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The Almost 14th State

By, Surabhi Ashok

After winning the Revolutionary War, the Union, made up of the previous thirteen colonies, was slowly laying down the foundations of their independent country.

In the hopes of alleviating some debts from the war, North Carolina ceded four of its counties, almost 29 million acres of land, to the U.S. Congress. Settlers in that region between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River worried that the land would be sold to Spain or France in return for their alliance during the Revolution. Due to this concern, North Carolina quickly reclaimed the territory.

However, people in the counties in question had already started to discuss making their own independent state. A group of delegates gathered in August 1784 to elect leaders of this new state, including naming war veteran John Sevier president, and draft a constitution.

Only 4 months later, Franklin, now Eastern Tennessee today, self-declared its independence from North Carolina.

Despite not gaining official approval from Congress, Franklin and its “Franklinites” operated on their own for the next four years, building agreements with the Overhill Cherokee natives and discussing alliances.

However, by 1789, Sevier’s term had expired and Franklin had rejoined North Carolina. Their legislature didn’t meet again, and they found that their federal government had a hard time keeping track of their various treaties with the Cherokee and Muscogee Native Americans.

Although short-lived, Franklin’s story pushed Congress to add a clause when creating the U.S. Constitution that said new states were to be admitted by permission of Congress only.