Here are some key events leading up to Tennessee seceding from the Union
[content mostly attributed to TSLA]:

January 9, 1861 – The vote on a secession convention fails, nearly four-to-one.

“We cannot see how any Southern man, who is at all familiar with the history of the times, can . . . solemnly declare it inexpedient for the people of his State to hold a convention and determine whether they will resist or submit to the Abolition rule now about to be inaugurated. . . .Tennessee will resist.” [Nashville Daily Gazette]

February 11, 1861 – Tennessee votes against holding a secession convention. Memphis and Nashville elect Union candidates by overwhelming majorities. [NYT, p. 1]

Mid-April, 1861 —  When Governor Harris calls for another election to consider secession, Tennesseans take sides, the East tending to support the Union, the West leaning toward secession. In Memphis, banners proclaim:

  • We have exhausted argument; we now stand by our arms.
  • Secession our only Remedy.
  • Anti-Coercion, Southern Rights, and Southern Honor before Union.
  • A United South will prevent Civil War

April 30, 1861 – The Tennessee State Legislature has convened in secret session. Rumors say they have adopted a secession ordinance, which they will announce after an attack on Washington that is expected to take place on May 4.

May 6, 1861 – The Tennessee General Assembly approves secession subject to ratification. Making a speech at Cleveland, TN, Andrew Johnson is threatened by members of the crowd. He claims to be ready for a fight and eventually wins over most of the audience, telling them, among other things, that Jeff Davis ought to be hanged.

May 9, 1861 – East Tennessee complains that the Legislature does not represent the will of the people and threatens to secede from the state. East Tennesseans Andrew Johnson and Congressman Nelson swear allegiance to the Union. [NYT, p. 1]

June 8, 1861 – The citizens of Tennessee vote 105,000 to 47,000 to secede from the Union, despite the fact that many Tennesseans – possibly a majority – are opposed to secession. [http://www.tnstate.edu/library/digital/document.htm] Out of the 7000+ votes cast in Shelby County, only 4 are for “no separation” and 5 for Union. Only five West Tennessee counties (Carroll, Decatur, Hardin, Henderson, and Weakley) deliver majority votes for the Union. Three Middle Tennessee counties (Franklin, Lincoln, and Humphreys) vote unanimously to secede. In Nashville the vote is 3,033 for Separation, 249 against. In East Tennessee the vote is more than two-to-one against secession. Arkansas, Virginia, and North Carolina have also seceded, following the events at Fort Sumter. Tennessee has become the final state to join the Confederacy.Five Border Slave States will ultimately elect not to secede: Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.

 

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