Nolichucky Jack

(John Sevier)


John Sevier was born in Virginia and was, through his paternal grandfather, a distant relative of St. Francis Xavier. He and his first wife, Sarah Hawkins, settled with their children in East Tennessee, where he was given the nickname "Nolichucky Jack" for his expeditions along the Nolichucky River. After the area was claimed by Virginia, John served for a brief time in Lord Dunmoreís War, where he earned a reputation as a skilled Indian fighter. After settling in Northeast Tennessee, Sevier became involved in local politics and served as commander of the districtís militia during the 1776 Cherokee siege of Fort Caswell. After the battle, he was promoted to Colonel, and he led his men over the Appalachian Mountains, where they emerged victorious from the Battle of Kings Mountain. Sevierís fame increased tremendously, and he was chosen as the areaís new governor. During this time, Sevierís wife passed away, and he married Catherine Sherrill.

Under pressure from the Continental Congress, North Carolina finally ceded its western lands to the U.S. Government, but Congress did not immediately accept the property, leading to a space owned by no one party. Sevier and others became leaders in the area, named the State of Franklin. Soon, however, North Carolina wished for the return of the land, and the two quasi-states competed for the loyalties of the areaís residents. Sevier, meanwhile, attempted to gain control of Cherokee lands in present-day Alabama, participating in several battles against the Indians. Upon his return, some of Sevierís land was seized by North Carolina, and in retribution he and his militia laid siege to the farm of John Tipton. Tipton, backed by his own militia, emerged successful, and so marked the end of the State of Franklin. Sevier was arrested in 1788 on charges of treason, but he escaped, and a year later he was elected to the North Carolina Senate, after which he received an official pardon from the stateís governor. Sevier was later elected to the First U.S. Congress, where he served until 1791.

When Tennessee became a state in 1796, Sevier served as its first governor for six years, and in 1803 he again took up the position until 1809. After the conclusion of his final term, he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate, and in 1811 he joined the United States House of Representatives. He passed away in 1815, one day after his seventieth birthday, while surveying the boundary between Georgia and the Creek Nation in Alabama.

Key events during the life of John Sevier:

Served in Lord Dunmoreís War.
Cherokee siege of Fort Caswell.
Laid siege to the property of John Tipton.
  Arrested on a charge of treason.
Elected to the North Carolina Senate.
  Present-day Tennessee was ceded to the U.S. Govít.
Elected to the First U.S. Congress.
Tennessee became a state.
Served as first governor of Tennessee.
Served as third governor of Tennessee.
Attempted to duel Andrew Jackson.
Elected to the Tennessee State Senate.
Joined the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Nolichucky Jack  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans

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