William Blount – Signer of the Constitution – North Carolina

thZILIEPZZWilliam Blount was one of the signers of the Constitution from North Carolina. His story could eventually be called a tragedy in American history, but, for those who knew him, William Blount was a man whose leadership would inspire a generation and help give birth to the official state of Tennessee.

No one individual played so large a role in the formation of Tennessee statehood as did William Blount. For many people, however, he was regarded as an eccentric and little was known about his life and times. That he originated from “Continental stock” and a good family was well-known and he did seem to command the respect of some of the nation’s early leaders, including President George Washington. His life, however, was a mystery to all, but a select few and would remain such for many years after his death.
Following the ending of the American Revolution, a new economy and way of life began sweeping over the nation. For a family like the Blounts, who had faithfully served under British rule for generations, it meant huge changes in their way of thinking and William Blount was a man who could change with the times.

William Blount was born on March 26, 1749 (according to the Julian Calender) in Bertie County, NC in the Pamlico Sound region near the coastal town of Wilmington. His family was one of the oldest in America and could even trace their roots back to William The Conqueror in England. His parents Jacob and Barbara Gray Blount were wealthy for the time and young Blount received one of the best educations available in the colonies.

Both William Blount and his father enlisted as soldiers in 1771 and fought for the British under Gov. William Tryon at the Battle of Alamance. As Revolution began sweeping the colonies, the Blounts sensed an opportunity in the new American government. When war broke out between the two nations; both took jobs as paymasters in the Continental Army.

The family was always ambitious and established themselves as leaders in business. William, his father Jacob, and both of his brothers enjoyed success in shipping and mercantile enterprises. William was also a land speculator who, at one time, owned more than one million acres in western North Carolina’s Appalachian region, which included land in present-day Tennessee.

In 1778, William Blount married Mary Grainger, who was also from a well established family in Wilmington. She had been brought up in the old school and instructed in managing household affairs and the social graces. With few exceptions, the couple were a perfect match and Mary’s background helped her husband find his calling in life in politics.

In 1780, with war raging all around them, the Blount’s gave birth to their first daughter, Nancy, and William Blount was elected to his first seat in the North Carolina state house. Two years later, Mary gave birth to their second daughter Mary Louisa, and the North Carolina statesman served as a delegate to the Continental Congress. In his status as a representative of the state, William Blount became one of the most influential men of his time in helping a young America establish itself as a nation. In 1787, he served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention where he played a large role in its writing and influencing of other representatives. His work soon caught the attention of President George Washington, who immediately took a liking to him. William Blount tossed his hat into the ring for the seat of U.S. Senator from North Carolina, but lost the seat and returned to his comfortable home in the state and his four children – a son, named William Grainger Blount, was born in 1784 and an infant named Richard.

Although his political career was short-circuited, Blount saw an opportunity in a new governor’s post rumored to be available in the Southwest territory, where his vast land holdings were located. When Congress created The Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio, Blount lobbied hard and got the support of the North Carolina Congressional delegation to support him as a candidate for the post of territorial governor. His favorable impression on President George Washington is said to have carried a lot of weight and the President appointed the 42-year-old statesman to a three-year term as governor beginning in June of 1790.

When he informed his wife they would be moving to the new territory becoming known as Tennessee, it is said she cried for days. Mary Blount had become accustomed to the continental lifestyle of North Carolina and did not relish the idea of leaving her beloved home for a wilderness of frontiersmen and Indians, especially with an infant on her hip. She feared for the safety of herself and her family and was truly frightened by the prospect of moving.

Governor Blount, on the other hand, was ecstatic with the move.

