Caughey, John Walton. McGillivray of the Creeks, (The University of South Carolina Press, 2007.)
Davis, Robert S., Jr. Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution, (Southern Historical Press, 1979.)
Enoch, Harry G. Colonel John Holder: Boonesborough Defender and Kentucky Entrepreneur, (Acclaim Press; Mobley, Missouri, 2009.)
Haskins, Charles Homer. The Yazoo Land Companies, (The Knickerbocker Press, 1891.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Matheson, Sir Robert E. Special Report on Surnames in Ireland: Together With Varieties and Synonymes of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1982.)
Nasatir, Abraham P. Spanish War Vessels on the Mississippi, 1792-1796, (Yale University Press, 1968.)
Nester, William R. George Rogers Clark: "I Glory in War", (University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.)
Parish, John Carl. "The Intrigues of Doctor James O'Fallon", (The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (September, 1930), pp. 230-263.)
Younger, Richard D. "The Yazoo Land Frauds", (unpublished thesis, Marquette University, 1950.)
Letter - "To Thomas Jefferson from William Murray, 12 May 1791", (Founders Online, National Archives; last modified - October 5, 2016.)
Letter - "To George Washington from Henry Knox, 6 June 1791", (Founders Online, National Archives; last modified - October 5, 2016.)
Letter - "To James Madison from George Nicholas, 15 November 1793", (Founders Online, National Archives; last modified -October 5, 2016.)
Letter - "To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 27 February 1794", (Founders Online, National Archives; last modified - October 5, 2016.)
As the post immediately prior to this one has asserted and, hopefully, proven, the reputation and social respect of Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon) had suffered quite a blow in the eyes of respectable South Carolina society. Apparently, these same aspersions were never cast upon Alexander Gillon and thus his star rose in South Carolina politics and society. But, as stated in the previous post, these same critical analyses from the social and political elites of South Carolina society were directed with much greater effect on the person of Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon). Most probably as an immigrant from Ireland and as one who had been irrevocably bound to the questionable, reprehensible activities that bordered on mob violence and vigilantism. It is feasible that Dr. O'Fallon felt the need to chart a new course for his life. It is also possible that he had that new course found him. And, as the presented evidence hopefully will illustrate, the latter may well have been the case, especially since the writer of this blog has not found any additional evidence to prove otherwise.
A small bit of background information is needed here. At the end of the American Revolution, all foreign restraints on the westward expansion of the new nation were lifted. Not only did individual farmers, land speculators, surveyors, "gentlemen of fortune", and others begin to scramble for land to the west of the original thirteen colonies but, the newly independent states also began to manuever to take possession of as much territory as they could, legally or otherwise. Quite literally, tens of millions of acres were in question as to the rightful ownership of that land and by whom it was to be controlled. Land companies sprang up almost overnight and laid claim, either in the name of the state they worked for or in their own names, to millions of acres of western lands.
Many of these same land claims were greatly disputed between the individual states as well as the new federal government. According to Younger's work, "The Yazoo Land Frauds", page 1-2, these claims could be made every difficult to actually control:
"At the close of the Revolution, title to the western lands claimed by the State of Georgia was not well established. Georgia asserted its right to the territory bounded on the north by a line running west from the source of the Savannah River to the Mississippi River, on the west by the Mississippi River, on the south by the 31st parallel, and on the east by the Chattahoochee River. However, this area was not without other claimants. South Carolinaclaimed as being within the limits of her original charter that portion of the land lying between the North Carolina border and a line running due west from the mouth of the Tugaloo River to the Mississippi River. That state also laid claim to all lands between a line drawn west from the head of the Altamaha River to the Mississippi River and a line from the head of the St. Mary River to the Mississippi. The United States claimed the entire area by virtue of the Poyal Proclamation of 1763 which severed the western lands from Georgia and reserved them to the English Crown. The federal government also contended that the Province of West Florida had been extended in 1764 to include all territory south of a line drawn from the mouth of the Yazoo River east to the Chattahoochee. Thus, according to the contentions of the United States, title to the western lands was not vested in Georgia at the close of the Revolutionbut passed directly to the federal government under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1783.".
