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price was charged, and the amount enterable by one person limited, but the restrictions were easily evaded and special grants to individuals and companies (who did not hesitate to bring every possible influence to bear with legislatures) soon resulted in enormous and valuable holdings centered in the hands of a few. Long before Tennessee became a state, apparently, land near the more important settlements had become. dear; in Nashville in 1787 only a small fraction of the free white men of twenty-one years and upwards, were listed as owners of land. The leading men were keen as to what created land values, as is interestingly indicated by William Blount, who, in writing to ask assistance for a friend in buying Cumberland lands, added,
I think it would be best not to say any Thing about the General's going to Cumberland, the Report of Men of his Rank going may raise the Price."
The great desideratum was to attract settlers, and to do this trade must be started, export routes procured, and the Indian peril definitely disposed of. The governments east of the 20. mountains, restrained because of their weakness, well-nigh over- Separatist come with the magnitude of their tasks at home and none too conversant with conditions on the frontier, failed to make headway toward a solution of these problems. The Indians continued their ravages. Spain continued to restrict Mississippi navigation. Many reckless and short-sighted frontiersmen were ready to separate from the United States and unite with Spain or drive the Spaniards from New Orleans and set up independent governments of their own. The movement which resulted in the State of Franklin was but a local crystalization of the separatist instinct that pervaded the whole west; and its leaders, having once thrown off the North Carolina restrictions upon the acquisition of land, were ready to unite with the United States, or, if necessary, with Spain, in order to gain their economic ends.1
Mss. N. 1, 6, Tenn. Hist. Soc. Library.
"Letter to John Gray Blount, Oct. 12, 1795. Draper Mss. XX, II, 48.
The Franklin Movement, that is, the separation of the eastern counties of what is now Tennessee and the setting up of an independent government took place upon the first cession of North Carolina's western territory to the United States in 1784-an action which was shortly revoked.
Happily the counsels of the conservatives prevailed. The children of the first settlers were yet young men when the Inand Industry. dians were effectually quelled in the campaigns that were most prominently featured by the destruction of Nickajack, and a stronger federal government had procured the treaty of San Lorenzo, concluding the long, bitter controversy over the navi gation of the Mississippi by opening the great river to commerce with right of deposit at New Orleans.2
The time was rightly one of confident hopefulness and, with agriculture firmly established, despite occasional crop failures, the farmers could look forward not only to sending their pork, tobacco, hemp, rice and indigo over the wagon roads to eastern sea ports and down the rivers to New Orleans, but to extending their exportable produce to cereals, flax and dairy products. In exchange would come the longed-for productions of the industrial world-only just beginning to extend itself to Tennessee in the manufacture of iron and of homespun cloth. Natural resources were known to be varied and abundant.
The political changes which the twenty years experience between 1776 and 1796 had produced are scarcely less noteworthy Development. than the economic. The sway of the North Carolina constitution had been intermittent in Tennessee. There had been several isolated communities that found it necessary to adopt temporary forms of government until the state's rule could be extended to them. Chief of these was Cumberland, which, in 1779 and 1780, was started, apparently as a part of the vast speculation schemes of Richard Henderson, and which adopted its celebrated compact, taken up to a considerable extent with land regulations, but providing for a representative court, in which was vested all the governmental powers granted. No fixed term of office for the members of this court was specified, but there was the stipulation
that as often as the people in general are dissatisfied with the doings
of the . . stations, and elect others in their stead, having due re
2Johnson, A., Union and Democracy (Riverside History of the United States), Tennessee, Phila., 1796.
Smith, Daniel, A Short Description of . .
(Published by Mathew Carey.)
'See Caldwell, op. cit., ch. I, and pp. 43 and 75.
spect to the number now agreed to be elected at each station, which person so to be chosen shall have the same power with those in whose room or place they shall or may be chosen to act."
The Franklinites adopted the North Carolina constitution;" 24. not, however, until a very earnest effort had been made to have of Franklin. chosen a document drawn up chiefly by Rev. Samuel Houston providing for manhood suffrage, a single-chambered legislature? and a governor elected by the people.s
25. The Territory
Finally, in 1790, the United States accepted North Carolina's cession of its western possessions. During the interregnum the Southwest of government was for the most part under the control of a governor appointed by congress, though toward the end of the period, as already intimated, there was an assembly, including, besides the governor, a House of Representatives elected by the people and a Council of five persons appointed by Congress, from ten nominees of the house."
of the State.
Meantime other states had been framing constitutions and by 1796 a Tennessee constitutional convention could draw material Constitution from outside as well as from home experience. In 1795, the year following the Nickajack expedition and the one which witnessed the San Lorenzo Treaty, an enumeration of the people showed that the country was eligible for statehood. The next year, accordingly, since membership in the Union as an independent commonwealth was thoroughly desired, a convention was called together at Knoxville to frame the requisite organic law for a new state. As chief models for its work the convention had the North Carolina constitution and the constitution of the United States.
