John Sevier

John Sevier
IMAGE: TN State Library and Archives


George Washington is sometimes known as the “Father of our Country.”

Perhaps John Sevier is the “Father of Tennessee.”

Born in Virginia in 1745, Sevier migrated to what is now Washington County, Tennessee, with his wife and nine children at the age of 26. Sevier developed a reputation as a leader in combat against Native Americans, which was true of many of Tennessee’s early settlers. He also became a hero after he led an army of settlers at the Battle of Kings Mountain, which the rebellious colonists won. Click here to take a Tennessee History for Kids virtual tour of Kings Mountain.

Before Tennessee became a state, Sevier was the governor of what is now referred to as the “Lost State of Franklin.”

You see, in 1784 the people living in what is now northeastern Tennessee voted to form a state called Franklin. For four years they acted as if the state existed, but the state of North Carolina was opposed to the idea of an independent state of Franklin. Because of this, Congress never approved the state of Franklin, and it faded from existence.

John Sevier’s grave in Knoxville

Then, in 1796, the state of Tennessee was formed.

Sevier was elected Tennessee’s first governor and would eventually serve in that position for twelve years (1796-1801 and 1803-1809). Sevier also served four terms as a Congressman.

However, John Sevier did have his enemies. One of them was Andrew Jackson. In fact the two men disliked each other so much that they nearly dueled in 1803.

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