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   Chapter 5 THE STATE OF FRANKLIN, 1784-1788.

The Winning of the West, Volume Three The Founding of the Trans-Alleghany Commonwealths, 1784-1790 By Theodore Roosevelt Characters: 79538

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The separatist spirit was strong throughout the West. Different causes, such as the unchecked ravages of the Indians, or the refusal of the right to navigate the Mississippi, produced or accentuated different manifestations; but the feeling itself was latent everywhere. Its most striking manifestation occurred not in Kentucky, but in what is now the State of Tennessee; and was aimed not at the United States, but at the parent State of North Carolina.

In Kentucky the old frontiersmen were losing their grip on the governmental machinery of the district. The great flood of immigration tended to swamp the pioneers; and the leading parts in the struggle for statehood were played by men who had come to the country about the close of the Revolutionary War, and who were often related by ties of kinship to the leaders of the Virginia legislatures and conventions.

The Frontiersmen of the Upper Tennessee.

On the waters of the upper Tennessee matters were entirely different. Immigration had been slower, and the people who did come in were usually of the type of those who had first built their stockaded hamlets on the banks of the Watauga. The leaders of the early pioneers were still the leaders of the community, in legislation as in warfare. Moreover North Carolina was a much weaker and more turbulent State than Virginia, so that a separatist movement ran less risk of interference. Chains of forest-clad mountains severed the State proper from its western outposts. Many of the pioneer leaders were from Virginia-backwoodsmen who had drifted south along the trough-like valleys. These of course felt little loyalty to North Carolina. The others, who were North Carolinians by birth, had cast in their lot, for good or for evil, with the frontier communities, and were inclined to side with them in any contest with the parent State.

North Carolina Indifferent to Her Western Settlements.

North Carolina herself was at first quite as anxious to get rid of the frontiersmen as they were to go. Not only was the central authority much weaker than in Virginia, but the people were less proud of their State and less jealously anxious to see it grow in power and influence. The over-mountain settlers had increased in numbers so rapidly that four counties had been erected for them; one, Davidson, taking in the Cumberland district, and the other three, Washington, Sullivan, and Greene, including what is now eastern Tennessee. All these counties sent representatives to the North Carolina legislature, at Hillsborough; but they found that body little disposed to consider the needs of the remote western colonists.

The State was very poor, and regarded the western settlements as mere burdensome sources of expense. In the innumerable Indian wars debts were contracted by the little pioneer communities with the faith that the State would pay them; but the payment was made grudgingly or not at all, and no measures were taken to provide for the protection of the frontier in the future. No provisions were made for the extension of the jurisdiction of the State courts over the western counties, and they became a refuge for outlaws, who could be dealt with only as the Indians were-that is, by the settlers acting on their own initiative, without the sanction of law. In short the settlers were left to themselves, to work out their own salvation as they best might, in peace or war; and as they bore most of the burdens of independence, they began to long for the privileges.

North Carolina Cedes the West to Congress.

In June, 1784, the State Legislature passed an act ceding to the Continental Congress all the western lauds, that is, all of what is now Tennessee. It was provided that the sovereignty of North Carolina over the ceded lands should continue in full effect until the United States accepted the gift; and that the act should lapse and become void unless Congress accepted within two years. [Footnote: Ramsey, 283. He is the best authority for the history of the curious state of Franklin.]

The western members were present and voted in favor of the cession, and immediately afterwards they returned to their homes and told the frontier people what had been done. There was a general feeling that some step should be taken forthwith to prevent the whole district from lapsing into anarchy. The frontiersmen did not believe that Congress, hampered as it was and powerless to undertake new responsibilities, could accept the gift until the two years were nearly gone; and meanwhile North Carolina would in all likelihood pay them little heed, so that they would be left a prey to the Indians without and to their own wrongdoers within. It was incumbent on them to organize for their own defence and preservation. The three counties on the upper Tennessee proceeded to take measures accordingly. The Cumberland people, however, took no part in the movement, and showed hardly any interest in it; for they felt as alien to the men of the Holston valley as to those of North Carolina proper, and watched the conflict with a tepid absence of friendship for, or hostility towards, either side. They had long practically managed their own affairs, and though they suffered from the lack of a strong central authority on which to rely, they did not understand their own wants, and were inclined to be hostile to any effort for the betterment of the national government.

The Western Counties Set up a Separate State.

The first step taken by the frontiersmen in the direction of setting up a new state was very characteristic, as showing the military structure of the frontier settlements. To guard against Indian inroad and foray, and to punish them by reprisals, all the able-bodied, rifle-bearing males were enrolled in the militia; and the divisions of the militia were territorial. The soldiers of each company represented one cluster of rough little hamlets or one group of scattered log houses. The company therefore formed a natural division for purposes of representation. It was accordingly agreed that "each captain's company" in the counties of Washington, Lincoln, and Green 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.

Meeting of the Constitutional Convention.

This convention, of forty deputies or thereabouts, 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 afterwards 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 quarrelling over the choice of members for the constitutional convention, the parties 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 counselled 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 towards the assumption of full 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. [Footnote: Haywood, 142; although Ramsey writes more in full about the Franklin government, it ought not to be forgotten that the groundwork 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.] 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.

Meeting of the Legislature.

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 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 sous the opportunity of obtaining a higher education.

Backwoods Currency.

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 of 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.

Correspondence with North Carolina.

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 accused North Carolina of not giving to the Cherokees a quantity of goods promised them, and asserted that this disappointment had caused the Indians to commit several murders. In his answer the Governor admitted that the goods had not been given, but explained that this was because at the time the land had been ceded to Congress, and the authorities were waiting to see what Congress would do; and after the Cession Act was repealed the goods would have been given forthwith, had it not been for the upsetting of all legal authority west of the mountains, which brought matters to a standstill. Moreover, the Governor in his turn made counter accusations, setting forth that the mountaineers had held unauthorized treaties with the Indians, and had trespassed on their lands, and even murdered them. He closed by drawing a strong picture of the evils sure to be brought about by such lawless secession, and usurpation of authority. He besought and commanded the revolted counties to return to their allegiance, and warned them that if they did not, and if peaceable measures proved of no avail, then the State of North Carolina would put down the rebellion by dint of arms.

Petition to Congress.

At the same time, in the early spring of 1785, the authorities of the new state sent a memorial to the Continental Congress. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., Papers Continental Congress, Memorials, etc., No. 48. State of Franklin, March 12, 1785. Certificate that William Cocke is agent; and memorial of the freemen, etc.] Having found their natural civil chief and military leader in Sevier, the backwoodsmen now developed a diplomat in the person of one William Cocke. To him they entrusted the memorial, together with a certificate, testifying, in the name of the state of Franklin, that he was delegated to present the memorial to Congress and to make what further representations he might find "conducive to the interest and independence of this country." The memorial set forth the earnest desire of the people of Franklin to be admitted as a State of the Federal Union, together with the wrongs they had endured from North Carolina, dwelling with particular bitterness upon the harm which had resulted from her failure to give the Cherokees the goods which they had been promised. It further recited how North Carolina's original cession of the western lands had moved the Westerners to declare their independence, and contended that her subsequent repeal of the act making this cession was void, and that Congress should treat the cession as an accomplished fact. However, Congress took no action either for or against the insurrectionary commonwealth.

The new state wished to stand well with Virginia, no less than with Congress. In July, 1785, Sevier wrote to Governor Patrick Henry, unsuccessfully appealing to him for sympathy. In this letter he insisted that he was doing all he could to restrain the people from encroaching on the Indian lands, though he admitted he found the task difficult. He assured Henry that he would on no account encourage the southwestern Virginians to join the new state, as some of them had proposed; and he added, what he evidently felt to be a needed explanation, "we hope to convince every one that we are not a banditti, but a people who mean to do right, as far as our knowledge will lead us." [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., 42, Sevier to Henry, July 19, 1785.]

Correspondence with Benjamin Franklin.

At the outset of its stormy career the new state had been named Franklin, in honor of Benjamin Franklin; but a large minority had wished to call it Frankland instead, and outsiders knew it as often by one title as the other. Benjamin Franklin himself did not know that it was named after him until it had been in existence eighteen months. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., Franklin Papers, Miscellaneous, vol. vii., Benj. Franklin to William Cocke, Philadelphia, Aug. 12, 1786.] The state was then in straits, and Cocke wrote Franklin, in the hope of some advice or assistance. The prudent philosopher replied in conveniently vague and guarded terms. He remarked that this was the first time he had been informed that the new state was named after him, he having always supposed that it was called Frankland. He then expressed his high appreciation of the honor conferred upon him, and his regret that he could not show his appreciation by anything more substantial than good wishes. He declined to commit himself as to the quarrel between Franklin and North Carolina, explaining that he could know nothing of its merits, as he had but just come home from abroad; but he warmly commended the proposition to submit the question to Congress, and urged that the disputants should abide by its decision. He wound up his letter by some general remarks on the benefits of having a Congress which could act as a judge in such matters.

Sevier's Manifesto to North Carolina.

While the memorial was being presented to Congress, Sevier was publishing his counter-manifesto to Governor Martin's in the shape of a letter to Martin's successor in the chair of the chief executive of North Carolina. In this letter Sevier justified at some length the stand the Franklin people had taken, and commented with lofty severity on Governor Martin's efforts "to stir up sedition and insurrection" in Franklin, and thus destroy the "tranquillity;" of its "peaceful citizens." Sevier evidently shared to the full the horror generally felt by the leaders of a rebellion for those who rebel against themselves.

The new Governor of North Carolina adopted a much more pacific tone than his predecessor, and he and Sevier exchanged some further letters, but without result.

Treaty with the Cherokees.

One of the main reasons for discontent with the parent State was the delay in striking an advantageous treaty with the Indians, and the Franklin people hastened to make up for this delay by summoning the Cherokees to council. [Footnote: Virginia State Papers, IV., 25, 37, etc.] Many of the chiefs, who were already under solemn agreement with the United States and North Carolina, refused to attend; but, as usual with Indians, they could not control all their people, some of whom were present at the time appointed. With the Indians who were thus present the whites went through the form of a treaty under which they received large cessions of Cherokee lands. The ordinary results of such a treaty followed. The Indians who had not signed promptly repudiated as unauthorized and ineffective the action of the few who had; and the latter asserted that they had been tricked into signing, and were not aware of the true nature of the document to which they had affixed their marks. [Footnote: Talk of Old Tassel, September 19, 1785, Ramsey, 319.] The whites heeded these protests not at all, but kept the land they had settled.

In fact the attitude of the Franklin people towards the Cherokees was one of mere piracy. In the August session of their legislature they passed a law to encourage an expedition to go down the Tennessee on the west side and take possession of the country in the great bend of that river under titles derived from the State of Georgia. The eighty or ninety men composing this expedition actually descended the river, and made a settlement by the Muscle Shoals, in what the Georgians called the county of Houston. They opened a land office, organized a county government, and elected John Sevier's brother, Valentine, to represent them in the Georgia Legislature; but that body refused to allow him a seat. After a fortnight's existence the attitude of the Indians became so menacing that the settlement broke up and was abandoned.

The Greenville Constitutional Convention.

In November, 1785, the convention to provide a permanent constitution for the state met at Greenville. There was already much discontent with the Franklin Government. The differences between its adherents and those of the old North Carolina Government were accentuated by bitter faction fights among the rivals for popular leadership, backed by their families and followers. Bad feeling showed itself at this convention, the rivalry between Sevier and Tipton being pronounced. Tipton was one of the mountain leaders, second in influence only to Sevier, and his bitter personal enemy. At the convention a brand new constitution was submitted by a delegate named Samuel Houston. The adoption of the new constitution was urged by a strong minority. The most influential man of the minority party was Tipton.

This written constitution, with its bill of rights prefixed, was a curious document. It provided that the new state should be called the Commonwealth of Frankland. Full religious liberty was established, so far as rites of worship went; but no one was to hold office unless he was a Christian who believed in the Bible, in Heaven, in Hell, and in the Trinity. There were other classes prohibited from holding office,-immoral men and sabbath breakers, for instance, and clergymen, doctors, and lawyers. The exclusion of lawyers from law-making bodies was one of the darling plans of the ordinary sincere rural demagogue of the day. At that time lawyers, as a class, furnished the most prominent and influential political leaders; and they were, on the whole, the men of most mark in the communities. A narrow, uneducated, honest countryman, especially in the backwoods, then looked upon a lawyer, usually with smothered envy and admiration, but always with jealousy, suspicion, and dislike; much as his successors to this day look upon bankers and railroad men. It seemed to him a praiseworthy thing to prevent any man whose business it was to study the law from having a share in making the law.

The proposed constitution showed the extreme suspicion felt by the common people for even their own elected lawmakers. It made various futile provisions to restrain them, such as providing that "except on occasions of sudden necessity," laws should only become such after being enacted by two successive Legislatures, and that a Council of Safety should be elected to look after the conduct of all the other public officials. Universal suffrage for all freemen was provided; the Legislature was to consist of but one body; and almost all offices were made elective. Taxes were laid to provide a state university. The constitution was tediously elaborate and minute in its provisions.

However, its only interest is its showing the spirit of the local "reformers" of the day and place in the matters of constitution-making and legislation. After a hot debate and some tumultuous scenes, it was rejected by the majority of the convention, and in its stead, on Sevier's motion, the North Carolina constitution was adopted as the groundwork for the new government. This gave umbrage to Tipton and his party, who for some time had been discontented with the course of affairs in Franklin, and had been grumbling about them.

Franklin Acts as an Independent State.

The new constitution-which was in effect simply the old constitution with unimportant alterations-went into being, and under it the Franklin Legislature convened at Greenville, which was made the permanent capital of the new state. The Commons met in the court-house, a clapboarded building of unhewn logs, without windows, the light coming in through the door and through the chinks between the timbers. The Senate met in one of the rooms of the town tavern. The backwoods legislators lodged at this tavern or at some other, at the cost of fourpence a day, the board being a shilling for the man, and sixpence for his horse, if the horse only ate hay; a half pint of liquor or a gallon of oats cost sixpence. [Footnote: Ramsey, 334.] Life was very rude and simple; no luxuries, and only the commonest comforts, were obtainable.

The state of Franklin had now been in existence over a year, and during this period the officers holding under it had exercised complete control in the three insurrectionary counties. They had passed laws, made treaties, levied taxes, recorded deeds, and solemnized marriages. In short, they had performed all the functions of civil government, and Franklin had assumed in all respects the position of an independent commonwealth.

Feuds of the Two Parties.

But in the spring of 1786 the discontent which had smouldered burst into a flame. Tipton and his followers openly espoused the cause of North Carolina, and were joined, as time waned, by the men who for various reasons were dissatisfied with the results of the trial of independent statehood. They held elections, at the Sycamore Shoals and elsewhere, to choose representatives to the North Carolina Legislature, John Tipton being elected Senator. They organized the entire local government over again in the interest of the old State.

The two rival governments clashed in every way. County courts of both were held in the same counties; the militia were called out by both sets of officers; taxes were levied by both Legislatures. [Footnote: Haywood, 160.] The Franklin courts were held at Jonesboro, the North Carolina courts at Buffalo, ten miles distant; and each court in turn was broken up by armed bands of the opposite party. Criminals throve in the confusion, and the people refused to pay taxes to either party. Brawls, with their brutal accompaniments of gouging and biting, were common. Sevier and Tipton themselves, on one occasion when they by chance met, indulged in a rough-and-tumble fight before their friends could interfere.

Growing Confusion.

Throughout the year '86 the confusion gradually grew worse. A few days after the Greenville convention met, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act in reference to the revolt. It declared that, at the proper time, the western counties would be erected into an independent state, but that this time had not yet come; until it did, they would be well cared for, but must return to their ancient allegiance, and appoint and elect their officers under the laws of North Carolina. A free pardon and oblivion of all offences was promised. Following this act came a long and tedious series of negotiations. Franklin sent ambassadors to argue her case before the Legislature of the mother State; the Governors and high officials exchanged long-winded letters and proclamations, and the rival Legislatures passed laws intended to undermine each other's influence. The Franklin Assembly tried menace, and threatened to fine any one who acted under a commission from North Carolina. The Legislature of the latter State achieved more by promises, having wisely offered to remit all taxes for the two troubled years to any one who would forthwith submit to her rule.

Neither side was willing to force the issue to trial by arms if it could be helped; and there was a certain pointlessness about the struggle, inasmuch as the differences between the contending parties were really so trifling. The North Carolinians kept protesting that they would be delighted to see Franklin set up as an independent state, as soon as her territory contained enough people; and the Franklin leaders in return were loud in their assurances of respect for North Carolina and of desire to follow her wishes. But neither would yield the points immediately at issue.

A somewhat comic incident of the affair occurred in connection with an effort made by Sevier and his friends to persuade old Evan Shelby to act as umpire. After a conference they signed a joint manifesto which aimed to preserve peace for the moment by the novel expedient of allowing the citizens of the disputed territory to determine, every man for himself, the government which he wished to own, and to pay his taxes to it accordingly. Nothing came of this manifesto.

Decline of Franklin.

During this time of confusion each party rallied by turns, but the general drift was all in favor of North Carolina. One by one the adherents of Franklin dropped away. The revolt was essentially a frontier revolt, and Sevier was essentially a frontier leader. The older and longer-settled counties and parts of counties were the first to fall away from him, while the settlers on the very edge of the Indian country clung to him to the last.

Attitude of Neighboring States.

The neighboring States were more or less excited over the birth of the little insurgent commonwealth. Virginia looked upon it with extreme disfavor, largely because her own western counties showed signs of desiring to throw in their fortunes with the Franklin people [Footnote: Va. State Papers, iv. 53.] Governor Patrick Henry issued a very energetic address on the subject, and the authorities took effective means to prevent the movement from gaining head.

Franklin and Georgia.

Georgia, on the contrary, showed the utmost friendliness towards the new state, and gladly entered into an alliance with her. [Footnote: Stevens' "Georgia," II., 380.] Georgia had no self-assertive communities of her own children on her western border, as Virginia and North Carolina had, in Kentucky and Franklin. She was herself a frontier commonwealth, challenging as her own lands that were occupied by the Indians and claimed by the Spainards. Her interests were identical with those of Franklin. The Governors of the two communities exchanged complimentary addresses, and sent their rough ambassadors one to the other. Georgia made Sevier a brigadier-general in her militia, for the district she claimed in the bend of the Tennessee; and her branch of the Society of the Cincinnati elected him to membership. In return Sevier, hoping to tighten the loosening bonds of his authority by a successful Indian war, entered into arrangements with Georgia for a combined campaign against the Creeks. For various reasons the proposed campaign fell through, but the mere planning of it shows the feeling that was, at the bottom, the strongest of those which knit together the Franklin men and the Georgians. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 125, p. 163.] They both greedily coveted the Indians' land, and were bent on driving the Indians off it. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., pp. 256, 353. Many of the rumors of defeats and victories given in these papers were without foundation.]

The Franklin Men and the Indians.

One of the Franklin judges, in sending a plea for the independence of his state to the Governor of North Carolina, expressed with unusual frankness the attitude of the Holston backwoodsmen towards the Indians. He remarked that he supposed the Governor would be astonished to learn that there were many settlers on the land which North Carolina had by treaty guaranteed to the Cherokees; and brushed aside all remonstrances by simply saying that it was vain to talk of keeping the frontiersmen from encroaching on Indian territory. All that could be done, he said, was to extend the laws over each locality as rapidly as it was settled by the intruding pioneers; otherwise they would become utterly lawless, and dangerous to their neighbors. As for laws and proclamations to restrain the white advance, he asked if all the settlements in America had not been extended in defiance of such. And now that the Indians were cowed, the advance was certain to be faster, and the savages were certain to be pushed back more rapidly, and the limits of tribal territory more narrowly circumscribed. [Footnote: Ramsey, 350.]

This letter possessed at least the merit of expressing with blunt truthfulness the real attitude of the Franklin people, and of the backwoodsmen generally, towards the Indians. They never swerved from their intention of seizing the Indian lands. They preferred to gain their ends by treaty, and with the consent of the Indians; but if this proved impossible, then they intended to gain them by force.

In its essence, and viewed from the standpoint of abstract morality, their attitude was that of the freebooter. The backwoodsmen lusted for the possessions of the Indian, as the buccaneers of the Spanish main had once lusted for the possessions of the Spaniard. There was but little more heed paid to the rights of the assailed in one case than in the other.

The Ethics of Such Territorial Conquest.

Yet in its results, and viewed from the standpoint of applied ethics, the conquest and settlement by the whites of the Indian lands was necessary to the greatness of the race and to the well-being of civilized mankind. It was as ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable. Huge tomes might be filled with arguments as to the morality or immorality of such conquests. But these arguments appeal chiefly to the cultivated men in highly civilized communities who have neither the wish nor the power to lead warlike expeditions into savage lands. Such conquests are commonly undertaken by those reckless and daring adventurers who shape and guide each race's territorial growth. They are sure to come when a masterful people, still in its raw barbarian prime, finds itself face to face with a weaker and wholly alien race which holds a coveted prize in its feeble grasp.

