FEBRUARY 1861: Convention or No Convention

4 FEBRUARY 1861: The Seceded States Create a Government
At a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, delegates from the seven seceded states meet in Montgomery, Alabama, to establish a government, which they name the Confederate States of America. They also adopt a document similar to the United States Constitution, but with greater emphasis on the rights of each state. On 8 February, those states elect Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as the Confederacy’s first president.

7 FEBRUARY 1861: Newspaper article urging a pro-secession vote:
On Saturday next Tennesseans are to decide at the ballot-box the destiny of the State—to say whether they will go with their friends of the South or their enemies of the North. If you would have your State continue her connection with her Southern sisters—a connection of political equality, of interests, of sympathy, of affection—have upon your ticket the word “Convention” and the names of the Southern Rights candidate.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

8 FEBRUARY 1861: “TENNESSEANS, DECIDE FOR TENNESSEE”
The voting tomorrow, although not at all decisive of the fate of this State, is of such importance to it, that the native Tennessean will do well to permit nothing but his own knowledge of the situation of the State, its requirements, and its honor to influence his vote. Sit down, Tennessean, to-night, reflect coolly and calmly on the lessons and teachings of your life; forget parties, sects and everything but your wife and little ones. Consider their needs and those of the business by [which] you feed, clothe and lodge them; be guided wholly and solely by your own judgment.
~ Memphis Daily Argus

9 FEBRUARY 1861: “THE CONVENTION.”
To-day the people of Tennessee are deciding whether the State convention shall be held, and who are their choices for delegates to that body. Although at this time nothing definite is known regarding the voice of the State, we have no doubt that the majority in favor of the convention will be very large. The next question which will come up is, whether or not the action of that convention shall be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection; whether the convention, composed as it will be of delegates of every shade of opinion, will be allowed the final disposition of a question involving the destiny of Tennessee, or whether the people after having been furnished with the action of that body, shall be permitted to either approve or disapprove those actions at the ballot box.
~ Memphis Daily Argus

9 FEBRUARY 1861: The vote against secession
In the election on February 9, old Vox Populi [the opinions of the majority] spoke emphatically. In regard to the calling of a Convention, the movement was rejected by a vote of 69,675 to 57,798—not a wide margin. The decision by the people was a significant one, in that the action of both Governor Harris and the General Assembly was rebuked. West Tennessee supported the convention; Middle Tennessee was almost equally divided; East Tennessee rejected it overwhelmingly.
~ Messages of the Governors of Tennessee

In the weeks following the February 9 vote against holding a secession convention, both secessionists and Unionists launched intensive public speaking campaigns in East Tennessee. The threat of violence underscored many of the rallies, and both sides were warned not to enter certain areas where their opponents held a strong majority.

10 FEBRUARY 1861: The Result
The people of Tennessee yesterday had an opportunity of saying through the ballot-box whether or not they desired the assembling of a State Convention… The indications are that a large majority voted for “No Convention.” However much we might have desired a different result, we feel fully satisfied that the proposition to hold a Convention has been defeated. The people have spoken, and we have naught to say against their decree. It may bring no harm, or it may remit evil only-which of the two will be known before the expiration of many days.
~ Nashville Daily Gazette

18 FEBRUARY 1861: Jefferson Davis inaugurated
Jefferson Davis is inaugurated President of the Southern Confederacy during a ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama. In his address he quotes from the U.S. Constitution and makes many references to armed conflict, primarily in regard to defense of Southern lands.
~  Chronology of Major Events Leading to Secession Crisis

28 FEBRUARY 1861
The House passes a measure supported by President-elect Lincoln which prohibits the federal government from interfering with slavery in states where it exists.
~  Chronology of Major Events Leading to Secession Crisis

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