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STUDIES

IN THE

CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY

OF TENNESSEE

CHAPTER I.

THE WATAUGA ASSOCIATION.

1772-1777.

The Valley of East Tennessee lies between the Cumberland Plateau, on the west, and the central ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, on the east, and extends across the State of Tennessee from Alabama to Virginia. The principal river of the upper valley was known, formerly, as the Holston. The Tennessee River, originally, was formed by the Holston and the Little Tennessee, the junction being about thirty miles southwest of the City of Knoxville, but capricious modern legislation has shorn the Holston, more than once, of its proper proportions, and has extended the Tennessee northward almost to the Virginia line. The Holston is formed by the confluence of several branches, all rising among the hills of southwestern Virginia. The southern and largest branch enters Tennessee about twenty miles west of the North Carolina line, flowing first southwestwardly, and then northwestwardly to a junction with the northern branch, near the Virginia line, after which, the general course of the main stream is southwestward. The Watauga, "the river of islands," deriving its waters partly from North Carolina, forcing its way westward through the highest mountains east of the Mississippi, and flowing across the northeastern corner of Tennessee, almost parallel to the Virginia line, is the most important affluent of the south branch of the Holston. The Nollichucky, like the Watauga, heads in North Carolina, and, after making its way into Tennessee, flows for a space, almost parallel to the Watauga, fifteen or twenty miles south of it, and then, turning abruptly southward, joins the French Broad. The events to be related in this chapter occurred along the Holston, the Watauga, and the Nollichucky. The course of the south branch of the Holston, after crossing the Tennessee border, is approximately, though never exactly, parallel to the line between that State and Virginia. We shall see that at one time it was regarded as a part of the boundary between Virginia and that portion

North Carolina which, later, became Tennessee, and this was true also of the main stream for some distance. The first settlements in Tennessee were north of the Holston, but we are more directly concerned, at present, with the second and later group, which was established on the Watauga and Nollichucky Rivers, south of the Holston. All these settlements were parts of the Scotch-Irish movement. We must recall that the Covenanter immigration began to assume large proportions in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. The Covenanters landed in this country principally at Charleston and at Philadelphia. The coast lands were already occupied, and as the English possessions extended but little farther south than Charleston, they went from that place to the piedmont lands of the two Carolinas, and having reached the mountains, which then formed the Carolina frontier, their course was turned northward. From Philadelphia their advance was to western Pennsylvania, and thence down either side of the Blue Ridge. The large and indefinite territory known as Augusta County, Virginia, received great numbers of them, and at the beginning of the year 1768, the Wolf Hills or Abingdon group of settlements, within twenty miles of the Carolina border, formed the advance guard of the Covenanter migration west of the Blue Ridge. East of the mountains the two streams, starting respectively from Pennsylvania and Carolina, met at about this time. The valley Covenanters were eager to press on down the Holston and the conditions east of the mountains required that the line of advance be deflected westward across the Alleghanies. Upper East Tennessee, toward which both lines of migration now led, was not an inhabited country. The Cherokees claimed it, and probably their claim was better founded than any other. The Six Nations also claimed, and, as we shall see, assumed to convey, a portion of it to Great Britain, but neither the Cherokees, nor any tribe of the Northern Confederation, actually occupied it. The Six Nations dwelt hundreds of miles to the north, and the towns of the Cherokees, west of the mountains, were in the southeastern corner of Tennessee and the adjacent territory on the south. It was because upper East Tennessee was thus uninhabited that Roosevelt describes it, correctly, as the point of least resistance on the western frontier in the

year 1768.

Until that year the well known royal proclamation of 1763 was a legal bar, though not an effective one, to the advance of the whites from Virginia and North Carolina.

It is probable that the bar would ere long have hecome wholly ineffective, if it had not been removed, but in the year 1768 occurred two treaties with the Indians, which were regarded as opening northern East Tennessee to settlement. The first of these was the treaty between Stuart, the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the south, and the Cherokees, at Hard Labour, South Carolina, in October, 1768, by which the western boundary of Virginia was declared to be a line extending northeastward from the unlocated point where the northern line of North Carolina intersected the Cherokee hunting grounds, about thirty-six miles east of Long Island in the Holston River, to Chiswells Mine on the Kanawha River, and thence, down that stream to its junction with the Ohio. By this treaty the agent of the British Government, distinctly recognized the title of the Cherokees to upper East Tennessee. The second treaty was that of Fort Stanwix, New York, held in November of the same year, and conducted for the British by Sir William Johnson, one result of which was the unwarranted conveyance to the Crown, by the Six Nations, of all the lands lying between the Cherokee or Hogohegee (Holston) and Ohio Rivers, thus making the Tennessee and the Holston boundaries of Virginia.1

In 1770, the Cherokees complaining of continued encroachments by the whites, a new treaty was entered into at Lochaber, South Carolina, by which the outer boundary of Virginia was moved west of the line established at Hard Labour, beginning on the south bank of the Holston, six miles east of Long Island, and running thence a direct line, northward, to

1 Virginia had granted lands within the limits of Tennessee as early as 1753. (See Iredell's Statutes of North Carolina, page 317.) The effect given to the treaties of 1768 appears in several ways. In January, 1769, the Governor of Virginia received a petition for a grant of 20,000. acres of land at the mouth of Cumberland River (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, volume I, page 260.) In December of the same year there were applications for 60,000 acres at Cumberland Falls, and 40,000 acres on Powell's River (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, volume I, page

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