What is now Tennessee was, at the time of the Revolution, partially settled with white inhabitants; and as they increased, and public necessities increased with the population, they began sensibly to feel the inconvenience of their remoteness from the seat of Government.
The Government of the United States, being under heavy burdens, early directed its attention to the Western lands as a source of revenue; and the State of North Carolina, ever foremost in making sacrifices for the public good, passed an act, in 1784, authorizing the execution of deeds for the cession of her Western domain to the General Government.
Some of the inhabitants of this region were disposed to urge on Congress the acceptance of this grant; but the act of Assembly of North Carolina was soon afterwards repealed, much to the dissatisfaction of some turbulent spirits.
The legislature, however, promptly adopted measures for the redress of grievances complained of it in the far western counties; and John SEVIER, the leader of the factionists, acknowledge in a public speed the liberality of the State, and Recommended submission to its laws.
But the spirit of opposition grew; and soon after, a convention sitting at Jonesboro, and presided over by Colonel Sevier, ushered into the world the "State of Frankland," declaring it a sovereign and independent State, &c., &c. A constitution, framed by this convention, was ratified at a subsequent one held in November, 1785, and John Sevier was chosen governor; and the general assembly of "the State of Frankland" informed Richard CASWELL, governor of North Carolina, that the people of the counties of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene had declared themselves a self-governing people, independent of the State of North Carolina.
In 1788, Governor Caswell issued a proclamation, marked with great vigor and determination, yet full of moderation, and couched in a style worthy of the occasion and the officer from whom it was issued; and, as the western factionists seemed to defy it, affairs rapidly approached to what seemed to be a gloomy and perilous crisis.
There were courage and pride on both sides; but the people of both sides were North Carolinians, and the respective leaders men who were animated with true Carolinian hearts.
No men could be braver or more determined in their purposes than those compatriots who now stood in an attitude of hostility towards each other; but like all really brave men, they were adverse to the shedding of blood, and looking with horror at the prospect of a civil war.
In November, 1785, the legislature of North Carolina met at Newbern; and the members, recollecting the gallantry and patriotism and sacrifices of the western factionists in times past, and anxious to deal with them as brethens, made a liberal and noble effort to reclaim them from their treasonable course. An act of oblivion for past offences, conditioned on the submission of the misguided inhabitants of Frankland, was passed; but even this failed to quell the disturbances, and both parties prepared to assert and maintain what they conceived to be their respective Frankland. In 1786, the courts of "Frankland" and of North Carolina were held in the same counties; two sets of officers asserted their authority, and scenes of violence were not uncommon. The dignity, forbearance, and determination of the mother State began, however, after a severe struggle, to have their proper effect: the loyal party gained strength daily, and in the year 1787, the western counties were represented in the legislature of North Carolina, sitting at Tarboro.
In the year 1788, Sevier, after a desperate struggle, was arrested and carried to Morganton; but he was finally permitted to escape, and was afterwards a member of the legislature of North Carolina. He had been one of the heroes of King's Mountain; and his compatriots exercised a vise forbearance towards his infirmities, and with true courage and generosity saved him from being the destroyer of name made honorable by many noble deeds.
In the year 1789, the legislature again passed an act authorizing the cession to the United States, for the general good, of this western domain of the State; and on the 25th of February, 1790, Samuel JOHNSON and Benjamin HAWKINS, senators in Congress, executed the deed according to the act. This princely gift embraced what is now the State of Tennessee.