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Early Tennessee Laws

It will be interesting to note other features before hurrying on.

  • It was provided that "no person, who heretofore hath been or heretofore may be a collector or holder of public monies, shall have a seat in either house of the general assembly."

  • "The judges or justices of the inferior courts of law shall have power in all civil cases to issue writs of certiorari, to. remove any cause or a transcript thereof from any inferior jurisdiction into their court, on sufficient cause supported by oath or affirmation."

  • "No free man shall be taxed higher than one hundred acres of land,, and no slave higher than two hundred acres on each poll."

  • Concerning the qualification of voters it was provided that "every freeman of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, possessing a freehold in the county wherein he may vote, and being an inhabitant of this state, and every freeman being an inhabitant of any one county in this state six months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the general assembly for the county in which he may reside."

Under this provision free men of color and Melungeons could vote for representative and senator. By the constitution the county court had the appointment of the sheriff, coroner, trustee, constables, registers and rangers-the sheriff and coroner to be commissioned by the governor.

In reference to qualifications of office holders in general, no clergyman or preacher of the gospel should be eligible to a seat in either house, of the general assembly. As to the religious qualifications of the office holders this was adopted:

  • "No person who denies the being of a God,. or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

The members of the convention from Tennessee county agreed to the, loss of the name of their county on condition that it be assumed by the-, state. Andrew Jackson did not suggest the name, Phelan holds.

The president of the convention was instructed to take the constitution into safe keeping until a secretary of state should be appointed; to send a copy of it to the secretary of state of the United States; and to issue writs of election to the sheriffs of the several counties, for holding 'the first election of members of the general assembly and a governor, under authority of the constitution of Tennessee, to bear test of February 6, 1796. Three days later the governor forwarded to Secretary Timothy Pickering by Major Joseph McMinn a copy of the constitution. He also notified him that when the general assembly should meet on March 28th, the temporary government should cease. This communication, received February 28th, was not transmitted to congress until April 8th.

Meanwhile the secretary of the territory had made his last official report to the secretary of state; and its governor had accepted the office of United States senator, being then, with Senator William Cocke, on his way to Philadelphia, where congress was in session. John Sevier, as governor, was thus for a second time at the head of a government not yet recognized by the United States, the election of state officials having already been held.

Dr. James White, territorial delegate, applied for the admission of Tennessee into the Union. The application was made a party question.

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Source: 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.

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