William Blount

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Founding Fathers
William Blount.jpg
William Blount
State North Carolina
Religion Episcopalian
Founding Documents United States Constitution

"Planter and land speculator William Blount, who played an insignificant part at the Constitutional Convention, carved out a career in North Carolina and Tennessee as well as in national politics. It was marred, however, when he earned the dubious distinction of being the first man to be expelled from the U.S. Senate". [1]

Early life

"William Blount was the great-grandson of Thomas Blount, who came from England to Virginia soon after 1660 and settled on a North Carolina plantation. William, the eldest in a large family, was born in 1749 while his mother was visiting his grandfather's Rosefield estate, on the site of present Windsor near Pamlico Sound. The youth apparently received a good education.


Shortly after the War for Independence began, in 1776, Blount enlisted as a paymaster in the North Carolina forces. Blount spent most of the remainder of his life in public office. He sat in the lower house of the North Carolina legislature (1780-84), including service as speaker, as well as in the upper (1788-90). In addition, he took part in national politics, serving in the Continental Congress in 1782-83 and 1786-87.

Appointed as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at the age of 38, Blount was absent for more than a month because he chose to attend the Continental Congress on behalf of his state. He said almost nothing in the debates and signed the Constitution reluctantly--only, he said, to make it "the unanimous act of the States in Convention." Nonetheless, he favored his state's ratification of the completed document. Other members of the North Carolina delegation to the Convention were Richard Dobbs Spaight, William Richardson Davie, Alexander Martin, and Hugh Williamson.

At the North Carolina Ratifying Convention held at Fayetteville, Blount supported the adoption of the new Constitution.[2]


Blount hoped to be elected to the first U.S. Senate, though he he failed to achieve that end. In 1790 Washington appointed Blount as Governor for the Territory South of the River Ohio (which included Tennessee) and also as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern Department, in which positions he increased his popularity with the frontiersmen. As governor, he pushed westward beyond the Appalachians, where he held speculative land interests and had represented North Carolina in dealings with the Indians.

He settled in what became Tennessee, to which he devoted the rest of his life. He resided first at Rocky Mount, a cabin near present Johnson City and in 1792 built a mansion in Knoxville. In 1791 he negotiated and signed the Treaty of the Holston, between the United States and the Cherokee.[3]

In 1796 he presided over the constitutional convention that transformed part of the territory into the State of Tennessee. He was elected as one of its first U.S. senators (1796–97).

Later years

During this period, Blount's affairs took a sharp turn for the worse. In 1797 his speculations in western lands led him into serious financial difficulties. That same year, he also apparently concocted a plan involving use of Indians, frontiersmen, and British naval forces to conquer for Britain the Spanish provinces of Florida and Louisiana. A letter he wrote alluding to the plan fell into the hands of President Adams, who turned it over to the Senate on July 3, 1797. Five days later, that body voted 25 to 1 to expel Blount. The House impeached him, but the Senate dropped the charges in 1799 on the grounds that no further action could be taken beyond his dismissal.

The episode did not hamper Blount's career in Tennessee. In 1798 he was elected to the senate and rose to the speakership. He died 2 years later at Knoxville in his early fifties. He is buried there in the cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church." [4]


In 1778 he wed Mary Grainier (Granger), and had six children: Ann, Mary Louisa, William Grainger, Richard Blackledge, Barbara and Eliza. One of his sons, William Grainger Blount, also became prominent in Tennessee politics.[5]


External links