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The Winning of the West, Volume Three by Theodore Roosevelt

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choose their language with care, so that it may not commit them beyond
all hope of explanation or retraction. Brown, Innes, and the other
separatist leaders in Kentucky were not actuated by the motives of
personal corruption which influenced Wilkinson, Sebastian, and White to
conspire with Gardoqui and Miro for the break-up of the Union. Their
position, as far as the mere separatist feeling itself was concerned,
was not essentially different from that of George Clinton in New York or
Sumter in South Carolina. Of course, however, their connection with a
foreign power unpleasantly tainted their course, exactly as a similar
connection, with Great Britain instead of with Spain, tainted the
similar course of action Ethan Allen was pursuing at this very time in
Vermont. [Footnote: _Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography_,
XI., No. 2, p. 165. Ethan Alien's letter to Lord Dorchester.] In after
years they and their apologists endeavored to explain away their deeds
and words, and tried to show that they were not disunionists; precisely
as the authors of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798 and of
the resolutions of the Hartford Convention in 1814 tried in later years
to show that these also were not disunion movements. The effort is as
vain in one case as in the other. Brown's letter shows that he and the
party with which he was identified were ready to bring about Kentucky's
separation from the Union, if it could safely be done; the prospect of a
commercial alliance with Spain being one of their chief objects, and
affording one of their chief arguments.

Failure of the Separationist Movements.

The publication of Brown's letter and the boldness of the separatist
party spurred to renewed effort the Union men, one of whom, Col. Thomas
Marshall, an uncle of Humphrey Marshall and father of the great
Chief-Justice, sent a full account of the situation to Washington. The
more timid and wavering among the disunionists drew back; and the
agitation was dropped when the new National Government began to show
that it was thoroughly able to keep order at home, and enforce respect
abroad. [Footnote: Letter of Col. T. Marshall, September 11, 1790.]

These separatist movements were general in the West, on the Holston and
Cumberland, as well as on the Ohio, during the troubled years
immediately succeeding the Revolution; and they were furthered by the
intrigues of the Spaniards. But the antipathy of the backwoodsmen to the
Spaniards was too deep-rooted for them ever to effect a real
combination. Ultimately the good sense and patriotism of the Westerners
triumphed; and the American people continued to move forward with
unbroken front towards their mighty future.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 wilderness; 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

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

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

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

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

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.]



While the social condition of the communities on the Cumberland and the
Tennessee had changed very slowly, in Kentucky the changes had been

Colonel Fleming's Journal.

Col. William Fleming, one of the heroes of the battle of the Great
Kanawha, and a man of note on the border, visited Kentucky on surveying
business in the winter of 1779-80. His journal shows the state of the
new settlements as seen by an unusually competent observer; for he was
an intelligent, well-bred, thinking man. Away from the immediate
neighborhood of the few scattered log hamlets, he found the wilderness
absolutely virgin. The easiest way to penetrate the forest was to follow
the "buffalo paths," which the settlers usually adopted for their own
bridle trails, and finally cut out and made into roads. Game swarmed.
There were multitudes of swans, geese, and ducks on the river; turkeys
and the small furred beasts, such as coons, abounded. Big game was
almost as plentiful. Colonel Fleming shot, for the subsistence of
himself and his party, many buffalo, bear, and deer, and some elk. His
attention was drawn by the great flocks of parroquets, which appeared
even in winter, and by the big, boldly colored, ivory-billed
woodpeckers--birds which have long drawn back to the most remote swamps
of the hot Gulf-coast, fleeing before man precisely as the buffalo and
elk have fled.

Like all similar parties he suffered annoyance from the horses straying.
He lost much time in hunting up the strayed beasts, and frequently had
to pay the settlers for helping find them. There were no luxuries to be
had for any money, and even such common necessaries as corn and salt
were scarce and dear. Half a peck of salt cost a little less than eight
pounds, and a bushel of corn the same. The surveying party, when not in
the woods, stayed at the cabins of the more prominent settlers, and had
to pay well for board and lodging, and for washing too.

Kentucky during the Revolution.

