In 1784, the state of North Carolina attempted to cede its claim to western lands to the Articles of Confederation government. Included in this cession was the area of present-day northeastern Tennessee that was home to the Watauga settlements. Before the newly-created United States government could accept the North Carolinian offer, the state withdrew it.
Settlers in the area had learned about the proposed cession by North Carolina, but not the repeal. The frontiersmen placed little confidence in eastern governments of any kind. The threat from local Indian tribes had always been a concern, but was increasingly so after North Carolina stopped making treaty payments.
Later in 1784, settlers in the area organized a new state and named it honor of Benjamin Franklin. They elected legislators, enacted laws, and raised a militia. Taxes were assessed and usually paid in pelts, whiskey, and bacon. John Sevier was elected governor and headed the government in Jonesborough.
Officials in North Carolina were not comfortable with the frontiersmen's independent spirit. To address a long-standing complaint, North Carolina dispatched judges to Franklin so that the settlers would not have to cross the mountains in search of justice. In the years 1784 to 1788, an unusual situation existed in which both Franklin and North Carolina attempted to govern the same area. At one point John Sevier was arrested on treason charges by North Carolina agents, but he was later released and went on to serve in the state legislature and the US Congress.
In 1790, North Carolina formally ceded its western claims for a second time. The area was organized as the Southwest Territory; Tennessee was admitted as a state in 1796.
The brief State of Franklin episode illustrates the frustration of many frontier settlements. Eastern governments were remote and often unresponsive to the settlers' needs. For four years the residents of Franklin decided to do for themselves what others had failed to do.
The Act of Cession of Tennessee: As Congress was heavily in debt at the close of the Revolutionary War, North Carolina, in 1784, "voted to give Congress the twenty-nine million acres lying between the Alleghany mountains and the Mississippi river." This did not please the Watauga setlers, and a few months later the legislature of North Carolina withdrew its gift, and again took charge of its western land because it feared the land would not be used to pay the debts of Congress. These North Carolina lawmakers also "ordered judges to hold court in the western counties, arranged to enroll a brigade of soldiers, and appointed John Sevier to command it."
Franklin: In August, 1784, a convention met at Jonesboro and formed a new State, with a constitution providing that lawyers, doctors, and preachers should never be members of the legislature; but the people rejected it, and then adopted the constitution of North Carolina in November, 1785, at Greeneville. They made a few changes in the North Carolina constitution, but called the State Franklin. John Sevier was elected governor and David Campbell judge of the Superior court. Greeneville was made the capital. The first legislature met in 1785; Landon Carter was the Speaker of the Senate, and Thomas Talbot clerk. William Gage was Speaker of the House, and Thomas Chapman clerk. The Convention made treaties with the Indians, opened courts, organized new counties, and fixed taxes and officers salaries to be paid in money, corn, tobacco, whiskey, skins, etc., including everything in common use among the people.
Tennessee's View of the Act of Cession: "The settlers lived and their public affairs were conducted under the jurisdiction of the county Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for a period of about six years, in a quiet and orderly manner; but ever since that May day of 1772, when they organized the first "free and independent government," their dream had been of a new, separate, and independent commonwealth, and they began to be restless, dissatisfied, and disaffected toward the government of North Carolina. Many causes seemed to conspire to increase their discontent. The first Consitution of North Carolina had made provision for a future state within her limits, on the western side of the Alleghany mountains. The mother state had persistently refused, on the plea of poverty, to establish a Superior Court and appoint an attorney general or prosecuting officer for the inhabitants west of the mountains.
In 1784, many claims for compensation for military services, supplies, etc., in the campaigns against the Indians, were presented to the state government from the settlements west of the Alleghanies. North Carolina was impoverished; and, notwithstanding the fact that these claims were just, reasonable, and honest it was suggested, and perhaps believed, 'that all pretenses were laid hold of (by the settlers) to fabricate demands against the government, and that the industry and property of those who resided on the east side of the mountains were become the funds appropriated to discharge the debts contracted by those on the west.' Thus it came about that, in May, l784, North Carolina, in order to relieve herself of this burden ceded to the United States her territory west of the Alleghanies, provided that Congress would accept it within two years. At a subsequent session, an Act was passed retaining jurisdiction and sovereignity over the territory until it should have been accepted by Congress. Immediately after passing the Act of cession, North Carolina closed the land office in the ceded territory, and nullified all entries of land made after May 25, 1784.
