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ern Kentucky, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee, were strongly opposed to the remainder of the South, and geographically, formed a sort of wedge, penetrating to the very heart of the Confederacy. The persistency, in East Tennessee, of the tendencies thus manifest, will appear later.
The most striking thing exhibited in this review of political conditions, is the prominence of the State, from about 1830 to 1850, and in diminishing degree, to 1860, and this is to be accounted for by the fact that Tennessee was the best representative of the most important and effective political and social forces of the time. The people of the West had put aside the conservatism of the founders of the republic, and of the generation that succeeded them. The older States were, naturally, the strongholds of conservatism, of tradition, and of precedent, but every step westward left something of these behind, and brought increased self reliance and independence. There was not one of the strong democratic forces, which were at work in the second quarter of the 19th century, that did not find its best opportunity and outlet in Tennessee. Jackson was the incarnation of the new spirit of the time, and if he laid rough hands on the old institutions, and ignored cherished traditions that had outlived their usefulness, and even was guilty of excesses, when were results such as he accomplished, ever attained by gentler means ? Jackson was the master workman in
establishing the power of the common people, and primarily, he represented the democracy of Tennessee. It was because Tennessee had the men best adapted to the work in which the people were then engaged, that she gave presidents to the republic, and for many years, directed its councils.
The history of internal improvements in Tennessee is important and unique, and, in the end, calamitous.
The first internal improvement Act was passed by the Territorial Legislature in 1794, authorizing a lottery to raise money to build a wagon road from Kingston to Nashville. The next session of the Territorial Legislature appropriated to the same purpose the proceeds of sales of certain salt licks and springs. The same spirit was manifest in a resolution of the Legislative Council in 1794, in which the House of Representatives did not concur, “that fourteen of the principal artists belonging to any furnace for the manufacture of iron in this Territory be exempt from military duty.” When new counties were organized they needed jails, stocks and court-houses, and as the people could ill afford to pay the necessary taxes, the lottery became a frequent expedient for raising funds for public purposes, both ordinary and extraordinary. Not until about the time of the second Convention did the public conscience and judgment seem to become quickened on the subject of the lottery, and, as we have seen, it remained long a favorite method of indirect taxation.
The Constitution of 1834 withdrew from the legislature the power to authorize lotteries, and required it to pass laws forbidding the sale of tickets in the State. Meanwhile, however, the State, using other instrumentalities, had entered upon an active and large policy of public improvements. The early Governors, from conviction, as well as from interest, were zealous advocates of the policy of increased facilities of travel and transportation. In 1811, Governor Willie Blount presented to the Legislature the application of the State of New York for instructions to our representatives in Congress to support the request of that State for Federal aid to its internal improvements, and no doubt he was inspired by the plans which were then submitted to him, to a more earnest advocacy of a similar policy in Tennessee. The journal of the Convention of 1834 attests the energy and the eloquence of his utterances in this behalf. McMinn, and the wise and practical Carroll, were no less favorable to internal improvements. The period was one of excessive expansion and in all the new States and in some of the old ones, there was a mania for internal improvements, and the democratic States were compelled by the party doctrine of strict construction of the Federal Constitution to refrain from asking aid from the general government. For some forty years after the organization of the Federal government, the States, having been relieved, in 1790, by the general government, of their obligations, were free from debt, but the desire for development, first strikingly manifested about the end of the first quarter of the 19th century, produced a new and unfortunate condition. The improvement of waterways, the construction of canals and railroads, and the establishment of imperfect and unsuccessful State banking systems, resulted in the creation of enormous ate debts. It is estimated that in 1840, bonds of the States to the amount of $230,000,000.00 had been issued, and about that time, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Michigan, and Louisiana, found it necessary to suspend payment of their debts, and three of them, two in the South and one in the North, were driven ultimately to downright repudiation. It will be seen later that in 1840 Tennessee became alarmed and repealed her internal aid statutes. This was the result chiefly of local causes, but no doubt the Legislature was impressed also by general conditions.
Before the era of railroads, Tennessee gave her attention to the improvement of her rivers, and to the construction of wagon roads that could be travelled in winter. There was talk also of building canals, and Governor McMinn would have united the river systems of Tennessee and Alabama in that way.
In 1823 the Legislature created a joint standing committee on internal improvements, which, in 1825, advised the construction of the “Great National