09 January 2013

Secession in America and in Tennessee

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another...”  (from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence)

Secession is an American tradition.  Not necessarily a legal tradition in most cases, but it is a tradition in America nonetheless.  After all, the United States of America’s “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (“New Order for the Ages”) began with thirteen British colonies seceding from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Almost everyone is aware that the State of Tennessee seceded from the Union in 1861, but not as many know that the majority of counties in East Tennessee (plus one in Middle Tennessee) almost seceded from the state that year.  Had it happened, that would not have been without precedent in Tennessee’s history, since the state was created by secession, after multiple prior secessions, from the parent state of North Carolina.

In addition to some facts about East Tennessee’s near independence, I’m adding a few facts to put the whole thing into the proper context politically.

Antebellum (pre-Civil War) secession

A large part of the State of Tennessee’s prehistory and history has involved secession.  For instance, those who founded the Watauga Association in 1772 were Regulators from North Carolina who had declared themselves independent of the royal governor and corrupt officials, inciting the War of Regulation (1765-1771).  After losing that conflict, James Robertson led a couple of dozen westward across the Appalachians, where they established themselves as an independent government.

Watauga Association

At the outbreak of the war in 1775, the Watauga Association together with the settlements upon the Nolichucky River organized themselves as the Washington District.  The other settlements inside the later Tennessee, Pendelton District (aka North-of-Holston) and Carter’s Valley, were considered part of Washington County, Virginia, and remained outside Washington District.


Westsylvania (roughly the current state of West Virginia plus the southwest corner of Pennsylvania) seceded from the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania in 1776 and petitioned to join the new United States. Their appeal was turned down and what is now West Virginia became the District of West Augusta at the end of 1776.  The would-be citizens of Westsylvanian in southwest Pennsylvania continued to seek separation until 1782 when the state legislature made any discussion of the region’s independence treason subject to the death penalty.

Washington District

Washington District successfully petitioned to become part of North Carolina in 1777 after failing to be accepted by Virginia as part of that state’s Washington County.  In North Carolina, it became that state’s Washington County, and included what are now the Allegheny, Ashe, and Watauga Counties in North Carolina.

It was partly in response to the creation of Washington County in support of the Revolution that the Cherokee leader Dragging Canoe and his militant followers seceded from the rest of their Nation after the latter made peace that year.  They first relocated to what was long known as the Chickamauga country, after Dragging Canoe’s town on South Chickamauga Creek.  However, they remained Cherokee rather than becoming a separate tribe as some claim.

Republic of Vermont

That same year, 1777, the Republic of Vermont declared its independence from both New Hampshire and New York, first attempting to Quebec as New Connecticut before organizing the independent republic.  This Republic of Vermont was the first government in the New World to outlaw slavery and to allow all adult males to vote.

New Ireland

In July 1779, the British captured part of what is now Maine from the rebellious colony/state of Masschusetts, mostly around Penobscot Bay, and created the colony of New Ireland.  Britain returned the area to Massachusetts in the Treaty of Parish in 1783.

Pendelton District

In 1780, the Pendelton District and Carter’s Valley were added to North Carolina.

Cumberland Compact

Also in 1780, James Robertson, leader of the pioneers on the Watauga River, joined with others in what is now the Nashville area to establish the Cumberland Compact.  The Cumberland District became North Carolina’s Davidson County three years later.

Republic of Franklin

After North Carolina reneged on giving its western territories to the federal government in 1784, the people of those counties, eight in East Tennessee (Sullivan, Spencer, Wayne, Washington, Greene, Caswell, Sevier, and Blount) and three in Middle Tennessee (Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee) seceded from North Carolina.  When the Continental Congress failed to accept them as the 14th State of Frankland, the future Tennesseans became the Free Republic of Franklin. 

The independent republic’s territory included the modern East Tennessee counties of Sullivan, Hawkins, Johnson, Carter, Unicoi, Washington, Greene, Cocke, Jefferson, Hamblen, Sevier, and Blount; the modern Middle Tennessee counties of Davidson, Sumner, Montgomery, Robertson, and Humphries; and the western North Carolina counties of Allegheny, Ashe, and Watauga Counties, which were then part of Washington County.  Its first capital was Jonesboro, but was later moved to Greeneville.

The Spanish Conspiracy

In 1786, the leaders of the Republic of Franklin, along with the with the governments of the Kentucky District (Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln Counties) of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the newly-appointed Superintendent for Southern Indian Affairs, began scheming with Esteban Rodriguez Miro, governor of Spanish Louisiana, to bring their territories into the Spanish Empire.  James Robertson, Daniel Smith, and Anthony Bledsoe from the Cumberland region and Joseph Martin and John Sevier of the eastern counties, along with James Wilkinson, governor of Kentucky, and James White, the Indian superintendent, were the main conspirators. 

I should point out that at this time Spain’s province La Florida claimed all the territory to the Ohio River anyway and had for some time.  In fact, Spain had established short-lived forts inside what are now North Carolina and Tennessee as early as 1567.

The conspirators’ chief vector of communication with Governor Miro was Don Diego de Gardoqui in New Orleans, capital of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, which had been in Spanish hands since the end of the French and Indian War in 1763.  The plans of all the parties involved fell apart due to two main factors: first, the dithering of the Spanish government in Madrid, and, second, a letter from Joseph Martin to Governor Miro which made its way into the hands of the Georgia legislature.

Trans-Oconee Republic

In May 1794, the Georgia Revolutionary hero Elijah Clarke and several hundred followers crossed to the west side of the Oconee River, then the boundary between the State of Georgia and, primarily, the Muscogee.  Dispersing across a wide area covering four modern counties (Greene, Morgan, Putnam, Baldwin), they established the Trans-Oconee Republic.  They built six fortified settlements and blockhouses across the region.  Georgia finally intervened, sending in the militia, but the republic’s citizens offered no resistance.  The effort ended 28 September.

State of Muskogee

Former Loyalist soldier in the Revolution William Augustus Bowles founded the State of Muskogee within the borders of Spanish East Florida in October 1799, with his capital at Miccousukee.  Its population was made up of Seminoles, Black Seminoles, Lower Creeks, pirates, Spanish deserters, and English adventurers.  The pirates staffed Muskogee’s three-ship navy.  When Bowles lost his British backers, the scheme began to unravel, and with Spain and the U.S.A. both gunning for him, his days of freedom were not long.  He was taken prisoner at Tuckabatchee and handed over to the Spanish governor at Pensacola in 1803.

Sabine Free State

The Sabine Free State didn’t have to secede from anyone because it was abandoned by both the United States and the Empire of Spain in 1806 because the two disagreed over the boundary of the Louisiana Territory purchased by the U.S.A. from Napoleonic France in 1803.  The disputed territory lay between the Mississippi River in the east and the Sabine River in the west and was populated mostly by a tri-racial ethnic group called the Redbones, similar to Tennessee’s own Melungeons.  The dispute was resolved in 1821 in favor of the U.S. claims, and the Sabine is the border between the states of Louisiana and Texas.

Republic of West Florida

The Republic of West Florida seceded from the Empire of Spain in 1810.  Spain had acquired its province of West Florida in the treaty which ended the first American war of secession, our Revolution.  Great Britain had gained La Florida at the end of the French and Indian War in exchange for abandoning claims to France’s Louisiana west of the Mississippi, which became Spanish Louisiana.  The British divided La Florida into East and West, the latter including the southern tips of Alabama and Mississippi and the northern section of the eastern portion of the modern state of Louisiana.  The republic’s independence lasted three months until the U.S. arrived and assumed control.

New Ireland (again)

During the War of 1812, a former extinct colony resurrected.  As part of its war effort, Britain against seized a good part of what is now Maine from Massachusetts in 1814.  This time it lasted just eight months.

State of Maine

The citizens of the northern part of the state of Massachusetts did not like being batted back and forth like a tennis ball.  They therefore seceded from Massachusetts and petitioned Congress to become their own state in 1819.  The petition was approved by Congress in 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise.

Republic of Texas

The Republic of Texas seceded from United Mexican States in 1836 and won its independence the same year with former U.S. Representative for Tennessee, former Tennessee Governor, and adopted son of John Jolly, then Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation West, as its first President. 

What is not as well known by much of the American public is that far more of those fighting for independence and supporting it were Spanish-speaking Tejanos rather than English-speaking Texicans from America.  Houston had been adopted by Jolly while living at Cayuga on what used to be known as Jolly’s Island—Hiwassee Island.

Republic of California

Another short-lived republic declared its independence from the United Mexican States during the first year of the U.S.-Mexican War which lasted from 1846 to 1848.  Like its predecessor, the Republic of California lasted just three months before the army arrived and took over.

The Great Secession(s)

Of course, the biggest and most damaging secession in U.S. history occurred in from late 1860 thru the first half of 1861.  Though side issues of high tariffs, usurious loan rates by Northern banks, and growing influence of northern manufacturers often to the detriment of nascent Southern manufacturing, the overwhelmingly dominant issue was slavery and related matters.

Hartford Convention

Beginning in December 1814, Federalists in New England met in the Hartford Convention to discuss their grievances of the War of 1812, the dominance of the Republicans and the so-called “Virginia dynasty”, the Three-fifths Clause (in which slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes and therefore representation in Congress), and other issues.  The more militant delegates wanted to secede from the Union and join Canada, but those desires never gained much ground.  In the end, Andrew Jackson’s spectacular victory in the Battle of New Orleans ended those plans and the outcome of the war greatly discredited the Federalists.

South Carolina secession threats

That troublesome state South Carolina threatened secession in 1828 over tariffs, one of the many issues cited by some states (such as Tennessee) in their articles of secession in 1861. 

South Carolina again threatened to secede over the admission of California under the Compromise of 1850 cobbled together by Whig Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois.

Fire Eaters

In this, they were not alone.  The most militant pro-slavery advocates called “Fire-Eaters”, representing nine Southern states, held a convention in Nashville, Tennessee, calling for secession of all slave states and a separate union of their own.  The next year legislators in several slave states introduced articles of secession in their assemblies, but Southern Unionists defeated the measures.

The Fire-Eaters came back to the forefront after the Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed in 1854, overturned nearly all provisions of the Compromise of 1850.  The violence of “Bleeding Kansas”, as the Kansas-Missouri border war was called and such incidents as the speech of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in 1856 strongly attacking slavery.  Senator Sumner was one of the very first Senators from the new Republican Party, founded in 1854.

For those who think the recently-departed and lamented-by-none 112th Congress was bitterly divisive, here’s a dose of reality.  Two days after Sumner’s speech, in which he had called Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina a “pimp for slavery”, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, nephew of Senator Butler, attacked him on the floor of the Senate chamber and beat him nearly to death.  It was three years before Sumner was physically rehabilitated enough to return to the Senate.

Secession of the North from the South?

The abolitionists had their own extremists, with William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, calling for the immediate abolition of slavery and ultimately for the free states to separate themselves from the “Slave Power” of the South. 

John Brown

But the most extreme of abolitionists was John Brown of Kansas, one of the leaders of anti-slave forces in that state’s border war with slave state Missouri, who seized the armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in an attempt to start a slave rebellion in that state to incite a general slave revolution.  Three years of planning and fund-raising preceded the affair.

Presidential election of 1860

On 6 November 1860, former Congressman Abraham Lincoln of the anti-slavery, pro-abolition Republican Party was elected President of the United States, setting in motion the chain of events which led to the Great Secession and the American Civil War/War Between the States/War of the Rebellion/War of the Secession.

Independent State of Dade, the truth

According to a local myth, the Independent State of Dade seceded from Georgia even before the campaign had started, which, believe it or not, did not begin until July of 1860.  The newspaper Atlanta Constitution, then pro-segregationist, reported upon Dade County’s reentry to the State and the Union on 4 July 1945 that Dade was extremely pro-slavery that it had seceded from both bodies it was then reentering in May 1860.

In truth, Dade had long been known even before that as the State of Dade because of its isolation, there being no road giving the county access to its state.  And while Southern states were already discussing secession after the John Brown affair and the propaganda of the Fire-Eaters, if Dade really seceded at that time, it did so to stay in the Union rather than leave it as much of the state wished.  North Georgia, particularly the northwest counties of Dade and Walker, were hotbeds of Unionist sentiment and wartime pro-Union partisan activity.

South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama secede

In reality, the first entity voting to secede from the Union was the State of South Carolina, which to do so on 20 December 1860.