"The passage of the cession Act stopped the delivery
of a quantity of goods which North Carolina was under promise
to deliver to the Cherokee Indians, as compensation for their
claim to certain lands. The failure to deliver these goods naturally
exasperated the Cherokees, and caused them to commit depredations,
from which the western settlers were of course the sufferers."
(McGhee's History of Tennessee).
"The general opinion among the settlers west of the Alleghanies was that the territory would not be accepted by Congress... and that, for a period of two years, the people in that territory, being under the protection neither of the government of the United States nor of the State of North Carolina, would neither receive any support from abroad nor be able to command their own resources at home - for the North Carolina Act had subjected them to the payment of taxes to the United States government. At the same time, there was no relaxation of Indian hostilities. Under these circumstances, the great body of people west of the Alleghanies concluded that there was but one thing left for them to do, and that was to adopt a constitution and organize a state government of their own. This they proceeded to do." (McGhee's History of Tennessee.)
Sevier and North Carolina: In this condition of affairs the state of Franklin had been organized. The cession Act was repealed and a judge sent to Tennessee to hold court; but there were two rival governments attempting to exercise power in the Watauga settlement, and there were, in consequence, frequent clashes, between Colonel John Tipton's forces, representing North Carolina, and those of John Sevier. According to Roosevelt, from whose history the balance of this account has been taken, the desire to separate from the states was strong throughout the west owing to the ravages of the Indians and the refusal of the right to the settlers to navigate the Mississippi. The reason the Watauga settlers seized upon the first pretext to separate from one mother state was because most of them were originally from Virginia, and in settling where they did, supposed they were still on Virginia soil.
Then, too, North Carolina had a weak government, and Virginia was far more accessible to the pioneers than the Old North State. While Kentucky had settled up after the Revolutionary War with "men who were often related by ties of kinship to the leaders of the Virginia legislatures and conventions," the North Carolina settlers who came to Watauga "were usually of the type of those who had first built their stockaded hamlets on the bank of the Watauga, and the first leaders of Watauga continued at head of affairs." Many of these, including Robertson and Sevier, had been born in Virginia, where there was intense state pride, and felt little loyalty to North Carolina. It is, however, but just to say that James Robertson had no part in this attempt to set up a separate state government, he having already gone to the French Licks where he had established a government which was as loyal to North Carolina as its remoteness admitted.
North Carolina herself wished to be rid of the frontiersmen, because it was poor and felt the burden of the debts contracted in the Indian wars of the border. Then, too, the jurisdiction of the state courts had not been extended over these four western counties, Davidson, Washington, Sullivan, and Greene, although they sent representatives to the state legislature at Hillsborough. Consequently those counties became a refuge for outlaws, who had to be dealt with by the settlers without the sanction of law. In June 1784, the legislature passed an Act ceding all the western lands to the Continental Congress, to be void in case Congress did not accept the gift within two years; but continuing its sovereignty and jurisdiction over the ceded lands. Even the members from these four counties then in the legislature of the mother state voted for the cession. It was a time of transition between the weakness of the Confederation and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution of 1787; but North Carolina did not propose to allow this new state to set up for itself without her formal and free consent. It, therefore, set about reducing the recalcitrants to submission, and soon the last vestige of the Sevier government had become extinct.
Colonel John Tipton: Although this gentleman had at first favored the separation, he had opposed putting the Act of independence into force till North Carolina could be given an opportunity to rectify the wrongs complained of, and it was he who became the leader in the suppression of Sevier's government. About March, 1788, a writ was issued by North Carolina courts and executed against Sevier's estate, the sheriff seizing his negroes, and taking them to the house of Colonel Tipton on Sinking Creek for safe keeping. Sevier, with 150 men and a light field-piece, marched to retake them and besieged Tipton, and from thirty to forty of his men a couple of days, during which two or three men were killed or wounded. Then the county lieutenant of Sullivan with 180 militia came to Tipton's rescue, surprised Sevier at dawn on the last of February, 1788, killing one or two men and taking two of Sevier's sons prisoners. 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, during which some marauding Indians killed eleven women and children of the family of John Kirk on Little River, seven miles south of Knoxville while Kirk and his eldest son were absent.
