Tennessee Secedes From The Union

Tennesseans voted in favor of secession by a large majority—102,172 to 47,238—on June 8, 1861.

In the mountainous eastern part of the state, however, where few people owned slaves, voters opposed secession by a margin of more than two to one.

President Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat who broke with his party over the issue of secession, hailed from eastern Tennessee. In May 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson as military governor of federally controlled Tennessee. Two years later, Johnson was selected as Lincoln's running mate.

In February 1861, secessionists in Tennessee's state government—led by Governor Isham Harris—sought voter approval for a convention to sever ties with the United States, but Tennessee voters rejected the referendum by a 54–46% margin. The strongest opposition to secession came from East Tennessee (which later tried to form a separate Union-aligned state). Following the Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter in April and Lincoln's call for troops from Tennessee and other states in response, Governor Isham Harris began military mobilization, submitted an ordinance of secession to the General Assembly, and made direct overtures to the Confederate government. The Tennessee legislature ratified an agreement to enter a military league with the Confederate States on May 7, 1861. On June 8, 1861, with people in Central Tennessee having significantly changed their position, voters approved a second referendum calling for secession, becoming the last state to do so.