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Political protests in Appalachia have attracted much more attention from book authors - please see "Activism and Activists" - than mainstream politics in spite of the fact that both arenas have enjoyed exceptional contributions from our region. Here, I’ll consider only East Tennessee. In 1772 the Watauga Association was formed by residents in that Tennessee Valley watershed, then part of North Carolina. It was the first democratic constitutional government formed by residents of the American colonies and has been cited as inspiration and guidance for the national founding fathers.  The Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, fought at the eastern edge of our region by volunteers from the mountains to the West is often cited as critical to the success of the American Revolution. Davy Crockett (1786-1836) was born in Greene County, Tennessee, and became a dominant populist politician in his era, consistently advocating for native peoples and squatters rights. He died in the Alamo. Sam Houston (1793-1863) was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and lived first in Blount County, Tennessee, and then as a teen for a couple of years with a group of Cherokees on Hiwassee Island. Like Crockett he was a dominant politician of his time, serving as Governor of both Tennessee and Texas. Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) moved to Greeneville, Tennessee, at the age of 18 for fear of repercussions from running away as a North Carolina indentured servant. He served as Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President, then America’s 17th President of the United States. He was also a senator, governor, and congressman. Cordell Hull (1871-1955) was born in what is now Pickett County, Tennessee. His father reputedly killed a man in a family feud, but Hull went on the become first a Congressman and then the longest-serving Secretary of State in American history, under Franklin Roosevelt, and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in forming the United Nations. Estes Kefauver (1903-1963) served in the U.S. Congress and the Senate until his death. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President on Adlai Stevenson’s ticket in 1956, but lost to the Eisenhower-Nixon team. Albert Gore, Jr. (b. 1948) come from a Smith County, Tennessee, family. He served in the U. S. Congress and the Senate and was the 45th Vice-President of the U.S. during Bill Clinton’s Presidency and the Democratic nominee for President in 2000. He won the popular vote but failed election as a result of a Supreme Court decision that gave Florida to President Bush.

-- George Brosi