Many good persons seem prone to speak of all wars of conquest as necessarily evil. This is, of course, a shortsighted view. In its after effects a conquest may be fraught either with evil or with good for mankind, according to the comparative worth of the conquering and conquered peoples. It is useless to try to generalize about conquests simply as such in the abstract; each case or set of cases must be judged by itself. The world would have halted had it not been for the Teutonic conquests in alien lands; but the victories of Moslem over Christian have always proved a curse in the end. Nothing but sheer evil has come from the victories of Turk and Tartar. This is true generally of the victories of barbarians of low racial characteristics over gentler, more moral, and more refined peoples, even though these people have, to their shame and discredit, lost the vigorous fighting virtues. Yet it remains no less true that the world would probably have gone forward very little, indeed would probably not have gone forward at all, had it not been for the displacement or submersion of savage and barbaric peoples as a consequence of the armed settlement in strange lands of the races who hold in their hands the fate of the years. Every such submersion or displacement of an inferior race, every such armed settlement or conquest by a superior race, means the infliction and suffering of hideous woe and misery. It is a sad and dreadful thing that there should of necessity be such throes of agony; and yet they are the birth-pangs of a new and vigorous people. That they are in truth birth-pangs does not lessen the grim and hopeless woe of the race supplanted; of the race outworn or overthrown. The wrongs done and suffered cannot be blinked. Neither can they be allowed to hide the results to mankind of what has been achieved.

It is not possible to justify the backwoodsmen by appeal to principles which we would accept as binding on their descendants, or on the mighty nation which has sprung up and flourished in the soil they first won and tilled. All that can be asked is that they shall be judged as other wilderness conquerors, as other slayers and quellers of savage peoples, are judged. The same standards must be applied to Sevier and his hard-faced horse-riflemen that we apply to the Greek colonist of Sicily and the Roman colonist of the valley of the Po; to the Cossack rough-rider who won for Russia the vast and melancholy Siberian steppes, and to the Boer who guided his ox-drawn wagon-trains to the hot grazing lands of the Transvaal; to the founders of Massachusetts and Virginia, of Oregon and icy Saskatchewan; and to the men who built up those far-off commonwealths whose coasts are lapped by the waters of the great South Sea.

Indian Hostilities.

The aggressions by the Franklin men on the Cherokee lands bore bloody fruit in 1786. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS. vol. ii., No. 71, Arthur Campbell to Joseph Martin, June 16, 1786; Martin to the Governor of Virginia, June 25, 1786, etc.] The young warriors, growing ever more alarmed and angered at the pressure of the settlers, could not be restrained. They shook off the control of the old men, who had seen the tribe flogged once and again by the whites, and knew how hopeless such a struggle was. The Chickamauga banditti watched from their eyries to pounce upon all boats that passed down the Tennessee, and their war bands harried the settlements far and wide, being joined in their work by parties from the Cherokee towns proper. Stock was stolen, cabins were burned, and settlers murdered. The stark riflemen gathered for revenge, carrying their long rifles and riding their rough mountain horses. Counter-inroads were carried into the Indian country. On one, when Sevier himself led, two or three of the Indian towns were burned and a score or so of warriors killed. As always, it proved comparatively easy to deal a damaging blow to these southern Indians, who dwelt in well-built log-towns; while the widely scattered, shifting, wigwam-villages of the forest-nomads of the north rarely offered a tangible mark at which to strike. Of course, the retaliatory blows of the whites, like the strokes of the Indians, fell as often on the innocent as on the guilty. During this summer, to revenge the death of a couple of settlers, a backwoods Colonel, with the appropriate name of Outlaw, fell on a friendly Cherokee town and killed two or three Indians, besides plundering a white man, a North Carolina trader, who happened to be in the town. Nevertheless, throughout 1786 the great majority of the Cherokees remained quiet. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., pp. 162, 164, 176.]

Early in 1787, however, they felt the strain so severely that they gathered in a great council and deliberated whether they should not abandon their homes and move far out into the western wildern

ess; but they could not yet make up their minds to leave their beloved mountains. The North Carolina authorities wished to see them receive justice, but all they could do was to gather the few Indian prisoners who had been captured in the late wars and return them to the Cherokees. The Franklin Government had opened a land office and disposed of all the lands between the French Broad and the Tennessee, [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., vol. ii. No. 71. Letter to Edmund Randolph, Feb. 10, 1787; Letter of Joseph Martin, of March 25, 1787; Talk from Piominigo, the Chickasaw Chief, Feb. 15, 1787.] which territory North Carolina had guaranteed the Cherokees; and when, on the authority of the Governor of North Carolina, his representative ordered the settlers off the invaded land, they treated his command with utter defiance. Not only the Creeks, but even the distant Choctaws and Chickasaws became uneasy and irritated over the American encroachments, while the French traders who came up the Tennessee preached war to the Indians, and the Spanish Government ordered all the American traders to be expelled from among the southern tribes unless they would agree to take commissions from Spain and throw off their allegiance to the United States.

In this same year the Cherokees became embroiled, not only with the Franklin people but with the Kentuckians. The Chickamaugas, who were mainly renegade Cherokees, were always ravaging in Kentucky. Colonel John Logan had gathered a force to attack one of their war bands, but he happened instead to stumble on a Cherokee party, which he scattered to the winds with loss. The Kentuckians wrote to the Cherokee chiefs explaining that the attack was an accident, but that they did not regret it greatly, inasmuch as they found in the Cherokee camp several horses which had been stolen from the settlers. They then warned the Cherokees that the outrages by the Chickamaugas must be stopped; and if the Cherokees failed to stop them they would have only themselves to thank for the woes that would follow, as the Kentuckians could not always tell the hostile from the friendly Indians, and were bent on taking an exemplary, even if indiscriminate revenge. The Council of Virginia, on hearing of this announced intention of the Kentuckians "highly disapproved of it," [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 71. Resolutions of Kentucky Committee, June 5, 1787.] but they could do nothing except disapprove. The governmental authorities of the eastern States possessed but little more power to restrain the backwoodsmen than the sachems had to restrain the young braves. Virginia and North Carolina could no more control Kentucky and Franklin than the Cherokees could control the Chickamaugas.

Growing Weakness of the New State.

In 1787 the state of Franklin began to totter to its fall. In April [Footnote: State Dept. MSS. Franklin Papers, VIII., Benjamin Franklin to His Excellency Governor Sevier, Philadelphia, June 30, 1787.] Sevier, hungering for help or friendly advice, wrote to the gray statesman after whom his state was named. The answer did not come for several months, and when it did come it was not very satisfactory. The old sage repeated that he knew too little of the circumstances to express an opinion, but he urged a friendly understanding with North Carolina, and he spoke with unpalatable frankness on the subject of the Indians. At that very time he was writing to a Cherokee chief [Footnote: Do. Letter to the Chief "Cornstalk" (Corntassel?), same date and place.] who had come to Congress in the vain hope that the Federal authorities might save the Cherokees from the reckless backwoodsmen; he had promised to try to obtain justice for the Indians, and he was in no friendly mood towards the backwoods aggressors.