On 9 January 1861, the legislature of the State of Mississippi, which ten years before had voted that states did not have the right of secession from the Union, also voted to secede.

The State of Florida followed on the next day, 10 January 1861.

The day after that, 11 January 1861, the State of Alabama approved secession, and this brought about the first major dissension from this course of action.  Unionist sentiment was nearly universal in North Alabama, but it had been outvoted by Lower Alabama (the “other” L.A.), whose delegates got to vote for three-fifths of their slaves to continue to keep them in slavery.

State of Nickajack

Alabama’s secession brought the first serious discussion of secession by a region of a Southern state from that state to preserve a relationship with the Union (barring discovery of evidence of such a motive by the State of Dade).  Political leaders in North Alabama held discussion between themselves and counterparts in East Tennessee to establish a neutral State of Nickajack taking in those Unionist regions of their respective states along with the Unionist counties of Dade and Walker in Northwest Georgia.

Georgia secedes

Speaking of the State of Georgia, it voted to secede on 19 January 1861.

Some three days later, 22 January 1861, Senator Jefferson Davis in his way home to Mississippi stayed at the Crutchfield House in Chattanooga across James Street (MLK Blvd.) from Union Station. He gave a vehemently pro-secession speech in the main dining room of the hotel and was attacked by William Crutchfield, brother of the owner, trying to do to Davis what Preston Brooks did to Charles Sumner.  Tom Crutchfield, who was pro-secession, broke up the fight and averted the duel that was supposed that place later.

Louisiana secedes

The State of Louisiana voted to secede from the Union on 26 January 1861.

Confederacy forms

On 8 February 1861, the six former U.S. states that had seceded from the Union so far—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana—voted to join together as the Confederate States of America.

On 9 February 1861, a vote about whether to call a convention to decide if Tennessee should secede failed 69 thousand to 58 thousand.  A clear majority of Tennesseans didn’t want to even discuss leaving the Union.  The vote was the most lopsided in East Tennessee, with only two counties, Sullivan and Meigs, having a majority in favor.  With Tennessee still securely in the Union at that time, the plans of North Alabama for the joint State of Nickajack collapsed.

Texas secedes

The State of Texas voted to secede from the Union to join the new Confederacy on 23 February 1861.

Free State of Franklin

On 24 February 1861, the very secessionist Franklin County (seat Winchester) at the eastern edge of Middle Tennessee voted to secede from the State of Tennessee and become the pro-secessionist Free State of Franklin, sending its request to Nashville the same day.

Free State of Van Zandt

Shortly after receiving word of the Texas secession vote, some 350 citizens of Van Zandt County, Texas, which was virtually free of slaves, held a convention in Canton, the county seat, and declared themselves to have seceded from the State.


Republican from the State of Illinois Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States on 4 March 1861, replacing one of my collateral ancestors, James Buchanan.

War of the Secession begins

Confederate General G.T. Beauregard, a French Creole from Louisiana, initiated the Battle of Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor on 12 April 1861, and accepted the surrender of its garrison under Union Maj. Robert Anderson two days later.  The Civil War had begun.

Arkansas secedes

On 6 May 1861, the State of Arkansas voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.

The Tennessee General Assembly approved articles of secession on 6 May 1861 and sent them down to voters.  The legislature and Governor Isham Harris, who was very pro-secession, also voted and approved a military league with the Confederacy.

North Carolina and Virginia secede

The State of North Carolina voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy on 20 May 1861.

The Commonwealth of Virginia followed suit on 23 May 1861.

East Tennessee

East Tennessee had long been fertile ground for anti-slavery sentiment, with a sizable majority there favoring emancipation (voluntary manumission of slaves by their owners) rather than the more radical abolition of slavery by force of law.  However, the region did have a sizable and very influential minority favoring the latter. 

On 30 May 1861, twenty-nine counties from East Tennessee (all thirty minus Rhea) plus the Middle Tennessee county of Macon began to hold a convention in Knoxville to discuss counter-measures.  Its second and final day featured then Senator and later President Andrew Johnson, with delegates agreeing to meet again.