A Blot on Sevier's Escutcheon: Later on, young Kirk joined about forty men led by Sevier to a small Cherokee town opposite Chuhowa. These Indians were well known to be have been friendly to the whites, and among them was Old Tassel, or 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 them then ceded lands. Even Indians crossed the river, and on demand of the whites ferried them over. 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 vengeance fell on the wrongdoers or on the innocent. He entered the hut where the Cherokee chiefs were confined, brained them with his tomahawk, while his comrades looked on without interfering. Sevier's friends asserted that he was absent; but this is no excuse. He knew well the fierce bloodlust of his followers, and it was criminal negligence 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."
The Horror of the Frontiersmen: Such was the indignation with which this deed was received by the better class of backwoodsmen that Sevier's forces melted away, and was obliged to abandon a march he had planned against the Chickamaugas. The Continental Congress passed resolutions condemning such acts, and the justices of the court of Abbeville, SC, with Andrew Pickens at their head, "wrote to the people living on Nollachucky, French Broad and Holstein" denouncing in unmeasured terms the encroachments and outrages of which Sevier and his backwoodsmen had been guilty. "The governor of North Carolina, as soon as he heard the news, ordered the arrest of Sevier and his associates [for treason] doubtless as much because of their revolt against the state as because of the atrocities they had committed against the Indians. 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."
Sevier is Arrested for High Treason: Sevier knew this warrant, and during the summer of 1788, led his bands of wild horsemen on forays against the Cherokee towns, never fighting a pitched battle, but by hard riding taking them by surprise. As long as he remained on the frontier he was in no danger; but late in October, 1788, he ventured back to Jonesborough, where he drank freely and caroused with his friends. He soon quarreled with one of Tipton's side, who denounced him 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. Meantime, one of the men with whom he had quarreled informed Tipton that his foe was within his grasp. Tipton gathered eight or ten men and early next morning surprised Sevier in his lodgings. Sevier could do nothing but surrender, and Tipton put him in irons, and sent him across the mountains to Morganton in North Carolina."
Dr. Ramsey's Account of the Arrest: In his "Annals of Tennessee" (p.427) this writer copies Haywood's History of Tennessee "The pursuers then went to the widow Brown's where Sevier was. Tipton and the party with him rushed forward to the door of common entrance. It was about sunrise. Mrs. Brown had just risen. Seeing a party with arms at that early hour, well-acquainted with Colonel Tipton, probably rightly apprehending the cause of this visit, she sat herself down in the front door to prevent their getting into the house, which caused a considerable bustle between her and Colonel Tipton. Sevier had slept near one end of the house and, on hearing a noise, sprung from his bed and, looking through a hole in the doorside, saw Colonel Love, upon which he opened the door and held out his hand, saying to Colonel Love, 'I surrender to you.' Colonel Love led him to the place where Tipton and Mrs. Brown were contending about a passage into the house. Tipton, upon seeing Sevier, was greatly enraged, and swore that he would hang him. Tipton held a pistol in his hand, sometimes swearing he would shoot him, and Sevier was really afraid that he would put his threat into execution. Tipton at length became calm and ordered Sevier to get his horse, for that he would carry him to Jonesborough. Sevier pressed Colonel Love to go with him to Jonesborough, which the latter consented to do. On the way he requested of Colonel Love to use his influence that he might not be sent over the mountains into North Carolina. Colonel Love remonstrated to him against an imprisonment in Jonesborough, for, said he, 'Tipton will place a strong guard around you there; your friends will attempt a rescue, and bloodshed will be the result'. As soon as they arrived at Jonesborough, Tipton ordered iron handcuffs to be put on him, which was accordingly done. He then carried the governor to the residence of Colonel Love and that of the widow Pugh, whence he went home, leaving Sevier in the custody of the deputy sheriff and two other men, with orders to carry him to Morganton, and lower down, if he thought it necessary. Colonel Love traveled with him till late in the evening.
"Before Colonel Love had left the guard, they had, at his request, taken off the irons of their prisoner. A few days afterwards, James and John Sevier, sons of the Governor, and some few others were seen by Colonel Love following the way the guard had gone. The guard proceeded with him to Morganton where they delivered him to William Morrison, the then high Sheriff of Burke County. General [Charles] McDowell and General Joseph McDowell both followed him immediately to Morganton and there became his securities for a few days to visit friends. He returned promptly. The sheriff then, upon his own responsibility, let him have a few days more to visit friends and acquaintances. By this time, his two sons and others, came into Morganton without any knowledge of the people there, who they were, or what their business was. Court was sitting in Morganton and they were with the people, generally, without suspicion. At night, when the court broke up and the people dispersed, they, with the governor, pushed forward towards the mountains with the greatest rapidity, and before morning arrived at them."