These were only the various and confusing claims of the states towards each other and the newly independent United States. But, there was at least one foreign power whose claims needed to be seriously considered - Spain. Again, according to Younger's work, "The Yazoo Land Frauds", page 3:
"The territory south of the Yazoo line was also claimed by Spain as a result of its conquest of West Florida from the British. By the terms of the treaty of 1783 negotiated between England and Spain in Paris, the Floridas were cededto Spain but boundaries were left undefined. Contending that West Florida had been extended by the British north of the original boundary of the 31st parallel of 32 degrees and 30 minutes, the Spanish claimed this additional territory also. The Spanish claim was further complicated by the provisional treaty between England and the United States which provided for a northern boundary of 31 degrees for West Florida in case the province remained in Spanish hands. In the event Britain was able to regain possession, the boundary was to be 32 degrees 30 minutes. In the face of these conflicting assertions, Georgia cited the commission of Governor James Wright, dated January 20, 1764, which returned the western lands to the Georgia government and denied the extension of West Florida.".
Ultimately, four separate companies would attempt to claim for themselves extensive portions of these western lands for development as they saw fit. These companies were the Virginia Yazoo Company, the Tennessee Company, and; for our purposes and focus in this post; the South Carolina Yazoo Company. These three companies had already filed their petitions with the Georgia legislature when a fourth company, the Georgia Company, attempted to apply for inclusion in the distribution of the western lands. This compnay filed their petition too late and were denied lands by the Georgia legislature. According to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", pages 8, the bill placed before the Georgia legislature "... passed without amendment, and received the Governor's signature on the 21st of December .".
Attention can now be focused on one of these land companies - the South Carolina Yazoo Company. Again, according to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 7:
"...articles of association were adopted, constituting a company to be known as the South Carolina Yazoo Company. The original members were but, four in number, Washington of Georgia, and Alexander Moultrie, William Clay Snipes, and Isaac Huger of South Carolina, Moultrie being appointed director. Among those who joined later was the famous Creek chief Alexander McGillivray. To the former idea of a commercial station there was now added the plan of securing an extensive territory and opening it to agricultural settlement.".
(Note: The individual known here as "...Washington of Georgia..." was, in fact, Major Thomas Washington, whose actual name, according to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 7, was Thomas Walsh. According to Davis's work, Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution, page 82, "Thomas Washington" was a signer of a petition asking for leniency against a known loyalist, Thomas Young, because he, among other acts of assistance to the patriot Cause, aided patriot prisoners of war who were being held at Sunbury, GA during the course of the war. The petition was directed at having the Act of Confiscation suspended against Thomas Young due to these acts of assistance. Indications are that "Major Thomas Washington" was an officer being held at Fort Morris in Sunbury, GA after its capture by British forces. According to a foot note in Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 7, note 1, "Washington, whose real name was Walsh, was an unprincipled speculator, afterward hanged in Charleston for counterfeiting South Carolina indents -- Georgia Gazette, March 24, 31, 1791.".)
The proprietors of the South Carolina Yazoo Company employed John Holder of Kentucky to escort settlers to an area then known as Walnut Hills, which is today the modern city of Vicksburg, MS. According to both Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies" page 6, and Enoch's work, Colonel John Holder, page 139, Holder was instructed to take four hundred settler families to this area along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River by the end of 1789. According to Haskin's article, "...in the execution of this contract Holder failed entirely...", while according to Enoch's work, it was the failure of the company that resulted in nothing ever coming of the efforts to locate settlers from Kentucky on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
At this point in the narrative, Dr. James O'Fallon re-enters the sequence of events concerning the South Carolina Yazoo Company and its plans for settling a colony in the newly-acquired western lands. According to Younger's work, "The Yazoo Land Frauds", page 9:
"as its agent for the colonization attempt, the South Carolina Yazoo Company chose James O'Fallon, physician, Revolutionary soldier and brother-in-law of George Rogers Clark. In instructions dated March 9, 1790, signed by Moultrie, O'Fallon was ordered to establish a colony at the mouth of the Yazoo River. In pursuanceof this, he was to conciliate the Indians and establish amicable relations with the Spanish government at New Orleans. O'Fallon left for Kentucky where he planned to recruit a group of settlers and adventurers while at the same time making contact with the Spanish authorities.".
Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", pages 8-9, contains a few more details regarding the sequence of steps taken by Dr. James O'Fallon at the directions of the company's representatives. As will be seen from the specific instructions given to O'Fallon by the directors of the South Carolina Yazoo Company, the main efforts of the operations of the company were focused on maintaining relations of friendship and trust with both the Spanish as well as the various different tribal peoples of the region. The account is as follows:
"As their agent in the West they selected Dr. James O'Fallon, a Revolutionary soldier, whom they likewise admitted as a shareholder. He was instructed to proceed at once to Lexington, Kentucky, to bring [Colonel John] Holder to account, and, if it could be done peaceably, to go down to Walnut Hills with four or five hundred settlers. He should then 'proceed to New Orleans and there take every possible step for securing the concurrence and favor of the Spanish government; to represent to them fully the commercial and various other advantages which they might derive from the vicinity and friendship of the company's settlement; to use every endeavor for preventing any difference or dispute between the company's people and the Spaniards or Indians, to make this a leading object of every measure, and to establish on the firmest footing, the company's reputation for justice, humanity, and as accommodating disposition.' He also received private instructions, the contents of which are not known.".
(Note: Younger's work, above, page 9, refers to Dr. James O'Fallon as being a "...brother-in-law of George Rogers Clark..." at the time he was appointed as the agent in the West by the South Carolina Yazoo Company. The implication here is that Dr. James O'Fallon was already married to a sister of George Rogers Clark when he arrived in Kentucky. At the time of his appointment as the agent of the company in the West, Dr. James O'Fallon was a future brother-in-law of George Rogers Clark. When he arrived in Lexington, Kentucky in April or May 1790, he was still a bachelor and, as far as the writer of this blog knows, had never been married previously. But, on February 21, 1791, after he had been in Kentucky for about 9-10 months, he did indeed marry Frances Eleanor Clark, the sister of George Rogers Clark, thus becoming a brother-in-law of George Rogers Clark.)
(Note: Althrough out this particular post and both of the previous posts on Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon), there has been a constantly recurring issue of the subject's correct form of last name - Fallon or O'Fallon. The names seem to be used with almost complete interchangability. But, there must exist a single proper speeling of his last name. According to Enoch's work, Colonel John Holder, page 139, this individual was "...born James O'Fallon in Ireland..." but "...adopted the cognomen of "O'Fallon" while corresponding with the Spanish charge d'affaires, Don Diego de Gardoqui...". A "cognomen" is defined as "a distinguishing nickname or epithet". Also, according to the Founders Online, National Archives document, "To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 27 February 1794", note 2, it is stated that "...after serving in the Revolutionary War, he added the prefix to his original name of Fallon and moved to Charleston, S.C." Regardless of the actual spelling of his last name, James O'Fallon's (or Fallon's) sons, John and Benjamin, would lagally and officially carry the last name of O'Fallon. Also, the two towns in Missouri and Illinois that would be the namesakes of John O'Fallon, distinguished son of Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon), would both be called "O'Fallon".)
(Note: According to Matheson's work, Surnames in Ireland, Vol. I, pages 19, the name "O'Fallon" is a common surname in County Roscommon, which is the county of Dr. James O'Fallon's origins accoridng to his biographical information. But, according to the same work, page 47, "Fallon" is a common surname in County Roscommon as well as County Galway with the surname of "Falloon" being found in County Armagh. The alternate spellings of the surname "Fallon" are given in Matheson's work, Surnames of Ireland, Vol. II, page 40, as "Fallon", "Fallen", "Fallin", "Falloon", "Faloon", and "Faloona". It appears from Matheson's work, Surnames in Ireland, Vols. I and II that both surnames are common in the same general region of western Ireland. According to Matheson's work, Surnames of Ireland, Vol.I, page 15, the following passage is recorded:
"The great bulk of the most common names in the country [Ireland] are undoubtedly of Celtic origin. Many of them still retain the prefixes O and Mac, the former peculiar to Ireland and the latter used in both Ireland and Scotland. In many cases, however, these prefixes have been dropped. It is a matter of common occurrence to find in the same record Celtic names written with the prefixes O and Mac and without them.".