“The salary is handsome,” he said in a letter to a friend, “and my western lands had become so great an object to me that it had become absolutely necessary that I should go to the western country…”

Unlike John Sevier and Andrew Jackson, William Blount was no frontiersman nor did he aspire to be one. He was a cultivated, educated gentleman from North Carolina and knew his limitations. The frontier families in the region were unsure about the government as they had five times previously tried to form their own governments and, with America so young a nation, they didn’t know if the new territorial government would hold for any length of time. One job that was thrown on Blount was that of Superintendent of Indian Affairs – a trumped-up title that meant he tried to resolve the numerous conflicts between the various tribes and keep America out of a full-scale Indian war that would cripple the government and probably hand it back over to the British. Blount’s regal composure and reputation as a “government man” among the settlers gave him a unique perspective that allowed him to open negotiations with the various tribal leaders and successfully begin building a working relationship with them.

After a brief stay at Rocky Mount in upper East Tennessee, Gov. Blount decided to go on a tour of the country and search for a place he and his family could settle. He wanted to settle on the Clinch River, where he owned property, but was impressed with the region surrounding James White’s Fort and its location on a river, which was a major traffic artery in those days.

The strain of his office started taking effect almost immediately, especially in regards to the Cherokee Nation. The tribal government wanted to settle a dispute over the increasing number of white settlers living on land that legally belonged to the Cherokee Nation.

Gov. Blount decided to negotiate a settlement with the Cherokee Nation near a place where the Holston enters the Tennessee River and to end the growing dispute that would have definitely ended in war. This brought him once again to the growing settlement around James White’s Fort. The political nature of Blount shone through at what became known as the “Treaty of the Holston”. More than 1,200 Cherokee watched the signing of the treaty by 42 tribal chiefs that redrew the boundary lines separating the Cherokee and the settlers. It was hailed as a brilliant treaty for its day and credited with leading to the decision of Gov. Blount to move his family to the White’s Settlement, which he later named Knoxville, after his immediate superior who was then-Secretary of War and Chief Administrator of Indian Affairs Henry Knox. In the land lottery held in 1791, Gov. Blount acquired lot number 18 and immediately began working to build a proper city which would serve as the territory capitol.

Gov. Blount sent for his wife and children and the family lived in a log cabin, while milled lumber and supplies were being brought down river to begin working on a proper home for the Governor. The house, which was the first frame home-built west of Southern Appalachia, held the growing community in awe and people traveled for miles to watch its construction. Mary Blount ordered flowers, herbs, and plants from North Carolina, in addition to furniture and needed draperies and linens. Blount himself worked diligently on his home sending letters to John Sevier ordering glass windows and asking the future governor of Tennessee help secure the shipments to Knoxville from Virginia. As the home started taking shape, it quickly became one of the most talked about buildings in the territory and Native Americans throughout the region stood in awe of the two-story building, which was something most had never seen before then. Numerous outbuildings were also built to house the kitchen, servants’ quarters, and his territorial office. Although Blount conducted business there, it was his lavish home that became the centerpiece of Knoxville. Guests from all walks of life visited the governor and often stayed overnight. Mary Blount almost single-handedly took hold of the young city and began developing a social life and establishing a sense of community among its residents. Being a frontier town, Knoxville was wide-open and there were few laws in a town where brothels and taverns were the mainstay of the economy. Her gracious nature fostered an air of respectability about Knoxville that carried its own political weight and put the young city in the international spotlight.

Through the years, rugged frontier men such as John Sevier, future President Andrew Jackson, and Cherokee Chiefs would share space with other notable historical figures like French botanist Andre Michaux and future King of France Louis Philippe to name a few. The afternoon teas, lavish dinners, and general parties always featured a who’s who list that was the envy of many east coast governors.

William Blount’s work as governor continued and, while it often put him at odds with the frontiersmen of the region, Gov. Blount always received Native American leaders with the pomp and circumstance that would be given a national leader and issued an order to the territory that local militias could only be used defensively against the Native American tribes. Following his reappointment in 1793, Blount sensed an opportunity to realize one of his lifetime professional goals of serving as Senator of the United States.

