William Dearing 1792 HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT LETTER TO FAMED TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN HAYWOOD
Rockingham Tennessee TN North Carolina NC 1792 Manuscript Very Good Autograph
On offer an autograph letter signed by William Dearing, Rockingham, 30 October 1792, to John Haywood, Attorney General, Halifax [North Carolina], regarding a land dispute. John Haywood, pioneer jurist and historian of early Tennessee history, was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, in 1762, the son of prosperous tobacco producer Egbert Haywood. Despite limited educational opportunities on the colonial frontier, Haywood taught himself law and in later life became widely read. Admitted to the bar in 1786, he quickly gained a reputation as one of the best legal minds in the state. After serving as a clerk of the North Carolina State Senate and then the lower house, he became the state's solicitor general in 1790 and attorney general the next year. In 1794 he was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court but resigned in 1800 to defend a longtime friend, North Carolina Secretary of State James Glasgow, who, along with several other prominent citizens, had been charged with land warrant fraud. This scandal proved so unpopular that Haywood's own reputation was injured in defending Glasgow. Following the trial in which Glasgow was convicted. Haywood moved to Raleigh and returned to private law practice, in addition to beginning a career as an important legal scholar. Haywood owned land in Tennessee, and, at the encouragement of his friend John Overton, he moved his family to Davidson County. He built a home called Tusculum some eight miles south of Nashville and soon added two log offices, where he trained young men for the law in what may have been the first 'law school' in the Old Southwest. As in his native state, Haywood quickly established an enviable legal reputation. In 1816 he was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, a position he held until his death in 1826. Though he weighed over 350 pounds in later life, Haywood was an active and energetic man and researched and wrote on religion and history in addition to his legal work. . . He is best known for his histories of Tennessee, including The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee (1823), an attempt to prove that the native tribes of Tennessee were descendants of ancient Hebrews, and The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee (1823), a comprehensive history from prehistoric times to statehood in 1796. Here is the text: "Dear Sir / Agreeably to your written instructions I have endeavoured to procure such information and proof of the points you think essential in the suit myself against Mr. Gwinn - upon enquiry I find I can prove the identity of the red oak the corner of the west line & I believe, that it was marked as a corner; also that both lines [ ] the South & west lines were marked. A pole only can be found where the pine stood, the corner of the South line, I shall notwithstanding [page 2] make a more accurate search by digging & examining the rods if any can be found. I have also bored some trees in both lines and find they correspond as to the times of making them, tho as I count, they appear to be about two years younger than the deed, this I shall more particularly attend to at the time I shall have the land surveyed. I have not yet been able to procure proof of the west line being known & [ ] Jones line very few of the early settlers being alive or live about the neighborhood. [page 3] I don't know that it is essential to prove the time of possession was taken of the land How long it was retained or that it is material to ascertain the demand that was made of it, if it should be, the witnesses necessary to establish the other points will also prove these. If any thing else should occur to you, necessary to be done I beg you would write me directed to the care of Mr. Bagge(?) of Salem. / Very respectfully, Your Obedient Wm Dearing." Bifolium lettersheet (6 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches); laid paper with very soft texture (likely of southern production). Addressed to John Haywood, Esquire, Attorney General, Halifax; no postal markings. A few scattered unobtrusive age spots; short fold separation at second leaf. Very good overall.