Fleming was much struck by the misery of the settlers. At the Falls they
were sickly, suffering with fever and ague; many of the children were
dying. Boonsboro and Harrodsburg were very dirty, the inhabitants were
sickly, and the offal and dead beasts lay about, poisoning the air and
the water. During the winter no more corn could be procured than was
enough to furnish an occasional hoe-cake. The people sickened on a
steady diet of buffalo-bull beef, cured in smoke without salt, and
prepared for the table by boiling. The buffalo was the stand-by of the
settlers; they used his flesh as their common food, and his robe for
covering; they made moccasins of his hide and fiddle-strings of his
sinews, and combs of his horns. They spun his winter coat into yarn, and
out of it they made coarse cloth, like wool. They made a harsh linen
from the bark of the rotted nettles. They got sugar from the maples.
There were then, Fleming estimated, about three thousand souls in
Kentucky. The Indians were everywhere, and all men lived in mortal
terror of their lives; no settlement was free from the dread of the
savages. [Footnote: Draper MSS., Colonel Wm. Fleming, "MS. Journal in
Kentucky," Nov. 12, 1779, to May 27, 1780.]

Immense and Rapid Changes.

Half a dozen years later all this was changed. The settlers had fairly
swarmed into the Kentucky country, and the population was so dense that
the true frontiersmen, the real pioneers, were already wandering off to
Illinois and elsewhere every man of them desiring to live on his own
land, by his own labor, and scorning to work for wages. The unexampled
growth had wrought many changes; not the least was the way in which it
lessened the importance of the first hunter-settlers and
hunter-soldiers. The great herds of game had been woefully thinned, and
certain species, as the buffalo, practically destroyed. The killing of
game was no longer the chief industry, and the flesh and hides of wild
beasts were no longer the staples of food and clothing. The settlers
already raised crops so large that they were anxious to export the
surplus. They no longer clustered together in palisaded hamlets. They
had cut out trails and roads in every direction from one to another of
the many settlements. The scattered clearings on which they generally
lived dotted the forest everywhere, and the towns, each with its
straggling array of log cabins, and its occasional frame houses, did not
differ materially from those in the remote parts of Pennsylvania and
Virginia. The gentry were building handsome houses, and their amusements
and occupations were those of the up-country planters of the seaboard.

The Indian Ravages.

The Indians were still a scourge to the settlements [Footnote: State
Department MSS., No. 151, p. 259, Report of Secretary of War, July 10,
1787; also, No. 60, p. 277.]; but, though they caused much loss of life,
there was not the slightest danger of their imperilling the existence of
the settlements as a whole, or even or any considerable town or group of
clearings. Kentucky was no longer all a frontier. In the thickly peopled
districts life was reasonably safe, though the frontier proper was
harried and the remote farms jeopardized and occasionally abandoned,
[Footnote: Virginia State Papers, iv., 149, State Department MSS., No.
56, p. 271.] while the river route and the wilderness road were beset by
the savages. Where the country was at all well settled, the Indians did
not attack in formidable war bands, like those that had assailed the
forted villages in the early years of their existence; they skulked
through the woods by twos and threes, and pounced only upon the helpless
or the unsuspecting.

Nevertheless, if the warfare was not dangerous to the life and growth of
the Commonwealth, it was fraught with undreamed-of woe and hardship to
individual settlers and their families. On the outlying farms no man
could tell when the blow would fall. Thus, in one backwoodsman's written
reminiscences, there is a brief mention of a settler named Israel Hart,
who, during one May night, in 1787, suffered much from a toothache. In
the morning he went to a neighbor's, some miles away through the forest,
to have his tooth pulled, and when he returned he found his wife and his
five children dead and cut to pieces. [Footnote: Draper MSS., Whitely
MS. Narrative.] Incidents of this kind are related in every contemporary
account of Kentucky; and though they commonly occurred in the thinly
peopled districts, this was not always the case. Teamsters and
travellers were killed on the highroads near the towns--even in the
neighborhood of the very town where the constitutional convention was

Shifting of the Frontiersmen.