In his first year of office, a governor’s census revealed the territory had the 5,000 male population necessary to petition for statehood, but Blount never organized a representative assembly and instead focused on developing the region. Following the opening of a road to Nashville in 1794, however, he did organize the assembly and began working on statehood for the territory. Blount took another census and found that more than 60,000 men lived in the territory. A vote was held and a measure wanting statehood for Tennessee passed by a two to one margin. In January 1796, Blount called the first Constitutional Convention in Knoxville. Blount was chosen to preside over the committee and, when the state constitution was drafted in Blount’s office, it was immediately taken to Philadelphia – then serving as the nation’s capitol.

While national politics challenged the territory’s request for statehood in the Jefferson-Adams presidential election of 1796, Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1 of that year with then-President George Washington signing the proclamation. Tennessee’s admission set the standard for future states and, after seven different names and forms of government, the territory had achieved the status it long sought.

John Sevier became the first Governor, Andrew Jackson was elected to represent Tennessee in Congress, William Cocke and William Blount took the posts of U.S. Senators. Although realizing his lifetime goal of being Senator, Blount’s personal fortunes started taking a tumble. His business interests began failing and Blount transferred title of his Knoxville mansion to his half-brother to avoid losing it to creditors. To make matters worse, his vast real estate holdings in the western part of the territory were being threatened by colonial politics on the Mississippi River.

A rumor began spreading that Spain, which had claims to New Orleans and Louisiana, was about to cede the holdings to France in order to pay for its failing war efforts in Europe. Britain was at war with France and Spain and America was officially neutral in the conflict. If France and Spain cut a deal, it could mean Americans would be denied use of the Mississippi, which would abruptly halt westward expansion.

Across the street in Knoxville, Blount’s neighbor, a tavern keeper by the name of John Chisholm, had come up with a plan that might protect Blount’s land holdings. Chisholm, who was a master of colonial intrigue, told Blount he could help organize an expedition of frontiersmen and Indians that could aid Britain in seizing the City of New Orleans and keep the Mississippi River region open and secure for settlement – maintain property values in the west.

Blount wrote a letter about the plan to a friend, but wind of the rumor had spread and the letter suspiciously ended up in the hands of then-President John Adams.

The President was still upset over the fact that Tennessee had given its three national delegates to Thomas Jefferson in the presidential election and had no sympathy for anyone west of the Appalachians. Adams was a supporter of a strong-centralized government while Jefferson was in favor of less government and that philosophy appealed to the independent minded Tennesseans, who overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Virginian. That slap in the face was enough to earn the political ire of Adams. Rather than deal quietly with the Blount letter as most Presidents would have done to avoid a crisis, on July 3, 1797– a day before Independence Day celebrations – President Adams sent it to Congress where it was read aloud to the entire body, including William Blount himself. The result was immediate and five days later the Tennessean was expelled from the Senate for the “Blount Conspiracy” by a vote of 25 to one for daring to conspire with Britain in a war where America was “officially” neutral.

When Blount arrived on the outskirts of Knoxville disgraced, he did not expect what he saw. A roar went up from a huge crowd led by James White, who was waiting there for him. A troop of cavalry joined the cheering crowd in escorting Blount back to his home in Knoxville. Tennesseans, like everyone else in the region, were dependent on the Mississippi River for their developing economy and supported the Chisholm plan for securing the region. Many felt that President Adams and the majority of the Congress were too “colony oriented” and cared little for America west of the Appalachians. A Senate trial was convened in Philadelphia to officially impeach Blount from office and a warrant for his arrest was issued. The Sergeant-at-arms was dispatched to Knoxville to take Blount into custody.

When the sergeant-at-arms arrived, he was welcomed into the hospitality of the Blount home and stayed for several days enjoying the comfort of the mansion. The officer’s unexpected treatment confused him and he was further disconcerted when he tried to arrange a posse to help him transport his prisoner back to Philadelphia. Not one single person would help the sergeant-at-arms with his task and he was informed there was no way he would leave Knoxville with Blount. Although seen as over-educated, stuffy, and eccentric by many in the city, he was one of their own and they would have no part of taking him back to the nation’s capitol. The sergeant-at-arms was forced to return without Blount to Philadelphia.

