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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Crowell, John

by J. Isaac Copeland, 1979

18 Sept. 1780–25 June 1846

An engraving published in 1837 of the racehorse John Bascombe, owned by John Crowell. Based on a painting by Edward Troye. Image from the Internet Archive.John Crowell, Indian agent, territorial delegate, and congressman, was born in Halifax County. His father, Edward, had left New Jersey to settle in North Carolina, where he married a Miss Rabun, an aunt of William Rabun, governor of Georgia from 1817 to 1819. The Crowells were of English descent, and various accounts agree that the name was originally Cromwell. Two brothers, relatives of Oliver Cromwell, fled to the American colonies and, fearing further persecution, changed their name.

In 1815, John Crowell was appointed agent to the Muscogee Indians; he moved to Alabama and lived in St. Stephens for a brief time. In 1818 he was elected by the territorial legislature as delegate to the Fifteenth U.S. Congress. In the following year he was elected to the Sixteenth Congress as Alabama's first representative. Little is known of his record during his one term in the House, except for a comment made by John Dandridge Bibb: "John Crowel [sic] was not talented, but the Territory at that time had no one else to spare that would have done any better."

Following his retirement from Congress in 1821, Crowell was appointed agent to the Creek Indians of western Georgia and eastern Alabama; he held this office until 1836. He is reputed to have been a lover of horse-racing and to have enjoyed entering his own fine horses in the contests. Crowell never married. He died at his home in Fort Mitchell in Russell County and was buried there in a private cemetery.


Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1961).

"Governor Bibb and the Times," Alabama Historical Quarterly 19 (1957).

"National Characters Associated with Treaties," ibid. 12 (1950).

Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, vol. 3 (1921).

John H. Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina (1851).

Who Was Who in America, 1607–1896 .

"William Rabun," in Walter G. Cooper, The Story of Georgia, vol. 4 (1938).

Additional Resources:

"Crowell, John, (1780 - 1846)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed January 8, 2014).

Crowell-Sparks Controversy, 1892? (collection no. 00816-z). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed January 8, 2014).

John Crowell Creek agency records 1822-1830, SPR544. Alabama Dept. of Archives and History. (accessed January 8, 2014).

An Occasional Contributor. "Bascomb and Post Boy." American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 7, no. 12 (August 1836). 544-547. (accessed January 8, 2014).

Anderson, James Douglas. "Post Boy Vs. John Bascombe." Making the American thoroughbred: especially in Tennessee, 1800-1845. Norwood, Mass.: Plimpton Press. 1916. 164-174. (accessed January 8, 2014).

Image Credits:

Humphreys, Francis, engraver, and Edward Troye, painter. "John Bascombe." Engraving. American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 8, no. 9 (May 1837). Frontispiece. (accessed January 8, 2014).

Origin - location: