When the distant bell in Philadephia rang sounding independence, what were the Wataugans thinking while the Colonies were going wild after the Declaration was announced? Did the people of the Watauga Valley even care or did they have other things , more pressing and immediate, to think about?
The people who populated the frontier declared their independence long before Jefferson voiced Colonial sentiments and carried a feel for freedom over the Pennsylvania mountains and up the water ways from South Carolina. If they didn’t have this spirit in them already, they would never shifted their homes to the frontier, facing the possibility of death at the hands of hostile natives. My thinking was that they were so far away from the seats of power and influence that the break from Britain wouldn’t be as important as their relations or lack of same with the indiginous peoples whose hunting lands they were invading.I got my answer in a fascinating recounting of the history of the frontier during and after the Revolution and found that I was only partially right. The attitude of the Cherokee and the war between them and the Shawnee and the Cherokee and settler dictated how the settlers viewed independence from a government who only governed the frontier in a second-hand kind of way. The break from Britain was a theory; saving one’s scalp and homestead and preserving one’s land was fact. After the Native Americans got over the shock that white would fight white, the fact that the Cherokee and other tribes treated with the British and more locally, the Tories, and was sympathetic to the uber-government’s cause made the settler’s fight to break from Britain an imperative. Brenda Calloway wrote a book called “America’s First Western Frontier: East Tennessee” and it traces the relations of the settlers and native tribes, the British influence and treaties. “History of the Lost State of Franklin ” by Samuel Cole Williams traces the division of lands that noone could rule but everybody wanted.
America’s First Western Frontier
History of the Lost State of Franklin