|This interesting insight into secession feelings in one Tennessee county (east of Nashville) comes from the April, 1909, issue of Confederate Veteran. My thanks to Dave Powell of North Arlington, IL, for sending me a photocopy of the full text.|
SECESSION IN PUTNAM COUNTY, TENN.
J. M. MORGAN, GAINESBORO
At a public meeting of the citizens of Putnam County, Tenn., held in Cookeville April 22, 1861, Hon. E. L. Gardenhire was unanimously chosen chairman and William J. Reagan and B. B. Washburn secretaries of the meeting. Enthusiastic speeches were made by Hon. John H. Savage, Hon. S. S. Stanton, Hon. E. L. Gardenhire, Col. S. H. Combs, Col. T. B. Murray, Judge James T. Quarles, W. H. Botts, and others to a large and eagerly listening audience. The subject discussed was about the crisis in our government and the course to be assumed by the slave States.
The chairman appointed H. H. Dillard, Col. John P. Murray, Benton Marchbanks, W. Q. Hughes, Holland Denton, Tim H. Williams, and J. C. Apple a committee on resolutions. It was perhaps the largest meeting ever held in Putnam County, and there was great enthusiasm. Only three persons in the assembly voted against the resolutions. The preamble stated:
"The antislavery party is the enemy of the Union and the Constitution, advocating the equality of the negro and the white races and the abolition of slavery. To accomplish this the antislavery party has been organized and now constitutes the dominant party in all the free States. And now, having possession of the Federal government in all its departments, it is attempting by conquest and coercion to carry out its damnable heresies entertained for many vears toward the South and its institutions. The North has turned a listless ear to all supplication of the South in behalf of their cherished constitutional rights and treated with contempt every proposition for the honorable pacification of our difficulties. A civil war, with its untold horrors and consequences, is now commenced by the sending of an armed fleet by the Federal government to enforce its will upon the Southern Confederacy. Counsel and reason having been in vain exhausted in an honorable effort to secure our rights under the Constitution, we are now driven to the deplorable necessity of appealirig for the defense of our homes and. our institutions to the stern arbitrament of the sword and that God who rules the battles; therefore
"Resolved: 1.That we indorse every effort that has been made by convention and otherwise to bring about a peaceable settlement of our existing difficulties, and thereby preserve the Union intact but having failed and all reasonable hopes of pacification being extinct, we do now deem it the wisest policy in Tennesee to unite her future destiny with the Southern Confederacy.
"2. That we regard the war now waged upon the Southern Confederacy by the administration as unnational, unwise, and unholy, without authority under the Constitution, that we look upon this act of the President of the United States in calling out troops and making war without the sanction of Congress as an unjustifiable assumptionof power.
3. That the position assumed by our Representatives in the State Legislature to use all means to speedily get Tennessee from under the tyrannical rule of Abraham Lincoln meets our unqualified approbation, and they are hereby directed to use all means in their power to dissolve the connection of this State with the general government and unite her fortunes with the Confederate States, and that we will ratify their action when submitted to us for approval.
"4. That the duplicity of Lincoln has our contempt; we detest his tyranny and: defy his power.
5. That we will resist his usurpation unto death; that, we have no compromise with tyranny or with the tyrant who has trampled our Constitution and now seeks to enslave us.
"6. That we are opposed to Andrew Johnson for, any place or position, and think him unworthy the position he now occupies, and we hereby request our Senators in Washington to no longer attempt to represent us in the Lincoln Congress."
The foregoing is a copy of the preamble and resolutions read at Cookeville April 22, 1861, copied then by me.
In a personal letter Mr. Morgan writes: "I was one of the three who voted 'no' on the passage of the resolutions I was then a law student, and had an office in Gainesboro, Jackson County, Tenn. I had been contending earnestly for the Union for months, and was sorely mortified at the firing on Fort Sumter. I thought it premature; but when coercion came calling for Tennesseeans to fight the Gulf States of the South, I gave down and volunteered for the South and went as a private soldier in the first company that left Jackson County, leaving home on the 14th of May, 1861, and returning at the end of the war, May 22, 1865."