The impeachment trial never truly got underway and was dismissed on the grounds that Blount was no longer a Senator and thus not subject to its jurisdiction. While the trial was underway, Blount was already back in politics serving in the Tennessee General Assembly – replacing James White as Speaker of the Senate. He continued his political career and was suddenly struck with a fever in early 1800. On March 21 of that year, 50-year-old William Blount passed away. Although never regarded in the genre of the colorful frontiersmen of his day, William Blount had played the most integral role in pushing America over the Southern Appalachian Mountains and beginning a westward expansion that would soon take the nation to the Pacific Coast. He had fought in the Revolutionary War, served in the government of North Carolina, twice been a delegate to the Continental Congress, helped to write and sign the Constitution of the United States, and been the driving force in the formation of the first American state from federal property. His great wealth had dwindled and, at the time of his death, he was virtually penniless. His wife, who had never wanted to leave her family home in North Carolina, remained at their Knoxville mansion until her death two years later. She was laid to rest in the cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville.

Mary Grainger Blount was as beloved by the people of the region as was her husband. Grainger County, Tennessee was named in her honor as was the city of Maryville. The county of Blount was named in honor of William. A small college started on a hill in the city was named Blount College in his honor and evolved into what is known today as the University of Tennessee.

The Blount Mansion remained in the family for a good number of years. In 1827, following the death of Blount’s oldest son, the home passed out of the family. It still remained the center of Knoxville social life as it served as the residence of two city mayors. During the Civil War years, it served as a hotel and boarding house for such notables as Confederate spy Belle Boyd.

In 1925, the Blount mansion was slated to be razed by the city for downtown redevelopment. Citizens of Knoxville rallied around the home and worked long hours raising money to purchase the house and lands and begin developing it into a historic site commemorating the life of William Blount and the birth of Tennessee. They formed the Blount Mansion Association and began working to restore the house to its original condition.

Through the years, the Blount Mansion has become regarded as one of the best historical sites in East Tennessee and was eventually recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It hosts numerous annual educational programs showcasing the life and times of 18th century Knoxville. Over the past few years, University of Tennessee archaeologists have been holding a summer program where children can help participate in the excavations.

“The Blount Mansion,” said Tennessee historian Sylvia Lynch “is one of the most underrated historical sites in the South. Inside its compound lays the true story of Tennessee that many people have forgotten over the years. From the days of James White’s Fort to today, it has remained a vibrant part of the community and is an almost-perfect looking-glass into Tennessee’s and Knoxville’s past.”

Obama Lies, America Dies… An Open Letter to Barack HUSSEIN Obama

English: Student pledging to the flag, 1899.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: I took photo in Asherton, TX, with Ca...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Obama…eh, Soetoro…uh Soebarkah…wait a minute, Bounel…no, Ludwig

What the hell… Whoever you are…

For the last five years we have watched as you have shucked and jived, exaggerated, distorted and outright lied about many things of significant importance to the American people. You have interjected yourself in events for the sole purpose of bringing attention TO you, yet feign ignorance of issues that show you are totally clueless as to what it REALLY means to be the leader of the free world.

You close the doors of The People’s House to the People, yet continue your lavish partying with “celebrities”. You ignore facts and evidence that run counter to your support for your muslim bretheren, allowing members of that “brotherhood” into highly sensitive positions throughout the government in order to cleanse various departments of all things “anti-muslim”. Your Defense Dept. classifies the actions of a known enemy sympathizer as “workplace violence”, while others such as the DHS, CIA, FBI etc. are characterizing whistleblowers and other patriotic Americans as “terrorists”.

We cannot display the Ten Commandments in public spaces, schools no longer allow students to recite The Pledge of Allegiance.  Men and women of faith in the military face punishment for exercising their faith, yet muslims are allowed to practice their faith unmolested in schools or wherever they demand.