So from this it is possible to state that the name "O'Fallon" is specific to Ireland but, also that the proper spelling of the surname may be either "O'Fallon" or simply "Fallon". This, of course, is not taking all the alternate spellings into account as cited above in Vol. II of Matheson's work. It is also completely possible that we may never know the actual correct spelling of Dr. James O'Fallon's surname.)
The exact nature of Dr. James O'Fallon's instructions from the South Carolina Yazoo Company are known, at least in part. According to Younger's work, "The Yazoo Land Frauds", page 9, Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon) received "...instructions dated March 9, 1790, signed by Moultrie,..." ordering him "...to establish a colony at the mouth of the Yazoo River. In pursuance of this, he was to conciliate the Indians and establish amicable relations with the Spanish government at New Orleans.". According to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 9, "... he [O'Fallon] was instructed to proceed at once to Lexington, Kentucky, to bring [John] Holder to account, and if it could be done peacably, to go down to Walnut Hills with four or five hundred settlers.". Armed with these instructions from the company, Dr. James O'Fallon set out for Kentucky.
The exact date of his arrival in Kentucky may always remain unknown but, one can conjecture on a relative time frame for his appearance in Lexington, Kentucky. According to Enoch's work, Colonel John Holder, page 140, "Dr. O'Fallon arrived in Lexington in April, where he began planning the colonization venture and 'the collection of goods from Holder.'." According to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 9, "O'Fallon set out early in the spring of 1790, reaching Lexington about the beginning of May .". According to the Founders Online, National Archive document, "To Thomas Jafferson from William Murray, 12 May 1791", "...he [O'Fallon] came into this Country [Kentucky] about the Month of April last ...". Thus, it appears as though Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon), operating on instructions from the South Carolina Yazoo Company, reached Lexington, Kentucky at some point in late April or early May, 1790.
(Note: As Dr. James O'Fallon (or Fallon) journeyed towards Kentucky, and his rendezvous with destiny, either with or without the directions of the South Carolina Yazoo Company's controlling officers, he began to enlist, or at the very least include, other prominent individuals in the schemes of the Company. According to Haskin's article, "The Yazoo Land Companies", page 9, "...he secured the co-operation of General McDowell of North Carolina, of Colonel Farr of South Carolina, and of John Sevier, who undertook to act as a sub-agent for the Franklin settlements. Each was promised a share in the company's purchase.".)
Once Dr. James O'Fallon had arrived in Lexington, Kentucky, his plans for the venture of the South Carolina Yazoo Company began to unfold in a very convoluted and devious manner. According to Enoch's work, Colonel John Holder, page 140:
"At one point, O'Fallon announced a version of his plans in a lengthy letter to the Kentucky Gazette. He wrote to Esteban Miro, governor of [Spanish] Louisiana, laying out his plans fro establishing a colony independent of the United States. O'Fallon was soon befriended in Kentucky by General James Wilkinson, an even more adept intriguer than himself. Wilkinson offered his complete cooperation but immediately set out to wreck O'Fallon's plans by informing President George Washington of the schemes and poisoning his relationship with Miro. It should be recalled that General Wilkinson was in the secret employ of the Spanish at this time.
When informed of Miro's resistance to his plans, O'Fallon began preparing for a military invasion of Spanish territory.".
