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Chapter 11

This webpage reproduces a chapter of History of the
Lost State of Franklin

Samuel Cole Williams

published by the
Press of the Pioneers,
New York, 1933

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 13
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p90  Chapter XII

Second Session of the Assembly — 1785

The general Assembly of Franklin convened for its second session of the year 1785, on August 1st at Jonesborough. The barest mention is made of this session by Haywood in connection with the call for a constitutional convention at Greeneville in the month of November following. However, some data is given by the North Carolina State records and the newspapers of that time from which the Assembly's proceedings may be partially outlined.​1 It was, perhaps, the first occasion afforded Governor Sevier for a message, which must have treated of the Indian treaty of Dumplin Creek and the new State's relations with North Carolina.

James White was speaker of the Senate, and R. Mitchell its clerk; Stockley Donelson was speaker of the house of commons, and Francis A. Ramsey its clerk.2

At this session, an act was passed for the encouragement of an expedition down the Tennessee river to take possession of the Bend, under titles derived from the State of Georgia.3

It was deemed advisable to give the authorities of North Carolina assurance that public moneys found in the hands of fiscal agents of that State would not be withheld for the use of the new government. Accordingly it was

"Resolved, That where any sheriff or commissioner of confiscated property, who has failed to settle with the State of North Carolina, or who has acted under their authority and received their appointments from that State, and failed to account for collections they have made, or ought to have made, that the bonds of all such delinquents shall be given up to the order of the State of North Carolina to be recovered according to law.

"Be it further, Resolved, That a commissioner be appointed to  p91 wait upon the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, in order to convince them that it is our desire to establish a lasting and permanent union as well as with North Carolina as the rest of the States on the continent; and to remove any doubts that may arise in that State respecting the goodness of our wishes towards them on the subject of our separation, and to assure them we are determined to pay most strict observance to the true intent and meaning of the act of cession passed Second day of June, 1784."​4

Thomas Stewart was chosen as commissioner and he attended the winter session of the North Carolina Assembly. He delivered a copy of the resolutions to Governor Caswell, who on December 21st sent them to the senate and house with a message saying that Stewart was waiting on the Assembly for the purpose of giving it full information on the subject-matter of the resolutions.​5 The visit of the commissioner was unavailing. The only step taken by the legislature was the passage of an act to pardon the inhabitants of refractory counties, for all things done in setting up an independent government. In the same act it was recited that in some of those counties the freemen might be defeated in a desire to be represented in the Assembly of North Carolina should elections be held according to law, and it was provided that it will be lawful for freemen convened on election day to choose by ballot members to represent them in Assembly, under the inspection of three good and honest men.6

This was intended to be an entering wedge, driven for the disruption of the people west of the mountains; and it could not fail to arouse deep resentment on the part of those who were faithful to the common pact for independence.

A new Franklin county, by the name of Blount, in honor of a consistent friend of the western inhabitants, William Blount, is mentioned as being in existence south of the French Broad river in this year.​7 It is unlikely, however, that a government for the new county was perfected at that time.

The Franklin Assembly reaffirmed the call for a convention to be  p92 held at Greeneville the second Monday in November, "for the express purpose of adopting the then existing frame of government or altering it as the people may see proper — to conform to the act of Congress of April 23, 1784." The following number of delegates from the several counties of the State, it was declared, should form the convention, the election to be held on the second Monday in October: Washington, fifteen; Sullivan, twelve; Greene, twelve; Caswell, eight; Sevier, six; Spencer, five; Wayne, four; Blount, two.8

This representation was thought to have been in accord with the existing population of the counties. There was a great flow of settlers to Franklin and westward in 1785. A letter from Nashville (November 5, 1785) stated that "not less than one thousand families have crossed the Appalachian mountains to settle here and in Kentucky this fall."9

The members of the Assembly on adjournment disbanded sanguine that North Carolina would acquiesce in the separation. "We have now the most friendly assurances from North Carolina since Governor Martin's administration has expired . . . Why does [Virginia] seem so much out of humor at these events? Did it not originate with them, the plan of having new States 150 miles square? Was it not a celebrated genius of yours, when a delegate in Congress, who drew up the scheme last year for ten new States; and a system adopted, as matters arrived at maturity, to lay off the remaining part of the Western Country with similar jurisdictions?"10

Joseph Martin, however, reported (September 19) to the governor of Virginia that "the people of the new State are much divided. Several of their members refused at their last Assembly to take seats";​11 though in a letter of the same date, to Governor Caswell, he made no such claim, doubtless being dubious respecting Caswell's attitude toward Sevier and his followers.12

In his letter to Governor Patrick Henry, Martin gave information  p93 that the Great Warrior of the Cherokees, Oconostota, had passed away in the summer of 1785; and that great confusion in the nation resulted from the rapid encroachment of the whites on the Indians' lands.13

The Author's Notes:

1 A few acts, now irretrievably lost, were passed. South Carolina State Gazette, of October 21, 1785.

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2 North Carolina State Records, XXII, 714, 727.

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3 Ramsey, 318.

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4 N. C. State Records, XXII. Governor Sevier gave notice in advance of the sending of a commissioner to wait on the North Carolina Assembly, in a letter to Governor Caswell of date October 17. Ramsey, 317.

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5 Ib.

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6 N. C. State Records, XXIII, ch. 46 (Dec. 29, 1785).

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7 Pennsylvania Packet, January 5, 1786.

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8 Pennsylvania Packet, Feb. 17, 1786.

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9 "Extract from a letter of a gentleman in Franklin to his friend in Virginia, dated August 17, 1785." Pennsylvania Packet, September 30, 1785.

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10 Cal. Va. State Papers, IV, 53.

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11 Ramsey, 318.

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12 North Carolina St. Rec., XVIII, 591.

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13 From Chota, Sept. 19th. Bushnell, Native Villages East of the Mississippi, 61.

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Page updated: 23 Jul 13