Secession in Tennessee

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
For anyone interested in the topic of scession in Tennessee, here is a quick overview:
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—Gov. Harris was an active secessionist, and to him is attributable the secession of the state in 1861. At the first appearance of trouble he summoned the legislature to meet Jan. 7. 1861, and consider the state's federal relations. The legislature passed a bill to call a convention, but at the same time submitted the question to popular vote. At the election, Feb. 9, East Tennessee gave 25,611 majority against, Middle Tennessee 1,382 majority against, and West Tennessee 15,118 majority for, a convention, and the convention did not meet. The first attempt at "coercion" (see SECESSION, III.) renewed the excitement. The legislature was summoned to meet again, April 25, but this time a more certain, though absurdly illegal, plan was followed. May 1, in secret session, the legislature authorized the governor to appoint commissioners to conclude a military league with the confederate states, and the league was ratified by both houses, May 7. It purported to agree, that, "until the state becomes a member of the confederacy," her whole force should be under the control of the president of the confederate states, "upon the same basis, principles and footing as if said state were now and during the interval a member of the said confederacy." Having thus invited confederate troops into the state, and authorized the governor to levy 55,000 state troops, the legislature completed the farce by submitting to popular vote, June 8, a declaration of independence and ordinance of secession. It is quite useless to argue about the right of a state legislature to make a treaty, or the power of a people to vote under military domination. It is only remarkable that so large a vote was cast against secession. In East Tennessee the vote was 14,780 for, and 32,923 against; in Middle Tennessee 58,265 for, and 8,198 against; in West Tennessee 29,127 for, and 6,117 against; in the camps, 2,741 for, and none against; total vote, 104,913 for, and 47,238 against, secession. June 24, Gov. Harris, by proclamation, declared the state out of the union. The popular vote on June 8 had also ratified the confederate constitution. In the autumn, Gov. Harris was re-elected by a vote of 69,269 to 40,467 for Wm. H. Polk; but early in 1862 the advance of the federal forces drove him out of the state capital.
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This is from Cyclopædia of Political Science, [SIZE=-1]Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers by John J. Lalor, published by Maynard, Merril & Co., New York, 1899. See[/SIZE] http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy1022.html for more.

Regards,
Tim
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Here is an excerpt from the side you rarely hear from, the Unionists in Tennessee. This is from the "DECLARATION OF GRIEVANCES ADOPTED AT THE GREENVILLE CONVENTION" which convened on June 17th 1861.
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So far as we can learn the election held in this state on the 8th day of the present month was free, with but few exceptions, in no part of the state, other than East Tennessee. In the larger parts of Middle and West Tennessee no speeches or discussions in favor of the Union were permitted - Union papers were not allowed to circulate. Measures were taken in some parts of West Tennessee, in defiance of the constitution and laws, which allowed folded tickets, to have the ballots numbered in such manner as to mark and expose the Union votes. A disunion paper, the "Nashville Gazette," in urging the people to vote an open ticket declared that a "thief takes a pocketbook, or effects an entrance into forbidden places by stealthy means - a Tory, in voting, usually adopts pretty much the same course of procedure." Disunionists, in many places, had charge of the polls, and Union men, when voting, were denounced as Lincolnites and Abolitionists. The unanimity of the votes in many large counties where , but a few weeks ago, the Union sentiment was so strong, proves beyond doubt that Union men were overawed by the tyranny of the military power, and the still greater tyranny of a corrupt and subsidized press. In the city of Memphis, where 5,613 votes were cast, but five free men had the courage to vote for the Union, and these were stigmatized in the public press as "ignorant traitors who opposed the popular edicts." Our earnest appeal made at the Knoxville Convention, to our brethren in the other divisions of the state, was published there only to a small extent and the members and names of those who composed our convention, as well as the counties they represented, were suppressed, and the effort made to impress the minds of the people that East Tennessee was favorable to secession. The "Memphis Appeal," a prominent disunion paper, published a false account of our proceedings, under the head - "the traitors in council" - and styled us who represented every county but two in East Tennessee "the little batch of disaffected traitors, who hover around the noxious atmosphere of Andrew Johnson's home.". Our meeting was telegraphed to the "New Orleans Delta," and it was falsely said that we had passed a resolution recommending submission, if 70,000 votes were not cast against secession. The dispatch added that "the southern rights are determined to hold possession of the state, though they should be in a minority". Volunteers were allowed to vote in and out of the state, in flagrant violation of the constitution. From the moment the election was over, and before any detailed statement of the vote in the different counties had been published, and before it was possible to ascertain the result, it was exultantly proclaimed that separation had been carried by from 50,000 to 70,000 votes. This was to prepare the public mind to enable "the secessionists to hold possession of the state though they should be in a minority." The final result is to be announced by a disunion governor, whose existence depends upon the success of secession, and no provision is made by law for an examination of the vote by disinterested persons, or even for contesting the election. For these and other causes we do not regard the result of the election as expressive of the will of a majority of the freemen of Tennessee. Had the election everywhere been conducted as it was in East Tennessee, we would entertain a different opinion. Here, no effort was made to suppress secession papers, or prevent secession speeches or votes, although an overwhelming majority of the people were against secession. Here, no effort has been made to prevent the formation of military companies, or obstruct the transportation of armies, or to prosecute those who violated the laws of the United States and of Tennessee against treason. The Union men of East Tennessee, anxious to be neutral in the contest, were content to enjoy their own opinions and to allow the utmost latitude of opinion and action to those who differed from them. Had the same toleration prevailed in other parts of the state, we have no doubt that a majority of our people would have voted to remain in the Union. But, if this view is erroneous, we have the same (and we think, a much better) right to remain in the Government of the United States than the other divisions of Tennessee have to secede from it.
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For more, see http://www.tngenweb.org/campbell/history/gcon.html

