Page images
PDF
EPUB

plication was denied, and the mission was in all respects unsuccessful.

In November, 1785, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act authorizing elections of representatives in the Franklin counties under the “inspection of any three good and honest men.” 16

This plan was adopted because the separatist faction was still in control, although it was visibly weakening.

The result was unbounded discord and confusion. The head of the North Carolina party at this time was John Tipton, an honest and excellent man, of great courage and of a positiveness which at times became obstinacy. He was the personal enemy of Sevier, and his opposition was fearless, persistent and, in this instance, effective.

There were now two organizations, each claiming sovereign rights, levying taxes, calling out the militia, and holding courts.

In November, 1786, North Carolina passed another Act to "pardon and consign to oblivion the offense and misconduct" of the people of Franklin.17

By the same Act all taxes accrued from the end of 1784, to the date of the Act were relinquished.

At the same session Sullivan County was divided, and the County of Hawkins created, covering the ter

16 Acts of North Carolina, 1785, November Session, chapter XLVI.

17 Acts of North Carolina, 1786, November Session, chapter XXIII.

ritory of the new Franklin County of Spencer, and, as an additional measure of placation, a commission was appointed to select a “centrical” point for holding the courts of Sullivan County.18

About this time, and as a consequence, probably, of these measures and of the very firm and dignified course of the executive of North Carolina, General William Cocke and Judge Campbell were appointed commissioners of Franklin to treat with North Carolina. Campbell was disabled by an accident, but Cocke appeared before the General Assembly of North Carolina and delivered an address of great length and eloquence, but without effect. In March, 1787, at the suggestion of Governor Caswell of North Carolina, a conference was held between Governor Sevier and Col. Evan Shelby, representing North Carolina, at which an agreement was reached that, until the next meeting of the General Assembly of North Carolina, the rival States should mutually forbear the assertion of their claims, and, to a certain extent should cooperate for the protection of public interests. 19

This was wise and commendable, but the agreement was not popular with either party, was not well carried out, and produced only temporary benefit. At the next session of the Assembly of North Carolina another Act of oblivion was passed, extending the pro

18 Acts of North Carolina, 1786, November Session, chapters XXXIV and LIV.

19Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, page 357.

20

visions of the Act of 1785 to all persons "desirous" of being pardoned.?

By this time the end was in sight. Sevier's term would expire March 1, 1788, he was not eligible to another term, there was no semblance of a Legislature to choose a successor, and no competent man willing to take the place. It was at this period, when the always unstable fabric of the new State was visibly and rapidly falling to pieces, that the first noteworthy collision with the North Carolina authorities occurred. While Sevier was away from home, the North Carolina sheriff seized his negroes, under legal process, and confined them at Tipton's house. Naturally provoked by this proceeding, Sevier gathered a strong party and went through the form of besieging Tipton's house, but throughout the episode he acted with hesitation and with a perceptible and very proper desire to avoid bloodshed. The affair, after all, was rather a comedy than a tragedy, and Sevier probably suffered more loss of reputation by it than by any other event in his career. His mistake was in entering upon the undertaking, and he was right in not forcing a bloody issue.

After March the first, 1788, no effort was made to keep up the Franklin government. North Carolina, if wrong, or at least hasty and inconsiderate in the first instance, had fairly atoned for the error, and it was now not only right but necessary for the Franklinites to return to their allegiance.

20 Acts of North Carolina, 1787, chapter XXVII.

In November, 1788, the Legislature of North Carolina once more extended pardon to all the people of Franklin except that Sevier was denied the right to hold office.21

Nevertheless he was elected in 1789, to the Legislature, and appeared at the opening of the session. Thereupon his disability was removed, and he entered upon his long and successful political career.22

Meanwhile, however, he had been arrested for treason, handcuffed, and carried across the mountains for trial, but was never tried. His old army friends secured his release on bail, and the case was not pressed. It is to be regretted that the actual facts of this incident do not in the least support the highly interesting accounts of it which have been printed from time to time.

Having followed the main thread of the story of Franklin to the end it is necessary to notice certain less important but interesting facts.

The Legislature of Franklin, chosen in pursuance of an Ordinance of the Jonesboro Convention, met in the Spring of 1785, in the midst of the period of travail over the Constitution, and, after electing Sevier Governor and appointing Judges and other necessary officers, began vigorously to make laws. One of its early Acts was: "for the promotion of learning in Washington County,” and under its provisions Martin

21 Acts of North Carolina, 1788, chapter IV. 22 Acts of North Carolina, 1789, chapter VII.

Academy, which had been established as a private school by Samuel Doak in 1780, and incorporated by North Carolina in 1783, procured now, a new charter from Franklin. This was the first legislative Act west of the Alleghanies, for the encouragement of learning, and was appropriately applied to the first literary institution that had been established in the Mississippi Valley.

The financial system established by this Legislature is both instructive and entertaining. In addition to the ordinary medium of exchange, divers commodities were made legal tender, as for instance, tow linen at one shilling nine pence a yard; linsey at three shillings a yard; beaver skins at six shillings each ; raccoon skins at one shilling and three pence; bacon and tallow at six pence a pound; rye whiskey at two shillings and six pence, and peach and apple brandy three shillings, a gallon. There is a tradition that the Governor was always paid in mink skins, but it appears that among the Acts of the Assembly, probably in 1787, was one fixing the Governor's salary at 1,000 deerskins and that of the Secretary at 500 raccoon skins. The same Act seems to have provided that a justice should receive four muskrat skins for signing a warrant, and the constable one mink skin for serv

[ocr errors]

ing it.23

The excellent Dr. Ramsey was much mortified by

23 American Historical Review, volume VIII, page 286; article by G. H. Alden, note 2.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »