What and Where Was the State of Franklin?

Jonesborough, TN was planned to be the capital of the state of Franklin.Editorial credit: MilesbeforeIsleep / Shutterstock.com.
Jonesborough, TN was planned to be the capital of the state of Franklin.Editorial credit: MilesbeforeIsleep / Shutterstock.com.

The state of Franklin was an autonomous and unrecognized territory west of the Appalachian Mountains in present-day eastern Tennessee. It was created in 1784 from the land ceded by North Carolina to Congress to pay off the debt incurred during the American War for Independence. Franklin was intended to be the 14th state of the United States. The capital of Franklin was Jonesborough, but the government was based in Greeneville. The state of Franklin was never admitted to the union; it only existed for four and half years before North Carolina reassumed control of the ceded land. History documents the formation of the state as a result of cession and secession. When Congress failed to act upon the ceded territory, North Carolina rescinded the decision.

Concept Of The State Of Franklin

The concept to create a new western state was introduced by Arthur Campbell who was a delegate of Campbell County, Tennessee, and John Sevier, the founding father of Tennessee. They both believed that the towns across the Appalachian Mountains should be admitted to the union as a separate state. Campbell proposed that the new state will include part of eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky. A majority of the frontiersmen agreed with the idea except for the governor of Virginia and a large landowner of Kentucky who opposed the loss of their state’s territories. Kentucky and Virginia passed laws that forebode anyone from creating new states from their territories.

History Of The State Of Franklin

After the end of the American War for Independence, Congress had accumulated an enormous debt. In 1784, North Carolina voted to cede 45,000 square miles to Congress to help clear the debt. The land was located between the Allegheny mountains and the Mississippi River and had been earlier leased from the Cherokee people. North Carolina declared that Congress had two years to accept the responsibility for the land, but Congress was reluctant to do for various reasons. The western counties of North Carolina feared that the cash-strapped Congress might consider selling the territory to foreign powers such as Spain and France.

A few months after North Carolina ceded the land newly elected legislative members re-evaluated the situation and realized that the land could not be used to pay off the depth by Congress. The legislatures viewed the decision as a waste of real estate opportunities. North Carolina rescinded the decision to secede the land and reclaimed the remote western district.


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