Roosevelt Repudiates the Sensational Account: In a foot note on page 226, Vol. iv, Roosevelt says: "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 an open court on a celebrated race mare. The basis for this 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 must be set aside as mere fable." The late Judge A. C. Avery, in 1889, published in the Morganton Weekly Herald a third account, to the effect that after having been released on bond a few days Sevier surrendered himself to the sheriff of Burke and went to jail; that afterwards, when his case was called the sheriff started with him to the court, but Sevier's friends managed to get him separated from the sheriff and to open a way for him to his horse then being held near by. But this, too, rests upon what old men of thirty years prior to 1889 said their fathers had told them.
Sevier's Second Treason Against the State: Miro in New Orleans and Gardoqui in Washington, were the chief representatives of Spain in America in 1778, and 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 to 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 new-born 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 Spaniards.
At the time, North Carolina was out of the Union (not having yet ratified the Constitution) so Sevier committed no offense against the Federal Government." So, when Gardoqui heard of the fight between Sevier's and Tipton's men, he sent an emissary to Sevier, who 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 cautious offers; though careful not to promise to subject him 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 [Gardoqui's emissary] when the latter made his return journey to the Federal Capital." In one of these letters 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 aliance 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.
He sent them to New Orleans that Miro might hear and judge their plans, 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 of Federalism, but to show his hostility to North Carolina, which had at first refused to enter the new Union. 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. 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."
Washington County sent John Sevier as a representative to the North Carolina legislature in 1789, and late in that session he was reluctantly admitted. He was also a member of the first Congress of the United States from North Carolina March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1791, and was elected the first governor of Tennessee.
Sevier and Tipton: It must be admitted that Sevier had upon the repeal of the Act of cession "counselled his fellow citizens to abandon the movement for a new state" and after the expiration of his term and the collapse of the Franklin government he wrote to one of the opposing party, not personally unfriendly to him, that he had been dragged into the Franklin government 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. John Tipton, on the other hand, while favoring the formation of an independent state at the outset, voted against putting the new government into immediate operation, presumably because he hoped that when the mother state realized the seriousness of the defection in Watauga, she would remedy the wrongs of which the frontiersmen had complained.
In this he was right; but when in November, 1785, the convention met at Greeneville to provide a permanent constitution for the new state, he favored the adoption of a much more radical charter as a remedy for the ills under which the people suffered than Sevier, whose influence secured the adoption of the constitution of the very state from which the western people had withdrawn. To some, this document favored by Tipton seems absurd, but it had been drawn by no less a man than the redoubtable Sam Houston, afterwards president of the Republic of Texas. [This is in error, the Sam Houston here was the father of the Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas].
James Robertson: In May, 1771, James Robertson, his brother Charles, and sixteen families from Wake County reached Watauga, preceding Sevier by about one year. Robertson at once became the brains of the settlement - its balance wheel, so to speak. Robertson and Sevier proved themselves to be, "with the exception of George Rogers Clark; the greatest of the first generation of trans-Alleghany Pioneers" for they were the fathers of the first self-governing body in America.
For there on the banks of the sparkling Watauga
In 1779-1780, he founded the Cumberland settlement where Nashville now stands, and Roosevelt gives him the chief credit for the tuition under which those frontiersmen were governed from the first, though Richard Henderson was present, counselling and aiding. When, however, Henderson's title proved null, he returned home, while Robertson remained, and piloted the settlers through the dangers of that early day. Thus, though he had no share in the Battle of Kings Mountain, he was at that time doing a work quite as important as fighting the British; for he was guiding the most-remote of the western settlements in America on the difficult path of self-government.
Sevier's Spring at Bakersville: There is a fine spring at Bakersville, nearly in front of the old Penland House, now the Young Hotel, at which it is said that Sevier and his party stopped and rested after leaving Morganton. About 1850, an old sword was found near this spring, and was supposed to have been lost by one of these mountaineers. They reached Cathey's, or Cathoo's, plantation that night, after coming twenty miles from Elk Hollow, at the mouth of a small eastern tributary of the North Toe flowing north from Gillespie's gap, and called Grassy Creek. Here they camped. It is near what is now Spruce Pine on the line of the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad. "On Friday the 29th they passed up Grassy creek and through Gillespie's gap in the Blue Ridge, where they divided; Campbell's men, at least, going six or seven miles south to Henry Gillespie's, and a little below to Colonel William Wofford's Fort, both in Turkey Cove; while the others pursued the old trace in a easterly direction, about the same distance, to the North Cove, on the North Fork of the Catawba, where they camped for the night in the woods, on the bank of that stream, just above the mouth of Honeycutt's creek."
