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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 States.

"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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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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