James Glen

Royal Governor of South Carolina Province 1743 to 1756

 

1701-1777 
 

James Glen was born in Linlithgow, Scotland in 1701, and educated at the University of Leyden. After initially practicing law, he became Justice of the Peace and Inspector of Seignories. At one point in his life he also held the office of High Sheriff and received the backing of Duncan Forbes, the Lord Avocate of Scotland. He was appointed Royal Governor of South Carolina in 1738, but did not arrive there until December 19, 1743.

Governor James Glen's administration was riddled with problems associated with the economic distress of the province, but Indian affairs was the chief issue he faced. In contrast to his contemporaries who thought the best defense was to set the Indian tribes against one another, Glen saw the French as the true enemy and sought to unite all the tribes friendly to the English. Through this policy, he was able to establish a peace between the Creeks and the Cherokees. He was also able to gain the cooperation of Governor Clinton of New York in assisting to establish peace between the Catawba and the Six Nations. He stopped what could have been a serious war between the Catawba and an eastern band of Chickasaws in its early stages, and toured the South Carolina border in 1746 meeting with the leaders of various tribes to settle disputes and form alliances against the French.

In affairs with the Choctaw, however, Glen was reportedly not so successful. This tribe had consistently been allies of the French, but in 1746 two Carolina traders, James Adair and James Campbell, succeeded in winning over a faction to English interest. Solidifying this alliance required the adequate supply of goods and ammunition, which Adair, who had risked most of his own stock of goods in the affair, could have easily supplied. Instead of giving the monopoly to Adair, however, Glen - for undisclosed reasons - gave it to another group of traders whose blunders soon ended the alliance. Adair denounced the governor, and devoted thirty pages of his "History of the American Indians" to the episode.

Glen fared much better with the Cherokee. Throughout the years 1753-1755, he was able to see a solid alliance formed, with forts being built on the Keowee, Tennessee, and Ohio Rivers, and the Cherokee recognition of English sovereignty through the treaty of Saluda of Old Town.

Glen was also known for his humane treatment of prisoners, as well as the charity he showed to Acadian exiles who came to the province in 1755.

On June 1, 1756, Governor James Glen was relieved by his successor, William Henry Lyttelton, and on June 21, 1761, he returned to Europe. Little is known of his life after he left South Carolina; he died in London on July 18, 1777, and was buried in Linlithgow. His tenure as governor of South Carolina was the longest of any in the colonial period.


Emperor Moytoy was killed in battle in 1741, and the Cherokees were again without a central head when the newly appointed royal governor of South Carolina, James Glen, arrived at Charlestown in 1745. The new governor was greeted by a delegation of some two hundred Cherokees who had been summoned there for the occasion. British officials had appointed Moytoy's thirteen-year-old son, Ammonscossittee, to succeed his father. He was provided a royal reception, with cannons booming as the governor's coach carried him to the capitol to be enthroned as the new emperor of the Cherokees in the eyes of the British, After placing a silk and fur crown on the boy's head and then receiving Cherokee headmen of various towns, the governor displayed the treaty that had been made in London in 1730.
In 1746, ten years after Thomas Brown submitted his claim at Ninety Six, agents made a request to the colonial assembly to encourage British subjects to settle near Ninety Six by offering all new immigrants an exemption from all provincial taxes, except those exacted on slaves. At Governor James Glen’s recommendation, the assembly voted to suspend the specified taxes to all northern frontier residents for a period of 15 years.
During the mid-eighteenth century, the Crown and colony recruited Protestants from the German states, in part to create a buffer against Spanish encroachment and the Native American population on the frontier. On November 23, 1749, Governor James Glen reported: “Germany has been long the Seat of War, and has severely felt the calamities of it; and it may be presumed there are many of her People who wish for a place to rest in which they may enjoy the fruits of their own labour, as many of their countrymen do here.”

Assisted by promotional tracts depicting Carolina as a promised land for the poor Protestants of Europe, Charleston merchants rapidly developed a profitable business importing Germans. In 1751, the mercantile firm of Austin and Laurens advertised “about 200 German Passengers. . . [including] several handicraft Tradesmen and Husbandmen, and likely young Boys and Girls . . . to be indented for a term of Years, to any Person who will pay their Passages.” Many of the early Germanic emigrés settled in towns such as Purrysburg and New Windsor on the Santee River, Orangeburg on the Edisto River, Amelia on the Santee River, and Saxe-Gotha on the Congaree River.