Tennessee secedes

Tennessee held its referendum on 8 June 1861, with voters reversing themselves to give Gov. Harris and his fellow secessionists a very clear majority.  Six counties in East Tennessee (Sullivan, Monroe, Polk, Meigs, Rhea, and Sequatchie) voted in favor.  Hamilton County and the county seat of Harrison voted against it, while the small town of Chattanooga, a major railroad center and burgeoning manufacturing municipality, voted affirmative.  Franklin County’s appeal to be allowed to secede became a moot point.

Attempted East Tennessee secession

The East Tennessee Convention reconvened on 17 June 1861 at Greeneville, former capital of the 18th century secessionist (from North Carolina) Republic of Franklin.  Senator Johnson did not attend due to very credible threats to his life.  Instead, the most radical and vociferous delegate at the meeting was Hamilton County’s own William Clift, who proposed the counties in East Tennessee unilaterally secede from the State of Tennessee, form their own state government, and fight the Confederacy. 

In the end, the delegates of the East Tennessee Convention voted to separate from Tennessee only with the agreement of the state government and sent the request to Nashville on 20 June 1861.  Their request was summarily rebuffed on 29 June.

U.S. State of West Virginia

The would-be state of Westsylvania, minus the portion in southwest Pennsylvania, finally became a reality when the State of West Virginia voted to secede from the Commonwealth of Virginia of the C.S.A and join the Union on 17 June 1861.

Free State of Winston
On 4 July 1861, delegates from the North Alabama counties of Winston, Marion, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Blount, Marshall, Walker, and Fayette met at Looney’s Tavern in Winston County to draw up condemnation of Alabama’s secession from the Union.  At the end of this meeting, the delegates from Winston County, who were the heart of the effort, declared the Free State of Winston, independent of Alabama but neutral in the military conflict between the Union and the Confederacy.

Secessionist state of Tennessee stops secession of East Tennessee

Tennessee’s Gov. Harris ordered Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer and his men into East Tennessee to suppress the growing resistance in the region to Tennessee’s secession from the Union on 26 July 1861.  His mission was to prevent East Tennessee from seceding from the state. 

By then the Provisional Army of Tennessee (which, interestingly, included at least two all Afro-American regiments organized in Memphis) had merged into the Confederate Army (minus the two Afro-American regiments, which were refused).  In addition to his field command, Brig. Gen. Zollicoffer was appointed the first commanding officer of the geographical command in East Tennessee.

Crossroads Treaty

Meanwhile, William Clift had returned to Hamilton County and as commanding officer of the county’s militia mustered the 7th Tennessee Militia into service at a camp on his large farm in Sale Creek.  After nearly three months which involved drilling and training but little else, Col. Clift signed a truce with Col. George Gillespie of the 43rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry in the Confederate Army on 19 September 1861 at Smith’s Crossroads (now Dayton), Tennessee. 

This Crossroads Treaty was basically a pact of non-aggression between two men who knew each other and travelled in the same social circles.  Col. Clift owned one of the largest farms in the north of the county while Col. Gillespie owned a large plantation south of the Tennessee River west of Chattanooga Creek.  Gillespie’s brother James was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who owned a large farm east of South Chickamauga Creek near Chickamauga Station but few slaves.  Clift’s son Moses was a major in Forrest’s Cavalry Corps who arrested his own father carrying dispatches between the Army of the Cumberland in Chattanooga and the Army of the Ohio in Knoxville in late 1863.

Missouri secession

On 31 October 1861, a rump legislature (one without a quorum) of the State of Missouri called by the deposed Gov. Jackson passed articles of secession from the Union.

East Tennessee Bridge Burnings

The first action of the war which affected the Chattanooga region occurred on 8 November 1861 when two railroad bridges across the South Chickamauga Creek were burned by Unionist sympathizers.

In late October, Senator Johnson had begged President Lincoln for Union troops to protect the loyal citizens of East Tennessee.  Unionists in East Tennessee directed by William Carter of Knoxville were going to destroy nine major railroad bridges in East Tennessee and one in North Georgia to ease an invasion by troops in the Department of the Cumberland under the command of Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman.  Alfred Cate of Bradley County was in charge of the attacks on the bridges over the Hiwassee River between Charleston and Calhoun, two bridges of the Western & Atlantic Railroad over the Chickamauga River east of Chattanooga, and the long bridge of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (also used by the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad) at Bridgeport, Alabama.

