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May 2001
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June 2001

Geography Corner

by Chris Rowan

Question: What state within the United States ceased to exist?

Answer: Franklin, an independent state from 1784 to 1789.

In the 1780s, the western region of North Carolina was part of the western frontier of the United States. Settlers in this area rebelled against the eastern-based government of North Carolina, because they felt the state government ignored their interests. The settlers decided to secede from North Carolina, and form a new state. They wrote a constitution, elected Revolutionary War hero, John Sevier, as their Governor, and named their new state after statesman Benjamin Franklin.

They notified Ben, who wrote back that he was honored to have a state named after him, but that he was too old and sick to be of much help to them. The government of Franklin was sharply divided: some wanted it to be an independent country, others wanted to apply for admission to the United States. It was never admitted to the Union.

Franklin had scarce resources. State employees were paid with furs and liquor, and the state stumbled on, until it collapsed around 1789. John Sevier was branded a trouble-maker by North Carolina, and for a while he had to literally “head for the hills.” But North Carolina felt that its western lands were a burden to administer, and the state eventually relinquished this region to the federal government, which made it part of its Territory South of the Ohio River. Settlers in this territory created a new state, Tennessee, which was admitted to the Union as our 16th state on June 1, 1796. Their first governor was John Sevier—like many people in public life, he couldn’t get politics out of his system. The lost state of Franklin is now part of eastern Tennessee.

Next month: Where was Camp Disappointment? Why was it significant? Readers are invited to reply to ednews1@aol.com. If we print your answer, you will receive 2 free movie tickets.


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