Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stephen Bullock's Letter to Uncle William Pettus

© Kathy Duncan, 2016

In about 2001, Louise Pettus was conducting library research and found an 1807 letter from S. Bullock of Mississippi to William Pettus of York County, South Carolina, that had been printed in 1900 in the Fort Mill Times. William Pettus was the father of my great-great-great grandmother, Rebecca W. (Pettus) Duncan. The letter places S. Bullock on board the same boat that Aaron Burr was on when he was arrested in 1807, which makes it very interesting. For Pettus researchers, however, it is important because it adds the possibility that William Pettus had an additional, unknown sister who married Stephen Bullock's father, Edward Bullock.

This morning I was able to view the letter on Chronicling America. It is a bit blurry, so a transcript is provided below. If the letter also contained any family news, it was probably considered unimportant and was not included in the newspaper article.

Fort Mills Times
9 May 1900
click to enlarge


An Interesting Old Letter

The following interesting letter was recently handed the editor by Mr. Steven A. Epps. It was written by S. Bullock, esq., from Woodlawn, Mississippi Territory, on August 5, 1807, and was addressed to Mr. Epps’ great-grandfather, Hon. William Pettus, who represented York District in the South Carolina Legislature during the early years of the century, and who was an uncle of the author:

“Dear Uncle: I received your polite favor of the 24th March—not, however, until a few days since, on my return from New Orleans, where I have been since the 15th May last.

“You mentioned the great stir about Col. Aaron Burr as perhaps a reason why I had not written you sooner. My absence from this Territory is the only reason. Colonel Burr, whose conspiracy abroad has so wonderfully excited public attention, has given us no uneasiness whatever. The alarming name of “treason” has scarcely once been sounded in our ears, except by newspapers. He arrived in our country with at most not more than 90 men descending the river [Mississippi] in a peaceful manner, without arms, ammunition, or anything whatever that indicated in in [sic] the smallest manner any disturbance of the public tranquility. I was on his boat, and have a right to speak from what I saw. But when it was thought proper to investigate his conduct here, at the instigation of the President, process was issued against him. He surrendered himself voluntarily and immediately to the civil authorities. The grand jury for the body of our Territory, composed of the most respectable and enlightened of our country. We are now all peace, all is tranquil, and you need fear nothing or have any apprehension for the future. As to what will be the fate of Burr at Richmond, I know not, nor do I care as it relates to Burr. I shall, however, forever detest military oppression. And if I saw the whole force of Government concentrated to oppress one man, I should be apt to take part with him and say it was ungenerous and unfair. Give the devil his dues, and let even satan have a fair, unprejudiced and impartial trial.”

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