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a natural division for purposes of representation. It was accordingly agreed that “each captain's company" in the counties of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene should choose two delegates, who should all assemble as committees in their respective counties to deliberate upon some general plan of action. The committees met and recommended the election of deputies with full powers to a convention held at Jonesboro.
This convention, of forty deputies or thereabout, met at Jonesboro, on August 23, 1784, and appointed John Sevier President. The delegates were unanimous that the three counties represented should declare themselves independent of North Carolina, and passed a resolution to this effect. They also resolved that the three counties should form themselves into an Association, and should enforce all the laws of North Carolina not incompatible with beginning the career of a separate State, and that Congress should be petitioned to countenance them, and advise them in the matter of their constitution. In addition, they made provision for admitting to their State the neighboring portions of Virginia, should they apply, and should the application be sanctioned by the State of Virginia, “or other power having cognizance thereof." This last reference was, of course, to Congress, and was significant. Evidently the mountaineers ignored the doctrine of State Sovereignty. The power which they regarded as paramount was that of the Nation. The adhesion they gave to any government was somewhat shadowy;
but such as it was, it was yielded to the United States, and not to any one State. They wished to submit their claim for independence to the judgment of Congress, not to the judgment of North Carolina; and they were ready to admit into their new State the western part of Virginia, on the assent, not of both Congress and Virginia, but of either Congress or Virginia.
So far the convention had been unanimous; but a split came on the question whether their declaration of independence should take effect at once. The majority held that it should, and so voted; while a strong minority, amounting to one-third of the members, followed the lead of John Tipton, and voted in the negative. During the session a crowd of people, partly from the straggling little frontier village itself, but partly from the neighboring country, had assembled, and were waiting in the street to learn what the convention had decided. A member, stepping to the door of the building, announced the birth of the new State. The crowd, of course, believed in strong measures, and expressed its hearty approval. Soon afterward the convention adjourned, after providing for the calling of a new convention, to consist of five delegates from each county, who should give a name to the State, and prepare for it a constitution. The members of this constitutional convention were to be chosen by counties, and not by captain's companies.
There was much quarreling over the choice of members for the constitutional convention, the par
ties dividing on the lines indicated in the vote on the question of immediate independence. When the convention did meet, in November, it broke up in confusion. At the same time North Carolina, becoming alarmed, repealed her cession act; and thereupon Sevier himself counseled his fellow-citizens to abandon the movement for a new State. However, they felt they had gone too far to back out. The convention came together again in December, and took measures looking toward the assumption of ful Statehood. In the constitution they drew up they provided, among other things, for a Senate and a House of Commons, to form the legislative body, which should itself choose the Governor.2 By an extraordinary resolution they further provided that the government should go into effect, and elections be held, at once; and yet that in the fall of 1785 a new convention should convene at which the very constitution under which the government had been carried on would be submitted for revision, rejection, or adoption.
Elections for the Legislature were accordingly held, and in March, 1785, the two houses of the new State of Franklin met, and chose Sevier as Governor. Courts were organized, and military and civil officials of every grade were provided, those
Haywood, 142; although Ramsey writes more in full about the Franklin government, it ought not to be forgotten that the ground-work of his history is from Haywood. Haywood is the original, and by far the most valuable, authority on Tennessee matters, and he writes in a quaint style that is very attractive.
holding commissions under North Carolina being continued in office in almost all cases. The friction caused by the change of government was thus minimized. Four new counties were created, taxes were levied, and a number of laws enacted. One of the acts was "for the promotion of learning in the county of Washington.” Under it the first academy west of the mountains was started; for some years it was the only high school anywhere in the neighborhood where Latin, or indeed any branch of learning beyond the simplest rudiments, was taught. It is no small credit to the backwoodsmen that in this their first attempt at State-making they should have done what they could to furnish their sons the opportunity of obtaining a higher education.
One of the serious problems with which they had to grapple was the money question. All through the United States the finances were in utter disorder, the medium of exchange being a jumble of almost worthless paper currency, and of foreign coin of every kind, while the standard value varied from State to State. But in the backwoods conditions were even worse, for there was hardly any money at all. Transactions were accomplished chiefly by the primeval method of barter. Accordingly, this backwoods Legislature legalized the payment of taxes and salaries in kind, and set a standard of values. The dollar was declared equal to six shillings, and a scale of prices was established. Among the articles which were enumerated as being lawfully payable for taxes were bacon at six pence a pound, rye
whiskey at two shillings and six pence a gallon, peach or apple brandy at three shillings per gallon, and country-made sugar at one shilling per pound. Skins, however, formed the ordinary currency; otter, beaver, and deer being worth six shillings apiece, and raccoon and fox one shilling and three pence. The Governor's salary was set at two hundred pounds, and that of the highest judge at one hundred and fifty.
The new Governor sent a formal communication to Governor Alexander Martin of North Carolina, announcing that the three counties beyond the mountains had declared their independence, and erected themselves into a separate State, and setting forth their reasons for the step. Governor Martin answered Sevier in a public letter, in which he went over his arguments one by one, and sought to refute them. He announced the willingness of the parent State to accede to the separation when the proper time came; but he pointed out that North Carolina could not consent to such irregular and unauthorized separation, and that Congress would certainly not countenance it against her wishes. In answering an argument drawn from the condition of affairs in Vermont, Martin showed that the Green Mountain State should not be treated as an example in point, because she had asserted her independence, as a separate commonwealth, before the Revolution, and yet had joined in the war against the British.
One of the subjects on which he dwelt was the relations with the Indians. The mountain men ac