previous next
[481] consenting to their own ultimate disruption and ruin. West Virginia was thus the true key-stone of the Union arch.

The Legislature of Tennessee, which assembled at Nashville January 7th, 1861, and elected Breckinridge Democrats for officers in both Houses, had, on the 19th, decided to call a State Convention, subject to a vote of the people. That vote was taken early in March; and, on the 10th, the result was officially proclaimed as follows: for the Union 91,803; for Disunion 24,749; Union majority 67,054. Several counties did not render their returns; and it was said that their vote would reduce the Union majority to something over 50,000; but the defeat of the Secessionists was admitted to be complete and overwhelming.

Still, the conspirators for Disunion kept actively plotting and mining; and, by means of secret societies, and all the machinery of aristocratic sedition, believed themselves steadily gaining. They had no hope, however, of hurling their State into the vortex of treason, save on the back of an excitement raised by actual collision and bloodshed. Up to the hour of the bombardment of Sumter, though the Governor and a majority of the Legislature were fully in their interest, they remained a powerless minority of the people.

When the news of that bombardment was received, and the excitement created by it was at its hight, the leaders of the “conservative” or Union party were beguiled into a fatal error. On the 18th, they issued from Nashville an address to the people of Tennessee, wherein, after glancing at the leading events which had just occurred on the seaboard, they proceeded to say:

Tennessee is called upon by the President to furnish two regiments; and the State has, through her Executive, refused to comply with the call. This refusal of our State we fully approve. We commend the wisdom, the justice, and the humanity, of the refusal. We unqualifiedly disapprove of secession, both as a constitutional right, and as a remedy for existing evils; we equally condemn the policy of the Administration in reference to the seceded States. But, while we, without qualification, condemn the policy of coercion, as calculated to dissolve the Union forever, and to dissolve it in the blood of our fellow-citizens, and regard it as sufficient to justify the State in refusing her aid to the Government, in its attempt to suppress the revolution in the seceded States, we do not think it our duty, considering her position in the Union, and in view of the great question of the peace of our distracted country, to take sides against the Government. Tennessee has wronged no State nor citizen of this Union. She has violated the rights of no State, north or south. She has been loyal to all where loyalty was due. She has not brought on this war by any act of hers. She has tried every means in her power to prevent it. She now stands ready to do any thing within her reach to stop it. And she ought, as we think, to decline joining either party. For, in so doing, she would at once terminate her grand mission as peace-maker between the States of the South and the General Government. Nay, more: the almost inevitable result would be the transfer of the war within her own borders; the defeat of all hopes of reconciliation; and the deluging of the State with the blood of her own people.

The present duty of Tennessee is to maintain a position of independence — taking sides with the Union and the peace of the country against all assailants, whether from the North or the South. Her position should be to maintain the sanctity of her soil from the hostile tread of any party.

We do not pretend to foretell the future of Tennessee, in connection with the other States, or in reference to the Federal Government. We do not pretend to be able to tell the future purposes of the President and Cabinet in reference to the impending war. But, should a purpose be developed by the Government of overrunning and subjugating our brethren of the seceded States, we say, unequivocally, that it will be the duty of the State to resist at all hazards, at any cost, and by arms, any such purpose or attempt.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
January 7th, 1861 AD (1)
March (1)
19th (1)
18th (1)
10th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: