What would you call a man who led his country to freedom? Who fought 35 battles and never lost one? Who reshaped our nation through westward expansion and gave the city of Sevierville its unique name? We’d call him a hero…but you can call him John Sevier.
Born in Virginia on September 23, 1745, Sevier made his first mark on history as a Revolutionary War hero during the Battle of King’s Mountain (1780). Only a few years later, he was a key player in the settlers’ revolt against North Carolina and became Governor of the short-lived State of Franklin (1784-1789) which formed from North Carolina’s western lands after that revolt.
On May 16, 1785, a delegation submitted a petition for Franklin’s statehood to Congress. Eventually seven states voted to admit what would have been the 14th state. This was less than the two-thirds majority required. Led by Sevier, the fledgling government began operating as an independent republic after the failed statehood attempt.
As the new government began to make treaties with Native American tribes, create courts, assess taxes, and organize counties, the Governor of North Carolina asked the group to disband and return their allegiance to his state. When this offer was rejected, North Carolina moved in with troops under the leadership of Col. John Tipton and re-established its government. The two rival governments now competed side by side.
Loyalties among residents remained divided and came to a head on February 29, 1788, when Sevier and a group of his supporters attacked Tipton and his men at Tipton’s farm. Sevier and his troops were defeated.
North Carolina officials arrested Sevier in August 1788. Sevier‘s supporters quickly freed him from the local jail and retreated to “Lesser Franklin.” After the dissolution of the State of Franklin in February 1789, continued support of the separate state movement was confined largely to Sevier County.
When the first Legislature was organized for what would become the State of Tennessee on March 28, 1796, it elected Sevier Governor two days later.
The all-new exhibit, John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, is open daily 9am-5pm at the Sevierville Visitor Center. There is no admission fee.
John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero
Open Daily, 9am-5pm
Sevierville Visitor Center
3099 Winfield Dunn Parkway
Kodak, TN 37764
General John Sevier Monument, Knoxville, Tennessee Original Photo By: Brent Moore https://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/32585528732
Engraving depicting the death of British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain, October 7, 1780. Virtue & Yorston, 1863. Image courtesy of the Anne S. K. Brown Collection at Brown University.