Not long after his inauguration, Sevier met Jackson in Knoxville, where Jackson was holding court. The charges against Sevier were then being made the subject of legislative investigation instituted by Tipton, and Jackson had published a letter in the Knoxville "Gazette" supporting them. At the sight of Jackson, Sevier flew into a rage, and a fiery altercation ensued. The two men were only restrained from leaping on each other by the intervention of friends. The next day Jackson sent Sevier a challenge which Sevier accepted, but with the stipulation that the duel take place outside the State. Jackson insisted on fighting in Knoxville, where the insult had been offered. Sevier refused. "I have some respect," he wrote, "for the laws of the State over which I have the honor to preside, although you, a judge, appear to have none." No duel followed; but, after some further billets-doux, Jackson published Sevier as "a base coward and poltroon. He will basely insult but has not the courage to repair the wound." Again they met, by accident, and Jackson rushed upon Sevier with his cane. Sevier dismounted and drew his pistol but made no move to fire. Jackson, thereupon, also drew his weapon. Once more friends interfered. It is presumable that neither really desired the duel. By killing Nolichucky Jack, Jackson would have ended his own career in Tennessee--if Sevier's tribe of sons had not, by a swifter means, ended it for him. At this date Jackson was thirty-six. Sevier was fifty-eight; and he had seventeen children.
The charges against Sevier, though pressed with all the force that his enemies could bring to bear, came to nothing. He remained the Governor of Tennessee for another six years--the three terms in eight years allowed by the constitution. In 1811 he was sent to Congress for the second time, as he had represented the Territory there twenty years earlier. He was returned again in 1813. At the conclusion of his term in 1815 he went into the Creek country as commissioner to determine the Creek boundaries, and here, far from his Bonnie Kate and his tribe, he died of fever at the age of seventy. His body was buried with full military honors at Tuckabatchee, one of the Creek towns. In 1889, Sevier's remains were removed to Knoxville and a high marble spire was raised above them.
His Indian enemies forgave the chastisement he had inflicted on them and honored him. In times of peace they would come to him frequently for advice. And in his latter days, the chiefs would make state visits to his home on the Nolichucky River. "John Sevier is a good man"--so declared the Cherokee, Old Tassel, making himself the spokesman of history. Sevier had survived his old friend, co-founder with him of Watauga, by one year. James Robertson had died in 1814 at the age of seventy-two, among the Chickasaws, and his body, like that of his fellow pioneer, was buried in an Indian town and lay there until 1825, when it was removed to Nashville.
What of the red tribes who had fought these great pioneers for the wide land of the Old Southwest and who in the end had received their dust and treasured it with honor in the little soil remaining to them? Always the new boundary lines drew closer in, and the red men's foothold narrowed before the pushing tread of the whites. The day came soon when there was no longer room for them in the land of their fathers. But far off across the great river there was a land the white men did not covet yet. Thither at last the tribes--Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek--took their way. With wives and children, maids and youths, the old and the young, with all their goods, their cattle and horses, in the company of a regiment of American troops, they--like the white men who had superseded them--turned westward. In their faces also was the red color of the west, but not newly there. From the beginning of their race, Destiny had painted them with the hue of the brief hour of the dying sun.
One spring day in 1799, there might have been observed a great stir through the valley of the Kanawha. With the dawn, men were ahorse, and women, too. Wagons crowded with human freight wheeled over the rough country, and boats, large and small, were afloat on the streams which pour into the Great Kanawha and at length mingle with the Ohio at Point Pleasant, where the battle was fought which opened the gates of Kentucky.
Some of the travelers poured into the little settlement at the junction of the Elk and the Kanawha, where Charleston now lies. Others, who had been later in starting or had come from a greater distance, gathered along the banks of the Kanawha. At last shouts from those stationed farthest up the stream echoed down the valley and told the rest that what they had come out to see was at hand.
Several pirogues drifted into view on the river, now brightening in the sunshine. In the vessels were men and their families; bales and bundles and pieces of household furnishings, heaped to the gunwale; a few cattle and horses standing patiently. But it was for one man above all that the eager eyes of the settlers were watching, and him they saw clearly as his boat swung by--a tall figure, erect and powerful, his keen friendly blue eyes undimmed and his ruddy face unlined by time, though sixty-five winters had frosted his black hair.
For a decade these settlers had known Daniel Boone, as storekeeper, as surveyor, as guide and soldier. They had eaten of the game he killed and lavishly distributed. And they too--like the folk of Clinch Valley in the year of Dunmore's War--had petitioned Virginia to bestow military rank upon their protector. "Lieutenant Colonel" had been his title among them, by their demand. Once indeed he had represented them in the Virginia Assembly and, for that purpose, trudged to Richmond with rifle and hunting dog. Not interested in the Legislature's proceedings, he left early in the session and tramped home again.