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Events of 1705-1796. State Of Tennessee Organized

In the fall of 1795, Governor Blount, pursuant to a previous act of the Territorial Assembly, ordered a census of the region over which he exercised jurisdiction. The returns from the Cumberland counties were as follows: Davidson County: Free white males, sixteen years and upward, including heads of families, 728; free white males under sixteen, 695; free white females, including heads of families, 1,192; all other free persons, 6; slaves, 992; total, 3,613.

Sumner County: Free white males sixteen years and upward, including heads of families, 1,382; free white males under sixteen, 1,595; free white females, including heads of families, 2,316: all other free persons, 1; slaves, 1,076; total, 6370.

Tennessee County: Free white males, sixteen years and upward, including heads of families, 380; free white males under sixteen, 444; free white females, including heads of families, 700; all other persons, 19; slaves, 398; total, 1,941.

For the work of taking the above census in their respective counties, N. P. Hardeman, Sheriff of Davidson County, received in compensation the sum of $18.06 1-2; Ruben Cage, Sheriff of Sumner County, $31.85; and J. B. Neville, Sheriff of Tennessee County, $9.70 1-2.

The population having been determined, proclamation was made and election held for five members from each county within the present bounds of the State. Said delegation should represent their constituents in a convention for the formation of a constitution preparatory to the admission of the territory as a State into the Federal Union.

On January 11, 1796, the convention assembled at Knoxville.

The members of the Cumberland settlement were as follows:
From Davidson County, John McNairy, Andrew Jackson, James Robertson, Thomas Hardeman, and Joel Lewis. From Sumner County. David Shelby, Isaac Walton, William Douglass, Edward Douglass, and Daniel Smith. From Tennessee County - Thomas Johnson, James Fort, William Fort, Robert Prince, and William Prince.

William Blount was unanimously chosen president of the convention. At the suggestion of Andrew Jackson the State thus formed was given the name of Tennessee. It thus became necessary for one of the Middle Tennessee Counties to surrender its name, which act of generosity was graciously vouched for by its delegates in the convention.

Having completed its labors after a session of twenty-seven days, the convention adjourned on February 6.

It was the opinion of leading men of the time that by reason of the original compact between the United States and North Carolina, the territory having attained the required population, was entitled thus to become a State without the intervention of congressional enactment. Accordingly an election for State and legislative officers was ordered and held. Col. John Sevier was unanimously chosen chief executive, and thus became the first Governor of Tennessee.

The first Legislature of Tennessee convened at Knoxville, then the State capital, on March 30, 1796.

In this body. Gen. James Robertson was Senator from the County of Davidson, Gen. James Winchester from Sumner, and James Ford from Tennessee County.

The Representatives from Davidson were Robert Weakley and Seth Lewis; from Sumner, Stephen Cantrell and William Montgomery; and from Tennessee, Thomas Johnson and William Ford.

Indian hostilities having ceased, there was now an immense volume of immigration to the western settlement. New counties sprang up as if by magic. By an act of the Legislature of 1796, the territory comprised in Tennessee County was divided. Out of it were formed the counties of Montgomery and Robertson, named respectively in honor of Col. John Montgomery and Gen. James Robertson.

On May 20, 1796, a commission composed of William Johnson, Sr., John Young, James Norfleet, John Donelson, Jr., and Samuel Crockett, selected the present site of Springfield as the location of the county seat of Robertson County.

By the Legislature of 1799 the County of Sumner was reduced to its constitutional limits. From a portion thereof Smith County was established and named in honor of General Daniel Smith. Its first County Court was held in the house of Maj. Tilman Dixon. During the same legislative session, Wilson County was formed. It took its name from Maj. David Wilson, an early settler of Sumner County, and previously mentioned as having been the first speaker of the Territorial Assembly. The first court for Wilson County was held at the house of Capt. John Harpool. The magistrates there assembled were Charles Kavanaugh, John Allcorn, John Lancaster, Elmore Douglass, John Doak, Matthew Figures, Henry Ross, William Grey, Andrew Donelson and William McClain.

At this session Robert Foster was elected clerk of the Court, Charles Rosborough, Sheriff; John Allcorn, Register; and William Grey, Ranger.

In 1803 a region of country south of Davidson and Wilson Counties was organized as Rutherford County. This was so named in honor of Gen. Griffith Rutherford, a man of great worth. He was a native of North Carolina, where during the last year of his residence he was an officer in the Revolutionary War. His death occurred in Sumner County, of which he was at that time a citizen.

The Congressional Act admitting Tennessee to the privileges of Statehood was approved by the President June 1, 1796.

On October 23, 1794, General Robertson resigned his commission as Brigadier-General in the Territorial Army. He was succeeded by Gen. James Winchester, who was elected in his stead the following year.

Feeling that long public service entitled him to a well-earned repose, General Robertson now desired only the quietude of private life. He was often called upon to adjust matters of dispute between the various Indian tribes and the Federal Government.

He died at the Chickasaw Indian Agency near Memphis, September 1, 1814, and there he was buried. In 1825 his remains were removed to Nashville and re-interred in the Old Cemetery beside those of his wife. An imposing monument to his memory has recently been erected in Centennial Park, Nashville. Let us hope for a speedy coming of the day when the gratitude of succeeding generations shall find expression in the form of other suitable monuments to the memory of General Robrtson, and of all brave pioneers of the Cumberland settlement.

Early History of Middle Tennessee

Early History of Middle Tennessee, BY Edward Albright, Copyright, 1908, Brandon Printing Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1909


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