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Doc. 28.-East-Tennessee Union Convention.

The Convention assembled at Greenville, Tennessee. It was presided over by the Hon. T. A. R. Nelson, and was addressed with great effect by Senator Johnson. The resolutions adopted, which were preceded by an admirably-written preamble, are as follows:

1. That the evils which now afflict our beloved country, in our opinion, are the legitimate offspring of the ruinous and heretical doctrine of secession; that the people of East Tennessee have ever been and we believe still are opposed to it by a very large majority.

2. That while the country is now upon the very threshold of a most ruinous and desolating civil war, it may with truth be said, and we protest before God, that the people (so far as we can see) have done nothing to produce it.

3. That the people of Tennessee, when the question was submitted to them in February last, decided, by an overwhelming majority, that the relations of the State toward the Federal Government should not be changed-there-by expressing their preference for the Union and Constitution under which they had lived prosperously and happily, and ignoring, in the most emphatic manner, the idea that they had been oppressed by the General Government in any of its acts-legislative, executive, or judicial.

4. That in view of so decided an expression of the will of the people, in whom “all power is inherent, and on whose authority all free Governments are founded,” and in the honest conviction that nothing has transpired since that time which should change that deliberate judgment of the people, we have contemplated with peculiar emotions the pertinacity with which those in authority have labored to override the judgment of the people, and to bring about the very result which the people themselves had so overwhelmingly condemned.

5. That the Legislative Assembly is but the creature of the Constitution of the State, and has no power to pass any law, or to exercise any act of sovereignty, except such as may be authorized by that instrument, and believing, as we do, that in their recent legislation the General Assembly have disregarded the rights of the people, and transcended their legitimate powers, we feel constrained, and we invoke the people throughout the State, as they value their liberties, to visit that hasty, inconsiderate, and unconstitutional legislation with a decided rebuke, by voting, on the eighth day of next month, against both the act of “secession,” and of union with the “Confederate States.”

6. That the Legislature of the State, without having first obtained the consent of the people, had no authority to enter into a “military league” with the “Confederate States” against the General Government, and by so doing to put the State of Tennessee in hostile array against the Government of which it then was and still is a member. Such legislation, in advance of the expressed will of the people to change their Governmental relations, was an act of usurpation, and should be visited with the severest condemnation of the people.

7. That the forming of such “military league,” and thus practically assuming the attitude of an enemy toward the General Government, (this, too, in the absence of any hostile demonstration against this State,) has afforded the pretext for raising, arming, and equipping a large military force, the expense of which must be enormous, and will have to be paid by the people. And to do this, the taxes, already onerous enough, will necessarily have to be very greatly increased, and probably to an extent beyond the ability of the people to pay.

8. That the General Assembly, by passing a law authorizing the volunteers to vote wherever they may be on the day of election, whether in or out of the State, and in offering to the “Confederate States” the capitol of Tennessee, together with other acts, have exercised powers and stretched their authority to an extent not within their constitutional limits, and not justified by the usages of the country.

9. “That Government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

10. That the position which the people of our sister State of Kentucky have assumed in this momentous crisis commands our highest admiration. Their interests are our interests — their policy is the true policy, as we believe, of Tennessee and all the border States. And in the spirit of freemen, with an anxious desire to avoid the waste of the blood and the treasure of our State, we appeal to the people of Tennessee, while it is yet in their power, to come up in the majesty of their strength and restore Tennessee to her true position.

11. We shall await with the utmost anxiety the decision of the people of Tennessee, on the 8th day of next month, and sincerely trust that wiser counsels will pervade the great fountain of freedom (the people) than seems to have actuated their constituted agents.

On the fourth day of the session, (21st,) the Declaration of Grievances and Resolutions was adopted as follows, without division:

Declaration of grievances.

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 20th 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, [156] was free, with but few exceptions, in no part of the State other than East Tennessee. In the larger parts of the 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 allow folded tickets, to have the ballot 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 pocket-book or effects an entrance into forbidden places by stealthy means — a Tory, in voting, usually adopts pretty much the same course or 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 freemen had the courage to vote for the Union, and these were stigmatized in the public Press as “ignorant traitors, who opposed the popular edict.” Our earnest appeal to our brethren in the other divisions of the State was published then 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 round 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 despatch adds that “the Southern rights men 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 exultingly 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, as 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.

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 there is no 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 had made war upon them. The secession cause has thus far been sustained by deception and falsehood; by falsehoods as to the action of Congress; by false despatches 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 pretences 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 [157] 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:

It was urged forward by members of Congress, who were sworn to support the Constitution of the United States, and were themselves supported by the Government.

It was effected without consultation with all the States interested in the Slavery question, and without exhausting peaceable remedies.

It has plunged the country into civil war, paralyzed our commerce, interfered with the whole trade and business of our country, lessened the value of our property, destroyed many of the pursuits of life, and bids fair to involve the whole nation in irretrievable bankruptcy and ruin.

It has changed the entire relations of States, and adopted constitutions without submitting them to a vote of the people, and where such a vote has been authorized, it has been upon the condition prescribed by Senator Mason, of Virginia, that those who voted the Union ticket “must leave the State.”

It has advocated a constitutional monarchy, a King and a Dictator, and is, through The Richmond Press, at this moment, recommending to the Convention in Virginia a restriction of the right of suffrage, and “in severing connection with the Yankees to abolish every vestige of resemblance to the institutions of that detested race.”

It has formed military leagues, passed military bills, and opened the door for oppressive taxation, without consulting the people, and then, in mockery of a free election, has required them, by their votes, to sanction its usurpations under the penalties of moral proscription or at the point of the bayonet.

It has offered a premium for crime, in directing the discharge of volunteers from criminal prosecutions, and in recommending the Judges not to hold their courts.