Regards,
Tim
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Just to bring this old thread back to the top for those who have not seen it.

Tim
 

EricJacobson

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 25, 2006
Location
Spring Hill, TN
Tennessee was NOT the hotbed of secession some today might think it was. East Tennessee was always soldily pro-Union and even Middle Tennessee didn't break toward the Confederacy until after Ft. Sumter, Virginia's secession, and Lincoln's call for troops. The majority of folks in Middle Tennessee, even wealthy plantation owners, were skeptical about secession, but they were so tied to the Deep South that when push came to shove, a critical decision had to be made.
 

tackitt27

Private
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Location
Flora, IL
It always puzzled me that East Tennessee was pro-Union with it being next to the Carolinas, Virginiat etc. I always figured East Tenn would be more sessionist than West Tennessee. Anyone with reasoning to this?
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
It always puzzled me that East Tennessee was pro-Union with it being next to the Carolinas, Virginiat etc. I always figured East Tenn would be more sessionist than West Tennessee. Anyone with reasoning to this?

Western VA and western NC were not all that different than East TN. Generally speaking, in all the states that made up the Confederacy or might have (MO, KY, MD, DE), support for secession was stronger where there were a lot of slaves and weaker where there were fewer slaves. The same pattern holds true up in KY (I saw it broken out by county once in KY).

That doesn't mean the people in those areas favored immediate emancipation or anything like that. Just that the dangers and benefits of slavery were less immediate or personal for most of them. As a result, secession didn't seem quite as important there, and the connection to the Union seemed stronger.

Tim
 

Scribe

Cadet
Joined
May 9, 2008
Location
St. Louis, Mo
It always puzzled me that East Tennessee was pro-Union with it being next to the Carolinas, Virginiat etc. I always figured East Tenn would be more sessionist than West Tennessee. Anyone with reasoning to this?

The fewer the slaves in a region the more likely that region was to be pro-Union. See western Virginia, northern Arkansas, northern Alabama as well as east Tennessee.
 

Will Posey

Retired User
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
My great-great grandfather in Southeast Tennessee had one slave whom he freed before the war. Although in a predominantly secessionist county, he remained a Unionist, often stating that he had fought for the Union in the War of 1812 and he was remaining loyal. . His six sons served in the Union army, while his six sons-in-law served in the Confederate army.

His freed slave remained with the family and helped fend off Union marauders during the war. Bob, the slave, is buried with the family in their church cemetery.