This didn’t start with you, Mr. Transparency, but you have not followed up on any of your promises to curtail the actions of these departments. Instead you allow these things to increase. You bow to foreign leaders, make apologies and excuses. Your foreign policy is a sham, and domestically you and your administration have done nothing but work towards the destruction of our economy, set race relations back 50-60 years, and feverishly work to reshape our education system into one of indoctrination.

It is crystal clear that you and your acolytes want the rest of America to be ashamed of our heritage and culture, but I tell you now that what you are doing will not stand. There is a groundswell forming that you and your supporters will not be able to withstand. Your so called domestic army, just as strong as the military,  will wither and blow away as so much dust if ever called to act against the American Patriots who choose to stand for our Country and Constitution.  The attempts by you, your party and the RINO’s to run roughshod over our founding documents and principles will continue to face mounting resistance, regardless of E.O.’s or other edicts. I shall never kneel before you, nor shall I pray to you.

You have no concept of what it really means to be an American, I suggest you learn and act accordingly, or step down before you are forced to do so.

With Abundant Resolve

Bret W. Bourg

My Labor Day Weekend Camping Trip Top 5 Survival Tips

Image URI: http://mrg.bz/Uj1kDO JPEG URI: http://mrg.bz/SDh2yBWhen I go camping, whether it is for one day or a week, I try to go where no one else will go. I like to rough it, but sometimes I take the kids, so we have to go to more hospitable areas that are a bit safer. However, whether you are in the deep wilderness only eating what you kill, catch or gather, or you are at a manicured camp ground where you have a built-in barbecue pit, there are some things that you should do and not do. Wild animals do not care if you are in the middle of nowhere, or right off the highway. They want your food, and if you get in the way of that, they might make you the food. Also, research the area that you are going to camp in. Understand the terrain, wildlife, and resources that are associated with the particular neck of the woods that you will be traversing.

#5. Plan

Make a good, solid plan. Have a map of the area you are going to. As I mentioned above, know the terrain, animals natural to the area, the bodies of water, closest town, and different ways in and out of the area you will be camping in. Make sure to let at least two people know where you are going, the name of the wilderness or camp ground, the location, when you are leaving, and when you are planning on returning home.

#4. First Aid

Make sure to carry a first-aid kit with you that contains nothing less than bandages, antibiotic ointment, iodine, bug spray, allergy medicine, anti-inflammatory medication, aspirin, a cold pack, gauze, band-aids, a snake bite kit, butterfly strips, blood clotting and wound packing material, scissors, a pocket knife, and even a small fishing kit. The absolute must have is a lighter, matches, or some other means of starting a fire. You will need this to not only make fires to stay warm and cook, but to sterilize water, and sterilize needles and knives in the event that you sustain a severe wound and cannot get help or get out quickly. Preferably, you would also have a tourniquet and a field dressing, but a folded shirt and a belt will work, too. You do not want to find yourself in an emergency situation without anything to treat yourself with.

#3Self-Defense

The best defense is a good plan, knowledge of your area, preparing plenty of the necessary resources that you have with you or that are available, and being aware of your surroundings always, but sometimes even when you cover all of these bases, it all goes out the window when you are face to face with an angry bear, a territorial moose, or a hungry cougar (not the good kind). In these instances, you will want to have a firearm of some sort at your side to survive the situation. However, some of us do not carry guns or feel comfortable with one, so with that in mind, you should at least have a powerful bear spray with you, a good-sized hunting knife, a hand axe, or at the very least, a big, solid stick.

Wild animals rarely attack humans, but it depends on the animal, the situation, and your actions. With bears, stand your ground, make a lot of noise, and try to appear bigger than you are. Throw rocks, yell, but do not run or take your eyes off of it if the bear is not attacking. The same goes for cougars, but truth be told, if one attacks you, you will not usually know it is there until it is on you. Whatever animal you are encountering, if it attacks you, try to protect yourself, fight back, and if possible, run and get something between you and it. Each person is going to react differently in these situations, so I have no real advice other than do what you need to do to survive. Moose are actually the most dangerous animal that you can come face to face with in the wild. If you do, get between the biggest tree and it that you can and run when you get a chance.

