Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May 2, 1740:

Elias Boudinot's Birthday

Elias Boudinot of New Jersey -- one of the richest men in the colony and then the state -- is another of the quasi-presidents under the Articles of Confederation, the Fourth President of the United States in Congress Assembled. An important man in his time, almost completely forgotten today. Sic transit gloria mundi.

During his tenure as presiding officer of the Confederation Congress, which was from November 4, 1782, to November 3, 1783, the United States achieved its formal independence. In negotiations, Great Britain had acknowledged as such. On March 12, 1783, Boudinot received word of the Preliminary Treaty of Peace, agreed to on November 30, 1782. He wrote to George Washington at once:

"The arrival of Captain Barney this morning creates so great a field for the circulation of reports agreeably to the complexion of the Reporter, that I have thought it not amiss to inform your Excellency of the substance of his dispatches, tho' you may perhaps receive it from other hands. He left L'Orient the 17th of January last. His latest dispatches are dated the 25th December. The Preliminaries between America and Great Britain were signed the 30th of November and contain nine articles, in substance as follows.

  "1st. The acknowledgment of our Independence and the relinquishment of all rights, Claims & etc. over us.

"2dly. The Boundaries of the United States very Consonant to our Claim.

"3rd. A full and free right to the fisheries, with liberty to take fish on the several shores &c..."

Later, Boudinot served in the First, Second and Third Congresses under the Constitution, and in 1795 President Washington appointed him director of the US Mint, a position he held for 10 years, overseeing the first coinages of the United States.

But that's not all. Clearly vexed by some of the more unorthodox religious attitudes of the Enlightenment, Boudinot wrote "Age of Revelation" in 1790 as a reply to Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason." Later, he helped found the American Bible Society, and was its first president. He also thought that American Indians just might be the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and wrote a book about that as well.

Boudinot lent his name to a young Cherokee (pictured below). This curious story is related at (a site about North Georgia):

"Although he lived less than 40 years, few people had a more profound effect on the Cherokee Nation than Elias Boudinot. His legacy includes:

• Editor, Cherokee Phoenix
• Leader of the Treaty Party
• Signed Treaty of New Echota

"Born in 1800 (shortly after the arrival of his lifelong friend and cousin John Ridge) Gallegina, or Buck, Watie would be educated by the Moravians at Spring Place, not far from his parent's home in the Oothcaloga Valley.

"In 1818 he journeyed north to the American Board School in Cornwall, Connecticut. During this journey he visited two former American presidents, Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and James Madison at Montpelier. Both were pleased to see young Buck and the other Cherokee and Choctaw youths who accompanied him.

"Moving north from Virginia the young men stopped in Washington, D. C. and Burlington, New Jersey, where Buck met with Dr. Elias Boudinot, a writer, poet and statesman who is probably best-known for his election to a one-year term as President of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, his role as director of the U. S. Mint for many years, and his fight for Negro rights in New Jersey. The doctor took a strong liking to Gallegina and offered to support the Cherokee financially. Buck agreed to use his name from that day forward."

His son, Elias C. Boudinot, was a Confederate general and Congressman from Arkansas.

1 comment:

David Boudinot said...

For accuracy, it was the Cherokee Elias Boudinot's brother Stand Watie who was a General in the Civil War. Elias C. Boudinot was an officer during the war, but Watie was the only Native American to achieve the rank of General in that conflict.