Will
 

M E Wolf

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2008
Location
Virginia
Dear List Members:
Dyer's Compendium, Pt. 1 (Campaigns etc.)
Union Organization List (here for abbreviations)--Tennessee
1st Regt. Cav.
1st Middle Tenn. Cav. (5-Cav.)
1st West Tenn. Cav. (6-Cav.)
2nd Regt. Cav.
2nd West. Tenn. Cav. (7-Cav.)
3rd Regt. Cav.
4th Regt. Cav.
5th East Tenn. Cav. (8-Cav.)
5th Regt. Cav.
6th Regt. Cav.
7th Regt. Cav.
8th Regt. Cav.
9th Regt. Cav.
10th Regt. Cav.
11th Regt. Cav.
12th Regt. Cav.
13th Regt. Cav.
14th Regt. Cav.
Bradford's Batt'n Cav.
Tenn. and Ala. Vidette Cav.
1st Regt. Heavy Arty. A.D.
2nd Regt. Heavy Arty. A.D.
Batty. A. Light Arty.
Batty. B. Light Arty.
Batty. C. Light Arty.
Batty. D. Light Arty.
Batty. E. Light Arty.
Batty. F. Light Arty. ,
Batty. G. Light Arty.
Batty. K. Light Arty.
Memphis Batty. L. A. A.D.
1st Regt. Infy.
1st Regt. Infy. A.D.
1st Regt. Mounted Infy.
1st Regt. E. M. Infy.
2nd Regt. Infy.
2nd Regt. Infy. A.D.
2nd Regt. Mounted Infy.
2nd Regt. E. M. Infy.
3rd Regt. Infy.
3rd Regt. Mounted Infy.
3rd Regt. E. M. Infy.
4th Regt. Infy.
4th Regt. Mounted Infy.
4th Regt. E. M. Infy.
5th Regt. Infy.
5th Regt. Mounted Infy.
6th Regt. Infy.
6th Regt. Mounted Infy.
7th Regt. Infy.
7th Regt. Mounted Infy.
8th Regt. Infy.
8th Regt. Mounted Infy.
9th Regt. Infy.
10th Regt. Infy.
Nashville Union Guards.
Total organizations, 56.

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FOX’S REGIMENTAL LOSSES
CHAPTER XIII.


Tennessee Killed-744 Death by other causes-6,033 Total Deaths-6,777 Troops furnished for 3 years standard enlistment-26,394 Percentage killed-2.8 Percentage deaths by other causes-22.8 Total Percent of troops died during the Civil War-25.6
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Yes--Tennessee had fought for the Union and it wasn't a half-hearted effort no matter which side they fought for.

Just some thoughts.

Respectfully submitted for consideration,
M. E. Wolf
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Tennessee was NOT the hotbed of secession some today might think it was. East Tennessee was always soldily pro-Union and even Middle Tennessee didn't break toward the Confederacy until after Ft. Sumter, Virginia's secession, and Lincoln's call for troops. The majority of folks in Middle Tennessee, even wealthy plantation owners, were skeptical about secession, but they were so tied to the Deep South that when push came to shove, a critical decision had to be made.

The two votes (one well before and one well after Ft. Sumter) show that West TN always favored secession and East TN always opposed it. Middle TN is where things changed.

Many people, however, do not regard the 2nd vote as a fair one.

Before it happened, the pro-secessionist Governor had already dispatched troops to Virginia and signed an alliance with the Confederacy. This was, of course, contingent on the state voting to secede -- but was also clearly illegal under both state and Federal law.

When the 2nd vote came, TN Militia was called up to "guard" the polling places and keep the peace. Somehow -- amazingly so in a state so deeply divided -- every single Militia member mustered for that purpose voted for secession, a flat 100% of them. The most logical reason for that would be that the only Militiamen called up were those who were known to support secession.

People who might vote for the Union were actively intimidated at the polling places, and some of those who spoke up were arrested that day and sent to Nashville to rot in prison. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, the Governor sent pro-secession state troops into East TN.

IMHO, TN might well have voted for secession anyway at that point, but by a closer margin. But the actions of the Governor and his cronies were clearly prejudicial and designed to stampede the state into the Confederacy. Having lost in their first effort, they played every angle to make sure they'd win the second.

Tim
 

EricJacobson

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 25, 2006
Location
Spring Hill, TN
IMHO, TN might well have voted for secession anyway at that point, but by a closer margin. But the actions of the Governor and his cronies were clearly prejudicial and designed to stampede the state into the Confederacy. Having lost in their first effort, they played every angle to make sure they'd win the second.

Tim

I agree the second vote would have been closer had everything been on the up and up. We could start a whole discussion about how tepid support for secession was in Middle Tennessee using many examples. Loyalty oaths are great examples of how many truly did not support the Confederacy, but felt obligated because of friends, associates, etc. You will also find support for the Confederacy in Middle Tennessee often falls along age lines. Middle aged and older were not big pro-Confederates.

