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Robert Goodloe Harper Papers, 1791

Two manuscripts, 1791, of Rob[ert] G[oodloe] Harper (1765-1825) document the sketchily-documented land speculation phase of this noted Federalist's life. Harper was secretary of the ill-fated South Carolina Yazoo Company, one of the original three companies formed to develop Georgia's western lands. Formed in 1789, the company had four charter members-Thomas Washington (alias Walsh) of Georgia, Alexander Moultrie, Isaac Huger, and William Clay Snipes. Shares of the company were limited to twenty; they could be subdivided, but to have a seat and vote at the company's meetings, a member had to own one full share.

Writing on 15 January 1791, Harper apprised Gen. Mordecai Gist that the board had voted to admit him as a member. Gist had sent word by Snipes that he intended to take one full share in the Yazoo purchase. "I have the Honour Sir," Harper wrote, "of enclosing to you the Copy of a resolution passed by the board of the Yazoo South Carolina Company on Wednesday the 12th instant and of informing you that the time to which the board stands adjourned is Wednesday next the 26th instant, the place my house No. 51 King street, where it will give all parties great pleasure to see you."

In the end, the company's plans failed; it forfeited its claim to the land when it failed to comply with the 1789 Georgia statute regulating the purchase. By that time, the partners had ostracized Washington for enacting "a most infamous and extensive scheme of villainy, the forging of public securities to a very large amount" (the authorities hanged him in Charleston for counterfeiting state indents). Later, the South Carolina Senate impeached and convicted Attorney General Alexander Moultrie for diverting genuine state indents into the company's finances.

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