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The State of Franklin


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The State of Franklin was an autonomous territory created in western North Carolina in the United States not long after the end of the American Revolution.

In April 1784, North Carolina agreed to cede its westernmost lands to the Union to pay off part of its Revolutionary War debts. The settlements to be ceded were under the leadership of John Sevier. Shortly after news of this decision reached the western settlements, sentiment there began turning towards establishing an independent state. In August 1784, delegates of the upper eastern portion of what is now Tennessee convened in the town of Jonesborough and declared the counties of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene to be independent of North Carolina. In December, a constitutional convention was held and the State of Franklin was officially established. In November 1785, a permanent constitution was adopted and Greeneville was designated as the capital.

At first, the young “state” seemed to be in a good situation — the citizens of the State of Franklin had peace and were granted a two-year reprieve on paying taxes by the state’s first and only governor, John Sevier. The year 1786 was the zenith of affairs in the small state. However, the State of Franklin soon put itself in a precarious position by not wanting to join the newly formed United States; this meant that the State of Franklin did not have the services of the former British colonies’ armed services in case of attack. In late March 1788, the Cherokee, Chickamauga and Chickasaw nations collectively began to attack white American settlements with abandon. These Indian attacks led the short-lived state to settle its differences with North Carolina, whose militias then aided in driving out the Native Americans.

By 1790, the government of the State of Franklin had collapsed and the area was incorporated into the newly formed Southwest Territory (which later became the State of Tennessee).

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