How I Created the Timeline

Creating this timeline proved more time consuming than I had anticipated. It probably should not have taken as long to make as it did, but I found that I had some trouble finding the exact dates for events of the movement that I wanted to be exact. I’ll have to be sure to keep an eye out for these dates as I continue researching the movement to update the timeline. I also did not have access to some images that I want to include and will have to be sure to look out for photographs from the movement as I visit archives over spring break. All in all though, I am happy with how the timeline turned out and hope that it turns out even better in the future. It may also be moved to the front page of the website, but that is something that Kodey and I will discuss at a later date.

Thoughts on Wuthnow’s “Communities of Discourse”

Wuthnow brings up some interesting points that explore the role of the institution in fomenting or inhibiting a secessionist movement. Essentially, Wuthnow argues that when fissures develop in the ruling class, there is space for dissenting ideas to be voiced and spread. This lays the foundation for a secessionist or reforming movement to take place, its success then depends on whether or not a portion of the now fractured elite will give it the support, resources, and legitimacy that it needs to flourish. At this point, it only needs time and the survival of its patrons to affect social, political, and cultural change.

While this is an interesting idea that does a great job of looking into the institutional aspect of secession, it seems to fall short of acknowledging how the people, those who allow the movement to occur and seek a political or social change, fit into things. Yes, it’s important to understand that a political party needs to direct a political or social break. However, Wuthnnow goes so far as to argue that any social or cultural change comes from the social elite (political and religious leaders, the intelligentsia, artists, printers, etc.), who put forth potential changes that the masses eventually latch on to, allowing the elite to eventually direct them into a cultural reformation. This seems a little to close to “Great (White) Man History) to me. While Wuthnow does briefly acknowledge that other things, such as trade and population change, may affect culture, he isn’t invested enough in these aspects of culture to seriously discuss them.

I did appreciate the exploration of the institutional aspect of secession, but when exploring this topic we can’t forget that normal, everyday people are the ones causing change.

Thoughts on Barksdale’s “The State of Franklin”

I was immediately impressed with Barksdale’s way of discussing the history of violence in western North Carolina. All too often I hear or read historians and social scientist’s attributing characteristics and personality types to entire social groups without seriously thinking about what they are claiming or the implications that their words can have. It brings me physical pain every time I see an academic using this unfortunate part of “social psychology” to claim that “citizens of the American South was more prone to acts of violence because of their herder heritage,” a claim that falls apart to the slightest investigation and thought. So, thank you Barksdale for addressing this claim, efficiently refuting it, and offering a very interesting insight into the causes of Appalachian violence in the post-Revolutionary period.

I am always interested in learning about early American secessionist movements. The early Confederacy/Republic was nowhere near as cohesive and functional as many people think it was and it is fun to learn why. In the case of the State of Franklin and North Carolina, it was the same tensions that plagued Virginia for centuries (and itself contributed to the outbreak of the Revolution): the interests and needs of the coastal communities weren’t the same as the western communities. Barksdale does an especially good job explaining how Native American policies played into the tensions. It was a really messy time on the American frontiers, especially when settlers, state governments, and the federal government were all making treaties and deals with the Cherokee; a native group that was trying very hard to work with Colonial/American entities in a way that they understood.

Barksdale also did a very good job explaining how two separate governments were able to function in the same region of western North Carolina for four years. I think that this is a very important aspect of this article that everyone in the class needs to remember. Because so many of our topics are dealing with state secessionist movements in a relatively stable nation, it is important to remember that people have the ability to choose which arbitrary government they want to pay taxes to and vote for, as long as the system does not start to fail. Also, the secessionists are also part of the larger or older government until they are recognized, meaning that secessionists are often members of two states for a while. We see this happen during the existence of the State of Franklin. Both the State of Franklin and North Carolina were functioning administratively in the same counties for four years. And although the leaders of the State of Franklin did not recognize themselves as North Carolinians during this time, they were still benefiting from state infrastructure, trade, and diplomacy until they ran out of local support and had to return to the status quo or were arrested for violating the laws of the larger state.