James Glasgow (c.1735- 1819)

Relationship to the Speculation Lands: 
As Secretary of State of North Carolina, James Glasgow was required on request to make out a military land grant, or a patent, that would be authenticated by the governor, countersigned by the secretary of state, and then registered in the land grant registry book held by the secretary's office in Raleigh. The original grant and a copy of the survey and the accompanying plat were then given to the applicant for the grant. Approximately 21 of these patents may be found in the Speculation Lands Collection with both Glasgow's and Ashe's signatures.

Son of a Scottish minister, educated at William and Mary College in Virginia Glasgow was a Revolutionary patriot and early-on became friends with many of the individuals who shaped the American Revolution. He was active in the early Provincial Congress of North Carolina. Elected Secretary of State of North Carolina during the Provincial Congress at Halifax in December of 1776, Glasgow served as secretary of state until the administration of governor Samuel Ashe. While Governors could serve only one year terms, the Secretary had a term of three years. This discrepancy was a sticking point with the governors. 

Governor Ashe took issue with Glasgow's activity related to the military land grant program located in what is now Tennessee. The "Armstrong Office" as the program was called, required the each warrant that was executed to return the warrant with the survey report and the plat to the Armstrong Office where it would be sent to the office of the secretary of state. The possibility of fraud and deceit were rampant and any warrant issued was easily  transferable by endorsement, assignment, or other appropriate writing. Because the warrants could be transferred with ease and the ability to forge, counterfeit, or steal the warrant, was equally easy, Glasgow was a prime target for criticism in any political dispute. Acting on the recommendation or the hearsay of his friend Andrew Jackson, Ashe in 1797, challenged Glasgow's  honesty in the handling of the Armstrong Office warrants. He is reported to have said to the General Assembly, "An Angel hath fallen!" referring to Glasgow. Ashe then called for a special commission to investigate Glasgow and to report to the General Assembly his reported wrong-doing.  The commission found the evidence to be weak, at best, but prosecution went forward. The prosecution of Glasgow for felony wrong-doing was not possible and instead, he was charged with a 12 count misdemeanor that involved dereliction of duty as a public official and other misdemeanors. Ultimately indictments were brought to bear in only 5 of the charges but only 2 were upheld. The public disgrace, however,  resulted in Glasgow's resignation and his departure from the state. 

On-Site Links:

0009  Patent 1035, January 28, 1795, 1,920 acres. Assigned/sold to Tench Coxe, November 26, 1796.


Ashe, Samuel, ed. Biographical History  of North Carolina, vol. 7, 1908.

Clark, Walter, ed. State Records of North Carolina, vols. 11-25, 1895-1906.

State vs. Glasgow Papers, North Carolina State Papers, Raleigh, and State vs. Glasgow, 1 N.C. Reports 264, Spring Term 1800.

United States. Congress (4th, 2nd session: 1796-1797), In Senate of the United States, March 1st, 1797. [microform] : Mr. Hillhouse, from the committee to whom was referred the letter and enclosures from the governor of North Carolina, relative to the extinguishment of the Indian title to lands granted to T. Glasgow & Co. by the state of North Carolina--the address of the legislature of the state of Tennessee, on the same subject--and also the petition of J. Glasgow and others, relative to lands entered in the office of John Armstrong, Esq. and since ceded to the United States--reported. [Philadelphia : Printed by John Fenno?, 1797]