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About Jefferson County

State of Franklin

It is little known, but Franklin come within six votes of being the 14th state in the Union.  Daniel Webster opposed it because the area was so small.  He thought, Rhode Island and Delaware were enough small states.

After the close of the Revolutionary war, all of the states were broke.  North Carolina, which claimed all of Kentucky and Tennessee, was especially so.  It could barely pay its officials; it could not support an army to protect the over-hill settlements from Indian raids.  They were left without any kind of protection.

So John Sevier, and most of the leaders in this section, met at Greeneville in January, 1785, and organized a government for their own protection, adopted a Constitution and set of laws, and elected Sevier Governor for three years -- the only three-year governor in our history.

The original boundaries of Franklin were Bristol to about Limestone; the treaty of Franklin enlarged it westward to about Loudon -- about double the original area.

Sevier and all his cabinet were King's Mountain men, and most of them lived along the Nollachucky river. This was opposed bitterly by the Tipton faction.  North Carolina refused to recognize the new government -- but could do little about it.  Finally, in desperation, North Carolina ceded all this territory to the Federal government, and William Blount was sent out by Washington as Territorial Governor.  It was then known as the Territory South of the Ohio River and included all of what is now Tennessee.  On his appointment, the State of Franklin dissolved, and then in 1796 the State of Tennessee was organized.

Schedule of Salaries of Franklin Officials:

  • Governor -- 1,000 deer skins yearly
  • Chief Justice -- 500 deer skins
  • Secretary to Governor -- 500 raccoon skins
  • State Treasurer -- 450 otter skins
  • Clerk to Legislature -- 200 beaver skins
  • Members of Assembly -- 3 beaver skins each

Historians have never agreed upon the correct name for this state -- Frankland or Franklin. Frankland means "free land."  Frankland was the original proposal; but Ramsay, the historian, says Franklin was finally adopted by a small majority.  Extant copies of much correspondence of the time, show both names used about equally.  And the only copy of the Constitution and early laws known are of "Frankland."  You may take your choice.

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