John Sevier
American soldier, frontiersman, and politician

1745 - 1815

John Sevier was an American soldier, frontiersman, and politician. He served as governor of "The lost state of Franklin" and later became the first governor of Tennessee.

Sevier, the son of a tavernkeeper, was born near New Market, Virginia. He received little education, and as a young man supported himself by farming and trading. In 1773, he moved to the Holston River Valley, then an unsettled region of the colony of North Carolina. It is now in eastern Tennessee.

Sevier actively supported the Revolutionary War but fought little until 1780. That year, he led an expedition over the Smoky Mountains and helped defeat the British at Kings Mountain. Later, he led an expedition against the Cherokee Indians in the first of many campaigns to bring him fame as an Indian fighter. After the Revolutionary War, settlers in Tennessee began a movement to make the region a separate state. In 1784, the state of Franklin was organized (but never officially recognized), and Sevier was elected governor in 1785. Indian troubles, land speculation plots, and quarrels with rivals led to his downfall and the practical end of the state of Franklin in 1788. Sevier was later elected to the North Carolina Senate. From 1789 to 1791 he served in the federal Congress.

In 1796, "The lost state of Franklin" became part of Tennessee. Sevier was elected its first governor and served six terms. After the end of his sixth term, Sevier was elected to the state senate for one term and then served again in Congress until his death. A statue of Sevier represents Tennessee in the Statuary Hall collection in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Contributor: Thomas D. Clark, Ph.D., Author, A History of Kentucky.


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