We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

General Thomas Posey

son of the American Revolution

John T. Posey

Publication Year: 1992

Revolutionary War general Thomas Posey (1750-1818) lived his life against the backdrop of one of the most dramatic periods in American history. Posey, who played a minor role in the actual War for Independence, went on to participate in the development and foundation of several states in the transappalachian West. His experiences on the late 18th- and early 19th-century American frontier were varied and in a certain sense extraordinary; he served as Indian agent in Illinois Territory; as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, as U.S. Senator from Louisiana, and as Governor of Indiana during its transition from territorial status to statehood. 
     His biographer speculates on the contrasting influences of Thomas's ne'er-do-well father, Captain John Posey, and the family's close friend, General George Washington. Posey's progress is then followed as he raises his own family in the newly formed nation. Of particular interest is an appendix containing a detailed analysis of evidence available to support popular 29th-century speculation that Thomas Posey was, in fact, George Washington's illicit son.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.5 KB)
p. -

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (318.1 KB)
pp. 1-4

A casual browser, coming upon this volume in a library or bookstore, might well wonder who Thomas Posey was and why a book would be written about his life. Widely known and respected in his own time, his name is unfamiliar to recent generations, and his memory has all but disappeared, as though he had never existed...

read more

1. “… born of respectable parentage….” (1750-1774)

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 5-26

When Indiana territorial governor Thomas Posey sat down at his desk near the end of his life to compose a detailed autobiographical sketch he chose, for whatever reasons, to devote only eighteen words to his birth, parentage, and his first nineteen years of life...

read more

2. “The glorious cause” (1775-1778)

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 27-47

The new year of 1775 brought word to Fincastle of the unfolding of one momentous event after another in the northeastern colonies. The first serious skirmishes between British regular troops and American minutemen at Lexington and Concord in faraway Massachusetts were followed by the patriots' siege of the king's forces in Boston and the decisive sessions of the Second Continental...

read more

3. “The fort’s our own!” (1778-1779)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 48-73

The bloody attack on Cherry Valley was the last engagement on the northwest frontier in 1778. Both sides retired to winter quarters, the Indian warriors and Tory Rangers to the safety and Schoharie and nearby forts. The year's flurry of raids had, how ever, convinced General George Washington that the sector could be made secure only by a major, all-out invasion of Iroquois country ...

read more

4. “The veracity of Posey was as unquestioned as his courage.” (1780-1782)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.8 MB)
pp. 74-108

Stony Point was the major encounter between the two opposing main armies during the 1779 campaign season. General Clinton did not venture in force beyond his well-fortified outposts in and around New York City, while Washington's only hope of striking a decisive blow against him there was totally dependent upon the promised arrival of a French fleet from the West Indies. That ...

read more

5. “… we are to loose you, perhaps for ever….” (1783-1793)

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 109-131

The months following Thomas Posey's return from the war brought wrenching personal adjustment. As head of the small Fincastle household on Main Street, he confronted the practical problems of supporting and nurturing his reunited family, as well as charting a future course in life for himself. There is no evidence that he sought to revive the saddlery business long dissipated by ...

read more

6. “… a most amiable wife and sweet little family of children ….” (1793-1800)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.1 MB)
pp. 132-158

Brigadier-General Posey paused in the nation's capital of Philadelphia just long enough to purchase necessary personal supplies for a campaign in the field and to visit briefly with his friends in the Virginia congressional delegation. He paid a duty call on Secretary Knox at the War Department, where his 11 March 1793 commission was formally docketed.1 Then he hurried along to ...

read more

7. “I was not born to riches or… high birth, or great family. ” (1800-1810)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.2 MB)
pp. 159-185

Washington's death removed the last great symbol of non partisan political leadership. During President Adams' four year administration, the ruling federalists had unwisely used their fleeting gain in popular sentiment from the XYZ affair to impose the harsh Alien and Sedition Laws, designed to suppress dissent from their policies. These measures only reinforced a widespread ...

read more

8. “I am not … above shewing an example to my fellow citizens ….” (1810-1813)

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 186-206

Thomas Posey was accounted a resident of Kentucky's Henderson County in the federal census of 1810;1 but the arrival of a new decade found him busily planning a major move to the Territory of Orleans. Posey's nature was intrinsically restive practical considerations. The long-planned removal from Virginia to Kentucky had not brought the financial security he envisioned ...

read more

9. “ … under your auspices, we have become as one people.” (1813-1816)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.1 MB)
pp. 207-233

President James Madison submitted Thomas Posey's name to the U. S. Senate on 27 February 1813 as his nominee for the governorship of Indiana Territory. Sometime prior to that date Posey, having been relieved of his Senate duties, had gone to visit his counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford. Although his general avail ability for other public office was well known in the capital, he had ...

read more

10. “ … he knew him and gave him his hand.” (1816-1818)

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 234-262

Thomas Posey had emerged penniless at age nineteen from his Rover's Delight family. He had not acquired great wealth in either of his two marriages, in his military and public careers, or in private commercial enterprises or property investments. The last decade of his life was plagued with considerable indebtedness, quite likely arising from earlier financial losses he said he had sustained ...

read more


read more

A. “ …being in Company with her revives my former Passion for your Low Land Beauty ….”

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 263-277

During his lifetime Thomas Posey made no claim of, or reference to, descent from George Washington or kinship to the Washington family, nor did Posey's children publicly entertain any such pretensions after his death in 1818.1 It was more than half a century thereafter that the first allegation of a filial relationship the Cincinnati Daily Commercial, a leading Ohio journal with some ...

read more

B. “The unfortunate and most unhappy John Price Posey” ….

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 278-294

The year 1769 had been one of disaster for Captain John Posey. While his numerous creditors were rapidly tightening their legal tentacles around his estate in Virginia, he sought financial redemption in Maryland by marriage to Elizabeth Adair, whom he cheerfully advertised...

Select Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (927.1 KB)
pp. 295-308


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 309-325

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139468
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870133169

Page Count: 325
Publication Year: 1992