Unfortunately for the Unionists, Brig. Gen. Sherman got cold feet and called it off 7 November, in spite of his subordinate Brig. Gen. George Thomas throwing a fit demanding the army not renege on its commitment.  The bridges assigned to Cate were except for the one at Bridgeport were successfully destroyed.  Of the rest, only those of the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad over Lick Creek at Carters Depot (Watauga) and over the Holston River at Union Depot (Bluff City) were successfully destroyed.

The destroyed bridges were soon rebuilt.  Brig. Gen. Zollicoffer, commander of the District of East Tennessee under Deparment No. 2, put the region under martial law to counter the threat of saboteurs and to try the bridge-burners by court martial.  Five of those involved were hung, around 150 imprisoned in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Those who escaped retribution, including Carter and Cate, fled to Union lines in Kentucky and joined the U.S. Army.

Another local consequence was the disbandment of Col. Clift’s 7th Tennessee Militia on 16 November 1861 in the face of the 6th Alabama Volunteer Infantry, which had been called to end their threat one way or another.  Most of those mustered out went to Kentucky to enlist in the Union Army but Clift and others decided to stay behind in the mountains as bushwackers.

Shortly after the bridge-burnings, Sherman had a nervous breakdown which caused him to be removed from command.

Kentucky secession

On 20 November 1861, a shadow government in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (styling itself the “Convention of the People of Kentucky”) voted to secede from the Union.

Free and Independent State of Scott

In late 1861, the court of Scott County in East Tennessee on the border with the Commonwealth of Kentucky voted to secede from the state as the Free and Independent State of Scott.

By May 1862, Col. Clift had come down from the mountains and begun reorganizing his militia as the 7th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, U.S.A. in Scott, Morgan, and Anderson Counties.  The regiment was broken up in early 1863 and Clift was assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside of the Army of the Ohio.  As mentioned above, he was later arrested by his own son, Maj. Moses Clift of Forrest’s Cavalry Corps during the Siege of Chattanooga.

On 8 April 1862, President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis declared East Tennessee enemy territory and put the region under martial law.

Free State of Jones

The Free State of Jones, formerly Jones County, seceded from the State of Mississippi in February 1864 after the Battle of Meridian (14-20 February), at least according to Maj. Gen. Sherman, who now commanded the Army of the Tennessee.

The secessionist town of Chattanooga became the headquarters for the Department of the Cumberland in September 1863 and remained so until August 1866.  Not long after the war ended, the town’s business leaders placed an advertisement in the Chattanooga News asking for carpet-baggers to come join the community.  The industrialists who made up much of the staff of the Dept. of the Cumberland’s Quartermaster Corps went on to transform Chattanooga into the “Dynamo of Dixie”.

Readmissions and reentries

The State of Tennessee was readmitted to the Union on 24 July 1866.

The State of Arkansas was readmitted to the Union on 22 June 1868.

The State of Florida was readmitted to the Union on 25 June 1868.

The State of North Carolina was readmitted to the Union on 4 July 1868.

The States of Louisiana and South Carolina were readmitted to the Union on 9 July 1868.

The State of Alabama was readmitted to the Union on 13 July 1868.

The State of Virginia was readmitted to the Union on 26 January 1870.

The State of Mississippi was readmitted to the Union on 23 February 1870.

The State of Texas was readmitted to the Union on 30 March 1870.

The State of Georgia was readmitted to the Union on 15 July 1870.

The Free State of Dade officially reentered the State of Georgia on 4 July 1945.

The Free and Independent State of Scott officially reentered the State of Tennessee in 1986.

07 January 2013

A Voice from Gaza

“Apartheid is a crime against humanity.  Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property.  It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality.  It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to international law.  It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.” – Nelson Mandela, former prisoner-of-conscience for 25 years

The most singular physical manifestation of the apartheid which the State of Israel is inflicting on the native population of Palestine is the Apartheid Wall surrounding the West Bank.  It is quite similar to the Berlin Wall destroyed in 1989 and to the so-called “Peace Lines” built in 1969 between Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in Belfast, Derry, Portadown, and other cities which still exist. 