Prevent encroachments on Indian lands, Franklin wrote to Sevier,-Sevier, who, in a last effort to rally his followers, was seeking a general Indian war to further these very encroachments,-and remember that they are the more unjustifiable because the Indians usually give good bargains in the way of purchase, while a war with them costs more than any possible price they may ask. This advice was based on Franklin's usual principle of merely mercantile morality; but he was writing to a people who stood in sore need of just the teaching he could furnish and who would have done well to heed it. They were slow to learn that while sober, debt-paying thrift, love of order, and industry, are perhaps not the loftiest virtues and are certainly not in themselves all sufficient, they yet form an indispensable foundation, the lack of which is but ill supplied by other qualities even of a very noble kind.

Sevier, also in the year 1787, carried on a long correspondence with Evan Shelby, whose adherence to the state of Franklin he much desired, as the stout old fellow was a power not only among the frontiersmen but with the Virginian and North Carolinian authorities likewise. Sevier persuaded the Legislature to offer Shelby the position of chief magistrate of Franklin, and pressed him to accept it, and throw in his lot with the Westerners, instead of trying to serve men at a distance. Shelby refused; but Sevier was bent upon being pleasant, and thanked Shelby for at least being neutral, even though not actively friendly. In another letter, however, when he had begun to suspect Shelby of positive hostility, he warned him that no unfriendly interference would be tolerated. [Footnote: Tennessee Hist. Soc. MSS. Letters of Sevier to Evan Shelby, Feb. 11, May 20, May 30, and Aug. 12, 1787.]

Shelby could neither be placated nor intimidated. He regarded with equal alarm and anger the loosening of the bands of authority and order among the Franklin frontiersmen. He bitterly disapproved of their lawless encroachments on the Indian lands, which he feared would cause a general war with the savages. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 71. Evan Shelby to General Russell, April 27, 1787. Beverly Randolph to Virginia Delegates, June 2, 1787.] At the very time that Sevier was writing to him, he was himself writing to the North Carolina Government, urging them to send forward troops who would put down the rebellion by force, and was requesting the Virginians to back up any such movement with their militia. He urged that the insurrection threatened not only North Carolina, but Virginia and the Federal Government itself; and in phrases like those of the most advanced Federalist statesman, he urged the Federal Government to interfere. The Governor of Virginia was inclined to share his views, and forwarded his complaints and requests to the Continental Congress.

Collapse of Franklin.

However, no action was necessary. The Franklin Government collapsed of itself. In September, 1787, the Legislature met for the last time, at Greenville. There was a contested election case for senator from the county of Hawkins, which shows the difficulties under which the members had labored in carrying their elections, and gives a hint of the anarchy produced by the two contending Governments. In this case the sheriff of the county of Hawkins granted the certificate of election to one man, and the three inspectors of the poll granted it to another. On investigation by a committee of the Senate, it appeared that the poll was opened by the sheriff "on the third Friday and Saturday in August," as provided by law, but that in addition to the advertisement of the election which was published by the sheriff of Hawkins, who held under the Franklin Government, another proclamation, advertising the same election, was issued by the sheriff of the North Carolina county of Spencer, which had been recently created by North Carolina out of a portion of the territory of Hawkins County. The North Carolina sheriff merely wished to embarrass his Franklin rival, and he succeeded admirably. The Franklin man proclaimed that he would allow no one to vote who had not paid taxes to Franklin; but after three or four votes had been taken the approach of a body of armed adherents of the North Carolina interest caused the shutting of the polls. The Franklin authorities then dispersed, the North Carolina sheriff having told them plainly that the matter would have to be settled by seeing which party was strongest. One or two efforts were made to have an adjourned election elsewhere in the neighborhood, with the result that in the confusion certificates were given to two different men. [Footnote: Tennessee Hist. Soc. MSS. Report of "Committee of Privileges and Elections" of Senate of Franklin, Nov. 23, 1787.] Such disorders showed that the time had arrived when the authorities of Franklin either had to begin a bloody civil war or else abandon the attempt to create a new state; and in their feebleness and uncertainty they adopted the latter alternative.

When in March, 1788, the term of Sevier as Governor came to an end, there was no one to take his place, and the officers of North Carolina were left in undisputed possession of whatever governmental authority there was. The North Carolina Assembly which met in November, 1787, had been attended by regularly elected members from all the western counties, Tipton being among them; while the far-off log hamlets on the banks of the Cumberland sent Robertson himself. [Footnote: Haywood, 174.] This assembly once more offered full pardon and oblivion of past offences to all who would again become citizens; and the last adherents of the insurrectionary Government reluctantly accepted the terms. Franklin had been in existence for three years, during which time she had exercised all the powers and functions of independent statehood. During the first year her sway in the district was complete; during the next she was forced to hold possession in common with North Carolina; and then, by degrees her authority lapsed altogether.

Fight between Tipton and Sevier.

Sevier was left in dire straits by the falling of the state he had founded; for not only were the North Carolina authorities naturally bitter against him, but he had to count on the personal hostility of Tipton. In his distress he wrote to one of the opposing party, not personally unfriendly to him, that he had been dragged into the Franklin movement by the people of the county; that he wished to suspend hostilities, and was ready to abide by the decision of the North Carolina Legislature, but that he was determined to share the fate of those who had stood by him, whatever it might be. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., 416, 421. Sevier to Martin, April 3 and May 27, 1788] About the time that his term as Governor expired, a writ, issued by the North Carolina courts, was executed against his estate. The sheriff seized all his negro slaves, as they worked on his Nolichucky farm, and bore them for safe-keeping to Tipton's house, a rambling cluster of stout log buildings, on Sinking Creek of the Watanga. Sevier raised a hundred and fifty men and marched to take them back, carrying a light fieldpiece. Tipton's friends gathered, thirty or forty strong, and a siege began. Sevier hesitated to push matters to extremity by charging home. For a couple of days there was some skirmishing and two or three men were killed or wounded. Then the county-lieutenant of Sullivan, with a hundred and eighty militia, came to Tipton's rescue. They surprised Sevier's camp at dawn on the last day of February, [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii. Armstrong to Wyllys, April 28, 1788.] while the snow was falling heavily; and the Franklin men fled in mad panic, only one or two being slain. Two of Sevier's sons were taken prisoners, and Tipton was with difficulty dissuaded from hanging them. This scrambling fight marked the ignoble end of the state of Franklin. Sevier fled to the uttermost part of the frontier, where no writs ran, and the rough settlers were devoted to him. Here he speedily became engaged in the Indian war.

Indian Ravages.

Early in the spring of 1788, the Indians renewed their ravages. [Footnote: Va. State Papers, IV., 396, 432.] The Chickamaugas were the leaders, but there were among them a few Creeks, and they were also joined by some of the Cherokees proper, goaded to anger by the encroachments of the whites on their lands. Many of the settlers were killed, and the people on the frontier began to gather into their stockades and blockhouses. The alarm was great. One murder was of peculiar treachery and atrocity. A man named John Kirk [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. ii., p. 435. Proclamation of Thos. Hutchings, June 3, 1788.] lived on a clearing on Little River, seven miles south of Knoxville. One day when he was away from home, an Indian named Slim Tom, well-known to the family, and believed to be friendly, came to the cabin and asked for food. The food was given him and he withdrew. But he had come merely as a spy; and seeing that he had to deal only with helpless women and children, he returned with a party of Indians who had been hiding in the woods. They fell on the wretched creatures, and butchered them all, eleven in number, leaving the mangled bodies in the court-yard. The father and eldest boy were absent and thus escaped. It would have been well had the lad been among the slain, for his coarse and brutal nature was roused to a thirst for indiscriminate revenge, and shortly afterwards he figured as chief actor in a deed of retaliation as revolting and inhuman as the original crime.