Sycamore Shoals Monument: Monuments have been placed along this route to mark it permanently; Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee, at Elk Hollow, at the mouth of Grassy Creek near Spruce Pine, and at the junction of Honeycutt's Creek and the North Fork, near a station on the C. C. & O. Railroad known as Linville Falls. The monument at Sycamore Shoals is beautiful, and was erected September 26, 1909 by Bonny Kate, John Sevier, and Sycamore Shoals chapters D. A. R. Here it was that the Patriots on their way to Kings Mountain assembled under Sevier, Shelby, and Campbell, September 25, 1780. On the southern face is the inscription: "The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Also a statement that Fort Watauga, the first settlers' fort built west of the Alleghanies, was erected here in 1770. Also a statement that "Here was negotiated the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals under which Transylvania was acquired from the Cherokees, March 19, 1775."
Robert Love: He was born near the Tinkling Spring Meeting house, Augusta County, Virginia, May 11, 1760. His father was Samuel, son of Epbraim Love, captain of the Colonial Horse; and his mother Dorcas, second daughter of James Bell, to whom had been issued on the formation of Augusta County, October 30, 1745, a "commission of the Peace." Samuel Love and Dorcas Bell were married July 3, 1759. Robert Love was christened by Rev. John Craig, who was pastor of the Tinkling Spring church from 1740 to 1764. It was at this old church that the eloquent James Waddell, afterwards immortalized by William Wirt, was pastor for several years, though he did not become "The Blind Preacher" till after the Revolutionary War and he had removed to Gordonsville, his blindness having been caused by cataract.
Robert Love's pension papers show that he was on the expedition under Colonel Christie in 1776 against the Cherokees; that he was at Fort Henry on Long Island of the Holston in 1777; that he was stationed in 1778 at the head of the Clinch and Sandy rivers (Fort Robertson), and operated against the Shawnees from April to October; that from 1779 to 1780 he was engaged against the Tories on Tom's creek, New River, and Cripple creek, at Moravian Old Town, and at the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin, under Colonel William Campbell; that in 1781 he was engaged in Guilford County "and the adjoining county" against Cornwallis, and "was in a severe battle with his army at Whitesell Mill and the Rudy Ford of the Haw River, under General Pickens; that from this place, with Captain William Doach, he was sent back "from the rendezvous at the Lead Mines to collect and bring more men;" that in 1782 he "was again stationed out on the frontiers of the Clinch, at Fort Robertson from June to October."
He was living in Montgomery, now Wythe County, Virginia, when he entered the service in 1776, and after the Revolutionary War, his parents being dead, he moved with William Gregory and his family to Washington County, NC (now Tennessee), in the fall of 1782. Having moved to Greasy Cove, now Erwin, Tennessee, he married Mary Ann Dillard, daughter of Colonel Thomas Dillard of Pittsylvania county, Virginia, on the 11th day of September, 1783; and on the 5th of April, 1833, he made application for a pension under the act of Congress of June 7, 1832, attaching his commission signed by Benjamin Harrison, governor of Virginia; but, a question having arisen as to the date of this commission Andrew Jackson wrote from The Hermitage on October 12, 1837, to the effect that he had known Colonel Love since the fall of 1784, and that there "is no man in this Union who has sustained a higher reputation for integrity than Colonel Robert Love, with all men and with all parties, although himself a uniform democratic Republican, and that no man stands deservedly higher as a man of great moral worth than Colonel Love has always stood in the estimation of all who knew him."
Even this endorsement, however, did not serve to secure the pension; but when E. H. McClure of Haywood filed an affidavit to the effect that the date of the commission was 1781 or 1782, official red-tape had no other refuge, and granted the pension. He was a delegate to the Greeneville convention of the State of Franklin, December 14, 1784, and voted to adopt the Constitution of North Carolina instead of that proposed by Sam Houston. In 1778, he was engaged against the Chickamauga Indians as colonel of a regiment operating near White's Fort.