It's a long discussion in which you could also draw in the Kentucky equation. Unfortunately, those with a Lost Cause agenda often try to cloud these issues. But as an old saying goes, "Kentucky wasn't South till after the Civil War."
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I agree the second vote would have been closer had everything been on the up and up. We could start a whole discussion about how tepid support for secession was in Middle Tennessee using many examples. Loyalty oaths are great examples of how many truly did not support the Confederacy, but felt obligated because of friends, associates, etc. You will also find support for the Confederacy in Middle Tennessee often falls along age lines. Middle aged and older were not big pro-Confederates.

It's a long discussion in which you could also draw in the Kentucky equation. Unfortunately, those with a Lost Cause agenda often try to cloud these issues. But as an old saying goes, "Kentucky wasn't South till after the Civil War."

One interesting thing about attitudes in TN that is hard to comprehend in today's world is the general isolation older Tennesseeans would have grown up with, particularly in Middle and Eastern TN.

In the West, there was the commerce along the Mississippi, which generally strengthened the connection to the other river communities and especially to New Orleans.

In Middle and Eastern TN, travel and communication as we know it was a rare thing. Overland travel was difficult, and roads were poor. Nashville could be reached by river when the Cumberland was high and was isolated for long stretches when it wasn't. The RR and telegraph started changing this in the 1850s, but it wasn't until about 1859 that all the RR connections we see in the Civil War were completed -- and none of those existed much earlier then 1859. Chattanooga and Knoxville had been tiny places, isolated, until the RR through Atlanta and through Danville reached them. Not too surprising then that these people had a different attitude on many things.

Similar in KY. Before 1850, almost all commerce moved down the Ohio and Mississippi. After 1850, commerce was moving more heavily to the north bank of the Ohio, where railheads existed to take goods north to the lakes and the Erie Canal, or East via RR. Suddenly KY was more easily connected to New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore than it was to New Orleans -- and the B&O RR was the last Eastern RR to get into the area. At the same time, the waves of European immigrants fleeing the results of revolutions in Europe were flooding in through the Northern ports and settling in the Ohio Valley and out to St. Louis in Missouri. This also changed attitudes.

Tim
 

whitworth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Finding the Unionists in the South

"It always puzzled me that East Tennessee was pro-Union with it being next to the Carolinas, Virginiat etc. I always figured East Tenn would be more sessionist than West Tennessee. Anyone with reasoning to this?"

Years ago, I either worked or spent time in the mountaineous areas of the South.
I could easily look at the topography of the land and make a decision on whether Confederate or Unionist.

West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Kentucky, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, upper northern Georgia, northern Alabama all have topography where the use of slaves would not make a farmer rich.

Just find a map showing the Appalachian Mountains and there were the Unionists. All these areas mentioned became logistical nightmares for the Confederates to control and hold.
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Nashville
"It always puzzled me that East Tennessee was pro-Union with it being next to the Carolinas, Virginiat etc. I always figured East Tenn would be more sessionist than West Tennessee. Anyone with reasoning to this?"

Years ago, I either worked or spent time in the mountaineous areas of the South.
I could easily look at the topography of the land and make a decision on whether Confederate or Unionist.

West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Kentucky, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, upper northern Georgia, northern Alabama all have topography where the use of slaves would not make a farmer rich.

Just find a map showing the Appalachian Mountains and there were the Unionists. All these areas mentioned became logistical nightmares for the Confederates to control and hold.

I grew up in Ashe County, NC near peaks of about 4800 ft above msl. Topography obviously deferred battles to more suitable ground, aside from possibly Lookout Mt. at Chattanooga. I think there is more to the Union attitude than roughness of terrain or a lack of slaves in great numbers. These folks were and still are very traditional. Mostly German and English descendants of early immigrant families, most were tied to the American Revolution and before in places like Plymouth, Jamestown and Charleston. It was a sense of pride in one's country, wrestled with considerable sacrifice obtaining freedom from an un-cooperative landlord. Lincoln, whose mother Nancy Hanks was born nearby must have felt much the same way. One country, under God.
 

CWaddell

Cadet
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Location
Pensacola, FL
I'm not sure I agree with the ties to the American Revolution as therefore causing more pride in the country. Secessionists strongly believed they were fulfilling the ideals of the AR just as much as Unionists, but for different reasons. Same with being immigrants of the Jamestown,Plymouth, etc. era - this too was seen as a key part in the Southern ideal.

