Twenty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a new state was born Tennessee. A convoluted history led up to Tennessee becoming the 16th state in the United States. It was admitted as a state on June 1, 1796. In the years prior to Statehood, the land that became Tennessee was under a number of governing bodies.
Leading up to the Revolutionary War, Britain under the rule of King George III had put a great deal of pressure on the colonies in several ways. The colonies defied many of Britains decrees. British King George III announced a Proclamation line in 1763 that reserved all the land west of the Appalachian Mountains for Indian tribes. In violation of that rule colonists poured across the mountains into the frontier, searching for fertile land and freedom from Britains harsh laws that included extreme taxes and too many rules and regulations. England enlisted the aid of the Cherokee to fight these frontiersmen. During that time, the settlers from east of the Appalachians began thinking in terms of being American instead of British.
The Indians didnt take too kindly to the frontiersmen settling on the land they had been promised. Consequently, the Revolutionary War began with the Colonists fighting the British and the Indians for control of the frontier at that time.
The War was hard and long, beginning April 19,1775. On that date British troops marched into Lexington to seize a Patriot arsenal and capture Patriot leaders. It was 700 troops against only seventy-seven armed troops. A shot was fired which began the battle. By the time the brief battle had ended eight Patriots had died and 10 were wounded. One British soldier was wounded.
The Revolutionary War ended October 19, 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia when Cornwallis surrendered after being surrounded by land and sea by American and French forces.
The Battle of Kings Mountain has been said by some historians to be the turning point in the war. Of course, there were many battles in the war. Even after the Declaration of Independence the war raged on.
British General Cornwallis sent Colonel Patrick Ferguson into the backcountry of the western part of the Carolinas. His mission was to rally those who had been loyal to the Crown and to crush the opposition. Colonel Charles McDowell of he colonial forces asked for help from the Overmountain men and two hundred responded. The muster was held at Sycamore Shoals in late September near what is now near Elizabethton, Tennessee. Ferguson sent a message to the settlers telling them if they not desist from their opposition to the British arms he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.
The settlers were enraged by that message and with a send-off prayer by pioneer clergyman Samuel Doak; those that assembled began their trek toward Kings Mountain in South Carolina. The important and decisive battle took place October 7, 1780. The battle lasted only 65 minutes but at its end even Colonel Ferguson lay dead.
In five days from the writing of this column Americans will celebrate and honor the Declaration of Independence the document declaring Americas independence from England. There were many battles and there was much hardship before and after the Declaration of Independence signing began, but the men who put their names to the document and those who fought the battles risked all for freedom. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, may we honor the people who persevered in the quest for freedom so we can have it too?