• South Carolina Statesman, U.S. House Speaker, Langdon Cheves Strives To Sort Through Bad Family Land Grants In Virginia

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    LANGDON CHEVES (September 17, 1776 – June 26, 1857) represented the city of Charleston, SC, in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1810-1815, where he played a key role on the home front of the War of 1812. He was a leader among the War Hawk faction and served as chairman of the Committees on Naval Affairs and Ways and Means under Speaker Henry Clay.  He later succeeded Clay. After leaving the House, he served as President of the Second Bank of the United States. Cheves was an active advocate for unified Southern resistance to protective tariffs and any attempt to abolish slavery.  He eventually became an early advocate for outright regional secession from the United States.

    2 1/3 pp ALS Washington, DC, July 16, 1827 from Cheves to Alfred Powell, Congressman from Winchester, VA, who served as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention.  In the letter offered here, Cheves attempted to sort out his family land ownership in Virginia, believing that old family land grants could be “bad.”  The address leaf includes the signature of AARON OGDEN, perhaps as the Free Frank.  Ogden was appointed a lieutenant in the 1st New Jersey Regiment during the Revolutionary War and was an original member of the Pennsylvania Society of Cincinnati. He served as a presidential elector in the 1796 election that elected John Adams. He was elected as a Federalist to the U.S. Senate.  Ogden was sent to debtors’ prison and remained there until a law was passed making it illegal to imprison Revolutionary War officers for debts.  Ogden was elected Governor of New Jersey in 1812.

    Cheves letter to Powell states, “I wish to obtain your professional advice on a small matter...My Grandfather...once resided in your district, where my Mother was born and by his will, dated 30th November, 1781, [stated] ‘I give unto my said beloved wife all my estate real and personal, excepting a tract of land in the province of Virginia lying upon the Shenandoah River and a House and lot of land within the town of Woodstock, which I give unto my grandson Langdon Cheves and the heirs of his body forever...Some years ago, I got  Genl Smith, who represented your district to make some enquiries for me, who informed me, I think, that the quantity of acres in the tract of land was 180 but that it was one of the Fairfax bad grants. I have been since informed that some recent decision has probably established the validity of these grants...I have so long neglected this matter that I fear, if my claim was ever good, it may now be [expired].  I have then to ask the favor of you to give me your opinion generally on the subject...”

    The verso contains an answer to Cheves questions, presumably indicating that the land in question is in possession of other owners.

    Toning, folds, small, a few small old tape repairs. Some staining to the verso, which includes a fine integral address leaf.

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