Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860-1869

Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860-1869

Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860-1869

Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860-1869

Excerpt

The history of the Civil War and reconstruction periods in Tennessee presents a number of novel characteristics. Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union and the first of the seceded states to be restored to its constitutional relations with the Union. It was specifically exempted from the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation; it was the only Southern state to escape the terrors of military reconstruction; and, to a much greater degree than the other Southern states, it avoided the menace of the carpet baggers. In large measure the explanation of this singular record is to be found in the political and intellectual background of the state and the character of its economic and industrial resources, factors which alike made secession undesirable and the speedy readmission of the state an event to be eagerly anticipated; the early occupation of the state by the Federal forces, making possible the erection of a military government under Andrew Johnson, a native Tennessean, possessing the confidence of President Lincoln and ardently desiring the restoration of his commonwealth to the Union; and, to an even greater degree, the remarkable character and activity of the reconstruction governor, William G. Brownlow.

Intense in his prejudices, extreme in his actions, and at times inconsistent in his policies, William G. Brownlow was guided throughout his gubernatorial career by a determined and unremitting desire to restore the state as speedily as possible to its former position in the Union. In his estimation the most reasonable and plausible method of achieving this end was by identifying his policy with that of the congressional Radicals. To this policy everything was made to conform. Brownlow was . . .

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