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The Statehood of Tennessee


Before the Nickajack expedition the people throughout the territory began to take steps looking to statehood. This, they believed, would give them greater power to protect themselves from Indian hostilities; and they felt certain, judging from the stream of immigration flowing in, that the population was sufficient to entitle them to admission as a state into the Union.

The general assembly prepared the way for admission. A resolution was passed requesting the governor to cause a new census to be taken. While earnestly desiring the admission of the territory, the governor thought it best to sound congress as to what steps should be taken. Dr. James White, the territorial delegate, after canvassing the matter, decided that congress would not act in advance of an application on the part of the territory.

Immediately upon receipt of Dr. White's suggestion, an extra session of the assembly was called, meeting in June, 1795, and an act providing for the enumeration of the inhabitants was passed. In the event the enumeration should disclose sixty thousand inhabitants, a convention was to be called to frame a constitution for the permanent government of the state.

On November 28th the governor certified that the enumeration of inhabitants taken under the act of July 11 amounted to seventy-seven thousand, two hundred and sixty persons. In this enumeration it was found that there were in the territory ten thousand, six hundred and thirteen slaves and nine hundred and seventy-three "free persons of color," probably meaning the free negroes and the Melungeons, the latter a people of unknown origin and described more fully in a preceding chapter of this history.

A proclamation was issued for elections to be held on December 18th and 19th for choosing five persons. in each of the eleven countiesJefferson, Hawkins, Greene, Knox, Washington, Sullivan, Sevier, Blount, Davidson, Sumner and Tennessee-to represent the said counties in a convention to meet at Knoxville January 11, 1796, for the purpose of forming a constitution or permanent system of government. The members-elect who appeared, produced their credentials, and took seats, were:

Jefferson County: Joseph Anderson; George Doherty; Alexander Outlaw; William Roddye; Archibald Roane.

Hawkins County: James Berry; William Cocke; Thomas Henderson; Joseph McMinn; Richard Mitchell.

Greene County: Elisha Baker; Stephen Brooks; Samuel Frazier; John Galbraith; William Rankin.

Knox County: John Adair; William Blount; John Crawford; Charles McClung; James White.

Washington County: Landon Carter; Samuel Handley; James Stuart; Leroy Taylor; John Tipton.

Sullivan County: William C. C. Claiborne; Richard Gammon; George Rutledge; John Rhea; John Shelby, Jr.

Sevier County: Peter Bryan; Thomas Buckingham; John Clack; Samuel Wear; Spencer Clack.

Blount County: Joseph Black; David Craig; Samuel Glass; James Greenaway; James Houston.

Davidson County: Thomas Hardman; Andrew Jackson; Joel Lewis; John McNairy; James Robertson.

Sumner County: Edward Douglas; W. Douglas; Daniel Smith; D. Shelby; Isaac Walton.

Tennessee County: James Ford; William Fort; Robert Prince; William Prince; Thomas Johnson.

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Source: Will T. Hale. A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities, published Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.

 

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