In all new-settled regions in the United States, so long as there was a
frontier at all, the changes in the pioneer population proceeded in a
certain definite order, and Kentucky furnished an example of the
process. Throughout our history as a nation the frontiersmen have always
been mainly native Americans, and those of European birth have been
speedily beaten into the usual frontier type by the wild forces against
which they waged unending war. As the frontiersmen conquered and
transformed the wilderness, so the wilderness in its turn created and
preserved the type of man who overcame it. Nowhere else on the continent
has so sharply defined and distinctively American a type been produced
as on the frontier, and a single generation has always been more than
enough for its production. The influence of the wild country upon the
man is almost as great as the effect of the man upon the country. The
frontiersman destroys the wilderness, and yet its destruction means his
own. He passes away before the coming of the very civilization whose
advance guard he has been. Nevertheless, much of his blood remains, and
his striking characteristics have great weight in shaping the
development of the land. The varying peculiarities of the different
groups of men who have pushed the frontier westward at different times
and places remain stamped with greater or less clearness on the people
of the communities that grow up in the frontier's stead. [Footnote:
Frederick Jackson Turner: "The Significance of the Frontier in American
History." A suggestive pamphlet, published by the State Historical
Society of Wisconsin.]

Succession of Types on Frontier.

In Kentucky, as in Tennessee and the western portions of the seaboard
States, and as later in the great West, different types of settlers
appeared successively on the frontier. The hunter or trapper came first.
Sometimes he combined with hunting and trapping the functions of an
Indian trader, but ordinarily the American, as distinguished from the
French or Spanish frontiersman, treated the Indian trade as something
purely secondary to his more regular pursuits. In Kentucky and Tennessee
the first comers from the East were not traders at all, and were hunters
rather than trappers. Boone was a type of this class, and Boone's
descendants went westward generation by generation until they reached
the Pacific.

Close behind the mere hunter came the rude hunter-settler. He pastured
his stock on the wild range, and lived largely by his skill with the
rifle. He worked with simple tools and he did his work roughly. His
squalid cabin was destitute of the commonest comforts; the blackened
stumps and dead, girdled trees stood thick in his small and badly tilled
field. He was adventurous, restless, shiftless, and he felt ill at ease
and cramped by the presence of more industrious neighbors. As they
pressed in round about him he would sell his claim, gather his cattle
and his scanty store of tools and household goods, and again wander
forth to seek uncleared land. The Lincolns, the forbears of the great
President, were a typical family of this class.

Most of the frontiersmen of these two types moved fitfully westward with
the frontier itself, or near it, but in each place where they halted, or
where the advance of the frontier was for the moment stayed, some of
their people remained to grow up and mix with the rest of the settlers.

The Permanent Settlers.

The third class consisted of the men who were thrifty, as well as
adventurous, the men who were even more industrious than restless. These
were they who entered in to hold the land, and who handed it on as an
inheritance to their children and their children's children. Often, of
course, these settlers of a higher grade found that for some reason they
did not prosper, or heard of better chances still farther in the
wilderness, and so moved onwards, like their less thrifty and more
uneasy brethren, the men who half-cleared their lands and half-built
their cabins. But, as a rule, these better-class settlers were not mere
life-long pioneers. They wished to find good land on which to build, and
plant, and raise their big families of healthy children, and when they
found such land they wished to make thereon their permanent homes. They
did not share the impulse which kept their squalid, roving fellows of
the backwoods ever headed for the vague beyond. They had no sympathy
with the feeling which drove these humbler wilderness-wanderers always
onwards, and made them believe, wherever they were, that they would be
better off somewhere else, that they would be better off in that
somewhere which lay in the unknown and untried. On the contrary, these
thriftier settlers meant to keep whatever they had once grasped. They
got clear title to their lands. Though they first built cabins, as soon
as might be they replaced them with substantial houses and barns. Though
they at first girdled and burnt the standing timber, to clear the land,
later they tilled it as carefully as any farmer of the seaboard States.
They composed the bulk of the population, and formed the backbone and
body of the State. The McAfees may be taken as a typical family of this

The Gentry.

