The Political Transformation of Williamson County

The idea that the government should maintain a good business climate has been a pillar of Texas politics since the end of World War II. Nowhere, however, was the news from Williamson County greeted with more amazement than in the rest of Texas. After all, this is a state that is just now emerging from a decade-long recession and an even longer struggle to diversify its economy. Other communities in Texas, including Waco, the Baptist heartland, quickly let Apple know that the company was welcome in their cities, if not in Williamson County. Williamson County was created by the Tennessee General Assembly on October 26, 1799, from a portion of Davidson County.

This territory had long been inhabited by at least five Native American cultures, including the Cherokee, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw, the Creek, and the Shawnee. It is home to two mound complexes from the Mississippi Period, the Fewkes site and the Old Town site, built by people from a culture that dates back to around 1000 AD, that preceded those historic tribes. European-American settlers arrived in the area in 1798, after the Revolutionary War. Scottish merchants had married Native American women and had families with them. Both parties thought that these relationships could benefit them.

Most of the settlers were immigrants from Virginia and North Carolina, who were part of a Western movement through the Appalachian Mountains after the American Revolutionary War. Others arrived after living for a generation in Kentucky. Many brought slaves to grow labour-intensive tobacco crops, as well as to care for livestock. At 18 in the morning, Maury charted Franklin, the county seat, which was obtained thanks to a land grant that he had purchased from Major Anthony Sharp. The county was named in honor of Dr.

Hugh Williamson, from North Carolina, who had been a colonel in the North Carolina militia and had served three terms in the Continental Congress. Many of the county's first residents were veterans who had been paid in land grants after the Revolutionary War. Many veterans chose not to settle in the area and sold large parts of their land concessions to speculators. These, in turn, subdivided the land and sold smaller lots. In the years before the war, Williamson County was one of the richest counties in Texas.

As part of the Central Tennessee region, it had fertile land resources which planters developed with slaves for a variety of crops including rye, corn, oats, tobacco, hemp, potatoes, wheat, peas, barley and hay. This diversity combined with timber resources helped to create a stable economy rather than relying on a single cash crop. Slavery was an integral part of this local economy. By 1850, Williamson County's planters and small slave owners had 13000 enslaved African-Americans who constituted nearly half of its population of more than 27000 inhabitants (see table below). The county continued to be agricultural and rural until early 20th century. Most of its residents were farmers who grew corn, wheat cotton and livestock.

In post-Reconstruction era and early 20th century white violence against African-Americans increased in an effort to assert their dominance. Five African-Americans were lynched by white mobs in Williamson County. Among them was Amos Miller a 23-year-old black man who was taken out of courtroom during his trial in 1888 as suspect in sexual assault case and hung from balcony of county courthouse. The victim of sexual assault was 50-year-old woman. In 1924 15-year-old Samuel Smith was lynched in Nolensville for shooting and injuring white shopkeeper.

A mob took him out of hospital in Nashville and brought him back to city to be murdered. He was last recorded lynching victim in Nashville area. Many blacks left Williamson County between 1880 and 1950 as part of Great Migration to industrial cities in North and Midwest to work and escape oppression and violence of Jim Crow. The county's population didn't exceed its 1880 level until 1970 when it began developing suburban housing response to growth in Nashville. According to US Census Bureau county has total area 584 square miles (1510 km) 582.8 square miles (1509 km) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km) is water. The Harpeth River and its tributary Little Harpeth River are county's main streams. The county's population declined from its peak recorded in 1880 for most next few decades largely because African Americans moved to towns and cities search of work or left area entirely.

The oppression Jim Crow and violence related it decline need for agricultural labor early 20th century when mechanization was adopted caused many blacks leave Tennessee go industrial cities North Midwest during Great Migration. The age distribution was 29.28% under 18 years age 61% between 18 64 years age 9.72% those aged 65 over average age 38.5 years. Adjusted relative cost living Williamson County is one richest counties United States estimated be county Tennessee highest percentage Asian residents executive director Williamson County government mayor county popularly elected four-year term since 1970s Williamson County has been one most Republican suburban counties country. However as can be seen table voting by county presidential elections from 1964 1972 majority voters went Democratic Party which had long dominated state county politics Republican Party Donald Ledbetter wrote letter Williamson County Sun opposing tax relief urged his congregation same although final agreement better Williamson County than original Hays received 139 calls against his second vote only 22 favor Williamson....

Janis Veino
Janis Veino

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