At the news of the massacres the frontiersmen gathered, as was their custom, mounted and armed, and ready either to follow the marauding parties or to make retaliatory inroads on their own account. Sevier, their darling leader, was among them, and to him they gave the command.

Joseph Martin Tries to Keep the Peace.

Another frontier leader and Indian fighter of note was at this time living among the Cherokees. He was Joseph Martin, who had dwelt much among the Indians, and had great influence over them, as he always treated them justly; though he had shown in more than one campaign that he could handle them in war as well as in peace. Early in 1788, he had been appointed by North Carolina Brigadier-General of the western counties lying beyond the mountains. In the military organization, which was really the most important side of the Government to the frontiersmen, this was the chief position; and Martin's duties were not only to protect the border against Indian raids, but also to stamp out any smouldering embers of insurrection, and see that the laws of the State were again put in operation.

In April he took command, and on the 24th of the mouth reached the lower settlements on the Holston River. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. ii. Joseph Martin to H. Knox, July 15, 1788.] Here he found that a couple of settlers had been killed by Indians a few days before, and he met a party of riflemen who had gathered to avenge the death of their friends by a foray on the Cherokee towns. Martin did not believe that the Cherokees were responsible for the murder. After some talk he persuaded the angry whites to choose four of their trusted men to accompany him as ambassadors to the Cherokee towns in order to find out the truth.

Mutual Outrages.

Accordingly they all went forward together. Martin sent runners ahead to the Cherokees, and their chiefs and young warriors gathered to meet him. The Indians assured him that they were guiltless of the recent murder; that it should doubtless be laid at the door of some Creek war party. The Creeks, they said, kept passing through their villages to war on the whites, and they had often turned them back. The frontier envoys at this professed themselves satisfied, and returned to their homes, after begging Martin to stay among the Cherokees; and he stayed, his presence giving confidence to the Indians, who forthwith began to plant their crops.

Unfortunately, about the middle of May, the murders again began, and again parties of riflemen gathered for vengeance. Martin intercepted one of these parties ten miles from a friendly Cherokee town; but another attacked and burned a neighboring town, the inhabitants escaping with slight loss. For a time Martin's life was jeopardized by this attack; the Cherokees, who swore they were innocent of the murders, being incensed at the counter attack. They told Martin that they thought he had been trying to gentle them, so that the whites might take them unawares. After a while they cooled down; and explained to Martin that the outrages were the work of the Creeks and Chickamaugas, whom they could not control, and whom they hoped the whites would punish; but that they themselves were innocent and friendly. Then the whites sent messages to express their regret; and though Martin declined longer to be responsible for the deeds of men of his own color, the Indians consented to patch up another truce. [Footnote: State Dept MSS., No. 71, vol. ii. Martin to Randolph, June II, 1788.]

The outrages, however, continued; among others, a big boat was captured by the Chickamaugas, and all but three of the forty souls on board were killed. The settlers drew no fine distinctions between different Indians; they knew that their friends were being murdered by savages who came from the direction of the Cherokee towns; and they vented their wrath on the Indians who dwelt in these towns because they were nearest to hand.

On May 24th Martin left the Indian town of Chota, the beloved town, where he had been staying, and rode to the French Broad. There he found that a big levy of frontier militia, with Sevier at their head, were preparing to march against the Indians; Sevier having been chosen general, as mentioned above. Realizing that it was now hopeless to try to prevent a war, Martin hurried back to Chota, and removed his negroes, horses, and goods.

Sevier's Crime.

Sevier, heedless of Martin's remonstrances, hurried forward on his raid, with a hundred riders. He struck a town on Hiawassee and destroyed it, killing a number of the warriors. This feat, and two or three others like it, made the frontiersmen flock to his standard; [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii. Geo. Maxwell to Martin, July 9, 1788.] but before any great number were embodied under him, he headed a small party on a raid which was sullied by a deed of atrocious treachery and cruelty. He led some forty men to Chilhowa [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii, Thos. Hutchings to Martin, July 11. 1788] on the Tennessee; opposite a small town of Cherokees, who were well known to have been friendly to the whites. Among them were several chiefs, including an old man named the Corn Tassel, who for years had been foremost in the endeavor to keep the peace, and to prevent raids on the settlers. They put out a white flag; and the whites then hoisted one themselves. On the strength of this one of the Indians crossed the river, and on demand of the whites ferried them over. [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii. Hutchings to Maxwell, June 20, 1788. Hutchings to Martin, July 11, 1788.] Sevier put the Indians in a hut, and then a horrible deed of infamy was perpetrated. Among Sevier's troops was young John Kirk, whose mother, sisters, and brothers had been so foully butchered by the Cherokee Slim Tom and his associates. Young Kirk's brutal soul was parched with longing for revenge, and he was, both in mind and heart, too nearly kin to his Indian foes greatly to care whether his vengeance fell on the wrongdoers or on the innocent. He entered the hut where the Cherokee chiefs were confined and brained them with his tomahawk, while his comrades looked on without interfering. Sevier's friends asserted that at the moment he was absent; but this is no excuse. He knew well the fierce blood lust of his followers, and it was criminal negligence on his part to leave to their mercy the friendly Indians who had trusted to his good faith; and, moreover, he made no effort to punish the murderer.

As if to show the futility of the plea that Sevier was powerless, a certain Captain Gillespie successfully protected a captive Indian from militia violence at this very time. He had come into the Indian country with one of the parties which intended to join Sevier, and while alone he captured a Cherokee. When his troops came up they immediately proposed to kill the Indian, and told him they cared nothing for his remonstrances; whereupon he sprang from his horse, cocked his rifle, and told them he would shoot dead the first man who raised a hand to molest the captives. They shrank back, and the Indian remained unharmed. [Footnote: Haywood, p. 183.]

Misconduct of the Frontiersmen.

As for young Kirk all that need be said is that he stands in the same category with Slim Tom, the Indian murderer. He was a fair type of the low-class, brutal white borderer, whose inhumanity almost equalled that of the savage. But Sevier must be judged by another standard. He was a member of the Cincinnati, a correspondent of Franklin, a follower of Washington. He sinned against the light, and must be condemned accordingly. He sank to the level of a lieutenant of Alva, Guise, or Tilly, to the level of a crusading noble of the middle ages. It would be unfair to couple even this crime with those habitually committed by Sidney and Sir Peter Carew, Shan O'Neil and Fitzgerald, and the other dismal heroes of the hideous wars waged between the Elizabethan English and the Irish. But it is not unfair to compare this border warfare in the Tennessee mountains with the border warfare of England and Scotland two centuries earlier. There is no blinking the fact that in this instance Sevier and his followers stood on the same level of brutality with "keen Lord Evers," and on the same level of treachery with the "assured" Scots at the battle of Ancram Muir.

The Better-Class Frontiersmen Condemn the Deed.