Not having a large, slaveowning planter class seems to be the unifying characteristic.
 

larry_cockerham

Southern Gentleman, Lest We Forget, 2011
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Nashville
I'm not sure I agree with the ties to the American Revolution as therefore causing more pride in the country. Secessionists strongly believed they were fulfilling the ideals of the AR just as much as Unionists, but for different reasons. Same with being immigrants of the Jamestown,Plymouth, etc. era - this too was seen as a key part in the Southern ideal.

Not having a large, slaveowning planter class seems to be the unifying characteristic.

If not the southern mountain heritage, then there's really no other reason evident for taking a stand against one's state's position of secession, is there? Slavery was not an issue with most mountain soldiers (Confederate nor Union) and they certainly weren't worried about the ruling class who were not to be found on rocky Appalachian hillsides where they were trying to grow corn. Three of my ancestors chose this route, which was not the family norm. I can find no other explanation, aside from personal convictions which none of them took the time to write down. I appreciate your thoughts in these posts and I'm really trying to understand your positions, even if I might question a line or two.
 

elektratig

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
New York City
For more information on this and similar topics, Daniel Crofts's Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis is an excellent resource. The book includes, for example, maps showing county-by-county returns in the Tennessee votes for president in 1860 and the secession votes in February and June 1861.

Crofts focuses on Virginia and North Carolina as well as Tennessee, so if you're looking for similar information about those states, the book is invaluable. Highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0807844306/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 

CWaddell

Cadet
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Location
Pensacola, FL
If not the southern mountain heritage, then there's really no other reason evident for taking a stand against one's state's position of secession, is there? Slavery was not an issue with most mountain soldiers (Confederate nor Union) and they certainly weren't worried about the ruling class who were not to be found on rocky Appalachian hillsides where they were trying to grow corn. Three of my ancestors chose this route, which was not the family norm. I can find no other explanation, aside from personal convictions which none of them took the time to write down. I appreciate your thoughts in these posts and I'm really trying to understand your positions, even if I might question a line or two.

I'm arguing that the lack of a slave-owning planter class strongly contributed to an independent mountain spirit which informed their different understanding of the Revolution legacy and opinions on secession. The specific lack of slavery as an issue made it difficult for mountain southerners in eastern Tennessee, Western NC and Virginia, etc. to identify with the larger Confederate idea. In the Deep South, even if you weren't a slave owner, you existed within a larger culture built up on the planter structure that defined your place. In the hills, this didn't exist, and you have little reason to support secessionism.

Having known a couple hill country people, however, I'm willing to concede that their independent nature is not to be discounted.
 

cedarstripper

First Sergeant
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Location
western New York
An excerpt from East Tennessee Anti-Secession Resolutions

THE LAST STRUGGLE IN THE SOUTH AGAINST SECESSION. TENNESSEE'S VOTE, JUNE 8th THE GREENVILLE CONVENTION. ITS UNCOMPROMISING UNION ACTION. THE ADDRESS, PROTEST AND RESOLUTIONS. THEIR FUTILITY.

Transcribed by Jennifer Foulk, Furman University, from Orville J. Victor, The History Civil Political, and Military of the Southern Rebellion, (New York: J.D. Torrey Publisher, 1861), II, 295-298.


"We prefer to remain attached to the government of our fathers. The Constitution of the United States has done us no wrong. The Congress of the United States has passed no law to oppress us. The President of the United States has made no threat against the law-abiding people of' Tennessee. Under the Government of the United States we have enjoyed as a nation more of civil and religious freedom than any other people under the whole heaven. We believe that there is not cause for rebellion or secession on the part of the people of Tennessee. None was assigned by the Legislature in their miscalled Declaration of Independence. No adequate cause can be assigned. The Select Committee of that body asserted a gross and inexcusable falsehood in their address to the people of Tennessee when they declared that the Government of the United States has made war upon them.
"The secession cause has thus far been sustained by deception and falsehood: by false hood as to the action of Congress, by false dispatches as to battles that were never fought and victories that were never won; by false accounts as to the purposes of the President, by false representations as to the views of Union men, and by false pretenses as to the facility with which the secession troops would take possession of the Capital and capture the highest officers of the Government. The cause of secession or rebellion has no charms for us, and its progress has been marked by the most alarming and dangerous attacks upon the public liberty. In other States, as well as our own, its whole course threatens to annihilate the last vestige of freedom. While peace and prosperity have blessed us in the Government of the United States, the following may be enumerated as some of the fruits of secession:......


http://alpha.furman.edu/~benson/tennres1.htm

Cedarstripper
 
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