- May 12, 2019
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Franklin’s largest barrier to statehood came from the top level, Congress. The statehood movement that grew out of a tiny community in Southern Appalachia reflected a larger, national conversation about how American representative democracy would work going forward, Barksdale explains. To what degree would independence be revered? How would the United States go about creating states in the uncharted Western territory? As Barksdale asks, “How committed were Americans to the basic American Revolution principles of self-determination?”
Not committed enough to allow Franklin its self-determined statehood. The Confederation Congress rejected Franklin’s request and denied state sovereignty; perhaps, under the trepidation of how the ideas of self-determination in this tiny portion of Appalachia could spread to the rest of the country. “Appalachia becomes a testing ground immediately after the revolution for the principles of the revolution,” Barksdale says. “The chaos surrounding Franklin becomes a major player in shaping how the frontier in the Western territories will be integrated into the United States.”
When I sought a connection with Greeneville, the hometown I barely knew, I obsessively researched facts and data about the place. I discovered how Viking Mountain pierces the sky at 4,844 feet, that a cannonball fired in an 1864 Civil War battle remains lodged in the side of Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and that my Papaw Jack was a member of a group open to people who descended from Franklinites.
I come from Franklin, but simply knowing its facts and history didn’t give me that “at-home” feeling. My best sense of home came when I stopped researching, sat quietly creek-side in the mountains that straddle the Tennessee–North Carolina border, in the good company of nettle and wild violets, and listened to the mountains. For now, getting lost in the fog in the land of the Lost State is enough for me.