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We the People Tennessee Law, The Early Days
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       Originally Tennessee was the land of the First People, mainly the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations. Then in the mid 1700s, “colonials” spilled into northeast East Tennessee while it was still part of North Carolina. With these new settlers came North Carolina’s colonial laws. Soon to follow was the Cumberland settlements in northern Middle Tennessee. Back then, Tennessee was generally called, North Carolina’s Western Lands.
       In 1783, after our Revolutionary War, North Carolina established its Military Reservation encompassing the Cumberland settlements. Finally, North Carolina relinquished its claims to its western lands and on 26 May 1790, what we now call Tennessee became the “Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio.” On 1 June 1796 Tennessee became a state, officially taking the name from a preexisting county. Here is where we find the formation of the Tennessee State Assembly and the many true Tennessee laws that followed.
       Early Tennessee law found its roots in both older colonial laws and in some cases, newer federal laws. Attitudes towards women were often very restrictive and some might even say, downright unfriendly. The First People were slowly and methodically pushed from their homes to land beyond the Mississippi. That “peculiar institution,” slavery, was certain unfriendly and much more to African Americans. It was the North Carolina cession of her western lands that forced Tennessee to be a slave state.
       Over the course of years the Assembly had to deal with many changes, and surely there must have been serious soul searching as that esteemed body confronted the great social and moral issues that swept across the land.
       Times change and so do laws; here we will deal with the early laws.
F. Smoot

Table of Contents

U. S. Statues, &c. Tennessee Constitutions
General Laws & Customs
Land Laws, &c.


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This page was first posted on:
03 January 1999