Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

William Blount

                    William Blount, the American statesman and signer of the United States Constitution, was born on March 26, 1749, in Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina; he was born into a prominent North Carolina family of distinguished merchants and planters.  The family owned extensive property along the banks of the Pamlico River

                    Blount married Mary Grainger, and the couple had one son named William Grainger Blount (1784-1827; Tennessee state representative and U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1815-1819).  Blount had one brother named Thomas (1759-1812; Revolutionary War veteran and U.S. Representative from North Carolina, 1793-1799, 1805-1809, and 1811-1812) and a half-brother named Willie (1767-1835; Governor of Tennessee 1809-1815).

                    William Blount served as a paymaster during the American Revolutionary War.  When North Carolina faced British invasion, Blount helped organize citizen-soldiers and went into the field with them.  He was elected to the North Carolina legislature in 1781 where he served for most of the decade except while he represented North Carolina at the Constitutional Convention of 1782 and 1787.  He led the efforts to ratify the Constitution in North Carolina in 1789. 

                    Blount is distinguished as being the only governor of the Southwest Territory and was a leader in efforts to help the territory be admitted to the Union as the State of Tennessee.  He was elected to be a Senator from Tennessee in 1796.  He was behind the push to open the lands west of the Appalachians to settlement.  As governor of the Southwest Territory negotiated the Treaty of Holston in 1791; this treaty brought thousands of acres of Indian lands under the control of the United States.

                    Blount was an "aggressive land speculator" and acquired millions of acres in Tennessee and the trans-Appalachian west.  He made "risky land investments" that left him in debt and led to some bad decisions.  In the 1790s he entered a conspiracy with England to seize the Louisiana Territory from Spain with the hope that the prices of western land would be boosted.  The conspiracy was discovered in 1797, and Blount was expelled from the U.S. Senate.  In fact, he became "the first U.S. public official to face impeachment."  The people of Tennessee still liked him and elected him to the state senate where he became speaker.

                    William Blount died at age 50 on March 21, 1800, in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was buried in First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Knoxville.  He and his family have an extensive legacy of schools, streets, towns, and counties being named after them.  The town of Blountville and Blount County, both in Tennessee, were named after William.  The town of Maryville and the county of Grainger, both in Tennessee, were named after his wife, Mary Grainger Blount.  They both had schools named after them:  William Blount High School, William Blount Middle School, and Mary Blount Elementary SchoolBlount Street in Madison, Wisconsin, was named in his honor as was a street through the center of downtown Raleigh, North CarolinaBlount County, Alabama, was named after William's half-brother Willie Blount, who was governor of Tennessee.

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