Steele, John, 1764-1815

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Army officer, public official, and U.S. representative from North Carolina, 1789-1793.

From the description of John Steele correspondence, 1782-1792. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980527

John Steele of Rowan County, N.C., was a merchant; planter; banker; influential Federalist; U.S. representative, 1790-1792; state and federal Indian commissioner; U.S. comptroller of the currency, 1796-1802; major general of the militia; and member of the N.C.-S.C. boundary commission. He married Mary Nessfield of Fayetteville, N.C., and they had three daughters: Ann Nessfield Steele (d. 1804), Margaret Steele Ferrand (d. 1830), and Eliza Steele Macnamara (d. 1836). Mary managed family business interests after her husband's death and cared for her granddaughters after their mother Margaret's death.

From the description of John Steele papers, 1716-1846 [manuscript]. WorldCat record id: 23739575

U.S. Representative, 1789-1793; Federalist from North Carolina; member, N.C. House of Commons, 1787, 1788, 1794, 1795,1806, and 1811-1813; native of Salisbury, N.C.

From the description of John Steele papers, 1790-1845. (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 40693228

Congressman from N.C. and comptroller of the treasury, 1796-1802.

From the description of Letters, 1797-1825. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 39100434

John Steele (1764-1815), son of William (died 1773) and Elizabeth Maxwell Gillespie Steele (died 1790), was born in Salisbury, N.C., where his parents operated a tavern. John Steele received his education in Salisbury and engaged in an early career as a local merchant. By 1783, Steele had extended his business connections to link himself with the mercantile concern of Robert Cochran in Fayetteville. He solidified the partnership when he married Cochran's daughter-in-law, Mary Nessfield. They had three daughters who lived to adulthood: Ann Nessfield Steele (died 1804), Margaret Steele Ferrand (died 1830), and Eliza Steele Macnamara (died 1836).

John Steele demonstrated an early interest in politics, and his burgeoning career in public service followed the course of the new nation. He began on the local level, in 1784, as assessor of the town of Salisbury. He became a town commissioner in 1787, and, in that same year, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons, where he served two terms. During that time, the legislature appointed him to negotiate a treaty with the Cherokees and Chickasaws. In 1789, he was a delegate to the Fayetteville convention which finally brought North Carolina into the Union. Steele was immediately elected to the House of Representatives of the first Congress, serving two terms. His campaign for a Senate seat failed in 1792. Returning to North Carolina, Steele again became a member of the House of Commons, serving from 1794 to 1795.

Although he was a plantation owner, Steele was never enchanted with farming. On 15 December 1796, he wrote his wife that his plantations ...have been to me hitherto a plague, without either gain, or satisfaction. Thus, in 1796, he eagerly accepted when George Washington appointed him comptroller of the Treasury, serving in that office until 1802, when he resigned. Following his retirement from politics, Steele devoted much time to diverse business interests, including his cotton plantations in Rowan County, mercantile interests in Salisbury, horse breeding and racing. From 1807 to 1811, he was the agent in Salisbury for the Bank of Cape Fear. Steele was once again elected to the state House of Commons in 1815, but died before taking his seat.

Mary Nessfield Steele managed family business interests after her husband's death. When her daughter, Margaret Steele Ferrand died in 1830, Mary raised her two orphaned granddaughters, Mary Steele Ferrand and Ann Nessfield Steele Ferrand.

From the guide to the John Steele Papers, 1716-1846, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf John Steele Papers, 1716-1846 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Steele, John, 1764-1815. John Steele correspondence, 1782-1792. Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers, 1787-1863. Houghton Library
creatorOf United States. Comptroller of the Treasury. Printed circular : Trenton, N.J., to Joseph Hiller, Salem, Mass., 1799 Oct. 28. Texas Christian University
creatorOf United States. Commissioner of Loans. Commissioner of Loans of the United States records, 1799-1807 (bulk 1801). Wisconsin Historical Society Archives
referencedIn Louisiana. Governor (1799-1801 : Casa Calvo). Letter : to Sr. Colonel Steele / by Gov. Casa Calvo, 1801 May 1. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf United States. Comptroller of the Treasury. Printed circular : Trenton, N.J., to Joseph Hiller, Salem, Mass., 1799 Oct. 28. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Autograph File, S, 1556-1996. Houghton Library
creatorOf Steele, John, 1764-1815. John Steele papers, 1790-1845. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
creatorOf Steele, John, 1764-1815. John Steele papers, 1716-1846 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf William L. Clements Library. James McHenry papers, 1777-1832. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
referencedIn James McHenry papers, McHenry, James papers, 1777-1832 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Milledge, John, 1757-1818. John Milledge letter, 1793. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf Bayly, Thomas Haynes, 1797-1839. Letters from Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe [manuscript], 1798-1829. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Henderson, Archibald, 1877-1963. Archibald Henderson papers relating to family history, 1891-1964 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Blount, William, 1749-1800. William Blount papers, 1783-1823. Library of Congress
creatorOf Steele, John, 1764-1815. Letters, 1797-1825. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Smith, John, marshal. John Smith Papers, 1802-1819 (inclusive). Porterville Public Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John, 1735-1826 person
associatedWith Bank of Cape Fear (Wilmington, N.C.). Salisbury Branch. corporateBody
associatedWith Blount, William. person
correspondedWith Blount, William, 1749-1800. person
associatedWith Davie, William Richardson, 1756-1820. person
associatedWith Ferrand family. family
associatedWith Hampton, Wade, 1791-1858. person
associatedWith Haywood, John, 1762-1826. person
associatedWith Henderson, Archibald, 1877-1963. person
associatedWith Louisiana. Governor (1799-1801 : Casa Calvo) corporateBody
associatedWith Lynch family. family
associatedWith Macon, Nathaniel, 1758-1837. person
associatedWith McNamara family. family
correspondedWith Melville family. family
associatedWith Milledge, John, 1757-1818. person
associatedWith Polk, William, 1758-1834. person
correspondedWith Reid, Andrew, 1751-1837 person
associatedWith Smith, John, marshal. person
associatedWith Steele, Elizabeth Maxwell Gillespie, 1733-1790. person
associatedWith Steele family. family
associatedWith Steele family. family
associatedWith Steele, Mary Nesfield. person
associatedWith Steele, William, d. 1773. person
associatedWith United States. Commissioner of Loans. person
associatedWith United States. Comptroller of the Treasury. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Continental Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Continental Congress. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Treasury corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency corporateBody
associatedWith William L. Clements Library. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Tennessee
Rowan County (N.C.)
North Carolina
Louisiana
North Carolina
United States
North Carolina--Salisbury
United States
United States
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Florida
North Carolina--Rowan County
United States
North Carolina
Washington (D.C.)
South Carolina
Salisbury (N.C.)
Subject
Plantation life
Legislators--Correspondence
Women--Social life and customs
Horse racing--History
Slaves--Correspondence
House construction--History--18th century
Banks and banking--history--19th Century
Politicians
Women--Education--History--19th century
Legislators
Horse breeders--History
Slavery
Families--Social life and customs
Indians of North America--Government relations--History--18th century
Indian agents--History--18th century
Occupation
Army officers
Representatives, U.S. Congress--North Carolina
Public officials--North Carolina
Function

Person

Birth 1764-11-16

Death 1815-08-14

Information

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