He also drew a pension from the state (Colonial Records, Vol. xxii, p.74). He and John Blair represented Washington County (formerly the State of Frankin) in the North Carolina legislature in November, 1789 (Ibid., Vol. xxi, p. 194). Later in the same session John Sevier appeared and was sworn in as an additional representative from the same county (Ibid., pp. 58~85). Love was also a justice of peace for Washington County in October, 1788. (Ibid., Vol. xxii, p. 702); and the journal of the North Carolina State convention for the ratification of the constitution of the United States shows that Robert Love, Landon Carter, John Blair, William Houston, and Andrew Green were delegates, and that Robert Love voted for its adoption. (Ibid., Vol. xxii, pp. 36, 39, 47, 48).
He moved to Buncombe County, NC, as early as 1792, and represented that county in 1793, 1794, and 1795 in the State Senate. According to the affidavit of his brother, General Thomas Love, Robert Love "was an elector for president and vice-president when Thomas Jefferson was elected, and has been successively elected ever since, down to (and including) the election of the present chief magistrate, Andrew Jackson." This affidavit is dated April 6, 1833. In a letter from Robert Love to William Welch, dated at Raleigh, December 4, 1828, he says that all the electors were present on the 3rd "and gave their votes in a very dignified manner and before a very large concourse of people," the State House being crowded.
Fifteen cannon were fired "for the number of electoral votes and one for the county of Haywood, and for the zeal she appeared to have had from the number of votes for the Old Hero's Ticket. It was submitted to me to bring forward a motion to proceed to ballot for a president of the United States ...and of course you may be well assured that I cheerfully nominated Andrew Jackson.... I was much gratified to have that honor and respect paid me. From the most authentic accounts.... Adams will not get a vote south of the Potomac or west of the mountains. Wonderful what a majority! For Jackson 178 and Adams only 83, leaving Jackson a majority of 95 votes. So much for a bargain and intrigue." The reason for firing an extra gun for Haywood County was because that county had cast a solid vote for Robert Love as elector for Andrew Jackson, such staunch Whigs as William Mitchell Davidson and Joseph Cathey having induced their fellow Whigs to refrain from voting out of regard for their democratic friend and neighbor, Robert Love. He carried the vote to Washington in a gig that year. He named the town of Waynesville for his friend "Mad" Anthony Wayne, with whom he had served at Long Island during the Revolution.
In 1821 he was one of the commissioners who ran the boundary line between North Carolina and Tennessee from Pigeon river south. On the 14th day of July, 1834, he was kicked on the hip by a horse while in Greene County, Tennessee, and so crippled that he had to use a crutch till his death. The gig, too had to be given up for a barouche, drawn by two horses and driven by a coachman. His cue, his blue swallow-tailed coat, and knee breeches with silver knee-buckles and silk stockings are remembered yet by a few of the older people. He died at Waynesville, July 17, 1845, "loved by his friends and feared by his enemies."
He was largely instrumental in having Haywood County established, became its first clerk, defeating Felix Walker for the position; and in 1828, he wrote to William Welch (December 4) from Raleigh: "The bill for erecting a new county out of the western part of Burke and northeastern part of Buncombe after severe debate fell in the house of commons, on its second reading by a majority against it of three only. The bill for the division of Haywood County was passed the senate the third and last reading by a majority of seven; and, I suppose, tomorrow it will be taken up in the house of commons and in a few days we will know its fate. I do not like the division line, but delicacy closes my mouth for fear its being construed that interest was my motive."
He left an estate which "at one time was one of the largest estates in North Carolina." "He acquired great wealth and died respected, leaving a large fortune to his children." He was the founder of Waynesville. "Besides the sites for the public square, court house, and jail, land for the cemetery and several churches was also the gift of Colonel Love." Of him and his brother Thomas, Colonel Allen T. Davidson said: "These two men were certainly above the average of men, and did much to plant civilization in the county where they, lived, and would have been men of mark in any community."
Edmund Sams: In "Asheville's Centenary," Dr. Sondley tells us that this pioneer was "one of the first settlers who came from Watauga," and established a ferry at the place where the French Broad is now crossed by Smith's Bridge; had been in early life an Indian fighter, and lived on the westem side of the French Broad at the old Gaston place. He was later a soldier in the Revolution. In 1824, his son Beoni Sams represented Buncombe County in the House.
