Who was William Blount? (March 26, 1749 – March 21, 1800)

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William Blount (March 26, 1749 – March 21, 1800), American political leader, born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. He was a member of the Continental Congress (1782-1783, 1786-1787) and of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. In 1790 George Washington appointed him governor of The Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio. Soon afterward, Blount founded the city of Knoxville (in present-day Tennessee).

When Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796, William Blount represented the new state in the U.S. Senate. In July 1797 his involvement in a conspiracy to seize New Orleans and the Floridas from the Spanish on behalf of Great Britain (then at war with Spain) was discovered. He was summarily expelled from the Senate on a charge of “high misdemeanor entirely inconsistent with his public trust and duty.” The pro-British scheme, known as Blount’s Conspiracy, caused much excitement at the time.

His impeachment did not reach the Senate for trial until 1799, when it was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, Blount not then being a member. Soon after his expulsion from Congress, he was elected to the state senate of Tennessee, over which he later presided.

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