By the late 1760s, however, some of these settlers had moved to Charleston, bolstering the city’s Germanic population.


During the colonial period, it was generally accepted that at low tide only twelve feet of water covered the deepest channel through the offshore bar, and in 1748, Governor James Glen noted, "Charles Town Harbour is fit for all Vessels which do not exceed fifteen feet draught.”

While specific records concerning small boat building do not exist, the newspapers of the time are filled with advertisements indicating a wide variety of locally-made watercraft for sale. These small craft virtually littered the local waterways. In 1751, Governor James Glen noted that "Cooper River appears sometimes a kind of floating market, and we have numbers of canoes, boats, and pettiaguas that ply incessantly, bringing down the country produce to town, and returning with such necessary as are wanted by the planters."


As mentioned by South Carolina Governor James Glen in 1750:

"There are several tribes of Indians whom we permit to live in the settlements, and we find them not only an inoffensive, but a useful people, they plant corn for food, and hunt for skins to purchase clothes, so that they are no burthen to us but a benefit— these are the Peedees, Notchees, Waterees, Cape Fear, Eutchees (a small tribe depending upon the Creeks), and a few Chickasaws who dare not return to their own nation and live upon lands given them by this Province upon Savannah River and sometimes stroll over to the Georgia side, besides these there are some nations in close alliance with this Province."


On November 22, 1750, in an address to the Commons House of Assembly, Governor James Glen deplored "in what inconvenient Places both the Council and Assembly meet," observing that "the Courts are kept in Taverns, and the Prisons in private Houses." He urged the members "to remedy these Matters," which were hardly consistent with the dignity which he thought appropriate.

For years, Commons had been meeting in rooms rented from Miles Brewton and his heirs in a residence on Church Street near Tradd in Charleston. Immediately after the governor's nudge, the solons went to work to acquire a home commensurate with their importance. After all, they saw themselves as the equivalent of another House of Commons that happened to meet on the banks of the Thames.

The goal was not new. In 1712, the idea had surfaced but funding was unavailable, both the proprietary government and later the royal government being apathetic about a venture to provide a palace on a frontier. In 1751, however, the House endorsed setting aside $2,000 annually for such construction and later upped it to $2,500. At the same time, they committed themselves to build a new parish church, to be called St. Michael's.

In June 1751, Governor James Glen ratified their action when they committed $25,000 for a "State House."


It is believed that James Glen, the Governor of South Carolina, was the author of our modern day spelling, T-e-n-n-e-s-s-e-e, for he used it in his official correspondence during the 1750s.
South Carolina Governor James Glen struck an alarming note when he addressed the Commons House of Assembly in 1750:

"We are but a handful of people spread over a widely extended Country, We are surrounded with Indians much more numerous than us, much more accustomed to the use of Arms, Warr being their trade from their Youth up."

Glen had good reason to respect the Indians’ military power in 1750. 50,000 slaves outnumbered South Carolina’s white population of approximately 25,000, and the threat of slave rebellion haunted the thinking of South Carolina’s political leaders. Indian allies, particularly the Cherokee, helped provide internal security for the colony and also posed a buffer against the French based in Louisiana.

During his tenure as governor, Glen frequently asserted the right of the governor to implement colonial policy with various Indian tribes. A key element of his plan was the building of frontier forts. Glen personally supervised construction of Fort Prince George in the Cherokee Lower Towns in 1753 and had made plans to build Fort Loudoun in the Overhills Towns when he was recalled in 1756.


A vigorous administrator, Governor James Glen outlines his plan for frontier trade policy to the governor of New York in May 1751. His Majesty’s Council. Indian Books, 1750-1760. Vol. 2, May 24, 1751, p.97.


James Glen, governor of South Carolina, learned of William Gerard De Brahm's engineering talent and hired him to design and construct fortifications for Charles Town, the colonial capital.
In 1753, as a member of the Chota town council, Oconastota helped conclude a lengthy power struggle with the Tellico-Hiwassee coalition, making possible the recognition by South Carolina of Old Hop, the civil chief of Chota, as emperor of the Cherokee Nation. To solidify their alliance with South Carolina and to relieve the embattled Chickasaws, the Chota council, at the request of Governor James Glen, sent four hundred warriors under Oconastota to attack the Choctaw towns along the Tombigbee River.
In 1753, South Carolina Governor James Glen began the construction of Fort Prince George to protect the Cherokees from the French. It was believed the Cherokee would be a valuable to trade with so the Governor wanted to protect the interest of South Carolina. Fort Prince George is now lost under Lake Keowee.