Yet a fourth class was composed of the men of means, of the well-to-do
planters, merchants, and lawyers, of the men whose families already
stood high on the Atlantic slope. The Marshalls were such men; and there
were many other families of the kind in Kentucky. Among them were an
unusually large proportion of the families who came from the fertile
limestone region of Botetourt County in Virginia, leaving behind them,
in the hands of their kinsmen, their roomy, comfortable houses, which
stand to this day. These men soon grew to take the leading places in the
new commonwealth. They were of good blood--using the words as they
should be used, as meaning blood that has flowed through the veins of
generations of self-restraint and courage and hard work, and careful
training in mind and in the manly virtues. Their inheritance of sturdy
and self-reliant manhood helped them greatly; their blood told in their
favor as blood generally does tell when other things are equal. If they
prized intellect they prized character more; they were strong in body
and mind, stout of heart, and resolute of will. They felt that pride of
race which spurs a man to effort, instead of making him feel that he is
excused from effort. They realized that the qualities they inherited
from their forefathers ought to be further developed by them as their
forefathers had originally developed them. They knew that their blood
and breeding, though making it probable that they would with proper
effort succeed, yet entitled them to no success which they could not
fairly earn in open contest with their rivals.

Such were the different classes of settlers who successively came into
Kentucky, as into other western lands. There were of course no sharp
lines of cleavage between the classes. They merged insensibly into one
another, and the same individual might, at different times, stand in two
or three. As a rule the individuals composing the first two were crowded
out by their successors, and, after doing the roughest of the pioneer
work, moved westward with the frontier; but some families were of course
continually turning into permanent abodes what were merely temporary
halting places of the greater number.

Change in Subjects of Interest.

With the change in population came the corresponding change in
intellectual interests and in material pursuits. The axe was the tool,
and the rifle the weapon, of the early settlers; their business was to
kill the wild beasts, to fight the savages, and to clear the soil; and
the enthralling topics of conversation were the game and the Indians,
and, as the settlements grew, the land itself. As the farms became
thick, and towns throve, and life became more complex, the chances for
variety in work and thought increased likewise. The men of law sprang
into great prominence, owing in part to the interminable litigation over
the land titles. The more serious settlers took about as much interest
in matters theological as in matters legal; and the congregations of the
different churches were at times deeply stirred by quarrels over
questions of church discipline and doctrine. [Footnote: Durrett
Collection; see various theological writings, e.g., "A Progress," etc.,
by Adam Rankin, Pastor at Lexington. Printed "at the Sign of the
Buffalo," Jan. 1, 1793.] Most of the books were either text-books of the
simpler kinds or else theological.

Except when there was an Indian campaign, politics and the river
commerce formed the two chief interests for all Kentuckians, but
especially for the well-to-do.

Features of the River Travel.

In spite of all the efforts of the Spanish officials the volume of trade
on the Mississippi grew steadily. Six or eight years after the close of
the Revolution the vast stretches of brown water, swirling ceaselessly
between the melancholy forests, were already furrowed everywhere by the
keeled and keelless craft. The hollowed log in which the Indian paddled;
the same craft, the pirogue, only a little more carefully made, and on a
little larger model, in which the creole trader carried his load of
paints and whiskey and beads and bright cloths to trade for the peltries
of the savage; the rude little scow in which some backwoods farmer
drifted down stream with his cargo, the produce of his own toil; the
keel boats which, with square-sails and oars, plied up as well as down
the river; the flotilla of huge flat boats, the property of some rich
merchant, laden deep with tobacco and flour, and manned by crews who
were counted rough and lawless even in the rough and lawless
backwoods--all these, and others too, were familiar sights to every
traveller who descended the Mississippi from Pittsburgh to New Orleans,
[Footnote: John Pope's "Tour," in 1790. Printed at Richmond in 1792.] or
who was led by business to journey from Louisville to St. Louis or to
Natchez or New Madrid.

