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The Story of the Lost State of Franklin



Men fought and died to establish the State of Franklin shortly after the American Revolution.


Some historians think the leaders of the failed Franklin movement, specifically John Sevier. Conspired with Spain and Britain to gain control of the Mississippi River. Franklinites considered the Mississippi their western border. Benjamin Franklin had no part in the state that bore his name. He loathed what the Franklinites were trying to do. However, he may have influenced them by saying “Whoever controlled the Mississippi River would eventually control the continent.”


The government of Franklin had written a constitution and created a monetary system before the U.S. federal government. George Washington was concerned enough about their activities to send a special agent to the State of Franklin. Lieutenant John Armstrong arrived in the spring of 1788 and interviewed the leaders of Sullivan, Washington, and Greene Counties that represented most of Franklin.


Two votes in the Continental Congress prevented Franklin from becoming the fourteenth state in the Union. The State of Franklin existed from 1784-1789 in a parallel government with North Carolina. Those that favored breaking from North Carolina were called Franklinites, those that didn’t were Anti’s. The issue divided westerners who had fought side-by-side during the revolution for independence.


The divisiveness was created when the North Carolina Assembly voted in 1780 to cede its lands over the mountains. In what is now eastern Tennessee to the federal government to settle the state’s war debt. The western settlers were left to fight hostile Indians on their own. They quickly formed the State of Franklin for protection, after being abandoned by North Carolina and the federal government. Only in desperation did they approach Spain for help. Many scholars have suggested Franklinites were treasonous by doing so. The Republic of Texas used a similar ploy many years later to become the twenty-eighth state in the Union. Amazing how history repeats itself.


During a heavy snowfall, in 1788 an open rebellion broke out between the Franklinites, led by John Sevier and the Anti’s by John Tipton. Two were killed and several men were injured. The fighting was for naught as the North Carolina Assembly elected John Sevier as a delegate to reconsider ratification of the Federal Constitution. Western North Carolina became the Southwest Territory and in 1796, Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the sixteenth state.


The Franklin Constitution signed at Jonesborough, Tennessee on 17 December 1784; Section 31, stated “No clergymen or preacher of the gospel could hold public office.” The next Section 32, went into detail that “No person that did not believe in God could hold public office.” I found those sections conflicting but interesting.


Book 2 of the Westward Sagas, Adam’s Daughters and Book 3, Children of the Revolution are novels about those early days in American History.


 



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