General Thomas Love: He was a brother of Robert Love, and was born in Augusta county, Virginia, November 15, 1765. The date of his death is not accurately known, as he removed to Maury County, Tennessee, about 1833. Prof. W. C. Allen, in his "Centennial of Haywood County," says (p. 55) that he was a soldier of the Revolution, and served under Washington," but this must have been towards the close of that struggle, as he could not have been quite eleven years of age on the 4th of July, 1776. At the close of that war, however, "he went to East Tennessee and was in the Sevier-Tipton war when the abortive State of Franklin was attempted."
Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee" (p. 410) records the fact that on one occasion one of Tipton's men had captured two of Sevier's sons, and would have hanged them if Thomas Love had not argued him out of his purpose. He was one of Tipton's followers, but he showed Tipton the unworthiness of such an act. "He came to what is now Haywood County about the year 1790. When Buncombe was formed in 1791 he became active in the affairs of the new county," continues Prof. Allen.
In 1797, he was elected to the House of Commons from Buncombe County, and was re-elected till 1808, when Haywood County was formed, largely through his efforts. There is a tradition that in 1796 he had been candidate against Philip Hoodenpile who represented Buncombe in the commons that year, but was defeated. For Hoodenpile could play the violin, and all of Love's wiles were powerless to keep the political Eurydices from following after this fiddling Orpheus. But Love bided his time, and when the campaign of 1797 began he charged Hoodenpile with showing contempt for the common herd by playing the violin before them with his left hand; whereas, when he played before "the quality," as Love declared, Hoodenpile always performed with his right hand.
This charge was repeated at all the voting places of the county, which bore such significant names as Upper and Lower Hog Thief, Hardscrabble, Pinch Stomach, etc. Hoodenpile who, of course, could play only with his left hand, protested and denied; but the virus of class-feeling had been aroused, and Hoodenpile went down in defeat, never to rise again, while Love remained in Buncombe. "From the new county of Haywood General Love was one of the first representatives, the other having been Thomas Lenoir. Love was continuously re-elected from Haywood till 1829, with the exception of the year 1816. Who it was that defeated him that year does not appear, though John Stevenson and William Welch were elected to the house and Hodge Raborne to the senate.
This Hodge Raborne was a man of influence and standing in Haywood County, he having been elected to the Senate not only in 1816, but also from 1817 to 1823, inclusive, and again in 1838; but whether it was he or John Stevenson who defeated Thomas Love, or whether he ran that year or no, cannot now be determined. William Welch was a nephew by marriage of Thomas Love, and it is not likely that he opposed him. General Love moved to Macon County in 1830, where his wife died and is buried in the Methodist churchyard of the town of Franklin. He was one of the commissioners for North Carolina who ran the line between this state and South Carolina in 1814. "He resided in Macon for several years, and then removed to the Western District of Tennessee; was elected to the legislature from that state, and was made presiding officer of the Senate. He was a man of very fine appearance, more than six feet high, very popular, and a fine electioneer. Many amusing stories are told of him, such as carrying garden seeds in his pocket, and distributing them with his wife's special regards to the voter's wife. His service in the legislature for such an unprecedented length of time was due more to his genial manner and electioneering methods, perhaps, than to his statesmanship; though, unless he secured what the voters most desired he would most probably have been retired from public life. He never was so retired.
A Curious Bit of History: William Blount, a native of this state and brother of John Gray Blount to whom so much land had been granted, was territorial governor of Tennessee until it became a state, and was then elected one of its first senators; but served only from 1796 to 1797. He was charged in the United States Senate with having entered into a conspiracy to take Louisiana and Florida from Spain and give them to England in the hope that England would prove a better neighbor than had Spain, which had restricted the use of the Mississippi. Articles of impeachment were brought against him in 1797 by the House, and on the day after he was expelled by the Senate.
But the impeachment trial was to have proceeded, and an officer was sent to arrest him. But Blount refused to go, those summoned to aid the officer refused to do so, and the trial would have proceeded without him in December 1798, if Blount's attorney had not appeared after the Senate had formed itself into a court and filed a plea that Blount had not been an officer of the United States when the offense charge was committed, and it was decided, 14 to 11, that the Senate had no jurisdiction, on the ground that a senator is not a civil officer of the United States. The specific charge was that Blount had made an attempt to carry into effect a hostile expedition in favor of the British against the Spanish possessions in Florida and Louisiana, and to enlist certain Indian tribes in the same.
Click Here for the People's Petition to the State of North Carolina requesting cessation of the State of Franklin.
Click Here for another excellent summary of these activities.