The first thing that strikes one about the instrument it drew up is the now familiar subdivision into articles and sections, as in the federal constitution. A preamble declares the right of
"Putnam, A. W., History of Middle Tennessee, p. 96. The Cumberland Compact, preserved nearly entire, is published by Putnam, ib., 94, seq.
The late Professor Karnes says that the Franklin government was "socialistic" to the extent that the county courts not infrequently fixed the price of whiskey and tavern rates for meals-The Government of the People of the State of Tennesesee, 23.
Also proposed in 1796 convention, see Journal of Conv. (Reprint, 1852), p. 9.
For the text of the ordinance for the government of the Territory Northwest of the Ohio, see Haywood, Jno., Civil and Political History of Tennessee (1891 Reprint), 489. See also Thorpe, Constitutions, 957; for the act adopting it for the Southwest Territory, 3413.
the people to enter the federal union as a member state and they mutually "agree with each other" to form themselvs "into a free and independent State by the name of the State of Tennessee." There follow eleven articles and a schedule, comprising altogether about 7,000 words. The work of the convention was not submitted to a popular vote.
While the political affairs of the state and the general provisions of its constitution are, as a rule, considerably influenced, directly or indirectly, by prevailing economic conditions, only a small proportion of the provisions of the constitution, as was seen in the previous chapter, can be expected clearly and palpably to reflect the economic life of the times. These clauses are of sufficient interest and importance, however, to permit separate treatment and to be set forth at the beginning of the discussion of each of the Tennessee constitutions. The provisions of the constitution of 1796 reflect in several ways the economic interests of the state as conceived by the members of the convention.
The most striking of these provisions is the resounding declaration
that an equal participation of the free navigation of the Mississippi, is one of the inherent rights of the citizens of this State; it cannot therefore, be conceded to any prince, potentate, power, person or persons whatever.1
It was expressly declared that no law should be made impairing the obligation of a contract—a provision of some importance to the commercial and moneyed interests. Its insertion, however, was scarcely necessary in view of the similar requirement of the federal constitution.3
Industry, not to be left behind by trade, found recognition in the clause that "no article manufactured of the produce of this State shall be taxed otherwise than to pay inspection fees." As in 1776 the prohibition of perpetuities and monopolies was an ancient political principle rather than an indication of current economic abuse, and should not be included here. The remaining economic provisions pertain to land, and are (1) decla
1XI, 29. This provision is still in the constitution.
Const. 1870, I, 29.
rations having in view the settlement of certain vexed questions of title to the lands south of the French Broad, Tennessee and Big Pigeon rivers by securing the residents in the tracts occupied by them, and (2) the method adopted for taxing land." The tax clause is the most remarkable feature of the con- 28. stitution as enunciated in 1796. It made all privately owned Tax. lands taxable, but added that no one hundred acres should be taxed higher than another, except town-lots, which should not "be taxed higher than two hundred acres of land each;" furthermore, that the free poll tax should not be greater than the tax on one hundred and the tax on slaves not greater than on two hundred acres of land. No limit was placed upon the taxation of other property, except manufactured goods, as already noted, but according to the practice of the times the property mentioned had to be relied upon for most of the public revenue.
There was nothing deserving unbridled condemnation in the fact of specific taxation instead of attempting to tax land according to its value. Such a tax was by no means unknown at that time; it was in use in some other parts of the country9 and the people of Tennessee had become used to it while under the jurisdiction of North Carolina. Anything else would probably have been administratively impracticable.
Nevertheless, the possibilities of the tax for their harm or help were known to the land owners. The men who set up the State of Franklin had cited as an instance of the sacrifice of their interests an act of North Carolina
in which, notwithstanding our local situation and improvement being so evidently inferior, that it is unjust to tax our lands equally, yet they [the North Carolina assemblymen] have expressly done it; and our lands, at the same time, not one-fourth of the same value.1
Furthermore, the question of the amount of the land tax had been strenuously disputed in the territorial assembly in 1794 when the Council, a majority of which were among the landed
XI. 31. See also Sched. 8. 71, 26.
For interesting diverse views of this clause, see Sanford, op. cit., 92, and Phelan, op. cit. p. 253. See also Roosevelt, op. cit. IV, 118; Caldwell, op. cit. 138, eq., 164.
"See Ely, R. T., Taxation in American States and Cities, pp. 119-120. But taxation according to value was more usual.
Quoted by Haywood, Jno., Civil and Political History of Tennessee. (Reprint, 1891.), p. 152.