1799 Petition of Sevier Countians
to the Tennessee Legislature
Sixteen years after the end of the Revolutionary War, President JohnAdams had the trying task of guiding a young nation which was torn withparty strife at home and was regarded with none too great respect abroad.Our relations with our ally France were growing worse. Congress had denouncedthe Treaty of 1778 and had authorized our ships to prey on French commerce.In 1799 a state of war with France existed. However, Napoleon was intenton establishing his power in France and Europe and wanted no trouble withthe United States. Adams, by his skillful negotiations with France, wasable to avert war.
In 1799 the Second General Assembly of the State of Tennessee was insession. Peter Bryant (Bryan), a Revolutionary soldier, frontiersman, andIndian fighter of Dumplin Valley, who lived at Henry's Crossroads nearthe present Douglas Dam, represented Sevier County in the House. SpencerClack, a Revolutionary War soldier who had been a member of the ConstitutionalConvention in 1796 and signed the first Constitution of Tennessee, alsorepresented Sevier County, in the house.
In 1799 the people who owned land in Sevier County had gained ownershipin the following ways: (1) Military grant for service in the RevolutionaryWar; (2) a North Carolina land grant; (3) State of Franklin grant; (4)purchase from another person; (5) inheritance. Many people were livingon land which they held as occupants. Eventually occupancy grants wereissued by the State of Tennessee in 1808. However, in 1799, the peoplewho did not have a title--the occupants--made an appeal to the Second GeneralAssembly in the form of a petition which is one of many in the TennesseeState Library and Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. The petition whichfollows is of historical significance. In the absence of any Sevier Countycensus records before 1830, many of the signatures are the names of pioneerfamilies whose descendants are living in Sevier County today.
No action was taken on the petition. On August 22, 1799 it was readin the House and referred to the "Committee of Proposition." In the Senateit was read and marked "Not Reasonable."
A Petition of Sundry Inhabitants South of FrenchBroad to the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Tennessee and Tothe Speaker of Both Houses:
We, your petitioners, humbly beg leave to show to yourhonorable body that the local situation of our county is such that it containsa great quantity of poor, barren land which we through necessity have beenforced to settle on and which is in -------not fit for cultivation. Welook up to you as the guardians of our rights and pray you in your wisdom,patriotism and virtue may, if you should think proper, to open a land officethat we may have our land at a modest price agreeable to the differentqualities of the same and that we may be indulged for the purchase moneyas long as you in your wisdom may think proper. We also pray a repealof that act that binds taxation on our lands not being held by deed, grantor entry. We further represent as a grievance the excise tax and stampact as infringing upon our rights and we your petitioners as in duty boundshall pray:"
John Beard * Zebulon Bird * Joseph Headly * Robert Coonce* Samuel Coonce * William Davis * Harrison Cooper * Martin Cooper
Jesse Cooper * John Lewis * Robert Moore * George Ammons* Mandy Lewis * Alexander Anderson * Elijah Veach * Andrew Smith
Moses Baskins * John Rogers * Wm. Anderson * BenjaminJohnson * Thomas Boykin * Rubin Walden * Wm. Thomas * Benjamin Cooper
Isaac Thomas, Jr. * Thomas Beavers * James Henderson* James Creighton * Richard Woods * Richard Randles * Lamon Trigg * JohnDavis
Richard Eastrige * Shadrack Coonce * Jesse Coonce * JosiahRogers * James Major * John Miller * John Guin* Hugh Boykin
Wm. Varnall * Nathaniel Moon * James Manifold * HenryHaggard * John Fryer * Joseph Taylor * James Walden * David Walden
James Pinkerton * John Kelly * Humphry Donelson * RobertSmith * Robert Davis * Levi Isabels * David Taylor * David Walker
Charles Thomas * Jerusha Davis * Jacob Adams * E. Dillard* David Fields * Wm. Miller * David Bird * J. Fielding Davis
Elisha Dillard * Robert Herman * Thomas Whitten * BensonDavis * William Cooper * James Barnes * Wm. Lovelady * Thomas Lovelady
William Hatcher * Haney Person * Joseph Wilson* Phillip Roberts * John Baskin * Edmond Ellege * Macheck Tipton* Mordecai Tipton
Henry Rogers * William Crowson * Aaron Crowson* Ma Crowson * Dsmurl McKnight * John Thomas * Henry Turner * MulerIsabels
Valentine Shults * William Colvert * William Henderson* John Parker * James Runion * James Randles * John Randles * Daniel Small
Robert Davis * Wm. Blackburn * Philip Coonce * ShadrackJerman * Jonathan Bird * James Saunders * John Coak * Wm. Donnell, Jr.
Joseph Bowyers * James Moore * Andrew Bird * Adam Tooley* Daniel Richmond * Wm. Crabtree * Joseph Wright * Robert Donnell
Robert Hancock * John Foster * Alex Hicks * Black Hedley* James Richmond * Wm. Smith * Luke Osborn * Joseph Crabtree
Wm. Donnell * Jesse Thompson * John Brownlee * MatthewRichmond * Wm. McNelly * Robert Mitchell * Robert Tipton * SamuelDonnell
Except for the petition text, this page is copyright ©2000BillieR. McNamara. All rights reserved. It was last updated September 26,2000.