Volunteers on the Border: Middle Tennessee and the Road to Secession

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Castle, Lily Grace
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Middle Tennessee State University
Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in June of 1861, leaving behind 3 other Southern slave states who never seceded: Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland. But Tennessee has a lot more in common with Missouri and Kentucky than previously realized by most historians. Tennessee was a slave state, but its residents generally wanted to stay in the Union. The sentiment eventually changed in April of 1861 when President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 troops from each state to help put down the rebellion. Tennessee refused, and the newspapers in Middle Tennessee began to publish more center-right opinions rather than the moderate opinions they had published throughout the 1840s and 1850s. West Tennessee was quite pro-secession, while East Tennessee was quite anti-secession. Middle Tennessee found itself wedged in the middle of two extremes, and remained unionist until Lincoln’s call for troops and invasion of the South. This thesis does not intend to argue any Lost Cause sentiment or any “War of Northern Aggression;” rather, this thesis intends to argue Middle Tennessee’s perception of a “War of Federal Aggression.”
Border Region, Border State, Middle Tennessee, Politics, Secession, Tennessee, American history