previous next
[483] Tennessee, waiving an expression of opinion as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform or abolish our form of government in such manner as we think proper, do ordain and declare that all the laws and ordinances by which the State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America are hereby abrogated and annulled, and that all obligations on our part be withdrawn therefrom; and we do hereby resume all the rights, functions and powers, which, by any of said laws and ordinances, were conveyed to the Government of the United States, and absolve ourselves from all the obligations, restraints and duties, incurred thereto; and do hereby henceforth become a free, sovereign and independent State.

Second: We, furthermore, declare and ordain that Article 10, sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, which requires members of the General Assembly, and all officers, civil and military, to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, be, and the same are hereby, abrogated and annulled, and all parts of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee making citizenship of the United States a qualification for office, and recognizing the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of this State, are, in like manner, abrogated and annulled.

This Ordinance, with a pendant providing for the adoption of the Confederate Constitution, was nominally submitted to a popular vote of the State, to be taken on the 8th of June ensuing; but such a submission, after “all the public property, naval stores and munitions of war” and the whole “military operations, offensive and defensive, of the said State,” were placed “under the chief control and direction of the President of the Confederate States,” was, of course, a farce.1

The network of railroads checkering the State, and especially the great line connecting Virginia, through Knoxville and Chattanooga, with the Cotton States, was instantly covered with Rebel soldiers, and all freedom of opinion and expression, on the side of the Union, completely crushed out. Gov. Harris, on the 24th of June, issued his proclamation, declaring that the vote of the 8th had resulted as follows:

 Separation.No Separation.
East Tennessee14,78032,923
Middle Tennessee58,2658,198
West Tennessee29,1276,117
Military Camps2,741(none)

But a Convention of the people of East Tennessee--a region wherein the immense preponderance of Union sentiment still commanded some degree of freedom for Unionists — held at Greenville on the 17th, and wherein thirty-one counties were represented by delegates, adopted a declaration of grievances, wherein they say:

We, the people of East Tennessee, again assembled in a Convention of our delegates, make the following declaration in addition to that heretofore promulgated by us at Knoxville, on the 30th and 31st days of May last:

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 portion of Middle and West Tennessee, no speeches or discussions in favor of the Union were permitted.2 Union papers were not allowed to circulate. Measures were taken, in some parts of West Tennessee, in defiance of the Constitution and laws, which allow folded tickets, to have

1 The Louisville Journal of May 13th, said:

The spirit of Secession appears to have reached its culminating point in Tennessee. Certainly, the fell spirit has, as yet, reached no higher point of outrageous tyranny The whole of the late proceeding in Tennessee has been as gross an outrage as ever was perpetrated by the worst tyrant of all the earth. The whole Secession movement, on the part of the Legislature of that State, has been lawless, violent and tumultuous. The pretense of submitting the Ordinance of Secession to the vote of the people of the State, after placing her military power and resources at the disposal and under the command of the Confederate States without any authority from the people, is as bitter and insolent a mockery of popular rights as the human mind could invent.

2 An attempt, a short time before the election, to hold a Union meeting at Paris, Tenn., resulted in the death of two Union men — shot by the Disunionists; and a notice that Hon. Emerson Etheridge would speak at Trenton, Tenn., elicited the following correspondence:

Trenton, Tenn., April 16, 1861.
To J. D. C. Atkins and R. G. Payne:
Etheridge speaks here on Friday. Be here to answer him Friday or next day.

The following is the answer to the above:

Memphis, April 16, 1861.
To Messrs.------: I can't find Atkins. Can't come at that time. If Etheridge speaks for the South, we have no reply. If against it, our only answer to him and his backers must be cold steel and bullets.

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 People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Emerson Etheridge (3)
R. G. Payne (2)
J. D. C. Atkins (2)
Baltimore Unionists (1)
Isham G. Harris (1)
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.
April 16th, 1861 AD (2)
June 24th (1)
June 8th (1)
May 13th (1)
May (1)
17th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: