Tennessee's Birthplace: Going strong since 1777
Washington County has had an operating local government longer than any other county, city or town in Tennessee — longer, in fact, than Tennessee has been a state.
Washington County's government predates Tennessee by 19 years, stretching back to 1777, when a group of pioneers who had crossed the Alleghany Mountains and settled in the area's river valleys established a government in Jonesborough. At the time, Washington County was admitted as a part of North Carolina and called the Washington District — the first-ever governmental division named in honor of George Washington. Its early leaders included John Sevier, Tennessee's first governor and, before that, governor of the short-lived (1785-1789) State of Franklin.
Washington County covered nearly all the territory that would some day become Tennessee, but soon gave birth to Sullivan County, and later to Greene and Davidson counties, all in the days before Tennessee proper existed. As the principles that would embody American government formed in crucibles throughout the colonies, including the area that would soon become the State of Franklin and whose governmental epicenter was Jonesborough. Jonesborough served as the capital of the State of Franklin in 1784-85. Around the time future President Andrew Jackson was doing his frontier lawyering in Jonesborough, Washington County and the town served as the Judicial Capital of the Territory South of the River Ohio (1790-1796).
Today, Washington County's government strives to uphold the traditions of independence and representative democracy that were forged more than two centuries ago. It does this through the actions of the County Commission, County Mayor, and other constitutional officeholders.