About James Glasgow, Sec'y State for NC
A Patriot of the American Revolution for NORTH CAROLINA with the rank of MAJOR. DAR Ancestor # A045303
The naming of a county can provide a lesson in North Carolina history. What is now Greene County was once part of Johnston but in 1758 it became Dobbs County for royal governor Arthur Dobbs. In 1791 that name was “expunged from our map,” as historian Kemp Battle phrased it, and a new county was named for the Secretary of State, James Glasgow. When Glasgow met an ignominious end, in 1799 the name was changed to Greene to honor Nathanael Greene, the hero of Guilford Courthouse.
James Glasgow (ca. 1735-1819), born in Maryland, in 1765 acquired a plantation on Contentnea Creek known as “Fairfield” as a gift from his father-in-law. Glasgow, active in the colonial militia, took part in the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge but soon forsook the military for politics. As assistant secretary of the Provincial Congresses, 1775-1776, and clerk of the Council of State, 1776-1779, Glasgow earned the respect of the state’s Revolutionary patriots. His reward was election by the legislature in 1777 as North Carolina’s first Secretary of State. A principal duty of that position was the oversight of the military land grant program, the issuance of property in what became Tennessee to veterans of the Revolution.
In 1797, on receipt of a letter from Andrew Jackson setting forth charges of impropriety in the issuance of the grants, Gov. Samuel Ashe and the legislature set in motion events leading to Glasgow’s resignation and eventual conviction on land fraud charges. Notwithstanding the fact that others were involved in the scandal, Glasgow suffered the consequences. The committee of inquiry determined that the Secretary of State should be charged with a misdemeanor, dereliction of duty as a public officer. A tribunal found him guilty on two counts and fined him 1,000 pounds on each. Glasgow left the state and settled near Nashville, Tennessee, where he died in 1819. “Behold the reward of dishonesty and official corruption!” wrote Kemp Battle in 1903.
References: William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 303-305 – sketch by Charles R. Holloman Russell S. Koonts, “An Angel Has Fallen!: The Glasgow Land Frauds and the Emergence of the North Carolina Supreme Court,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1995): 301-328 Kemp P. Battle, “The Trial of James Glasgow,” North Carolina Booklet (May 1903) James M. Creech, History of Greene County, North Carolina (1979) William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968) Price-Strother map (1808)
James Glasgow (c. 1735-1819) served as the first North Carolina Secretary of State, from 1777 to 1798. He resigned in disgrace after a scandal known as the "Glasgow Land Fraud."
The son of a Scottish minister, Glasgow was educated at William and Mary College. He was active in the revolutionary cause in North Carolina, and in December 1776, was rewarded by the last of the state's provincial congresses with the office of Secretary of State.
In 1791, while he was still serving as Secretary of State, the state legislature named a county after him, but after his resignation in disgrace, the county was renamed Greene County.
Secretary of State, North Carolina Land Fraud Scandal
James Glasgow, Sec'y State for NC's Timeline
Maryland, United States
August 18, 1775
Dobbs, North Carolina, United States
February 25, 1820
Davidson County, Tennessee, United States
Admitted to bar July 17, 1764/ Johnson County, N.C.
Williamsburg, Virginia, United States