|Joseph McMinn, the fifth of ten children of Robert and Sarah Harlan
McMinn, was born on June 22, 1758 on a farm at West Marlboro Township in
Chester County PA.
The Quaker parents provided for the education of their son by seeing to it that he availed himself of the educational offerings of the time. His home was near Philadelphia, the very cradle of Liberty, and the young lad became well versed in the events that led to the American Revolution and the War of Independence.
McMinn, at the age of sixteen, ran away from home to avoid an enlistment in the Army of the Revolution and took refuge among the Cherokee Indians of Western NC.
Because of Joseph's brillant mind and natural ability to get along with the Indian chiefs, he became an emissary of the Indians over the mountians into what later became Tennessee.
When the Revolutionary War was well underway McMinn entered the conflict.
Following the termination of the War, he married Hannah Cooper in
At that time the Watauga Settlement of Upper East TN territory had been opened to white settlers and in the forming of counties a section was set aside in 1787 to honor Benjamin Hawkins, a member of the Continential Congress from NC, and who signed the deed of Cession, conveying the SW Territory (now TN) to the Federal Government.
It was in Hawkins Co. that young McMinn took his bride of a year, and entered land, which at that time in 1786 was being parceled out very liberally to a Rev. War soldier.
The usual grant was 640 acres but there was no record available as to the size of his "New Market" farm near Rogersville. In the meantime he opened a store in Rogersville.
He was very successful as a business man and farmer, and when the Territorial Governor, William Blount, set up the militia system in 1790 in the Territory, he commissioned McMinn as Lieutenant in the Hawkins Co. Militia.
He was promoted to Captain in 1791, to Second Major in 1792 and to first Major in 1793. Later he was named a Brigade Commander. In the meantime Gov. Blount named him as a Justice of the Peace for Hawlins Co. in 1792, an adventure into politics which continued to his death in 1824.
Apparently he was popular among his people, and a good mixer. There seems to be no record of his having been defeated for any office. He served the state with distinction for more than a quarter century.
In 1790 when NC ceded TN to the U.S. Government and it became "The Territory of the U.S. South of the Ohio River," William Blount was made Territorial Governor and John Sevier was appointed Brigadier General of the Washington District, or East Tennessee.
Rogersville was first made capital of the Territory before it was later moved to Knoxville.
It was to the Legislature of this Territory that Joseph McMinn was chosen by Gov. William Blount to represent Hawkins Co. In the sessions of 1794 and 1795 McMinn gave an excellent account of himself throughout the deliberations of that body.
When the Constitutional Convention was held in Knoxville of Jan. 11,1796, Joseph McMinn, an active member, had the distinction of being chosen to carry the new State Constitution to the Secretary of the U.S., Thomas Pickering, at the seat of the government at Philadelphia.
He was instructed to remain long enough at the seat of the Fed. Government to ascertain whether the members of Congress from Tennessee would be allowed to take their seats in the National Legislature.
A month later found him as a member ot the Senate in the General Assembly of TN, serving in the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and as speaker of the Senate for three terms.
He was easily elected each time, and from the Democrat Party, as had the other governors of TN before him.
In 1801 McMinn was authorized by Gov. Archibald Roane to act as chairman of a committee to prepare a motto and a device for the great seal of the State of TN, this seal being used today.
McMinn was extremely popular, not only with members of the Legislature but with the people in general. However, during the administration of Willie Blount as governor from 1809 to 1815 McMinn did not serve in the General Assembly.
Close to the end of Governor Bllount's tenure there was much presssure brought on McMinn to run for Governor, and in just a month prior to the general election he allowed his name to be entered.
In explaining his reason for his candidacy, he said: "I wished
to spend the balance of my days in retirement, but to my utter astonishment
on the 5 th day of July (1815) a very lengthy address was handed
to me from a large and respectable class of my fellow citizens, soliciting
me to offer for Gov. of TN. "Having been frequently chided
for leaving my country's service, I thought I would give my name and did
so, and wonderful to tell, I was elected in twenty-seven days ...without
McMinn was easily elected over four other candidates, defeating them by more than two to one. He was inaugurated at Knoxville on September 27th, with Judge W.W. Cooke of the State Supreme Court administering the oath of office.
He entered his first term in the aftermath of the War of 1812, which were boom years for TN and which saw another Tennessean rise to the pinnacle of military ahievements and on to the presidency in the person of General Andrew Jackson.
One of McMinn's major problems as governor was the presence of Indians
within the boundaries of the state. He felt it "an injustice
to withhold lands from our fellow citizens to serve Cherokees and Chickasaws
for a hunting ground."
However, records reveal that his popularity with the people increased during the years of his first term, and in 1817 he was easily re-elected. He was inaugurated the second time in Knoxville on Sept. 29, 1817 by Edward Scott, Judge of the State Supreme Court.
But before the end of his first term, Gov McMinn and General Jackson had affected what was known as the Jackson and McMinn Treaty concluded at the Cherokee Agency (on the Hiwassee River near what is now Calhoun in McMnn County) on July 18, 1817, between Andrew Jackson, Joseph McMinn and David Meriwether with the Cherokees.
By this treaty a tract of land was ceded in TN, a provision was made for a census to the Cherokee Nation, and inducements were offered for the removal of the Cherokees west.
However, as Indian territory was ceded, more land was available for cultivation and more cotton was produced. The price of land soared and land was purchased on credit with high prices being paid. Paper money was in abundance and new "wild cat" banks sprang up in great numbers, and were subject to few restrictions.
Following Gov. McMinn's third inaguration on Sept. 30, 1819, this time by a Justice of the Peace at Murfreesboro where the state Capitol had been moved, a financial panic set in, which was nationwide.
Governor McMinn, in spite of these reverses, led in the establishment of a state penitentiary. He was strong in his support of improved education in the state, and river improvement as an advancement to navigation.
It was in his third term, on Feb. 27,1819 that Sec. or War John C. Calhoun concluded a treaty with the Cherokees, who ceded various outlying tracts which had not been included in former treaties.
This treaty, called the Calhoun Treaty, ceded all remaining Cherokee claims north of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers, except a narrow strip in the mountains along the North Carolina line, between the Hiwassee and the Little Tennessee Rivers.
This later resulted in the complete removal of the Indians in 1838 in what was called the "Trail of Tears." This transaction was known as the Hiwassee Purchase and the lands were to be later known as Hamilton, Bradley, McMinn and Monroe counties of which all were organized in 1819.
It was only fitting that one of the new counties be named McMinn after the Governor and the man who had himself negotiated the treaty. Thus, in Nov. 1819, a tract of 435 square miles in lower East TN became McMinn County and its county seat was named Calhoun in honor of the Secretary of War, John c. Calhoun.
After his retirement from the gubernatorial chair in 1821, McMinn was placed in charge of the Cherokee Agency, then operating on the Hiwassee River at Calhoun and Charleston, Tennessee.
Joseph McMinn's death on Nov. 17, 1824 cut short his last services in public life.
An excerpt from the McMinn family Bible stated that, the ex-Governor was afflicted with dropsy and suffered a great deal. It was at his desk at the Indian Agency across the river at Charleston that he fell back stricken with dropsy of the heart...his faithful body servant, Dave, being the only person present when he died."
Governor McMinn was married three times, first to Hannah Cooper of Chester Co., PA, then to Rebecca Kincaid of Hawkins Co.,TN and then to Nancy Williams of Roane Co. TN, whom he sought unsuccessfully to divorce. He had one daughter, Jane McMinn, apparently by his first wife Hannah. End of article from DPA.
Look for an update on current descendants soon.
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