The fact that the river commerce throve was partly the cause and partly
the consequence of the general prosperity of Kentucky. The pioneer days,
with their fierce and squalid struggle for bare life, were over. If men
were willing to work, and escaped the Indians, they were sure to succeed
in earning a comfortable livelihood in a country so rich. "The neighbors
are doing well in every sense of the word," wrote one Kentuckian to
another, "they get children and raise crops." [Footnote: Draper MSS.,
Jonathan Clark Papers. O'Fallen to Clark, Isles of Ohio, May 30, 1791.]
Like all other successful and masterful people the Kentuckians fought
well and bred well, and they showed by their actions their practical
knowledge of the truth that no race can ever hold its own unless its
members are able and willing to work hard with their hands.

Standard of Living.

The general prosperity meant rude comfort everywhere; and it meant a
good deal more than rude comfort for the men of greatest ability. By the
time the river commerce had become really considerable, the rich
merchants, planters, and lawyers had begun to build two-story houses of
brick or stone, like those in which they had lived in Virginia. They
were very fond of fishing, shooting, and riding, and were lavishly
hospitable. They sought to have their children well taught, not only in
letters but in social accomplishments like dancing; and at the proper
season they liked to visit the Virginian watering-places, where they met
"genteel company" from the older States, and lodged in good taverns in
which "a man could have a room and a bed to himself." [Footnote: Letter
of a young Virginian, L. Butler, April 13, 1790. _Magazine of Amer.
Hist.,_ i., 113.]

An agreement entered into about this time between one of the Clarks and
a friend shows that Kentuckians were already beginning to appreciate the
merits of neat surroundings even for a rather humble town-house. This
particular house, together with, the stable and lot, was rented for "one
cow" for the first eight months, and two dollars a month after
that--certainly not an excessive rate; and it was covenanted that
everything should be kept in good repair, and particularly that the
grass plots around the house should not be "trod on or tore up."
[Footnote: Draper MSS. Wm. Clark Papers. Agreement between Clark and
Bagley, April 1, 1790.]

Interest in Politics.

All Kentuckians took a great interest in politics, as is the wont of
self-asserting, independent freemen, living under a democratic
government. But the gentry and men of means and the lawyers very soon
took the lead in political affairs. A larger proportion of these classes
came from Virginia than was the case with the rest of the population,
and they shared the eagerness and aptitude for political life generally
shown by the leading families of Virginia. In many cases they were kin
to these families; not, however, as a rule, to the families of the
tidewater region, the aristocrats of colonial days, but to the
families--so often of Presbyterian Irish stock--who rose to prominence
in western Virginia at the time of the Revolution. In Kentucky all were
mixed together, no matter from what State they came, the wrench of the
break from their home ties having shaken them so that they readily
adapted themselves to new conditions, and easily assimilated with one
another. As for their differences of race origin, these had ceased to
influence their lives even before they came to Kentucky. They were all
Americans, in feeling as well as in name, by habit as well as by birth;
and the positions they took in the political life of the West was
determined partly by the new conditions surrounding them, and partly by
the habits bred in them through generations of life on American soil.

Clark's Breakdown.

One man, who would naturally have played a prominent part in Kentucky
politics, failed to do so from a variety of causes. This was George
Rogers Clark. He was by preference a military rather than a civil
leader; he belonged by choice and habit to the class of pioneers and
Indian fighters whose influence was waning; his remarkable successes had
excited much envy and jealousy, while his subsequent ignominious failure
had aroused contempt; and, finally, he was undone by his fondness for
strong drink. He drew himself to one side, though he chafed at the need,
and in his private letters he spoke with bitterness of the "big little
men," the ambitious nobodies, whose jealousy had prompted them to
destroy him by ten thousand lies; and, making a virtue of necessity, he
plumed himself on the fact that he did not meddle with politics, and
sneered at the baseness of his fellow-citizens, whom he styled "a swarm
of hungry persons gaping for bread." [Footnote: Draper MSS., G. R. Clark
to J. Clark, April 20, 1788, and September 2, 1791.]

Logan's Prominence.

Benjamin Logan, who was senior colonel and county lieutenant of the
District of Kentucky, stood second to Clark in the estimation of the
early settlers, the men who, riding their own horses and carrying their
own rifles, had so often followed both commanders on their swift raids
against the Indian towns. Logan naturally took the lead in the first
serious movement to make Kentucky an independent state. In its
beginnings this movement showed a curious parallelism to what was
occurring in Franklin at the same time, though when once fairly under
way the difference between the cases became very strongly marked. In
each case the prime cause in starting the movement was trouble with the
Indians. In each, the first steps were taken by the commanders of the
local militia, and the first convention was summoned on the same plan, a
member being elected by every militia company. The companies were
territorial as well as military units, and the early settlers were all,
in practice as well as in theory, embodied in the militia. Thus in both
Kentucky and Franklin the movements were begun in the same way by the
same class of Indian-fighting pioneers; and the method of organization
chosen shows clearly the rough military form which at that period
settlement in the wilderness, in the teeth of a hostile savagery, always

Conference of Militia Officers.

In 1784 fear of a formidable Indian invasion--an unwarranted fear, as
the result showed--became general in Kentucky, and in the fall Logan
summoned a meeting of the field officers to discuss the danger and to
provide against it. When the officers gathered and tried to evolve some
plan of operations, they found that they were helpless. They were merely
the officers of one of the districts of Virginia; they could take no
proper steps of their own motion, and Virginia was too far away and her
interests had too little in common with theirs, for the Virginian
authorities to prove satisfactory substitutes for their own. [Footnote:
Marshall, himself an actor in these events, is the best authority for
this portion of Kentucky history; see also Green; and compare Collins,
Butler, and Brown] No officials in Kentucky were authorized to order an
expedition against the Indians, or to pay the militia who took part in
it, or to pay for their provisions and munitions of war. Any expedition
of the kind had to be wholly voluntary, and could of course only be
undertaken under the strain of a great emergency; as a matter of fact
the expeditions of Clark and Logan in 1786 were unauthorized by law, and
were carried out by bodies of mere volunteers, who gathered only because
they were forced to do so by bitter need. Confronted by such a condition
of affairs, the militia officers issued a circular-letter to the people
of the district, recommending that on December 24,1784, a convention
should be held at Danville further to consider the subject, and that
this convention should consist of delegates elected one from each
militia company.

First Convention Elected by Militia Companies.

The recommendation was well received by the people of the district; and
on the appointed date the convention met at Danville. Col. William
Fleming, the old Indian fighter and surveyor, was again visiting
Kentucky, and he was chosen President of the convention. After some
discussion the members concluded that, while some of the disadvantages
under which they labored could be remedied by the action of the Virginia
Legislature, the real trouble was deep-rooted, and could only be met by
separation from Virginia and the erection of Kentucky into a state.
There was, however, much opposition to this plan, and the convention
wisely decided to dissolve, after recommending to the people to elect,
by counties, members who should meet in convention at Danville in May
for the express purpose of deciding on the question of addressing to the
Virginia Assembly a request for separation. [Footnote: State Dep. MSS.
Madison Papers, Wallace to Madison, Sept. 25, 1785.]

Second Convention Held.

The convention assembled accordingly, Logan being one of the members,
while it was presided over by Col. Samuel McDowell, who, like Fleming,
was a veteran Indian fighter and hero of the Great Kanawha. Up to this
point the phases through which the movement for statehood in Kentucky
had passed were almost exactly the same as the phases of the similar
movement in Franklin. But the two now entered upon diverging lines of
progression. In each case the home government was willing to grant the
request for separation, but wished to affix a definite date to their
consent, and to make the fulfilment of certain conditions a
prerequisite. In each case there were two parties in the district
desiring separation, one of them favoring immediate and revolutionary
action, while the other, with much greater wisdom and propriety, wished
to act through the forms of law and with the consent of the parent
State. In Kentucky the latter party triumphed. Moreover, while up to the
time of this meeting of the May convention the leaders in the movement
had been the old Indian fighters, after this date the lead was taken by
men who had come to Kentucky only after the great rush of immigrants
began. The new men were not backwoods hunter-warriors, like Clark and
Logan, Sevier, Robertson, and Tipton. They were politicians of the
Virginia stamp. They founded political clubs, one of which, the Danville
club, became prominent, and in them they discussed with fervid eagerness
the public questions of the day, the members showing a decided tendency
towards the Jeffersonian school of political thought.

