Franklin, State of

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FRANKLIN, STATE OF. In 1784 North Carolina ceded its western lands to the United States to avoid the expenses of protecting the western settlements and to protect the investments of land speculators who had acquired large holdings under the state's land acts of 1782–1783. Residents of the eastern part of the ceded region, known as Wataugans, favored the formation of a new state. Encouraged by separatists in southwest Virginia and by Congress's adoption of ordinances authorizing the establishment of new commonwealths in the West, the Wataugans assembled in what is now Jonesboro, Tennessee, in 1784 and organized the state of Franklin. They considered the action necessary to maintain orderly government, defend themselves from Indian attacks, and protect land titles. North Carolina immediately repented the action, repealed the cession act, and attempted to woo back the westerners. Fearing the effects of separation on their land dealings in the Tennessee country and along the Tennessee River in present-day Alabama, John Sevier and other western leaders advised reconciliation. Unable to check the Franklin movement, they decided to seize power instead and adopted a constitution that validated North Carolina land titles. With Sevier as governor, the state of Franklin maintained a precarious existence for four years, characterized by Indian troubles, intrigues with the Spanish, and ineffectual efforts to obtain recognition from Congress and North Carolina. The chief cause of failure was the opposition of a rival faction led by John Tipton, which contributed materially to North Carolina's success in reestablishing jurisdiction by 1789.


Abernethy, Thomas Perkins. From Frontier to Plantation in Tennessee: A Study in Frontier Democracy. University: University of Alabama Press, 1967.

Driver, Carl Samuel. John Sevier, Pioneer of the Old Southwest. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1932.

Gerson, Noel Bertram. Franklin: America's "Lost State." New York: Crowell-Collier, 1968.

Williams, Samuel Cole. History of the Lost State of Franklin. New York: The Press of the Pioneers, 1933.

S. J.Folmsbee/h. s.

See alsoOrdinances of 1784, 1785, and 1787 ; Tennessee .

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Franklin (Former state)

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