Even on the frontier, and at that time, the better class of backwoodsmen expressed much horror at the murder of the friendly chiefs. Sevier had planned to march against the Chickamaugas with the levies that were thronging to his banner; but the news of the murder provoked such discussion and hesitation that his forces melted away. He was obliged to abandon his plan, partly owing to this disaffection among the whites, and partly owing to what one of the backwoodsmen, in writing to General Martin, termed "the severity of the Indians," [Footnote: State Department MSS., 150, iii., Maxwell to Martin, July 7, 1788.]-a queer use of the word severity which obtains to this day in out-of-the-way places through the Alleghanies, where people style a man with a record for desperate fighting a "severe man," and speak of big, fierce dogs, able to tackle a wolf, as "severe" dogs.

It is Condemned Elsewhere.

Elsewhere throughout the country the news of the murder excited great indignation. The Continental Congress passed resolutions condemning acts which they had been powerless to prevent and were powerless to punish. [Footnote: Do., No. 27, p. 359, and No. 151, p. 351.] The Justices of the Court of Abbeville County, South Carolina, with Andrew Pickens at their head, wrote "to the people living on Nolechucke, French Broad, and Holstein," denouncing in unmeasured terms the encroachments and outrages of which Sevier and his backwoods troopers had been guilty. [Footnote: Do., No. 56, Andrew Pickens to Thos. Pinckney, July 11, 1788; No. 150, vol. iii., Letter of Justices, July 9th.] In their zeal the Justices went a little too far, painting the Cherokees as a harmless people, who had always been friendly to the Americans,-a statement which General Martin, although he too condemned the outrages openly and with the utmost emphasis, felt obliged to correct, pointing out that the Cherokees had been the inveterate and bloody foes of the settlers throughout the Revolution. [Footnote: Do., No. 150, vol. iii., Martin to Knox, Aug. 23, 1788.] The Governor of North Carolina, as soon as he heard the news, ordered the arrest of Sevier and his associates-doubtless as much because of their revolt against the State as because of the atrocities they had committed against the Indians. [Footnote: Do., No. 72, Samuel Johnston to Sec'y of Congress, Sept. 29, 1788.]

Indian Ravages.

In their panic many of the Indians fled across the mountains and threw themselves on the mercy of the North and South Carolinians, by whom they were fed and protected. Others immediately joined the Chickamaugas in force, and the frontier districts of the Franklin region were harried with vindictive ferocity. The strokes fell most often and most heavily on the innocent. Half of the militia were called out, and those who most condemned the original acts of aggression committed by their neighbors were obliged to make common cause with these neighbors, so as to save their own lives and the lives of their families. [Footnote: Do., Hutchings to Maxwell, June 20th, and to Martin, July 11th.] The officers of the district ordered a general levy of the militia to march against the Indian towns, and in each county the backwoodsmen began to muster. [Footnote: Do., No. 150, vol. ii., Daniel Kennedy to Martin, June 6, 1788; Maxwell to Martin, July 9th, etc. No. 150, vol. iii., p. 357: Result of Council of Officers of Washington District, August 19, 1788.]

The Indian War.

Before the troops assembled many outrages were committed by the savages. Horses were stolen, people were killed in their cabins, in their fields, on the roads, and at the ferries; and the settlers nearest the Indian country gathered in their forted stations, and sent earnest appeals for help to their unmolested brethren. The stations were attacked, and at one or two the Indians were successful; but generally they were beaten off, the militia marching promptly to the relief of each beleaguered garrison. Severe skirmishing took place between the war parties and the bands of militia who first reached the frontier; and the whites were not always successful. Once, for instance, a party of militia, greedy for fruit, scattered through an orchard, close to an Indian town which they supposed to be deserted; but the Indians were hiding near by and fell upon them, killing seventeen. The savages mutilated the dead bodies in fantastic ways, with ferocious derision, and left them for their friends to find and bury. [Footnote: Do., Martin to Knox, August 23, 1788.] Sevier led parties against the Indians without ceasing; and he and his men by their conduct showed that they waged the war very largely for profit. On a second incursion, which he made with canoes, into the Hiawassee country, his followers made numerous tomahawk claims, or "improvements," as they were termed, in the lands from which the Indians fled; hoping thus to establish a right of ownership to the country they had overrun. [Footnote: Do., Hutchings to Martin, July 11, 1788.]

The whites speedily got the upper hand, ceasing to stand on the defensive; and the panic disappeared. When the North Carolina Legislature met, the members, and the people of the seaboard generally, were rather surprised to find that the over-hill men talked of the Indian war as troublesome rather than formidable. [Footnote: Columbian Magazine, ii., 472.]

The militia officers holding commissions from North Carolina wished Martin to take command of the retaliatory expeditious against the Cherokees; but Martin, though a good fighter on occasions, preferred the arts of peace, and liked best treating with and managing the Indians. He had already acted as agent to different tribes on behalf of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia; and at this time he accepted an offer from the Continental Congress to serve in the same capacity for all the Southern Indians. [Footnote: State Dep. MSS., No. 50, vol. ii., p. 505 etc.] Nevertheless he led a body of militia against the Chickamaugas towns. He burnt a couple, but one of his detachments was driven back in a fight on Lookout Mountain; his men became discontented, and he was forced to withdraw, followed and harassed by the Indians. On his retreat the Indians attacked the settlements in force, and captured Gillespie's station.

Sevier's Feats.

Sevier was the natural leader of the Holston riflemen in such a war; and the bands of frontiersmen insisted that he should take the command whenever it was possible. Sevier swam well in troubled waters, and he profited by the storm he had done so much to raise. Again and again during the summer of 1788 he led his bands of wild horsemen on forays against the Cherokee towns, and always with success. He followed his usual tactics, riding hard and long, pouncing on the Indians in their homes before they suspected his presence, or intercepting and scattering their war parties; and he moved with such rapidity that they could not gather in force sufficient to do him harm. Not only was the fame of his triumphs spread along the frontier, but vague rumors reached even the old settled States of the seaboard, [Footnote: Columbian Magazine for 1789, p. 204. Also letter from French Broad, December 18, 1788.] rumors that told of the slight loss suffered by his followers, of the headlong hurry of his marches, of the fury with which his horsemen charged in the skirmishes, of his successful ambuscades and surprises, and of the heavy toll he took in slain warriors and captive women and children, who were borne homewards to exchange for the wives and little ones of the settlers who had themselves been taken prisoners.

Sevier's dashing and successful leadership wiped out in the minds of the backwoodsmen the memory of all his shortcomings and misdeeds; even the memory of that unpunished murder of friendly Indians which had so largely provoked the war. The representatives of the North Carolina Government and his own personal enemies were less forgetful.

Sevier is Arrested.

The Governor of the State had given orders to seize him because of his violation of the laws and treaties in committing wanton murder on friendly Indians; and a warrant to arrest him for high treason was issued by the courts.

As long as "Nolichucky Jack" remained on the border, among the rough Indian fighters whom he had so often led to victory, he was in no danger. But in the fall, late in October, he ventured back to the longer settled districts. A council of officers with Martin presiding and Tipton present as one of the leading members, had been held at Jonesboro, and had just broken up when Sevier and a dozen of his followers rode into the squalid little town. [Footnote: Haywood, 190.] He drank freely and caroused with his fiends; and he soon quarrelled with one of the other side who denounced him freely and justly for the murder of Corn Tassel and the other peaceful chiefs. Finally they all rode away, but when some miles out of town Sevier got into a quarrel with another man; and after more drinking and brawling he went to pass the night at a house, the owner of which was his friend. Meanwhile one of the men with whom he had quarrelled informed Tipton that his foe was in his grasp. Tipton gathered eight or ten men and early next morning surprised Sevier in his lodgings.

