State of Franklin

In 1784, the Tennessee territory was added to the United States by North Carolina; it was at this time that Congress passed an ordinance authorizing the formation of new states in the federal territories. Located in the eastern corner of the new territory, Franklin was a self-proclaimed state whose short existence was a precarious one. Named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the state was established by conventions held in Jonesboro (now a Tennessee city) in August and December of 1784. In June of that year North Carolina made the decision to cede its western lands to the national government but before Congress could formally accept the cession, North Carolina's General Assembly changed its mind and repealed the cession act in November. The mountain people who had established Franklin under what they called the Watauga Association, were determined to have their own state. They elected John Sevier governor, adopted a constitution. created four new counties, negotiated the purchase of additional land from the Cherokee Indians by the Treaty of Dumplin Creek (1785), and sent a representative to ask Congress for recognition as a state. Congress, however, turned down the petition, and Gov. Josiah Martin of North Carolina denounced the new state as an unlawful creation. For four years Franklin remained in existence with decreasing effectiveness. Because money was scarce, salaries were paid in furs, whiskey and tobacco. Factionalism developed between those loyal to Franklin and those loyal to North Carolina, and led to governments, and both had courts to administer justice. Fights broke out between the factions, but eventually were solved by Gov. Richard Caswell of North Carolina, Martin's successor, whose persuasiveness and moderation healed the break. When John Sevier's term as governor of Franklin expired in 1788, no one was elected to succeed him, and the state of Franklin quietly dissolved. North Carolina regained control and pardoned the members of the separation movement.

In 1789, North Carolina once again ceded the Tennessee Territory to the United States and on June 1, 1796, Tennessee became the 16th state of the United States with John Sevier as its first governor

 

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