As businessman, Revolutionary War veteran, signer of the Constitution, territorial governor, and United States Senator, William Blount spent his lifetime looking for opportunities. No place in the late-eighteenth century United States offered better opportunities for a person with Blount’s disposition and connections than did the trans-Appalachian frontier. Ultimately Blount’s grasp exceeded his resources, leading Blount to devise a desperate plan that failed—and led to his expulsion from the United States Senate.
Author: Michael Toomey
Dr. Toomey is staff historian at the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville and managing editor of The Journal of East Tennessee History. His most recent publication is an essay on John Mitchel, an Irish revolutionary who settled briefly in East Tennessee. Titled “Saving the South with All My Might: John Mitchel and Southern Nationalism,” it appeared in Thomas F. Meagher: The Making of an Irish American (Dublin, 2005). He is also a contributor to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
John Sevier arrived in western North Carolina during the troubled years just prior to the American Revolution. His leadership was crucial during the Cherokee offensive of 1776 and four years later at the Battle of King’s Mountain. Sevier went on to play central roles in three separate governments west of the Appalachians. His relations with the Cherokee were marked by military success but also marred by controversy. Even so, his leadership on the frontier was unquestioned and was an essential factor in the transition from North Carolina wilderness to Tennessee statehood.
In the years before the American Revolution, settlers moved down the Valley of Virginia to arrive in the North Carolina backcountry, where neither Virginia nor North Carolina extended their authority. Undaunted, the settlements along the Watauga River negotiated a lease agreement with the Cherokee Nation, formed the first autonomous white government in the British colonies, and ultimately played a major role in the American Revolution.
The State of Franklin existed from 1784 to 1789 in what is now upper East Tennessee. It was situated on lands that North Carolina ceded to the federal government, yet the State of Franklin was not recognized by North Carolina or by the federal government. This lack of recognition was due not only to factionalism among the Franklinites but also to factors surrounding North Carolina’s cession of its western lands.