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Andrew Jackson Involved in Lawsuit over Tennessee Property in the Estate of His Deceased Brother-in-Law, Involved in the Major North Carolina and Tennessee Land Fraud that Jackson Revealed
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This bond commits John McIver and his sureties John F. Jack and Sterling Cocke to pay costs in McIver’s lawsuit against John Anderson, his wife Elizabeth Glasgow Martin Donelson Anderson, and the other heirs of Stockley Donelson (1752-1805). Donelson died in debt and without a will. In addition to his widow and her new husband, Stockley’s heirs included his sister Rachel and her husband Andrew Jackson; his sisters Catherine Hutchings, Mary Caffery and Jane Hays as well as Jane’s husband Robert. And Stockley’s brothers Alexander, John, William, Severn and Leven Donelson; and nephews John and Andrew Jackson Donelson, and Daniel S. Donelson, sons of deceased brother Samuel.

[ANDREW JACKSON]. Manuscript Document Signed in Secretarial Hand, Bond, August 23, 1812, Tennessee. 1 p., 7¾ x 13¼ in.

Inventory #26377.02       Price: $1,000

Historical Background
In 1784, the North Carolina legislature elected Stockley Donelson as the surveyor for the eastern district of Tennessee, while William Terrell Lewis was the surveyor for the western district to distribute bounty lands in Tennessee to North Carolina veterans of the Revolutionary War. Lewis’s uncle and namesake served as a clerk in North Carolina Secretary of State James Glasgow’s office. In the 1780s and 1790s, both Donelson and Terrell were deeply involved in the Glasgow Land Fraud, with Donelson ultimately accumulating approximately 1,000,000 acres in Tennessee. In 1797, he married Elizabeth Martin, a widowed daughter of James Glasgow.

Later that year, when Donelson’s brother-in-law Andrew Jackson, newly elected U.S. Senator from Tennessee, arrived in the nation’s capital (still Philadelphia), he told Senator Alexander Martin of North Carolina about the frauds. Martin encouraged Jackson to write down his allegations, and with that, on December 7, informed North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe. Some historians speculated that Jackson revealed the fraud to gain revenge against Stockley, who had informed Jackson that the Virginia legislature had granted Rachel Donelson a divorce before Jackson married her. When this was found to be false, it caused the Jacksons tremendous personal and political embarrassment.

The North Carolina General Assembly immediately formed an investigating committee that found the allegations to be true. In April 1798, the Hillsborough District Court issued indictments against Donelson, Terrell and others. Governor Ashe wrote to Tennessee Governor John Sevier, referring to Donelson and Terrell as “scoundrals of the first magnitude,” and asking for the men to be delivered to North Carolina under the provisions of the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. Despite several years of effort by successive governors of North Carolina, Donelson and Terrell were never brought to trial, though Donelson became the target of much litigation, and died in 1805 deeply in debt.

In 1812, John McIver sued the widow and heirs of Stockley Donelson for the conveyance of eleven tracts of land in Tennessee, totaling 30,700 acres. Donelson had sold the tracts to David Allison of Philadelphia on July 9, 1796. McIver purchased eight of them from a subsequent owner, and received the other three through a deed executed by the U.S. Marshal for the District of East Tennessee. McIver insisted that the defendants “combining and confederating themselves together…to cheat and defraud” him of “all the estate, right, title, interest and benefit, of in and to the eleven Tracts of Land.”[1]

Seven of the tracts of land were originally granted by North Carolina to John Gray Blount and his brother U.S. Congressman Thomas Blount, in 1788. Two more were granted by the State to N.C. Secretary of State James Glasgow, as assignee for others, in 1795, but were conveyed to Stockley Donelson in 1796. The final two, containing 21,600 acres, were granted by the State directly to Donelson in 1796. The Court of Conference, created in 1799 by the North Carolina General Assembly, indicted all four of the grantees, and found Glasgow guilty. The next session was transferred to the New Bern District Superior Court, which found both Blounts not guilty.

John McIver (1764-1830) was born in Scotland and emigrated with his brother to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1784. McIver moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1822, and had large land holdings in the area. The results of McIver’s case are unknown.

Condition: Creasing from original folds.

Complete Transcript
Know all men by these presents that We John McIver John F Jack & Sterling Cocke are held & firmly bound unto John Anderson & Elizabeth his wife Alexander Donelson, Catherine Hutchins, John Donelson, Mary Caffery, William Donelson, Robert Hays & Jane his wife, Andrew Jackson, & Rachael his wife, Severn Donelson, Leven Donelson, John Donelson, Andrew J. Donelson & Daniel Donelson in the sum of Two hundred & fifty Dollars, for the payment of which Sum well & truly to be made & done we bind ourselves our heirs, executors & administrators firmly by these presents. Sealed with our Seals & Dated this 23rd Day of August 1812.

            The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the above bounden John McIver hath filed his original Bill of complaint against John Anderson & Elizabeth his wife, Catherine Hutchins, John Donelson, Mary Caffery, William Donelson, Robert Hays & Jane his wife, Andrew Jackson, & Rachael his wife, Severn Donelson, Leven Donelson, John Donelson, Andrew J. Donelson, & Daniel Donelson, now if the above bounden John McIver shall prosecute with effect his suit commenced by his said Bill filed against the parties above named, or in case he fail therein, shall well & truly pay & satisfy all costs & Damages that may be awarded against him for wrongfully suing out the same, Then the above obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force & virtue.

Witness                                                            John McIver                {seal}

                                                                        By his atto S Cocke

                                                                        John F. Jacks              {seal}

                                                                        Sterling Cocke            {seal}

<2>  [Docketing:]
John McIver vs John Anderson & Elizabeth his wife, Alexr Donelson & others / Pro. Bond

[1] John McIver, Bill of Complaint, [May 1815], Andrew Jackson Papers: Series I, General Correspondence and Related Items, 1775 to 1885, Library of Congress.

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