Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Capital for a Day

Here's a little-known bit of chicanery in history. It happened over 200 years ago not too far away from where I grew up:

"A recurring issue, and one that took five treaties and 28 years to dispose of, was the Cherokees' claims to land wanted by the settlers. Forked-tongue diplomacy was the norm in dealing with this issue, but it was elevated to a new artform in 1807. In an earlier treaty, the Cherokee had been led to believe that if they ceded the land in and around Kingston to the government, Kingston would become the capital of Tennessee. And true to the agreement, Kingston did become the capital of Tennessee — for one day. On Monday, September 21, 1807, the first session of the seventh General Assembly of the state of Tennessee convened in Kingston. At the end of the day, the Senate and the House of Representatives resolved to '...adjourn forthwith from Kingston, to meet on Wednesday the 23d inst. at eleven o'clock, A.M. at the courthouse in Knoxville.' "

In other words, they told the trusting Cherokees that, if they were to cede the land, it would become a state capital. And they went through the motions, making little Kingston capital for a day.

Reference for the obsessive fact-munchers: