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James T. Shields Letter

Identifier: MS-1787

James T. Shields wrote this letter on behalf of General Robert Kyle, who was then ill. In it, he asks his correspondent to purchase and execute a prosecution bond on Kyle's surety.


  • 1870 June 28

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0.1 Linear Feet (one folder)


James T. Shields wrote this letter on behalf of General Robert Kyle, who was then ill. In it, he asks his correspondent to purchase and execute a prosecution bond on Kyle's surety.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Thomas Shields was born to John and Mary (Gill) Shields in Grainger County, Tennessee on September 21, 1824. He married Aurelia Glenn on May 11, 1848 and the couple had one child, Mary Aurelia (Shields) Gammon (1849-1876) before Aurelia Shields' death in 1849. Shields married Elizabeth Simpson on December 8, 1852 and the couple had ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood: William Simpson (1853-1933), John Knight (1858-1934), Robert Gill (1857-1877), James Thomas (1852-), Samuel Guthrie (1861-1915), Joseph Sevier (1863-1916), and Milton Lea (1866-1903). James Shields read law under Judge Robert M. Barton and William H. Sneed and was admitted to the Bar in 1852. Shields maintained a law office on his farm (Clinchdale) in Bean's Station, Tennessee and argued cases in Grainger and the surrounding counties. He was associated with Colonel John Netherland from 1865 to 1873 and with his son, John K. Shields, from 1880 until 1890. Shields became involved in politics during the Civil War, serving in the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States in 1861. Although he was elected to the regular Congress, he was unable to serve due to ill health. Shields was appointed a Special Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1870 and continued to serve in that capacity until his death on November 4, 1899, despite being offered several higher positions.

The case in question was heard in the September 1870 session of the Tennessee Supreme Court. It had to do with a tract of land that Robert Kyle had sold to William D. Trent in November of 1860 in order to pay a judgment that Trent had won against him. Kyle attempted to redeem the land using bank notes and Confederate money, which Trent would not accept. Later, Kyle convinced his friend John W. Phillips to purchase the land from Trent. Under this arrangement, Kyle's debt (with interest) would be paid from the purchase price and Kyle would retain the remainder of the profit. When the Supreme Court heard the case, Trent claimed that he was coerced into the arrangement and that he was entitled either to the money he was owed or to a vendor's lien for the same sum. Phillips acknowledged the debt, but Kyle claimed that he had no agreement with Trent (the money from the land transaction being his alone) and so Trent would have to obtain the money from Phillips. The court that heard the case originally decided that the amount of Kyle's debt to Trent and the profits due Kyle should both be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the land. Both parties appealed, but the judgment was upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

Special Collections purchased this document.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA