Letter from the Franklin [state] General Assembly to Alexander
Franklin. General Assembly
Volume 17, Pages 601-604
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF FRANKLIN TO GOV. MARTIN.
Jonesboro, 22nd February, 1785.
Your Letter of the 27th February, 1785, to His Excellency Governor Sevier,
favored by Major Henderson, was laid before the General Assembly of the State of
Franklin by the Governor.
We think it our duty to communicate to you the sense of the people of this State.
We observe your Excellency's candour in informing us that the reason
North Carolina repealed the Cession Act was because the sense of Congress was to
allow the State of North Carolina nothing for the land ceded. The truth of that
assertion we will not undertake to determine; but we humbly conceive the terms
on which Congress was impowered to accept the cession was fully expressed in the
Cession Act itself, consequently every reason existed for it not passing the
Cession Act that could have existed for the repeal, except that of doing justice
to the United States in general, who upon every principle of natural justice are
equally entitled to the lands that have been conquered by our joint efforts.
We humbly thank North Carolina for every sentiment of regard she has for us; but
are sorry to observe that it is founded upon principles of interest, as is
apparent from the tenor of your Excellency's Letter. We are therefore
doubtful when the cause ceases which is the basis of your affection, we shall
consequently lose your esteem.
Sir, reflect upon the language of some of the most eminent members in the General
Assembly of North Carolina at the last Spring Session, when the members from the
Western Country were supplicating
-------------------- page 602
to be continued a
part of your State. Were not these their epithets? “The
Inhabitants of the Western Country are the offscourings of the Earth, fugitives
from justice, and we will be rid of them at any rate.” The members of
the Western Country upon hearing these unjust reproaches, and being convinced
that it was the sense of the General Assembly to get rid of them, consulted each
other and concluded it was best to appear reconciled with the measures in order
to obtain the best terms they could, and were much astonished to see North
Carolina immediately on passing the act of Cession enter into a resolve to stop
the goods that they by act of the General Assembly had promised to give the
Indians for the lands they had taken from them and sold for the use of the
State. The inadequate allowance made the judges who were appointed to attend the
Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction, and who had to travel over the Mountains,
amounted to a prohibition as to the administration of Justice in this quarter,
and although the Judge appointed on this side the Mountains might from the
regard he had for the administration of Justice in the Cumberland Country have
held a Court there, yet as your Excellency failed to grant him a Commission
agreeable to the act of Assembly, he could not have performed that service had
he been ever so desirous of doing it; in short, the Western Country found
themselves taxed to support the Government, while they were deprived of all the
Blessings of it, not to mention the injustice done them in taxing their lands,
which lie five hundred miles from trade, equal to land of the same quality on
the Seashore. The frequent murders committed by the Indians on our frontiers
have compelled us to think on some plan of defence. How far North Carolina has
been accessory to these murders we will not pretend to say. We know she took the
lands the Indians claimed, promised to pay them for it, and again resolved not
to do it, and that in consequence of that resolve the goods were stopped. You
say it has been suggested that the Indian goods are to be seized and the
Commissioners arrested when they arrive on the business of the treaty.
We are happy to inform you that that suggestion is false, groundless and without
the least foundation.
We are certain you cannot pretend to fault us that the goods are stopped by a
Resolve of the Assembly of your State. And if your
-------------------- page 603
State are determined to evade their promise to the Indians we entreat you not to
lay the blame upon us who are entirely innocent and determined to remain so. It
is true we have declared ourselves a free and Independent State, and pledged our
honors, confirmed by a Solemn Oath, to Support, maintain and defend the Same.
But we had not the most distant Idea that we should have incurred the least
displeasure from North Carolina, who compelled us to the measure; and to
convince her that we still retain our affection for her, the first Law we
enacted was to secure and confirm all the rights granted under the Laws of North
Carolina in the same manner as if we had not declared ourselves an Independent
State; have patternized her Constitution and Laws, and hope her assistance and
influence in Congress to precipitate our reception into the federal union.
Should our sanguine hopes be blasted we are determined never to desert that
independence which we are bound by every sacred tie of honor and religion to
Support. We are induced to think North Carolina will not blame us for
endeavoring to promote our own Interest and happiness, while we do not attempt
to abridge hers, and appeal to the impartial World to determine whether we have
deserted North Carolina, or North Carolina deserted us.
You will be pleased to lay these our Sentiments before the General Assembly, whom
we beg leave to assure that should they ever need our assistance, we shall
always be ready to render them any service in our power, and hope to find the
same sentiments prevailing in them towards us; and we hereinto annex the reasons
that induced the Convention to a declaration of Independence, which are as
1st. That the Constitution of North Carolina declared that it shall be
justifiable to erect New States Westward whenever the consent of the Legislature
shall countenance it, and this consent is implied, we conceive, in the Cession
Act, which has thrown us into such a situation that the influence of the Law in
common cases became almost a nullity, and in criminal jurisdiction had entirely
ceased, which reduced us to the verge of anarchy.
2nd. The Assembly of North Carolina have detained a certain quantity of goods,
which was procured to satisfy the Indians for the lands we possess, which
detinue we fully conceive has so exasperated
-------------------- page 604
that they have actually committed hostilities upon us, and we are alone impelled
to defend ourselves from their ravages.
3rd. The resolutions of Congress have held out from time to time encouraging the
erection of new States have appeared to us ample encouragement.
4th. Our local situation is such that we not only apprehend we should be
separated from North Carolina, but almost every sensible disinterested traveler
has declared it incompatible with our interest to belong in union with the
Eastern part of the State, for we are not only far removed from the Eastern
parts of North Carolina, but separated from them by high and almost impassable
Mountains, which naturally divide us from them, have proved to us that our
interest is also in many respects distinct from the Inhabitants on the other
side, and much injured by an union with them.
5th. We unanimously agree that our lives, liberties and property can be more
secure and our happiness much better propagated by our Separation, and
consequently that it is our duty and unalienable right to form ourselves into a
new Independent State.
We beg leave to subscribe ourselves,
THOMAS TALBERT, C. S.
LANDON CARTER, S. S.
THOMAS CHAPMAN, C. C.
WILLIAM CAZE, S. C.
By order of the General Assembly.