The History Channel just hosted a mini-series about the Sons of Liberty. You can find countless recaps and corrections of the miniseries by historians (including our board president), so we won’t add to it here.
But it did bring up the question: Where does John Sevier fit in the early Revolution story? He certainly wasn’t in Boston with the Sons of Liberty, but he’s also one of the soldiers in the Revolution… albeit about ten years younger than the Sons of Liberty (and those we consider to be the Founding Fathers) were.
As you may be aware, John Sevier was in the militia and did fight in Kings Mountain. But during the earliest parts of the Revolution, he was moving from Virginia to Tennessee with his parents, wife Sarah, and their seven children.
In 1773, he was serving as a Captain of the colonial militia in Lord Dunmore's War. He rose to the rank of general thanks to his efforts at Kings Mountain.
But after the Revolution, he started his own rebellion with others in the Watauga area through the State of Franklin. Though it was ultimately unsuccessful, Sevier and the other Franklinites spent several years trying to create a new government separate from North Carolina. Negotiations, skirmishes, international intrigue, and treaties (not unlike what they’d been through with the Revolution and colonial governments before) were a part of life in Franklin. The Franklinites utilized their knowledge and war-found fame to gain respect for their statehood efforts.
For all their efforts, it earned John Sevier an arrest for treason (of course, nothing came of the charges), but it also paved the way for the U.S. Constitution and a path for new states to form.
It just goes back to Jack Neely’s theory that Sevier wasn’t a Son of the Revolution or a Founding Father. Instead, he was the Rebellion’s rebellious little brother.