# 2. Food

Whether you have shot and killed your own game, field stripped it, and butchered it, or brought a cooler full of food and boxes of snacks, you have got to put it away as soon as you are done preparing it and clean up after you have cooked it and ate. If you leave it out, uncovered, or near your tent, even sealed, you are asking for potential trouble from critters. If you are a hunter, make sure to throw the organs of the animal in a near by river or creek. The fish will eat it and the running water will keep it from contaminating the water. You can also burn it. The same goes from already prepared food or food in a cooler. It is best to throw leftovers in the water or burn it in the camp fire. Make sure that whatever your food source is, that it is wrapped up, sealed, and either hung from a tree up high to keep the scent off the ground, or locked up in your vehicle which should be parked away from camp. Whatever you do, do not leave the food exposed out in the open. This will attract wild animals.

#1. Water

The most important thing that you need to have and remember is to have plenty of clean water. Bring plenty of clean water with you. Bottles and bottles of sealed, clean drinking water. Do not drink river, creek, or pond water, and do not drink any water from standing pools. If you find yourself without a clean water supply, thoroughly boil any water you find for at least 10 minutes or use water purifying tablets if you happen to have any. Even if you are at a camp ground with running water, do not trust it from the faucet. There are just too many microscopic bugs and viruses out there today to risk it. Gone are the days of drinking cold mountain water from a running stream, even if you are in the middle of nowhere in the Rocky Mountains. The water, unfortunately, is just not clean enough anymore.

God Bless You

Daniel P. O’Rourke

(In the interest of full-disclosure, I wrote an article for Memorial Day with the same tips for Yahoo, but I own all the rights to the article, and all of my camping survival tips apply year-round, especially if you go off the grid when you camp like I do.)- See Yahoo for original article by Daniel P. O’Rourke

Life Expectancy: A Wilderness Mentality

In this article, I would like to cover some basic principles about wilderness mentality and the difference in your average life expectancy in an emergency situation compared to regular life. According to the latest studies the average life expectancy of an American male is 76 years old and 81 years for females. When you are plunged into a self-rescue or survival situation, it is my opinion that your maximum life expectancy is anywhere between 3 minutes and 3 weeks.

Why is this you ask? I will explain, using a common system, (From the Pathfinder School), known as the Rule of 3’s. A human being can only survive roughly: 3 Minutes without air before dying of asphyxiation, 3 Hours without shelter from the elements before dying of exposure, 3 Days without water before dying of dehydration,  and 3 Weeks without food before dying of starvation.

This changes the way you look at the choices you make as you are trying to stay alive in a serious self-rescue situation. A few friends of mine posted a video on how to pasteurize water using just a plastic water bottle on youtube. I was impressed by it. The water itself can be purified over open flame in the bottle without the plastic being melted. This is a fantastic way to take suspect water that could have any number of viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc, with materials that can often be found in the wild.

The comments on the video from people who watched it were a tad alarming to me. I remember several people saying, “You can’t boil water in plastic! That releases chemicals into the water and can give you cancer! You guys are being totally irresponsible and should be ashamed of yourselves!!!”

Now to me, I think that if you are truly in a dire situation and you have the option to choose: 1: Use plastic bottle to purify water over flame, reduce risk of dehydration and increase chance of getting cancer in 20+ years. Or 2: Do not use water bottle to purify water, reduce risk of cancer in 20+ years, but increase risk of getting viral, bacterial, or parasitic exposure resulting in higher chance of diarrhea and vomiting that increases dehydration, which will eventually lead to death within days.

Personally, to me the choice is pretty clear. I always try to remember when I go out into the wild my maximum life expectancy is no more than 3 weeks. Learn the skills, and put them into practice. Thanks for reading.

~ AJA