Convention Urges Independence.

The convention, which met at Danville, in May, 1785, decided unanimously
that it was desirable to separate, by constitutional methods, from
Virginia, and to secure admission as a separate state into the Federal
Union. Accordingly, it directed the preparation of a petition to this
effect, to be sent to the Virginia Legislature, and prepared an address
to the people in favor of the proposed course of action. Then, in a
queer spirit of hesitancy, instead of acting on its own responsibility,
as it had both the right and power to do, the convention decided that
the issuing of the address, and the ratification of its own actions
generally, should be submitted to another convention, which was summoned
to meet at the same place in August of the same year. The people of the
district were as yet by no means a unit in favor of separation, and this
made the convention hesitate to take any irrevocable step.

One of the members of this convention was Judge Caleb Wallace, a recent
arrival in Kentucky, and a representative of the new school of Kentucky
politicians. He was a friend and ally of Brown and Innes. He was also a
friend of Madison, and to him he wrote a full account of the reasons
which actuated the Kentuckians in the step they had taken. [Footnote:
State Department MSS. Madison Papers, Caleb Wallace to Madison, July 12,
1785.] He explained that he and the people of the district generally
felt that they did not "enjoy a greater portion of liberty than an
American colony might have done a few years ago had she been allowed a
representation in the British Parliament." He complained bitterly that
some of the taxes were burdensome and unjust, and that the money raised
for the expenses of government all went to the east, to Virginia proper,
while no corresponding benefits were received; and insisted that the
seat of government was too remote for Kentucky ever to get justice from
the rest of the State. Therefore, he said, he thought it would be wiser
to part in peace rather than remain together in discontented and jealous
union. But he frankly admitted that he was by no means sure that the
people of the district possessed sufficient wisdom and virtue to fit
them for successful self-government, and he anxiously asked Madison's
advice as to several provisions which it was thought might be embodied
in the constitution of the new state.

The Separatists Urge Immediate Revolution.

In the August convention Wilkinson sat as a member, and he succeeded in
committing his colleagues to a more radical course of action than that
of the preceding convention. The resolutions they forwarded to the
Virginia Legislature, asked the immediate erection of Kentucky into an
independent state, and expressed the conviction that the new
commonwealth would undoubtedly be admitted into the Union. This, of
course, meant that Kentucky would first become a power outside and
independent of the Union; and no provision was made for entry into the
Union beyond the expression of a hopeful belief that it would be

Such a course would have been in the highest degree unwise and the
Virginians refused to allow it to be followed. Their Legislature, in
January, 1786, provided that a new convention should be held in Kentucky
in September, 1786, and that, if it declared for independence, the state
should come into being after the 1st of September, 1787, provided,
however, that Congress, before June 1, 1787, consented to the erection
of the new state, and agreed to its admission into the Union. It was
also provided that another convention should be held, in the summer of
1787, to draw up a constitution for the new state. [Footnote: Marshall,
i., 224]