Sevier Escape.

Sevier could do nothing but surrender, and Tipton put him in irons and sent him across the mountains to Morgantown, in North Carolina, where he was kindly treated and allowed much liberty. Most of the inhabitants sympathized with him, having no special repugnance to disorder, and no special sympathy even for friendly Indians. Meanwhile a dozen of his friends, with his two sons at their head, crossed the mountains to rescue their beloved leader. They came into Morgantown while court was sitting and went unnoticed in the crowds. In the evening, when the court adjourned and the crowds broke up, Sevier's friends managed to get near him with a spare horse; he mounted and they all rode off at speed. By daybreak they were out of danger. [Footnote: Ramsey first copies Haywood and gives the account correctly. He then adds a picturesque alternative account-followed by later writers,-in which Sevier escapes in open court on a celebrated race mare. The basis for the last account, so far as it has any basis at all, lies on statements made nearly half a century after the event, and entirely unknown to Haywood. There is no evidence of any kind as to its truthfulness. It mast be set down as mere fable.] Nothing further was attempted against him. A year later he was elected a member of the North Carolina Legislature; after some hesitation he was allowed to take his seat, and the last trace of the old hostility disappeared.

Neither the North Carolinians, nor any one else, knew that there was better ground for the charge of treason against Sevier than had appeared in his overt actions. He was one of those who had been in correspondence with Gardoqui on the subject of an alliance between the Westerners and Spain.

Alleged Filibustering Movement.

The year before this Congress had been much worked up over the discovery of a supposed movement in Franklin to organize for the armed conquest of Louisiana. In September 1787 a letter was sent by an ex-officer of the Continental line named John Sullivan, writing from Charleston, to a former comrade in arms; and this letter in some way became public. Sullivan had an unpleasant reputation. He had been involved in one of the mutinies of the underpaid Continental troops, and was a plotting, shifty, violent fellow. In his letter he urged his friend to come west forthwith and secure lands on the Tennessee; as there would soon be work cut out for the men of that country; and, he added: "I want you much-by God-take my word for it that we will speedily be in possession of New Orleans." [Footnote: State Dept. MSS., No. 150, vol. iii., John Sullivan to Major Wm. Brown, September 24, 1787.]

The Secretary of War at once directed General Harmar to interfere, by force if necessary, with the execution of any such plan, and an officer of the regular army was sent to Franklin to find out the truth of the matter. This officer visited the Holston country in April, 1788, and after careful inquiry came to the conclusion that Sullivan had no backing, and that no movement against Spain was contemplated; the settlers being absorbed in the strife between the followers of Sevier and of Tipton. [Footnote: Do., Lieutenant John Armstrong to Major John P. Wyllys, April 28, 1788.]

Intrigues with Spain.

The real danger for the moment lay, not in a movement by the backwoodsmen against Spain, but in a conspiracy of some of the backwoods leaders with the Spanish authorities. Just at this time the unrest in the West had taken the form, not of attempting the capture of Louisiana by force, but of obtaining concessions from the Spaniards in return for favors to be rendered them. Clark and Robertson, Morgan, Brown and Innes, Wilkinson and Sebastian, were all in correspondence with Gardoqui and Miro, in the endeavor to come to some profitable agreement with them. Sevier now joined the number. His newborn state had died; he was being prosecuted for high treason; he was ready to go to any lengths against North Carolina; and he clutched at the chance of help from the Spaniard. At the time North Carolina was out of the Union, so that Sevier committed no offence against the Federal Government.

Gardoqui and Sevier.

Gardoqui was much interested in the progress of affairs in Franklin; and in the effort to turn them to the advantage of Spain he made use of James White, the Indian agent who was in his pay. He wrote [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to Floridablanca, April 18, 1788.] home that he did not believe Spain could force the backwoodsmen out of Franklin (which he actually claimed as Spanish territory), but that he had secret advices that they could easily be brought over to the Spanish interest by proper treatment. When the news came of the fight between Sevier's and Tipton's men, he judged the time to be ripe, and sent White to Franklin to sound Sevier and bring him over; but he did not trust White enough to give him any written directions, merely telling him what to do and furnishing him with three hundred dollars for his expenses. The mission was performed with such guarded caution that only Sevier and a few of his friends ever knew of the negotiations, and these kept their counsel well.

Sevier was in the mood to grasp a helping hand stretched out from no matter what quarter. He had no organized government back of him; but he was in the midst of his successful Cherokee campaigns, and he knew the reckless Indian fighters would gladly follow him in any movement, if he had a chance of success. He felt that if he were given money and arms, and the promise of outside assistance, he could yet win the day. He jumped at Gardoqui's cautious offers; though careful not to promise to subject himself to Spain, and doubtless with no idea of playing the part of Spanish vassal longer than the needs of the moment required.

In July he wrote to Gardoqui, eager to strike a bargain with him; and in September sent him two letters by the hand of his son James Sevier who accompanied White when the latter made his return journey to the Federal capital. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Sevier to Gardoqui, Sept. 12, 1788.] One letter, which was not intended to be private, formally set forth the status of Franklin with reference to the Indians, and requested the representatives of the Catholic king to help keep the peace with the southern tribes. The other letter was the one of importance. In it he assured Gardoqui that the western people had grown to know that their hopes of prosperity rested on Spain, and that the principal people of Franklin were anxious to enter into an alliance with, and obtain commercial concessions from, the Spaniards. He importuned Gardoqui for money and for military aid, assuring him that the Spaniards could best accomplish their ends by furnishing these supplies immediately, especially as the struggle over the adoption of the Federal Constitution made the time opportune for revolt.

Gardoqui received White and James Sevier with much courtesy, and was profuse, though vague, in his promises. He sent them both to New Orleans that Miro might hear and judge of their plans. [Footnote: Gardoqui MSS., Gardoqui to Miro, Oct. 10, 1788.] Nevertheless nothing came of the project, and doubtless only a few people in Franklin ever knew that it existed. As for Sevier, when he saw that he was baffled he suddenly became a Federalist and an advocate of a strong Central Government; and this, doubtless, not because of love for Federalism, but to show his hostility to North Carolina, which had at first refused to enter the new Union. [Footnote: Columbian Magazine, Aug. 27, 1788, vol. ii., 542.] This particular move was fairly comic in its abrupt unexpectedness.

An Independent Frontier State.

Thus the last spark of independent life flickered out in Franklin proper. The people who had settled on the Indian borders were left without government, North Carolina regarding them as trespassers on the Indian territory. [Footnote: Haywood, 195.] They accordingly met and organized a rude governmental machine, on the model of the Commonwealth of Franklin; and the wild little state existed as a separate and independent republic until the new Federal Government included it in the territory south of the Ohio. [Footnote: In my first two volumes I have discussed, once for all, the worth of Gilmore's "histories" of Sevier and Robertson and their times. It is unnecessary further to consider a single statement they contain.]

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