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Catalog Number 2015.02.0035
Object Name Letter
Date 1819
Title 1819 January 24 John Brown to Samuel Brown
Scope & Content Letter from John Brown (Frankfort, KY) to Samuel Brown (Philadelphia, PA). Brown discusses the banking bills being debated in the State Legislature, including issues relating to branches of the United States Bank in Lexington and Louisville. Brown writes about the efforts to tax these banks, as a means to encourage them to leave the state. Brown comments upon the affect of the banks on the economy of the area.

Brown also discusses the legislative efforts to charter a state school (Centre College) at Danville, and the debate over Horace Holley's fitness for leadership of Transylvania. Brown discusses Holley's solicitation of funds for the new building at Transylvania University, and Holley's participation in the debate between the Presbyterians and the Baptists.

Brown mentions the weather, navigability of the river, and the price of cotton, slaves, land, and horses. Brown asks Samuel to lend money to his sons if necessary, because of the shortage of United States bank notes in Kentucky.

[Transcription]

Frankfort 24th. January, 1819

Dear Brother

The Legislature of this State are yet in Session & although several measures of importance have been brought forward yet few acts & those chiefly of a local nature have passed both houses. The Branches of U.S. Bk. at Lexington & at Louisville have been the subject of long & animated debate. The embarrassments of this State have by many been attributed to those institutions & a Bill has at length passed both Houses by great majorities the object of which is to induce them to withdraw from this Country. It imposes an annual tax of 60,000$ on each Branch payable $5,000 monthly until they shall find it expedient to depart, & impowers [sic] the Sergeant of the Court of Appeals to collect the Tax, & if resistance shall be made, to call on the posse Comitatus to his aid, & to break Door vaults & this has been thought necessary as those Branches have refused to pay a tax, less than that paid by the State Bank, which was imposed by the last Session of the legislature. The Governor has not yet approved & signed this Bill, & some think he will not sign it, but the majority in each House is sufficient to pass it, his negative notwithstanding. As to the ultimate policy of this measure I will offer no opinion but can readily imagine that the immediate removal of these Banks will considerably add to the pecuniary distresses of this Country which in all conscience are sufficiently great at present. For there is good reason to believe that at this time there is due from this State to Phila. & Balto. & for Goods - to the Banks, also for purchasing public Lands about 10,000,000$ & that there are not more than $2,500,000 In Specie on hand to facilitate the payment of this enormous debt, & at least three fourths of that Specie locked up in the vaults of Banks, or still more securely in the Chests of the timid & the miserly. This debt is chiefly due from the merchantile [sic], trading & speculating classes, of whom many will most probably be reduced to their original nothingness. Our Farmers are somewhat in debt for store goods, but not more than one crop in most instances will pay, & some of them will suffer in consequence of having indorsed for their adventurous friends. I however have the pleasure to believe that the great Body of Land Holders will be found perfectly solvent. Some measures for temporary relief have been suggested such as an extension of the Replevy - the payment of property at three fourths its value in discharge of Executions etc. but no Bill has passed to that purpose. An Act has passed giving a Charter to a College in Danville, set on foot by the Presbyterian Synod under the impression that Mr. Holley is not sound in the Faith, & cannot be safely trusted with the religious education of Youth. But no funds have been given by the State, & without greater support than can be expected from the liberality, or indeed the ability of the Presbyterian Denomination of Ky. The Institution cannot flourish. Mr. Holley was here two weeks soliciting funds from the Legislature for Transylvania University, the Buildings of which lately erected, have nearly exhausted what remained of Virga. Donations. He preached at their request, & delivered a splendid Lecture on Education, & such was the first impression made by his Eloquence, & the polish of his manners, that I am persuaded, had he retired at the end of three or four days, that a very liberal donation would have been made. But flattered by the attention paid him, & elated by his first success, he determined to remain to render his ascendancy complete - he flattered the men, complimented & gallanted the Ladies, attended public Balls, & private dancing parties - played Chips - bowed & scraped etc. All this was doubtless well intended but the effect was such as you may readily imagine, that at the end of ten days he became comparatively cheap, & his greatness has since been on the ebb with all who set a high esteem upon consistency & dignity of Character. It is more than ten days since he returned to Lexington, & as yet the Committee raised to consider of funds for the University have not made a report, & 'tis even doubted that anything will be done in the business of this Session. His friends & himself in consequence of the Presbyterian opposition have calculated upon ample support from the Baptists, as a jealousy exists between these sects, but this expectation is not likely to be realized, as Mr. Creath & Dr. Fishback two of their most popular preachers have within a few days delivered discourses before the Legislature in direct opposition to the Doctrines [word covered by sealing wax] by Mr. Holley in his late sermon before that body. He will have many [word covered] to struggle with in this Country & it will require all his address to maintain his ground. James Brown had not arrived at N. Orleans on the 5th. Instant. Margaretta rec'd a letter from Nancy via N. York dated Paris 3rd. of Oct. stating that they were on the point of setting out for N. O. I am very apprehensive that some misfortune has befallen them as his object was to reach N. O. about the lst. Dec. when the Legislature were to convene.

The winter here has been thus far uncommonly fine - very few cold days & only two falls of snow scarcely sufficient to cover the ground.

This River not yet boatable & the weather so warm that 'tis feared most of the Beef & Pork put up for exportation is already spoiled.

Col. Percy certainly made a fortunate sale of your cotton at 24 Cents. Report says that article has fallen at Natchez to 18 Cents & that negroes now sell at half the price they lately commanded. What will become of the Alabama purchasers of Lands? Lands here that would have sold for $50 per acre are now offered at from $35 to 40 but at present prices are only nominal as no sales are made for cash.

I find great difficulty in making regular remittances to my Boys as U.S. Bk. Notes are rarely to be seen here & good Bills on Phila. are not to be had as none but Race Horses are at this time offered for sale, drawn merely to gain time, at certain loss.

Should either of the Boys run short of money & apply to you for temporary assistance you will greatly oblige me by affording him a present supply which shall be remitted with gratitude & without delay. We have lately rec'd letters from them & I believe they are doing well.

I have just now rec'd yours covering a letter from my Dear Nephew James Brown. Tell him I am much delighted with this mark of his attention & shall inclose [sic] an answer in my next to you. We all enjoy good health & live very happily together. My love to Susan & James.

Adieu
J. Brown

[Address Block]
25
Doctor Samuel Brown
Mail Philadelphia

People John Brown
Samuel Brown
Margaretta Mason Brown
James Brown
Ann Hart (Nancy) Brown
Horace Holley
James Percy Brown
Susan Brown Ingersoll
Search Terms Danville, KY
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United States Bank
Transylvania University
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Presbyterian Synod
Baptists
Panic of 1819
Philadelphia, PA
Paris, France
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