not think
the facts warrant the statement, of Dr. Henderson that Gov-
ernor Shelby "vehemently takes sides and frankly serves
notice on Jefferson that personally and individually, as a rep-
resentative of sentiment among the inhabitants on the 'western
waters,' he (Shelby) is in hearty sympathy with George Rogers
Clark and with the movement, engineered by Genet, which
Clark is preparing to head." I do not think Shelby's letter of
January 13, 1794, is fairly susceptible of any such interpre-
tation. I do not think the facts by any means warrant the
assumption that he was "in hearty sympathy with George
Rogers Clark and with the movement." This letter of Janu-
ary 13, 1794, manifests acute irritation, on the part of the
Governor, but its language is frank and its meaning unmis-
takable. Whatever mental reservations the astute Secretary
of State (Jefferson) may have had, when he wrote his two
letters of August 29th, 1793, and November 6th, 1793, this
much, at least, may be said for Governor Shelby, that he had
nothing to conceal and was absolutely candid. As Parton has
remarked, in his "Exploits of Edm