Mr. Belt of Tennessee has been doing a fascinating series on the old Governor - "warts and all" - which I quite like. He has recently posted a very interesting article on Sevier and slavery on the old frontier, well worth the read.
My take? The sins of an age are reveled in by a few, opposed by fewer still, and taken for granted by most. Sevier in this case looks to be in that "most." Or rather -
Thank you for your fascinating discussions in Tennessee history!
Respectfully however - I'm not certain your letters support a particularly egregious case against Sevier here. He does his duty under the law, yes - but in all the letters you've posted he seems interested far less in "demanding their return to servitude" than preventing war between the Creeks and Cherokee (letter one), restoring a <i>kidnapped</i> mother and two children (letter two - and do we know if she had other children at home?), and again smoothing over relations between two native nations (letter three).
Racist by modern standards, yes - accepting the sin of his times too easily - absolutely.* But if anyone reads like the villain of the piece in these letters, I'm afraid I have to say it's the Cherokee.
Bad enough to say "negroes are not horses, though they are black" - how much the worse to have to be reminded of the fact?
* As I fear we do today - for if God is just, will He judge us more lightly than our forefathers? They accepted slavery in their midst. We keep it at a palatably safe emotional distance - but still buy the fruits of it by the container-ship load.