Nashville news: 1800-1809

16 July 1802: Today’s Tennessee Gazette features commercial notices about runaway apprentices, the cotton trade and other matters, including this pairing:

RESPECTFULLY informs his friends and the public, that he has opened a
House of Entertainment,
In the house adjoining Mr. Joseph M’Keans store, Nashville, and having provided himself with the necessary accommodations for man and horse, he hopes from the attention which he is determined to shew those who may call on him, to merit a share of the public patronage, and give general satisfaction.
An act to emancipate and let free a negro man, named Bob.
WHEREAS Robert Searcy, esq. of Nashville, having made known to this general assembly, that he some time ago purchased said negro man, Bob, sold under an execution, and that the said negro hath since by his industry, reimbursed the purchase money, in consequence whereof, he prays that he may be emancipated and forever set free.

BE it enacted by the general assembly of the state of Tennessee, That the said negro man Bob, shall be, and he is hereby emancipated and forever set free, to all intents and purposes whatever, and shall in future be known by the name of Robert Renfro.

More on the remarkable career of “Black Bob” Renfro can be found here.


18 Apr. 1807: As recounted in this 2007 column, former Vice President Aaron Burr initially got a warm reception when he visited Nashville twice in 1805, even though he was in disgrace up north for having killed founding father Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

By the spring of 1807, though, Burr was under arrest for allegedly plotting to seize New Orleans and set up his own country. For locals from Andrew Jackson on down, the toasts raised to Burr two years earlier had to be a source of embarrassment, to say the least. On April 18, the Tennessee Gazette claimed one Nashville resident had actually been in on Burr’s plot:

“Who is he? Will he be considered as a Traitor? … His name will be announced in some future number, ‘without regard to standing or station.’ Traitors tremble.”

Despite the newspaper’s threat, it apparently never outed the man under suspicion.

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