Sevier, John

Sevier, John səvērˈ [key], 1745–1815, American frontiersman and political leader. He was born near the site of New Market, Va., the town he founded in his young manhood. In 1773 he moved with his family to W North Carolina, where he became a leader of the Watauga Association. In the American Revolution, Sevier, a supporter of independence and a veteran of many campaigns against Native Americans, was prominent as one of the frontier leaders in the American victory at Kings Mountain (1780) in the Carolina campaign. After the war, when North Carolina ceded (1784) its western lands to the United States, Sevier served (1785–88) as governor of a separate, short-lived state organized by the settlers (see Franklin, State of). For this he was arrested (1788) by the North Carolina government on a charge of treason, but he escaped. Following his election (1789) to the North Carolina senate, he was pardoned by the governor. He voted for the U.S. Constitution in the state ratifying convention of 1789, and he was elected (1789) to represent the western districts in Congress. In 1791 he was made a brigadier general in the “Territory South of the River Ohio” and in 1794 was appointed to its 10-man legislative council. The new state of Tennessee was organized (1796) out of this territory, and Sevier, elected the first governor, served from 1796 to 1801 and again from 1803 to 1809. The rising young Andrew Jackson unsuccessfully tried to curb Sevier's political power, and the two men became bitter personal enemies. Sevier ended his distinguished career by returning to Congress (1811–15).

See his Letters in C. B. Sevier and N. C. Madden, Sevier Family History (1961); biographies by J. R. Gilmore (1887) and C. S. Driver (1932).

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