Transylvania Company

Transylvania Company, association formed to exploit and colonize the area now comprising much of Kentucky and Tennessee. Organized first (Aug., 1774) as the Louisa Company, it was reorganized (Jan., 1775) as the Transylvania Company. At Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River, the Cherokee deeded (Mar. 17, 1775) to Richard Henderson and other members of the association all the territory embraced by the Ohio, Kentucky, and Cumberland rivers. Henderson had already dispatched Daniel Boone to lead the way to the Kentucky River and, with additional settlers, soon followed Boone over his Wilderness Road to Boonesboro, the first settlement. Henderson hoped to make Transylvania, as the region was called, a proprietary colony similar to Pennsylvania and Maryland, but the project did not have British approval and, more importantly, was immediately denounced by both Virginia and North Carolina, within whose chartered limits Transylvania lay. A provisional, democratic government was organized in May, 1775, but the Continental Congress ignored Transylvania's plea to be recognized as the 14th colony. Virginia created (Dec., 1776) Kentucky co. in its portion of Transylvania and voided (Nov., 1778) the company's land titles there. Henderson then turned to the development of the Cumberland River area, employing James Robertson to lead this project. However, North Carolina also voided (1783) this section of the grant. Virginia and North Carolina each awarded Henderson and his associates 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) for their labor and expenses in promoting western colonization.

See A. Henderson, The Conquest of the Old Southwest (1920); W. S. Lester, The Transylvania Colony (1935).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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