State of Franklin Program

Historical Significance

The formation and the demise of the State of Franklin is a complicated and unique part of the history of Northeast Tennessee. Immediately following the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), North Carolina claimed what is present-day Tennessee. In an attempt to help the new nation with its growing debt, North Carolina ceded its western lands (present-day Tennessee) to the national government in order to create new states and new tax revenue. During this period, local leaders meet and declared their independence in August of 1784 and created the State of Franklin. Their goal was to become the 14th state of the Union. Many supported this effort at statehood while others of the area opposed the attempt, one being Colonel John Tipton. Unfortunately for the State of Franklin, North Carolina had receded their cession of its western lands and made Franklin’s attempt an illegal action. For the next four years, the State of Franklin struggled to exist. Before the demise of Franklin, the Battle of the State of Franklin was fought in late February of 1788 on Colonel Tipton’s property between the Franklin militia and local North Carolina loyalists.

How the State of Franklin Program Relates to Tipton-Haynes

On May 15, 1784, Colonel John Tipton bought a 100 acre tract of land that is now the Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site. Soon after settling into his new home, the State of Franklin formed. Colonel Tipton opposed the formation of Franklin and stayed loyal with North Carolina. During the roughly four years of Franklin’s existence, Colonel Tipton represented Washington County in the North Carolina Senate, distributed rhetoric that opposed the Franklin movement, served as colonel of the local North Carolina militia, lead raids into Franklin courts to steal documents, and much more. A three day siege of February 27-29, 1788 and a ten minute battle on the last day of the siege occurred on Colonel Tipton’s property. The Battle of the State of Franklin is the only known armed conflict that occurred between the two opposing forces of the North Carolina loyalists and Franklinites.

Student Activity

Students will learn through discussion the complex history of the formation and demise of the State of Franklin. A brief video will give students more understanding of the controversy of Franklin and the battle that ensue on Colonel John Tipton’s property. Students will learn of Colonel Tipton’s role in opposing the State of Franklin. Also, students will learn about the causes and effects of the Battle of the State of Franklin. After background discussion of Franklin, students will learn the struggles that the State of Franklin faced during its four years of existence through the game of tug-of-war.