Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The State of Franklin

“I plowed on the barley stubble this forenoon. Mr & Mrs George Blount of Buffalo came and shent the afternoon with me and I took them to the evening train 6:00 pm.”

State of Franklin superimposed over the map of Tennessee

The State of Franklin, known also as the Free Republic of Franklin or the State of Frankland (the latter being the name submitted to the Continental Congress when it considered the territory's application for statehood), was an unrecognized autonomous United States territory created in 1784 from part of the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains that had been offered, by North Carolina, as a cession to the federal government (to help pay off debts related to the American Revolutionary War). Its first capital was Jonesboro. Later, the area legally became, once again, part of North Carolina. Franklin encompassed what ultimately comprised a large share of the Tennessee Eastern Division of the Southwest Territory. Franklin was never admitted into the United States — falling two votes short for admission. The extra-legal state existed for only about four and a half years, ostensibly as a republic, before largely being abandoned.

Replica of the Capitol of the State of Franklin in Greeneville, Tennessee

After the summer of 1785, the government of Franklin (which was by then based in Greeneville), ruled as a "parallel government" running alongside (but not harmoniously with) a re-established North Carolina bureaucracy. The creation of Franklin is novel, in that it resulted from both a cession (an offering from North Carolina to Congress) and a secession (seceding from North Carolina, when its offer was not acted upon, and the original cession was rescinded).

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