Virginia Wisely Affixes Conditions to her Consent

Virginia thus, with great propriety, made the acquiescence of Congress a
condition precedent for formation of the new State. Wilkinson
immediately denounced this condition that Kentucky declare herself an
independent State forthwith, no matter what Congress or Virginia might
say. All the disorderly, unthinking, and separatist elements followed
his lead. Had his policy been adopted the result would probably have
been a civil war; and at the least there would have followed a period of
anarchy and confusion, and a condition of things similar to that
obtaining at this very time in the territory of Franklin. The most
enlightened and far-seeing men of the district were alarmed at the
outlook; and a vigorous campaign in favor of orderly action was begun,
under the lead of men like the Marshalls. These men were themselves
uncompromisingly in favor of statehood for Kentucky; but they insisted
that it should come in an orderly way, and not by a silly and needless
revolution, which could serve no good purpose and was certain to entail
much disorder and suffering upon the community. They insisted,
furthermore, that there should be no room for doubt in regard to the new
state's entering the Union. There were thus two well defined parties,
and there were hot contests for seats in the convention. One unforeseen
event delayed the organization of that body. When the time that it
should have convened arrived, Clark and Logan were making their raids
against the Shawnees and the Wabash Indians. So many members-elect were
absent in command of their respective militia companies that the
convention merely met to adjourn, no quorum to transact business being
obtained until January, 1787. The convention then sent to the Virginian
Legislature explaining the reason for the delay, and requesting that the
terms of the act of separation already passed should be changed to suit
the new conditions.

Virginia Makes Needless Delay.

Virginia had so far acted wisely; but now she in her turn showed
unwisdom, for her Legislature passed a new act, providing for another
convention, to be held in August, 1787, the separation from Virginia
only to be consummated if Congress, prior to July 4, 1788, should agree
to the erection of the state and provide for its admission to the Union.
When news of this act, with its requirement of needless and tedious
delay, reached the Kentucky convention, it adjourned for good, with much

Wilkinson and the other separatist leaders took advantage of this very
natural chagrin to inflame the minds of the people against both Virginia
and Congress. It was at this time that the Westerners became deeply
stirred by exaggerated reports of the willingness of Congress to yield
the right to navigate the Mississippi; and the separatist chiefs fanned
their discontent by painting the danger as real and imminent, although
they must speedily have learned that it had already ceased to exist.
Moreover, there was much friction between the Federal and Virginian
authorities and the Kentucky militia officers in reference to the Indian
raids. The Kentuckians showed a disposition to include all Indians, good
and bad alike, in the category of foes. On the other hand the home
authorities were inclined to forbid the Kentuckians to make the
offensive return-forays which could alone render successful their
defensive war-fare against the savages. All these causes combined to
produce much irritation, and the separatists began to talk rebellion.
One of their leaders, Innes, in a letter to the Governor of Virginia,
threatened that Kentucky would revolt not only from the parent State but
from the Union, if heed were not paid to her wishes and needs.
(Footnote: Green, 83.)

The Kentuckians Grumble but Acquiesce.

However, at this time Wilkinson started on his first trading voyage to
New Orleans, and the district was freed from his very undesirable
presence. He was the main-spring of the movement in favor of lawless
separation; for the furtive, restless, unscrupulous man had a talent for
intrigue which rendered him dangerous at a crisis of such a kind. In his
absence the feeling cooled. The convention met in September, 1787, and
acted with order and propriety, passing an act which provided for
statehood upon the terms and conditions laid down by Virginia. The act
went through by a nearly unanimous vote, only two members dissenting,
while three or four refused to vote either way. Both Virginia and the
Continental Congress were notified of the action taken.

The only adverse comment that could be made on the proceedings was that
in the address to Congress there was expressed a doubt, which was almost
equivalent to a threat, as to what the district would do if it was not
given full life as a state. But this fear as to the possible
consequences was real, and many persons who did not wish for even a
constitutional separation, nevertheless favored it because they dreaded
lest the turbulent and disorderly elements might break out in open
violence if they saw themselves chained indefinitely to those whose
interests were, as they believed, hostile to theirs. The lawless and
shiftless folk, and the extreme separatists, as a whole, wished for
complete and absolute independence of both State and Nation, because it
would enable them to escape paying their share of the Federal and State
debts, would permit them to confiscate the lands of those whom they
called "nonresident monopolizers," and would allow of their treating
with the Indians according to their own desires. The honest,
hardworking, forehanded, and farsighted people thought that the best way
to defeat these mischievous agitators was to take the matter into their
own hands, and provide for Kentucky's being put on an exact level with
the older States. [Footnote: State Dep. MSS. Madison Papers, Wallace to
Madison, Nov. 12, 1787.]

Renewal of the Disunion Agitation.

With Wilkinson's return to Kentucky, after his successful trading trip

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