Joel Yancey, 1773-1839, of Barren Co., KY

Yancey, Joel, a Representative from Kentucky: born in Albemarle County, Va, October 21, 1773; member of the Kentucky State house of representatives 1809-1811. served in the KY State senate 1816-1820 and 1824-1827; elected as a Democrat to the Twentieth and Twenty First Congresses (March 4 1827 - March 3 1831); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1830 to the Twenty second Congress; died in Barren County, Ky in April 1838. Interment in that county.

Ancestry: Joel Yancey, son of Jeremiah, son of Robert, son of Charles, son of Charles Yancey


Henry Clay (left) and Pres. James Monroe (right)
both of whom had connections with various members of the Yancey family

From the papers of Henry Clay
a letter written by: Francis Johnson


From:  "Key West: the old and the new"  By Jefferson Beale Browne

From Joel Yancey (Kentucky)

To the Citizens of the Tenth Congressional District of Kentucky
Washington City, May 22 1828

Fellow Citizens:

The first session of the 20th Congress being nearly closed, I deem it a duty incumbent on me as your representative, (which I perform with great pleasure) to give you as much information as can be conveniently comprised in a letter. I need not expect an exemption from that scrutiny which is commonly exercised towards a representative, nor do I wish it; for I consider it highly important to the preservation of liberty, that the sovereign people, in whom all political power rightfully resides, should pay strict attention to the conduct of their servants; for I am sure that the best of human beings needs this supervision; and I am in a particular manner admonished by my imperfections that I do. One thing I can say, without fear of contradiction, that, except for ten or twelve days during which time I labored under a most severe attack of cold and fever, and was entirely confined to my bed, that I have not lost one minute from the service of the House this session.

. . . I ask you to look to other times in the history of this government, and to see if there has not been a sad falling off as to those principles of purity, frugality and economy, and attachment to genuine republicanism, which characterized those days. I refer you particularly to the administration of the beloved Jefferson, who, instead of intriguing for office, and encouraging his officers to go on crusades of electioneering and speech making, to retain himself and his subordinates in office, addressed through one of the high officers of the government . . .

. . . Where will you find such another instance of disinterested patriotism and devotion to the great principles of virtue? In these days you can see vast sums of the people's money profusely squandered to reward those unfaithful agents for being traitors to their will, and endeavoring to rivet the chains of oppression and extravagance on our necks. I have seen the undeniable proofs of these facts in my examination of documents here, and if I was not fearlessly to proclaim the truth, and let you know the real situation of things, I should consider myself an unfaithful sentinel at my post, If were to shut my eyes and let the enemy enter the camp. I conjure you, in the name of the principles of Washington and Jefferson to be on the alert, to unite as a band of brother, and to extricate yourselves from the extravagant and exorbitant waste of your money which is now carrying on by the powers that be, for the purpose of enslaving you and your posterity. I tell you that the images of power, intrigue, management, stratagem, imposture and proscription are set up, (like that of Nebuchadnezzar of old) in our plains, and the dulcet sounds of the flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer of patronage are ringing in our ears and commanding us to fall down and worship; and this furnace of slander, detraction and calumny is heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be, and we who resist the call are to be cast into it. But let us, like the three holy Hebrew children of old, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednago, refuse to fall down and worship; and although we are cast into this furnace, the inextinguishable love of liberty and devotion to virtue that animated the bosoms of our dear fathers in their glorious struggle for our rights, will carry us through the flames unhurt, (like the Hebrew children of old) while those who would sacrifice us for adhering inflexibly to our Country's rights and the will of our constituents, will be consumed themselves, and consigned to that ignominy and contempt which I hope await all the enemies of freedom; and if we are virtuous and united, and put our trust in the Omnipotent God of liberty and virtue, we will shine as a pillar of fire, amidst a world of benighted despotism, lighting the path of unborn millions to the temple of liberty; and may God, of his infinite mercy, grant that our beloved America may always be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In closing this address I wish to offer my apology to you for not visiting you after the election more than I did previous to my starting for Washington City. My family were shortly after the election, very severely afflicted with a most malignant bilious fever, which bereaved me of my eldest daughter, a very dear and favorite child, and two of my sons and my little grand-son were very near dying with it. They had not recovered when I left home, and it has raged very much in my family since I have been here, and not till very lately has it subsided. . . .

Joel Yancey

Taken from extracts of debates in the national congress:

Mr. Yancey, of Kentucky, said he had not expected after the vote of yesterday rejecting the appropriation of an additional hundred thousand dollars for fortification of the seaboard, that there would have been a proposition today to re-instate the item in the bill, and he regretted that it was made. I, said he, am a plain farmer, and represent constituents, a majority of whom are farmers, and of course, make their living in that highly laudable mode, by the sweat of their brow; and when I address them, and am amongst them, I advocate frugality and economy in the public expenditure, in order that labor may be lightly burdened . . .

. . . As I said, before, as we are the only people that can fix and reduce our wages, and as I verily believe them too high, let us not make an ostentatious display of frugality and economy in our public expenses; and when a reduction of what I deem extravagant, is so perfectly tangible in our power, let us show that our professions of retrenchment are not a mere empty sound.


Letters from Joel Yancey to Pres. James J. Polk