It has stained our statute-book with the repudiation of Northern debts, and has greatly violated the Constitution by attempting, through its unlawful extension, to destroy the right of suffrage.

It has called upon the people in the State of Georgia, and may soon require the people of Tennessee, to contribute all their surplus cotton, corn, wheat, bacon, beef, &c., to the support of pretended Governments, alike destitute of money and credit.

It has attempted to destroy the accountability of public servants to the people by secret legislation, and has set the obligation of an oath at defiance.

It has passed laws declaring it treason to say or do any thing in the favor of the Government of the United States, and such a law is now before, and we apprehend will soon be passed, by the Legislature of Tennessee.

It has attempted to destroy, and we fear soon utterly prostrate, the freedom of speech and of the press.

It has involved the Southern States in a war whose success is hopeless, and which must ultimately lead to the ruin of the people.

Its bigoted, overbearing, and intolerant spirit has already subjected the people of East Tennessee to many petty grievances; our people have been insulted; our flags have been fired upon and torn down; our houses have been rudely entered; our families subjected to insult; our peaceable meetings interrupted; our women and children shot at by a merciless soldiery; our towns pillaged; our citizens robbed, and some of them assassinated and murdered.

No effort has been spared to deter the Union men of East Tennessee from the expression of. their free thoughts. The penalties of treason have been threatened against them, and murder and assassination have been openly encouraged by leading secession journals. As secession has been thus overbearing and intolerant, while in the minority in East Tennessee, nothing better can be expected of the pretended majority than wild, unconstitutional, and oppressive legislation; an utter contempt and disregard of law; a determination to force every Union man in the State to swear to the support of a constitution he abhors, to yield his money and property to aid a cause he detests, and to become the object of scorn and derision, as well as the victim of intolerable and relentless oppression.

In view of these considerations, and of the fact that the people of East Tennessee have declared their fidelity to the Union by a majority of about 20,000 votes, therefore, we do resolve and declare:

1. That we do earnestly desire the restoration of peace to our whole country, and most especially that our own section of the State of Tennessee should not be involved in civil war.

2. That the action of our State Legislature in passing the so-calledDeclaration of Independence,” and in forming the “Military league” with the Confederate States, and in adopting other acts looking to a separation of the State of Tennessee from the Government of the United States, is unconstitutional and illegal, and, therefore, not binding upon us, as loyal citizens.

3. That in order to avert a conflict with our brethren in other parts of the State, and desiring that every Constitutional means shall be resorted to for the preservation of peace, we do, therefore, constitute and appoint O. P. Temple, of Knox, John Netherland, of Hawkins, and James P. McDowell, of Greene, Commissioners, whose duty it shall be to prepare a memorial, and cause the same to be presented to the General Assembly of Tennessee, now in session, asking its consent that the counties composing East Tennessee and such [158] counties in Middle Tennessee as desire to cooperate with them, may form and erect a separate State.

4. Desiring in good faith, that the General Assembly will grant this our reasonable request, and still claiming the right to determine our own destiny, we do further resolve that an election be held in all the counties of East Tennessee, and in such counties in Middle Tennessee, adjacent thereto, as may desire to coperate with us, for the choice of delegates to represent them in a General Convention, to be held in the town of Kingston, at such time as the President of this Convention, or, in case of his absence or inability, any one of the Vice-Presidents, or, in like case with them, the Secretary of this Convention, may designate; and the officer so designating the day for the assembling of said Convention, shall also fix the time for holding the election herein provided for, and give reasonable notice thereof.

5. In order to carry out the foregoing resolution, the Sheriffs of the different counties are hereby requested to open and hold said election, or cause the same to be so held in the usual manner and at the usual places of voting as prescribed by law; and in the event the Sheriff of any county should fail or refuse to open and hold said election, or cause the same to be done, the Coroner of such county is requested to do so; and should such Coroner fail or refuse, then any Constable of any county is hereby authorized to open and hold said election, or cause the same to be done. And if in any county none of the above-named officers will hold said election, then any Justice of the Peace or freeholder in said county is authorized to hold the same or cause it to be done. The officer or other person holding said election shall certify the result to the President of this Convention, or to such officer as may have directed the same to be holden, at as early a day thereafter as practicable;,; and the officer to whom said returns may be made shall open and compare the polls, and issue certificates to the delegates elected.

6. That in said Convention the several counties shall be represented as follows : the county of Knox shall elect three delegates, the counties of Washington, Greene, and Jefferson, two delegates each, and the remaining counties shall elect each one delegate.

In the afternoon session of the same day, Mr. Netherland, of Hawkins, offered the following:

Resolved, That the members of the present Legislature of Tennessee, who sympathize with the purposes of this Convention, be, and are hereby, respectfully requested to resume their seats in the Legislature, at as early an hour as possible; unless, however, they find themselves repelled from that body by any proscriptive act or acts to which, as conscientious freemen, they cannot submit.

Adopted unanimously.

Mr. Maxwell, of Washington, offered the following:

Resolved, That so far as we know the people of East Tennessee have interposed no obstacle to the passage of troops and munitions of war through our territory; and while we object, and have ever objected, in public and private, to any violence to the railroads, yet if the grievous wrongs inflicted by some of the troops are not stopped, we warn all persons concerned, including the officers of said roads, that there is a point at which a population of 300,000 people outraged, insulted, and trampled upon, cannot and ought not to be restrained.

The resolution was adopted without division.

The following paper having been presented to the Convention, was ordered to be spread on the minutes:

The undersigned, delegates from the County of Hawkins to this Convention, not approving the proceedings of the Convention, but dissenting from the same, protest against the action of the Convention, and ask that this protest be entered on the minutes of the Convention.

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