According to Nasatir's work, Spanish War Vessels, page 28, the overtures of Dr. James O'Fallon alarmed the Spanish Crown into constructing the post of Nogales, at the present -day site of Vicksburg, MS:
"A more substantial step toward militarizing the Mississippi was initiated in 1791, when a post and fort were carved out of wilderness and meanderings of the river at Nogales, in response to the bold enterprises of American land speculators... The well-instructed and accomplished intriguer Dr. James O'Fallon became the agent of the South Carolina [Yazoo] Company, which proposed an independent American colony at Walnut Hills under Spanish authority. Since thi was obviously a Trojan horse, Spanish officials forthwith rejected it and prepared to hold the disputed territory with a sizeable military establishment. Under Gayoso de Lemos' direction they selected a site for a fort and began to build.".
The workings of Dr. James O'Fallon even began to raise suspicions among the native peoples of the western areas. According to Caughey's work, McGillivray of the Creeks, page 269, a letter was written from William Panton, a British merchant to the Creeks, to Governor Miro stating that:
"One thing more before I conclude, there is Doctor O'Fallon who is Soon to be round at New Orleans, his rout is by way of Kentucky. That Man altho' now unacquainted with Mr. McGillivray or our House expresses an uncommon degree of friendship for both. He says that he is known to the Govenrors of Luisianna and East Florida and writes something of his being employed by the Court of Spain. Yet at the same time, You will see by Mr. Moultries letter that he is very intimate with those Land Speculators. The Man writes well, is intelligent and has given McGillivray some hints respecting his Personal Safety on a former occasion which I believe were genuine, but his professions of friendship seem too profuse and indicates design. If Your Excellency knows him to be a good man be so good as to let me know him also.".
These machinations lead to the exchange of several letters between high-level governmental officials of the United States, including no less than President George Washington, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Secretary of Finance Thomas Jefferson. These letters either directly or indirectly referred to the workings of Dr. James O'Fallon in Kentucky or the workings of the South Carolina Yazoo Company and are as follows:
"To George Washington from Henry Knox, 22 January 1791"
"Opinion of the Attorney General on the Case of James O'Fallon, 14 February 1791"
"To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph, 14 February 1791"
"Proclamation of the President of the United States, 19 March 1791"
"To Thomas Jefferson from William Murray, 12 May 1791"
"To George Washington from Henry Knox, 6 June 1791"
"To George Washington from John Hurt, 1 January 1792"
"From Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael and William Short, 30 June 1793"
"To James Madison from George Nicholas, 15 November 1793"
"To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 27 February 1794"
"To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 11 March 1794"
"From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 12 March 1794"
"To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 18 March 1794"
(Note: These letters are all documents contained within the Founders Online, National Archives and were last modified on October 5, 2016. These letters are here cited as references to this situation as it developed in Kentucky of the 1790s. Since none of the texts of any of these separate letters are cited in this post, the writer of this blog has chosen to simply cite the letters and their proper titles so that a reader can reference these through the Founders Online, National Archives website for specific details of the contents of these individual letters. Only the letters specifically cited in this post are cited in the overall bibliography at the beginning of this post.)
Observations, condemnations and accusations came from almost all high-level quarters of the government of the United States of America. The President of the United States, George Washington, issued a proclamation on March 19, 1791 warning all who might have "...incautiously associated themselves with the said James O'Fallon may be warned of their danger.". The Attorney General of the United States ordered "...the attorney for the district of Kentucky..." to have charges brought against James O'Fallon for inciting a riot at the very least and for treason if testimony from other sources could be gathered against him. The powerful in the newly indpendent United States were mustering their forces of righteous indignation against a wayward subject, bent on doing the inconceivable within the country.
Yet, a better strategy towards James O'Fallon and his machinations developed as the drama unfolded. According to the Founders Online, National Archives document "To Thomas Jefferson from William Murray, 12 May 1791", Willaim Murray stated that:
"...I am of opinion that O'Fallon's conduct can only be considered as a conspiracy or an intention to levy War and that, as the War was never actually levied, it cannot amount to treason: that it cannot be treason because the War was not intended against the United States but only against their allies, and that it cannot be treason if the Country which it was to be carried on is out of the limit of the United States...
