The State Of Franklin

The State of Franklin

The state of Tennessee was almost an entirely different entity with an completely different name than what currently exists present day. The residents of the upper east side of the state of Tennessee had originally formed a government named Franklin, after one of the most influential and favored of the founding fathers Benjamin Franklin. In 1784, the state held elections and even appointed a governor and legislature, wrote a legislatures, and conducted daily governmental operations such as collecting taxes and raising an army.

The main reason for an entire sect of people wishing to form their own independent territory is because of westward expansion, or the lack of permission for such an action. One of the driving elements against against Great Britain and King George III during the Revolutionary War and was the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade further westward expansion into Native American lands. The same principles are rooted in the founding of the state of Franklin. Settlers who had settled into the upper east side of Tennessee were at a constant threat of war with Indians who wanted their land back. They turned to the North Carolinian government for protection, but for much of the same reason of not wanting to be financially responsible for the protection of these westward pioneers, the North Carolina government declined to support and defend the settlers.

The people of this rural area in North Carolina needed protection and the state of North Carolina did not want to support the area themselves, so they turned to Congress in Washington for help. In 1784, the North Carolinian government voted to cede that area of land to Congress in hopes of no longer being obligated to the citizens residing in that part of the land and paying off overdue expenses still owed from the Revolutionary War. Feeling abandoned by pretty much every level of government, the citizens of the ceded territory - consisting of the counties of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene - set up their own form of community and government.

A few months later, North Carolina realized that the land they gave to Congress could not be used to pay off their existing debts from the war and decided to rescind their offer of the land to Congress. Already content with their setup and feeling lots of resentment from being pawned off to the national government, “one group of North Carolina frontiersmen could no longer stand the unresponsiveness of state leaders to their growing demands … [and the] citizens declared their region independent from North Carolina, forming the state of Franklin,” “a separate and an independent and separate government from that of North Carolina.” ,

The government of Franklin survived for four years in direct defiance of the United States of America. They had their own constitution, bartered their own treaties with Indians, and established their own legislated system of barter in lieu of paper money or currency. After two years of Franklin’s government operating without intervention by the government of North Carolina or the United States of America, North Carolina decided to try to reclaim the territory and setup its own form of a parallel government in the region. This new government worked in competition against and certainly not harmoniously with the state of Franklin. After four years of existence, in 1788 Franklin Governor John Sevier was forced by a weak economy and attacking Chickasaw Indians to rejoin North Carolina to gain its militia’s protection from imminent attack and destruction.

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Toomey, Michael. "State of Franklin." North Carolina History Project. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <>.

"State of Franklin Declares Independence." History. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <>.

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