Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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HENDERSON, Richard, pioneer, born in Hanover county, Virginia, in 1734; died in Hillsborough, Granville County, North Carolina, 30 January, 1785. His parents were poor, and he had grown to manhood before he learned to read or write. While yet a young man he was appointed to be constable, and was subsequently made under-sheriff. He removed to North Carolina in 1762, and, having devoted his leisure time to the perusal of such law-books as fell in his way, was admitted to the bar. In 1769 he was appointed associate judge of the superior court. In September, 1770, the populace, which had been aroused by the unjust system of taxation, enforced by the loyal governor, Tryon, arose, and, armed with cudgels and cow-skin whips, broke into the court over which Judge Henderson was presiding, attempted to strike him, and forced him to leave the bench. When independence was declared, in 1775, and the state government organized in North Carolina, he was re-elected judge, but declined to accept, as he had become interested in an extensive scheme for the acquirement of land. He had previously been involved in unsuccessful speculations, and, in the hope of retrieving his fortunes, formed the "Transylvania land company," and succeeded in 1775 in negotiating with the chiefs of the Cherokee nation a treaty known as the "Treaty of Watoga," by which all that tract of land lying between the Cumberland river, the Cumberland mountains, and the Kentucky river, and situated south of the Ohio, was transferred for a reasonable consideration to the company. By this treaty Henderson and his associates became the proprietors of an extent of territory comprising more than half the present state of Kentucky. A government was at once organized, of which Henderson was made president, with its capital at Boonesborough. The new country was named Transylvania. The first legislature held its session under a large elm-tree, near the walls of a fort. Among the eighteen members were Daniel Boone, Richard Calloway, Thomas Slaughter, John Floyd, and James Harrod. By a compact between the proprietors and the colonists, a liberal administration was established, features of which were an annual election of delegates, and entire freedom of opinion in matters of religion. The appointment of the judges was to be in the hands of the proprietors, but the former were to be answerable to the people for malfeasance in office. The sole power to raise and appropriate moneys was given to a popular convention, Henderson's purchase from the Indians was subsequently annulled by the state of Virginia, as an infringement of its chartered rights. But to compensate the proprietors for settling the wilderness, the legislature granted them a tract of land twelve miles square on the Ohio, below the mouth of Greene river. In 1779 Judge Henderson was appointed with five other commissioners to run the line between Virginia and North Carolina, into Powell's valley. The same year he removed to Tennessee, practised law at Nashville, and returning to North Carolina, in 1780, settled on his large plantation and engaged in farming. A town. a village, and a county are named in his honor.--His brother, Pleasant, soldier, born in Hanover county, Virginia, 9 January, 1756; died in Huntington, Tennessee, 10 December, 1842, studied law with his brother Richard, entered the Revolutionary army in 1775, and at the close of the war was major of Colonel Mahnedy's mounted corps. In 1789 he succeeded John Hay-wood as clerk of the house of commons of North Carolina, holding office continuously for forty years. In 1831 he removed to Tennessee.--Richard's son, Archibald, lawyer, born in Granville county, North Carolina, in 1768; died in Salisbury, North Carolina, 1 October, 1822, was educated at Granville county academy, and settled in the practice of law at Salisbury. From 1799 till t803 he was a member of congress, having been chosen as a Federalist, but supported Thomas Jefferson for the presidency in 1800. In 1807-'20 he served in the North Carolina house of commons. He was the acknowledged head of the bar in northwestern North Carolina, and distinguished throughout the state as an advocate. -Another son, Leonard, jurist, born in Granville county, North Carolina. 6 October, 1772; died near Williamsborough, North Carolina, 13 August, 1833, was educated in the county schools, studied law in Hillsborough, and after his admission to the bar was for several years clerk of the district court of Hillsborough. He became judge of the appellate court in 1808, was elevated to the supreme bench in 1818, and appointed chief justice in 1829. His law school, which he conducted throughout his judicial career, was the most popular in the state.--Leonard's nephew, James Pinek. ney, statesman, born in Lincoln county, North Carolina, 31 March, 1808; died in Washington, D. C., 4 June, 1858, was educated in Lincolnton, North Carolina, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1829. He removed to Mississippi in 1835, remained there till the Texas difficulties began, and, volunteering in the Texan army, was appointed brigadier-general in 1836. On the disbanding of the troops he was appointed by President Samuel Houston attorney-general, was subsequently secretary of state in 1837-'9, and in the latter part of this year visited England and France to procure the recognition of Texan independence. Resuming his practice in 1840, he entered into partnership with General Thomas J. Rusk, at San Antonio. He was special minister to the United States in 1844, to negotiate the annexation of the republic, and was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1845. He was elected governor of Texas in 1846, and, in response to the call for volunteers, took command of the Texas corps, was distinguished at Monterey, and received the thanks of congress and a sword for bravery in action. In 1857 he was appointed United States senator as a state-rights Democrat, to fill the unexpired term of his partner, Thomas J. Rusk, who had just died. Henderson took his seat in March, 1858, but died before the conclusion of the session.
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