Patriots or Traitors: The Generational Divide...

Here's a fascinating story mentioning one of my favorite historical subjects — John Sevier — brought to my attention by Michael Lynch on his blog, Past in the Present:

In his article, "John Sevier, William Blount, and Their Unmentionable Footnotes," Knoxville historian Jack Neely says "Blount and Sevier weren’t Sons of the Revolution. Nor were they Founding Fathers. They were the Rebellion’s rebellious little brothers." John Sevier was jailed for treason after attempting to negotiate a separate alliance between his provisional frontier government and Spain. Meanwhile, William Blount initiated secret negotiations with the British to attack the Spanish and conquer Louisiana for King George III.

Neely makes the case that Sevier and Blount had more in common with Aaron Burr than with George Washington and the leaders of the American Revolution. According to Neely, "They were too young to have earned a place in the pantheon of the founders of a nation. But they were too old to have grown up — as we did — revering our Founding Fathers as Immortals, something a little beyond merely human." As a result, Neely writes, "I get the impression that on the frontier, folks defined patriotism as what was in the economic and security interests of your neighbors, not necessarily the principles that East Coast guys in powdered wigs were dreaming about. If the United States were really a nation, there were days when it didn’t seem much like it out here."

Click here to read more about "John Sevier, William Blount, and Their Unmentionable Footnotes" from Jack Neely's latest "Secret History" column in The Metro Pulse. I would also urge you to read Michael Lynch's analysis of this piece on his blog, Past in the Present. For those with an interest in early Tennessee history, both are definitely worth a read.