Unrecognized, de facto government: the State of Frankland should have written CC&Rs

And you thought that unrecognized de facto goverments, like HOAs regimes, were a figment of my imagination.

The State of Franklin was set up in 1784 out of the westerly portion of the colonial state of North Carolina. Shortly after the War of Independence the original colonies were asked to pay for the war efforts and create a country with a sound financial policy. Since the taxing the population was difficult and cash was in short supply North Carolina ceded the western portion of the state to the federal coffers. Before the Congress could accept the offer North Carolina withdrew the offer. The citizens of the region decided that federal rule in the meantime was probably a good idea since North Carolina as a state had given this remote region little support in its fight with the Indians or protection from criminal refugees. They saw other benefits as an independent state in terms of taxation, representation and an understanding attitude toward local problems. Representatives of the North Carolina counties of Sullivan, Washington, Greene, and Davidson accepted the offer of cessation to federal territory. The state of Franklin existed for only four years to finally merge with the new state of Tennessee. 


Attempt at statehood
The State of Franklin, known also as the Free Republic of Franklin or the State of Frankland (the latter being the name submitted to the Continental Congress when it considered the territory’s application for statehood[1]), was an autonomous United States territory created in 1784On May 16, 1785, a delegation submitted a petition for statehood to the Continental Congress. Seven states voted to admit what would have been the 14th federal state under the proposed name Frankland. The number of states voting in favor of statehood, however, fell short of the two-thirds majority required to admit a territory to statehood under the Articles of Confederation. Late the following month, the government again convened to address their options and to replace the vacancy at Speaker of the House, which had been held by the late William Cage. Addressing the vacancy, Joseph Hardin was elected to the Speaker of the House position. Then, in an attempt to curry favor for their cause, delegation leaders changed the proposed name to “Franklin” (after Benjamin Franklin), and even initiated a correspondence with the patriot to sway him to support their cause. Franklin politely refused, writing:

I am sensible of the honor which your Excellencey and your council do me, but being in Europe when your State was formed I am too little acquainted with the circumstances to be able to offer you anything just now that may be of importance, since everything material that regards your welfare will doubtless have occurred to yourselves. …I will endeavor to inform myself more perfectly of your affairs by inquiry and searching the records of Congress and if anything should occur to me that I think may be useful to you, you shall hear from me thereupon.[4]Franklin’s letter to Governor John Sevier, 1787

Independent Republic

After the failed statehood attempt, the now de facto independent republic was ‘officially’ re-named Franklin.

 Up to this point, the government had been assembling at Jonesborough, mere blocks from the competing (although idle) North Carolina seat of government. Because of this, Greeneville was declared the new capital. The first legislature to meet there did so in December, 1785. At Greeneville, they finally adopted a permanent constitution, known as the “Holston Constitution”,[5] a decree which was modeled on that of North Carolina with few changes.

The new legislature made treaties with the Indian tribes in the area, opened courts, incorporated and annexed five new counties (see map below), and fixed taxes and officers’ salaries.[6] Barter was the economic system de jure, with anything in common use among the people allowed in payment to settle debts, including federal or foreign money, corn, tobacco, apple brandy, and skins (Sevier himself was often paid in deer hides). Citizens were granted a two-year reprieve on paying taxes, but this lack of currency and economic infrastructure slowed development and created confusion.

The year 1786 was the beginning of the end of the small state. Franklin was placed in a precarious position by not having been admitted to the United States. Because it shunned North Carolina’s claims of sovereignty over it, Franklin did not have the benefit of either the national army or the North Carolina militia. North Carolina offered to waive all back taxes if Franklin would reunite with its government. When this offer was rejected, North Carolina moved in troops under the leadership of Col. John Tipton and re-established its own government in the region. The two rival administrations competed side by side for many months. Loyalties were divided among local residents.



Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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