The History Behind Tanasi 1796

Tanasi 1796

A Brief History

In the language of the Cherokee nation, Tanasi means "the gathering of rivers."  Tanasi was a capital of the Cherokee Nation and served as the genesis of the name of our state; Tennessee.  
Tanasi 1796 is a story of Joseph Black, Cherokee Chief Attakullakulla, and the increasingly oppressive force of King George III, as represented by British Major Patrick Ferguson.

Captain Black was one of many early pioneers who sought life and freedom west of the appalachian mountains. He first settled in "Wolf Hills" in South West​ Virginia around 1773 on 300 acres acquired from a Doctor Thomas Walker.  He built Black's Fort which was located on the Great Road and a center for early trade.  The name of Black's Fort was changed to Abingdon when Captain Black and others gave land for the subsequent town government.

Attakullakulla, also known as the "little Carpenter", was one of the many great chiefs of the Cherokee. Chief Attakullakulla was a peacemaker who had excellent oratory skills and served his Nation well. Despite his efforts, and because of the thirst for land by the pioneers, war was inevitable.
Major Patrick Ferguson was charged by General Cornwallis with protection of his left flank as he proceded North toward Charolette North Carolina. The Overmountain settlers initially had had little involvement in the Revolution. Nonetheless, Major Ferguson sent a dire warning to the Overmountain Militia --- "Stay out of this war, or I will come over the mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste to your lands with fire and sword." ​

The threat did not sit well with the Settlers. Within a few days, a total of 900 Overmountain men from Virginia, North Carolina, and present day Tennessee were assembled at Sycamore Shoals, prepared to march over the mountains and terminate the arrogant Ferguson. Captain Black was one of over 400 Overmountain Men from Virginia who promptly volunteered in September 1780, to cross the Mountains and answer Ferguson who had threatened to hang the Overmountain Leaders, if they participated with the Patriots in the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Kings Mountain was a major turning point in the success of the American revolution.

After the war, Captain Black moved with others to Tennessee around 1786, where he was active in the local government. He served as a delegate from Blount County to the first Constitutional Convention for the State of Tennessee in 1796.