Sevier, John

Sevier, John

(səvēr`), 1745–1815, American frontiersman and political leader. He was born near the site of New Market, Va., the town he founded in his young manhood. In 1773 he moved with his family to W North Carolina, where he became a leader of the Watauga AssociationWatauga Association,
government (1772–75) formed by settlers along the Watauga River in present E Tennessee. Virginians made the first settlements in 1769, and after the collapse of the Regulator movement in North Carolina, citizens from that colony under James Robertson
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. In the American RevolutionAmerican Revolution,
1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence.
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, Sevier, a supporter of independence and a veteran of many campaigns against Native Americans, was prominent as one of the frontier leaders in the American victory at Kings Mountain (1780) in the Carolina campaignCarolina campaign,
1780–81, of the American Revolution. After Sir Henry Clinton had captured Charleston, he returned to New York, leaving a British force under Cornwallis to subordinate the Carolinas to British control.
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. After the war, when North Carolina ceded (1784) its western lands to the United States, Sevier served (1785–88) as governor of a separate, short-lived state organized by the settlers (see Franklin, State ofFranklin, State of,
government (1784–88) formed by the inhabitants of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene counties in present-day E Tennessee after North Carolina ceded (June, 1784) its western lands to the United States. Following preliminary conventions at Jonesboro (Aug.
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). For this he was arrested (1788) by the North Carolina government on a charge of treason, but he escaped. Following his election (1789) to the North Carolina senate, he was pardoned by the governor. He voted for the U.S. Constitution in the state ratifying convention of 1789, and he was elected (1789) to represent the western districts in Congress. In 1791 he was made a brigadier general in the "Territory South of the River Ohio" and in 1794 was appointed to its 10-man legislative council. The new state of Tennessee was organized (1796) out of this territory, and Sevier, elected the first governor, served from 1796 to 1801 and again from 1803 to 1809. The rising young Andrew Jackson unsuccessfully tried to curb Sevier's political power, and the two men became bitter personal enemies. Sevier ended his distinguished career by returning to Congress (1811–15).

Bibliography

See his Letters in C. B. Sevier and N. C. Madden, Sevier Family History (1961); biographies by J. R. Gilmore (1887) and C. S. Driver (1932).

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Sevier, John

(1745–1815) soldier, public official; born near present-day New Market, Va. He led militia forces during the American Revolution and was governor of the short-lived state of Franklin (1785–88). He also served as governor of Tennessee (1796–1801, 1803–09). He was twice in the House of Representatives (Dem., N.C.; 1789–91, Dem., Tenn.; 1811–15).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.