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Matthew Lyon Letter
Kentucky Historical Society. Special Collections & Archives. Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-1931
Access at KHS only. Use microfilm, transcriptions or images when available.
For microfilmed copies see Clift number(s): 0591
[Identification of item], Matthew Lyon Letter, 1813, 91SC19,Library Special Collections and Archives, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.
Matthew Lyon had a notable political and military career before settling the area named for him as Lyon County. He was born in Ireland in 1750 and emigrated to America at the age of fifteen. After working as an indentured servant to repay his passage, he purchased lands and settled in Vermont. Lyon began his military career following Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga and later became an adjutant in a Vermont regiment.
After leaving the regular army, Lyon became a Vermont legislator and a colonel in its militia. He also engaged in various businesses, including ironworks, paper manufacturing, printing, and timber. In 1797 Lyon won election to Congress as a Republican. He was soon involved in inter-party strife between the Federalists and the Republicans. He was convicted and sentenced to jail under the controversial Sedition Act, but was reelected to Congress and cast an important vote for Thomas Jefferson in the contested presidential election of 1800.
In 1801 he moved to western Kentucky with a large number of relatives and friends. Lyon resumed his political career, becoming first a Kentucky legislator, then a Congressman. Suffering political and financial losses in the War of 1812 era, Lyon received a political appointment from President James Monroe as factor to the Cherokee Nation in Arkansas. He won election to Congress once again, as Arkansas delegate, but died in 1822 before taking his seat.
This letter, written at Eddyville, Kentucky, March 23, 1813, was sent by Matthew Lyon to Governor Isaac Shelby concerning protection of white settlers in that area.
Lyon wrote this letter to Shelby seeking a guard in the area near the Cumberland River due to the settlers' alarm over the proximity of the Creek and Chickasaw Indians. He also complained that the state of Tennessee afforded greater protection to its citizens in the area than did Kentucky. Lyon wanted a share of the militia called out south of the Green River to be employed on the Kentucky side of the state line.
Creator's Occupation: Soldier, politician, Congressman, legislator
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