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Bill Thayer

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Appendix C

This webpage reproduces part of an item in the
Tennessee Historical Magazine

published by the
Tennessee Historical Society

The text is in the public domain.

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Appendix E
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Bedford's Tour (1807)

Vol. V
Appendix D. — Matthew Lyon.

"Col. Matthew Lyon, the most remarkable character among the public men of Southwestern Kentucky, was born in Wicklow County, Ireland, in 1746, and died at Spadra Bluff, Arkansas Territory, August 1, 1822, aged 76.

His father, while Matthews was a small boy, engaged in a conspiracy against the British crown, for which he was tried, condemned and executed. His widow soon married; and Matthew, at the age of 19, fled from the cruelty of a step-father to America. To secure his passage, he bound himself to the captain to work for twelve months after his arrival. The captain sold him to a farmer in Connecticut for two bulls; he served his time faithfully and became a free man; but ever after his favorite by-word was "By the bulls that bought me." Subsequently he became a citizen of Vermont; and in 1776, when the Revolutionary war broke out, entered the army of the colonists as a lieutenant in a company of "Green Mountain Boys." In the latter part of that year, he was reduced to the ranks for disobeying orders by leaving his command on Onion River (to visit his sweetheart); but he subsequently served as temporary paymaster of the Northern army in 1777, and in 1778 as deputy secretary of the Governor of Vermont, and also clerk of the court of confiscation; and eventually rose to the rank of Colonel of militia.

At the close of the war he married the girl who cost him his lieutenancy; but she soon died, leaving one child. He founded the town  p68 of Fairhaven in 1783, where he built saw mills, grist mills, an iron foundry, engaged in paper making from basswood, and in a variety of other occupations; and at one time edited a newspaper, to which he gave the strongest of names — "The Scourge of Aristocracy and Repository of Important Political Truth," it was of an ultra-Democratic character, and part of the types and the paper were manufactured by himself. He served that town in the Vermont Legislature ten years; in 1786 he was Assistant Judge of Rutland County.

Becoming an active political leader, he was elected to Congress in 1797 by the anti-Federal party; and during his service, married Mrs. Beulah Galusha, a widowed daughter of Governor Thomas Chittenden, of Vermont. He was extremely bitter against the administration of President John Adams; and in October, 1798, under the alien and sedition law, was convicted of a libel on the President, fined $1,000, and confined for four months in the Vergennes gaol. An attempt to expell him from Congress as a convicted felon failed for want of a two-thirds vote.

During this congressional term, he had a violent personal altercation on the floor of the House, caused by spitting in the face of Roger Griswold, of Connecticut, ending in blows; but the motion to expell them was defeated. In 1799, while a prisoner in gaol, he was re-elected for two years, 1799‑1801, and taken from prison by his friends to represent them in Congress. Just before the close of his term, on February 17, 1801, on the 36th ballot, Col. Lyon decided the painful and protracted seven days' voting for President, by casting his vote and that of Vermont for Thomas Jefferson — making him President in preference to Aaron Burr.

In the spring of 1804, with his family, and his sons-in‑law, John Messenger and Dr. Geo. Caldwell, and their families, Col. Lyon sailed down the Ohio River and up the Cumberland in Livingston County, and founded Eddyville, He became a large land holder, and owned many slaves. He served in the Legislature of Kentucky and again in Congress for eight years, 1803‑1811. Through his instrumentality Eddyville became a place largely known for boat building, not only of barges and keels, but gun‑boats, etc. (See note "Eddyville"). In 1811‑1812, Col. Lyon was employed by the United States War Department to build gun‑boats for the war with England, but he became bankrupt from the speculation. In 1820, he was appointed by President Monroe a factor among the Cherokee Indians in Arkansas; and when that territory was organized in 1822, was elected the first delegate to Congress, but did not live to take his seat. His remains were interred at Eddyville."

(Collin's "School Hist. of Ky." — p491).

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