Beneath Lake Keowee lies memories of the once fertile and prosperous Keowee Valley. The Valley was lush with abundant wildlife and feed by the mighty Keowee River. However, this valley was also home to over 400 Cherokee Indians at there capital, Keowee Village, on the banks of the Keowee River. It was once noted that in 1721 that 450 Cherokees lived at the village consisting of 168 men, 155 women and 127 children.


August 30, 1753 - The Pennsylvania Gazette reported: "The further Conference between his Excellency James Glen, Esq; Governor of South Carolina, and Malatchi and other Headmen of the Creek Indians, held the 31st of May, promised in our last issue."
In 1755, whites along the Yadkin and Catawba Rivers were attacked by Cherokee from Settico. Afterwards, Old Hop and Little Carpenter sent peace messengers to the English. Considerable Cherokee land was ceded by warriors and headmen in a meeting with Governor James Glen. Spokesperson for the Cherokee was Chulochcullak at a meeting at Saluda (25 miles northwest of Greeneville, South Carolina).

Old Hop agreed to cede Cherokee land in South Carolina (amounting to the western fourth of the state). Governor Glen responded by directing Fort Prince George be built on the land of the Catawbas, far up the headwaters of the Savannah River, on the Cherokee path near Keowee. Fort Moore was built about 170 miles further down, just below and opposite Augusta. Next came Fort Loudon among the upper Cherokee on the Tennessee River about 500 miles from Charleston.


In a report on census data, this is what is recorded about Acadians that had arrived in South Carolina:

April 14, 1756, report of Governor James Glen to the Lords of Trade:
First arrivals..................................1000
Parties arrived from Georgia.....................200


In 1756, the Cherokee stood and watched a small British group of soldiers begin construction on a fort in the Little Tennessee Valley near the junction of the Tellico and Little Tennessee River. The construction of Fort Loudon was being overseen by British engineer-in-charge William Gerald DeBrahm. DeBrahm and his men began to cut the trees, shape them, and set them into the ground. It wasn’t a job done hastily. DeBrahm and his men painstakingly built the structure to withstand any natural or unnatural disaster.

The fort had been the idea of former South Carolina Governor James Glen, who saw its presence as a way of cementing relations with the Cherokee. French traders were beginning to work their way east towards the coast calling British claims to North America into question with the Native American leaders. A fort in the heart of the Cherokee’s capital cities was the only way Britain felt they could show a good faith effort towards the tribe and establish a relationship that would continue until the outbreak of the American Revolution.


James Glen was appointed Royal Governor of South Carolina in 1738 and came to the colony in 1743 to serve until 1756, the longest tenure of any governor during its colonial period. Two major themes are stressed: first, Glen had to protect the royal prerogative and follow the dictates of his commission in the face of persistent challenge from the assembly; and second, his role in Indian affairs was critical and dominated much of his time and energy, because Glen had a keen interest in and an aptitude for Indian negotiations. 
The migration of European settlers from Virginia and Pennsylvania into Union County, South Carolina as early as 1751 was encouraged by the availability of free frontier land. This migration was accelerated by the Treaty of 1755 between South Carolina Governor James Glen and Old Hopp (the principal Cherokee chief), which ceded the land to the South Carolina province. The Cherokees made raids on Union and other frontier settlements until they were defeated in the Cherokee War, which ended in 1761.
Royal Governor of South Carolina, James Glenn later wrote "A Description of South Carolina, Containing Many Curious and Interesting Particulars Relating to the Civil, Natural, and Commercial History of that Colony." London: R.&J. Dodsley, 1761.
"But I cannot leave this subject without observing how conveniently and profitably, as to the charge of labour, both indigo and rice may be managed by the same persons; for the labour attending indigo being over in the summer months, those who were employed in it may afterwards manufacture rice in the ensuing part of the year, when it becomes most laborious; and after doing all this they will have some time to spare for sawing lumber, and making hogshead and other staves to supply the Sugar Colonies." - James Glen, "A Description of South Carolina."
Governor James Glen calculated in "A Description of South Carolina" (1761), that a single slave could plant and care for two acres of indigo and that each acre could yield 80 pounds of indigo; in that case, with 1761 prices averaging around 3.2 shillings per pound of indigo, each indigo slave generated nearly £13 annually, roughly equivalent to $2,000 today.
Click Here for information on the Executive Council under Gov. James Glen.

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