About James White
James White (June 16, 1749 – October, 1809) was an American physician, lawyer, and politician. He was an early settler at Nashville, Tennessee and in Louisiana. He was a delegate for North Carolina in the Continental Congress and a non-voting member of the U.S. House for the Southwest Territory.
White was born into a prosperous mercantile family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His early education was at the College of St. Omer, a Jesuit school in modern-day France (then part of the Spanish Netherlands). When he returned he entered the University of Pennsylvania and studied medicine and law. After graduating he moved to North Carolina.
In 1785 he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. In 1786, North Carolina sent him as a delegate to the Continental Congress where he served there until 1788. Late in 1786, the Congress named him superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern department. After that he was frequently absent from Congress, travelling the Carolina and Georgia frontier negotiating with the Indian tribes. After his congressional service he moved to the frontier, buying land and settling in what would become Nashville, Tennessee.
When the Southwest Territory's territorial legislature was formed in 1794, White was selected as its delegate to the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1794 to 1796. After Tennessee gained statehood in 1796, he returned home to Davidson County.
James White was a brilliant man, fluent in French and Spanish, but he had a tendency to become involved in complicated plots. In the 1780s he had become involved with John Sevier's plan to place the State of Franklin under Spanish rule. He used his position and travels as Indian superintendent to serve as agent conducting negotiations between Sevier and the governor of Spanish Louisiana. In the 1790s he gotten involved with William Blount's plan to work with the Indians and Britain in staging an invasion of Spanish Florida. As his role in these schemes became known, he moved to the Spanish territory of New Orleans in 1799, settling in what would later become St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.
While his earlier actions caused problems in Tennessee, they weren't generally known at a national level. So when the United States area reached him again President Jefferson named him as a Territorial Judge in 1804, first for the District of Louisiana and then for the Territory of Orleans. His family prospered in Louisiana. His son (Edward Douglass White Sr.) would become Governor of Louisiana, and his grandson Edward Douglass White would serve as Chief Justice of the United States.
James White died at home in 1809 in St. James Parish, Louisiana.
James White's Timeline
June 16, 1749
March 3, 1795
Maury, TN, USA