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A second round of East Tennessee Convention meetings was held June 17-20, 1861, in
Greeneville, Tenn. Delegates from East Tennessee and one county in Middle Tennessee
drafted a memo to the Tennessee government asking permission to leave the Confederacy
and form an independent state aligned with the Union.
The Tennessee legislature rejected the convention’s request, and the governor stationed
Confederate forces in East Tennessee.
Late in 1861, Scott County resolved to break away from Tennessee and form the Free
and Independent State of Scott. The law remained on the books until it was re-discovered
and repealed in 1986, though neither the Union nor the Confederacy had ever recognized
As early as the 1840s, Andrew Johnson, then a Tennessee state senator, introduced
state legislation—which failed—calling for East Tennessee to separate from the rest
of the state. After the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, Unionists and secessionists
campaigned for their causes throughout the state. Early referendums failed on whether
to hold a convention discussing secession, but June 8, 1861, Tennesseeans voted in
favor of an ordinance to secede. Most eastern counties remained heavily against.
According to Life
in Civil War America, more battles were fought in Tennessee than any other
state except Virginia. After the Union victory at Fort Donelson in 1862, Johnson became
the state’s military governor.
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