Upon the whole I have Judged it most proper not to set on foot any prosecution against O'Fallon untill I receive your further directions. -- The situation in which he is at this time has served to confirm me in this resolution. He is totally without friends partizans or Money and must sink into obscurity unless he should be made an object of importance by a prosecution which could not be supported. -- I will keep an attentive eye on his conduct and if he takes any new steps or any alterations in the business shall take place which will make it proper to do so, I will instantly institute a prosecution against him...
N.B. I have published the President's proclamation and have no doubt it will effectually prevent any attempt to renew the scheme.".
This concluding statement proved to be a fact because less than a month later on June 6, 1791, in a letter to George Washington, Henry Knox would write "...Dr. O'Fallon's schemes have all blown up, not one man will join him from this Country.". There is no record that Dr. James O'Fallon ever attempted to even remotely renew his scheme for secession of the western regions from the United States.
As all these sinister machinations were in their embryonic stage, an event took place which probably did bring some joy and promise of future happiness into Dr. James O'Fallon's life - he courted and was married while in Kentucky. Not only did he succeed in winning the hand of a young woman but, she was none other than the younger sister of George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero and defender of Kentucky. The schemes of Dr. James O'Fallon had also drawn George Rogers Clark into their dark and devious ways but, it was through this close workings of O'Fallon and Clark that Dr. James O'Fallon met Frances Eleanor Clark, the youngest of the Clark siblings. According to Nester's work, George Rogers Clark, page 289, "... it was through his [Dr. James O'Fallon's] scheming with Clark that he [O'Fallon] met, fell in love with, and wed Frances, affectionately known as Fanny, the baby of the Clark siblings, in February 1791.". According to "My Genealogy Home Page: Information about Dr. James O'Fallon", page 1, the wedding actually took place on February 21, 1791 with John Julius O'Fallon being born on November 17, 1791 and Benjamin O'Fallon being born on September 20, 1793.
(Note: At the time of their wedding, on February 21, 1791, Frances Eleanor Clark had just turned eighteen years old (by one month) while Dr. James O'Fallon was about to turn forty-six or forty-seven years old. These are if the dates given for the births of Frances Eleanor Clark and James O'Fallon are indeed correct. Frances Eleanor Clark is recorded as being born on January 20, 1773 and James O'Fallon is recorded as being born on March 11, 1744 or 1745.)
Yet, even this wedded state of perfection was doomed as were all of Dr. James O'Fallon's future plans of grandeur. According to Nester's work, George Rogers Clark, page 289:
"... tragically, the honeymoon did not last long. At first [George Rogers] Clark embraced his brother-in-law and within a few years was doting on two nephews, John Julius and Benjamin. But eventually, Fanny fled to her family after O'Fallon abused her. An enraged [George Rogers] Clark tracked O'Fallon down and beat him to a bloody pulp with his cane, all the while shouting that he was 'a Rogue, Rascal, and Villain'."
This situation and action on the part of George Rogers Clark must account for and lends credence to Parish's statement in his article, "The Intrigues of Doctor James O'Fallon", page 230, that "...he [O'Fallon] came to blows with George Rogers Clark..." and that "....his wife left him...". Also, this must be the reference being made in the Founders Online, National Archives document, "To James Madison from George Nicholas, 15 November 1793" when Nicholas wrote to Madison stating that "... when Clark wrote [to the French minister] it was supposed that he [Clark] was influenced by [Dr. James] O'Fallon who had married his sister, before he [Clark] received an answer they [Clark and O'Fallon] had parted.". The incident described above must have been "the parting" of Clark and Dr. James O'Fallon.
So, once again the devices, plans and machinations of Dr. James O'Fallon, late of South Carolina and Kentucky, had come to naught. He had failed not only in his designs of personal glory and self-aggrandizement but, he had failed in becoming a successful husband and respected father. He had narrowed the scope of his options dramatically by this point in time. He had besmirched his name and caused suspicion to grow and fester concerning his quality of his character and the sincerity of his intentions. William Murray put it so correctly and bluntly to Thomas Jefferson when he wrote on May 12, 1791, "...he [O'Fallon] is totally without friends partizans or Money and must sink into obscurity...". Dr. James O'Fallon had just about played the game as far as it could possibly be played. Now, for the finale...