Opposing the State of Tennessee
The Federalists, essentially a sectional party, had long regarded
with anxiety the commercial and political rivalry that New England
should expect from the intrepid and enterprising Mississippi valley
pioneers. As. Gen. Marcus J. Wright in his life of William Blount
contends, sometime before the question as to the admission of
Tennessee came up, Rufus King, then in the United States senate,
moved to repeal the clause in the Jay treaty by which the free
navigation of the Mississippi river had been declared a sine quo non
in his negotiations with Spain, and all New England supported him.
This was after Mr. Jay advised that the United States should abandon
to Spain the exclusive navigation of the "father of waters" for
twenty-five or thirty years, but that Spain should in return
purchase many articles from the United States, of which whale oil
and codfish, New England products, were especially insisted upon. It
is well understood that the prosperity of Tennessee and the western
countries depended upon the free navigation of the Mississippi. This
sectional concern of the eastern politicians was apparent for many
years, although the northern people as a whole were not so selfish
and unjust. It has been shown in the chapter headed, "Passing of the
Indians," that Josiah Quincy in 1811 made a threat of secession if
certain western and southern colonies were admitted as states. All
this, and not love of the negro or abhorrence of slavery, was the
beginning of our long sectional quarrel which resulted in the great
war. Bancroft says: "An ineradicable dread of the coming power of
the southwest lurked in New England, especially Massachusetts."
So Senator King opposed the admission of Tennessee from the start.
The house, led by Albert Gallatin, James Madison and Thomas Blount.
favored her admission. The bill admitting her-the first member
erected out of a territory of the United States-was finally passed
May 31, 1796, congress passing the following act which was approved
by the president the next day
"WHEREAS. By the acceptance of the deed of cession of the state of
North Carolina, congress is bound to lay out into one or more states
the territory thereby ceded to the United States,
"BE IT ENACTED, ETC. That the whole of the territory ceded to the
United States by the state of North Carolina shall be one state, and
the same is hereby declared to be one of the United States of
America, on an equal footing with the original states, in all
respects whatever, by the name and title of the state of Tennessee.
That until the next general census, the said state of Tennessee
shall be entitled to one representative in the house of
representatives of the United States; and in all other respects as
far as they may be applicable, the laws of the United States shall
extend to and have force in the state of Tennessee, in the same
manner as if that state had originally been one of the United
"Approved June 1, 1796.
President of the United States.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
President of the Senate, pro tem."
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to: Tennessee History
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Will T. Hale. A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the
leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern
activities, published Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.