Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 24, 2013
Map of the United States with Tennessee highlighted

Map of the United States with Tennessee highlighted

July 24, 1866: Tennessee becomes the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the American Civil War. The war was fought between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865 with the last battle ending on May 13. Long before the first shots were fired in anger, there was a rift between the North and South. The agricultural South was dependent on slave labor. Issues with State Rights over Federal interference were of major importance. As the country grew, more states were included in the Union, further upsetting a delicate balance.

On December 24, 1860 South Carolina issued a legal proclamation setting forth the causes she felt would justify Secession from the Union. First was States Rights to choose whether to be slave or free. Secondly, the Fugitive Slave Act was not being enforced, thereby diminishing the authority of the Southern States. Even before Lincoln took office, seven states seceded from the Union. South Carolina first then Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas – in that order – left the Union and established the Confederate States of America (CSA). After the attack on Fort Sumter, four more states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) joined the CSA.

Reconstruction began even before the war ended. The period covers 1863-1877. The era is defined as the time when slavery was abolished and the CSA was totally eradicated. The Emancipation Proclamation began the journey towards reuniting the war torn country. Reconstruction began in each state as federal troops took control of the region. The period’s end date coincides with the Compromise of 1877 where the last three Republican supported state governments were removed.

Tennessee was the last state to officially join the CSA. East Tennessee tired to remain aligned with the US. Many battles were fought inside the state’s boundaries. By the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, most of Tennessee was under Union control (which is why the state isn’t named in the Proclamation). The Tennessee state legislature outlawed slavery on February 22, 1865 with the state’s voters approving in March. In 1864 Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from Tennessee, became Vice President with Lincoln’s second term. After Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson’s leniency toward Tennessee allowed members to be admitted back into the US Congress on this date. This allowed for Tennessee to be the only seceded state to avoid being ruled by a military governor during Reconstruction.

“All we ask is to be let alone.” – Confederate President Jefferson Davis

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.” – President Abraham Lincoln

“[The house Rhett Butler built for Scarlett] could have been in Omaha so little does it resemble any dwelling in the Atlanta of the Reconstruction period.” – Margaret Mitchell

“Gettysburg proved a significant turning point in the war, and therefore in the preservation of the United States and abolition of slavery. The Civil War ended lingering doubts since its conception about whether the United States would survive.” – James McPherson

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863. It was an order to all segments of the Executive branch of the US including the Army and Navy. The order stated that all slaves in Confederate territory were free. Thus, 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the country were immediately freed. It further proclaimed that “suitable” people among the now free ex-slaves should be enrolled in the paid services of the US forces. Because the President is Commander in Chief of the military, this order was issued constitutionally. It was not a law passed by Congress and it could not be enforced in areas still in rebellion. However, there was already much of the South that had been subdued and in these areas, the slaves were now freed. This order did not involve the five slave states that were not in rebellion and did not outlaw slavery itself. It also did not compensate the owners for the loss of their property nor did it make the ex-slaves citizens.

Also on this day: The Manly Peak – In 1911, Machu Picchu was found – again.
Oh, Henry – In 1901, William Porter was released from prison.
Eastland – In 1915, the SS Eastland capsized.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on July 24, 2013 at 9:12 am

    The first shots were NOT fired in anger. Because of the cotton gin 90% of the labor force in the south were NOT needed- FORMER slaves roamed looking for a way to feed themselves. No states rights issues- each southern state merely left the union, end of discussion. The US needed the income of the thriving southern states so the north decided to enslave the southern states- that action is now called the Civil War.

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