John Adair (1757 - 1840)

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Birthplace: Chester District, SC
Death: Died in White Hall, Mercer Co. KY
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About John Adair

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adair

John Adair (January 9, 1757 – May 19, 1840) was an American pioneer, soldier and statesman. He was the eighth Governor of Kentucky and represented the state in both the U.S. House and Senate. Adair enlisted in the state militia and served in the Revolutionary War, where he was held captive by the British for a period of time. Following the war, he was elected as a delegate to South Carolina's convention to ratify the United States Constitution.


Adair moved to Kentucky and became active in politics, serving a total of eight years in the state House of Representatives between 1793 and 1803. He served as Speaker of the Kentucky House in 1802 and 1803, and was a delegate to the state's constitutional conventions in 1792 and 1799. He ascended to the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated when John Breckinridge resigned to become Attorney General of the United States. He failed to win a full term in the subsequent election. Adair's promising political career was threatened when General James Wilkinson accused him of being involved in the Burr conspiracy. Although Adair was later cleared of any wrongdoing and Wilkinson was ordered to issue an apology, the negative publicity kept him out of politics for more than a decade.


Adair's participation in the War of 1812 restored his reputation, and he returned to the state House in 1817. His commanding officer in the war, twice governor Isaac Shelby, appointed him adjutant general of the state militia. In 1820, Adair was elected governor on a platform of financial relief for Kentuckians hit hard by the Panic of 1819. His primary measure toward this end was the creation of the Bank of the Commonwealth. Many of his other financial reforms were deemed unconstitutional by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Following his term as governor, Adair served one term in the United States House of Representatives, but did not run for re-election. He died May 19, 1840 at his farm in Harrodsburg. He is the namesake of several places, including Adair County, Kentucky, Adair County, Missouri, Adair County, Iowa, and the towns of Adairville, Kentucky and Adair, Iowa.


Early life


John Adair was born in Chester County, South Carolina, a son of Scottish immigrants Baron William and Mary (Moore) Adair. He was educated at schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. Adair served in the South Carolina militia during the American Revolution, and was held as a prisoner of war by the British. After the war, he was a delegate to the South Carolina convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution.


In 1784, he married Katherine Palmer. They had twelve children, ten of them daughters. In 1788, Adair moved to Mercer County on the Kentucky frontier. He led Kentucky militiamen in the Northwest Indian War against the Miami Confederacy. Adair enrolled as a captain, but was promoted to major under General James Wilkinson, and later to lieutenant colonel under Charles Scott. He fought in several campaigns, and was present at the disastrous defeat by Chief Little Turtle near Fort St. Clair in Ohio. He was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the 2nd Brigade of the Kentucky Militia on February 25, 1797. On December 16, 1799, he was promoted to major general and given command of the 2nd Division of the Kentucky Militia.


Political career


Adair was a delegate to the Kentucky constitutional conventions in 1792 and 1799. Upon Kentucky's admission to the Union, he was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1793 to 1795. He would serve in that body again in 1798 and from 1800 to 1803. In 1802, he was chosen Speaker of the House by a vote of 30–14 over Elder David Purviance, the candidate preferred by Governor James Garrard. He continued to serve as Speaker for the duration of his term in the House.


Charged with disloyalty


In January 1804, Garrard nominated Adair to the position of registrar of the state land office. Adair's was the seventh name submitted by Garrard to the state Senate for the position; his approval by the Senate marked the end of a two-month imbroglio between Garrard and the legislature over the appointment. Later that year, he ascended to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy left when John Breckinridge resigned to become Attorney General. His close association with Aaron Burr during the Burr conspiracy damaged his credibility, and he lost the election for a full term in the next year. He immediately left the Senate, resigning on November 18, 1806.


In December 1806, Adair departed for Louisiana to inspect a tract of land he had purchased. On his arrival in New Orleans, he was arrested on the order of his former commander, James Wilkinson, who charged him with disloyalty. Adair counter-sued, and in a court battle that spanned several years, it was revealed that Wilkinson had no actual evidence against Adair. Wilkinson was ordered to issue a public apology and pay $2,500 in damages to Adair.


Service in the War of 1812


At the outbreak of the War of 1812, former governor Isaac Shelby asked Adair to serve as his aide. Adair rendered commendable service in the Canadian campaign, most notably at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario in 1813. In 1814, he was made adjutant general of Kentucky and brevetted to the rank of brigadier general. In this capacity, he led 1,100 Kentucky riflemen in support of General Jackson's expedition that ended with the victory in the Battle of New Orleans. Following the war, Adair spent two years corresponding with Jackson, defending his fellow Kentuckians against Jackson's charge that they had acted in a cowardly manner at the Battle of New Orleans.


Adair's participation in the War of 1812 restored his reputation. On February 10, 1816, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a resolution thanking Adair for his service at the Battle of New Orleans and for his defense of the soldiers accused by Jackson. He continued to serve as adjutant general until 1817 when the voters returned Adair to the state's House.


Term as governor


A period of land speculation followed the war. In response, the federal government created the Second Bank of the United States. The bank's strict credit policy hit Kentucky hard, and contributed to the financial Panic of 1819. In the gubernatorial election of 1820, Adair ran on a platform of bringing relief to the state's debtors. He was elected over three fellow Democratic-Republicans: William Logan, Joseph Desha, and Anthony Butler.


During his term, several banking crises and recession brought the state government near to failure, and many of his administration's actions were related to the state's financial troubles. He oversaw the abolition of the practice of debt incarceration, and sanctioned rigorous gambling legislation. Perhaps the most important measure implemented during Adair's administration was the creation of the Bank of the Commonwealth in 1820. The bank made generous loans and issued paper money. Creditors who refused to accept notes issued by the bank were prohibited from pressing their claims for two years. Many of Adair's other relief measures were struck down as unconstitutional by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the state's highest court at the time, because they impaired the obligation of contracts. These decisions set the stage for the Old Court-New Court controversy.


Among Adair's accomplishments not directly related to finances were the establishment of the state's university system and endorsement of the Missouri Compromise. He advocated for prison reform and better treatment of the insane. He also oversaw the enactment of a plan for internal improvements, including improved navigation on the Ohio River.


Later life and death


Following his term as governor, Adair spent most of his time on his farm. He did make one more appearance in national affairs, when he was elected to the U.S. House as a Jackson Democrat for the 1831 to 1833 term. During his term, he served on the Committee on Military Affairs. He did not run for re-election.


Adair died at home in Harrodsburg, and was buried on the grounds of his estate, White Hall. In 1872, his grave was moved to the Frankfort Cemetery in the state capital. Adair County, Kentucky, Adair County, Missouri, Adair County, Iowa, and the towns of Adairville, Kentucky and Adair, Iowa were named after John Adair.

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John Adair, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

1757
January 9, 1757
Chester District, SC
1784
September 9, 1784
Age 27
1786
1786
Age 28
1788
1788
Age 30
1790
1790
Age 32
1794
1794
Age 36
1799
May 3, 1799
Age 42
Harrodsburg, KY
1803
1803
Age 45
1840
May 19, 1840
Age 83
White Hall, Mercer Co. KY
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