A North Carolinian and signer of the US Constitution from North Carolina, President George Washington appointed Blount as governor of the Federal Territory South of the River Ohio and supervisor of Indian Affairs. Blount selected White’s Fort as the capital of the Territory, renaming it Knoxville after General Henry Knox—the secretary of war in President Washington’s cabinet and Blount’s immediate superior in all matters dealing with Indian Affairs. By naming the new city Knoxville, Blount hoped to interest General Knox in the welfare of its citizens and to assure the presence of federal troops. In 1794, when Blount College was founded, he was appointed in the charter as one of its founding trustees. His daughter, Barbara Blount, was among America’s first five coeds when she and four other girls attended Blount College in 1804–7.
Blount was elected to the US Senate, and on July 8, 1797, became the first senator to be impeached. The House of Representatives tried him, but the case was dismissed. He had been elected to the Tennessee State Senate and was serving as Speaker of the Senate during his federal trial.