Cumberland Settlements

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CUMBERLAND SETTLEMENTS. The immense domain acquired from the Cherokee by the Transylvania Company in March 1775 by the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals covered lands on the Cumberland River and below. Until the state line between Virginia and North Carolina was extended in 1779–1780, the status of the country around French Lick was uncertain. Richard Henderson, leader of the Transylvania Company, engaged James Robertson to lead a party to French Lick, later the site of Nashborough (Nashville), to found a settlement. For himself, Henderson accepted appointment as one of North Carolina's commissioners to survey and mark the Virginia–North Carolina line westward. Robertson and a small party set out from Holston and Watauga on 6 February 1779 for French Lick, where they built cabins and planted corn to make bread for the main body of immigrants who were to arrive in the fall. The new residents settled in villages nestled around several crude forts. In April 1780, Henderson, who had finished his survey of the state line and concluded that the region was in North Carolina, organized a government in French Lick under articles drafted by him, known as the Cumberland Compact. This instrument embodied agreements between the Transylvania Company and the settlers respecting lands to be acquired from the company. The legislature of North Carolina, in 1783, declared the Transylvania purchase void but provided for Henderson and his associates a consolation grant of 200,000 acres of land on Clinch and Powell Rivers.


Cayton, Andrew R. L. The Frontier Republic: Ideology and Politics in the Ohio Country, 1780–1825 Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1986.

Nobles, Gregory H. "Breaking into the Backcountry: New Approaches to the Early American Frontier, 1750–1800." William and Mary Quarterly 46 (October 1989): 641–670.

Samuel C.Williams/a. r.

See alsoIndian Treaties, Colonial ; Land Companies ; Land Grants: Overview .

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Cumberland Settlements

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