The Israeli-inflicted apartheid is harshest, however, in the Gaza Strip.  Since 2006, the State of Israel has converted the Gaza Strip into a 141 sq. mi. (365 sq. km) prison comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto.  Don’t get mad at goy me for that comparison; Israeli survivors of the Ghetto and of the Holocaust made that comparison before me.

And for what crime has Israel been inflicting this illegal collective punishment on the people of Gaza?  In 2006, in what international observers judged to be a cleaner election than many in most developed countries, Hamas won a majority of seats in the parliament of Occupied Palestine fairly and squarely.  In local elections, Hamas won a large majority of the offices and council seats in the Gaza Strip, where Fatah won few.  People in the Gaza Strip were sick of neglect by Ramallah and the corruption and complacency of Fatah.

I do not like Hamas, any more than I like any sectarian, theocratic political group regardless of their professed religion, but it was a clean election and they won fairly.  Israel and the U.S.A. hubristically failed in their analysis and did little to support any alternative.  Thus red-faced at being caught with their pants down, the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), the Mossad, and the governments of Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu have taken out their chagrin on the people of Gaza, collective punishment in violation of every tenet of all international law and standards of human rights for exercising their freedom to vote.  Especially after the coup d’etat they attempted through Fatah in 2007 failed so miserably.

In the recent war of Israel upon the Gaza Strip dubbed “Operation Pillar of Defense”, which began with Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, 162 Palestinians died compared to just 5 Israelis.  Of those Palestinians, at least 30 among the 110 civilian victims were school-age children.  Also among the dead were eleven members from four generations of a single family whose home, according to official IDF sources, had been deliberately targeted. 

In their 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip dubbed “Operation Cast Lead”, the IDF killed 1400 Palestinians, 353 of whom were children, while suffering only 13 casualties.  Such lop-sided casualty rates remind me of Mark Twain’s story “War Prayer”, his response to a massacre during the Moro War (1902-1913) of 900 civilians (men, women, children) on the Philippine island of Mindanao by American troops who suffered a mere 35 casualties, all by friendly fire.

The following was written by my niece in Gaza City, Hadeel, who is 16 years old, and with her permission I am including it so that readers may know “the rest of the story”, which you may not be getting from CNN, Fox, or MSNBC.

 “Yesterday night, I almost closed my eyes to catch some Z's after a bloody, miserable day, I barely slept, the sound of explosions began approaching, it was everywhere, I was telling myself it's ok, it's just one, don't worry it's almost over, another explosion, I said that is the last one then everything will be over, Booomb! Another one, two and three ... it was too much so that I got up from bed.  With every sound of shaking bombs I was fleeing to my parents' room, daddy took me in his arms, he tried hard to stop my rainy eyes. 

“Lying between my dad's arms, covering my head under the blanket, closing my eyes to this dark world, having nightmares even while I'm not sleeping, that was how I spent this night. Daddy was watching the window and warning me with every rocket-propelled, he was whispering LIGHT!  As a sign to hold my breath and get ready for the next explosion!

“Daddy thought that I was crying because I was afraid of death.  Not really! It was a crying with a different flavor; I was crying because it was the first time to feel that I'm going to lose someone of my family, despite everything was going, I was not afraid of death, it doesn't scare me anymore, even if I knew I would be underground within seconds...but what is scaring me the thought of losing someone I love in these events, I may lose the life of my father, mother, brother, or a friend.  I will be lucky if it is about losing my life only. With every explosion, I could see the death becomes closer to one of them, many thoughts were spoiling in my head, I was extremely weak, it was the first time to feel that weakness, I was someone I've never met before.

“Fire, bombs, explosions, blood and death, it was too much for a girl in my age to endure, to breathe the atmosphere of blood smell is something terrible!  As if you are experiencing death more than once while you are still alive!!

“Then, for a moment, I closed my eyes. There was an instant of extreme cold and total darkness. Suddenly I was in deep, dreamless, sleep.

“I opened my eyes upon my mom, she was raising her hands to the sky and praying to God to keep us safe, this increased my faith, I said to myself: they can never defeat us! I decided to curse my weakness and shackle it with chains; I decided to be stronger, yes stronger!”

– Hadeel M. Abu Oun, 19 November 2012, Gaza City, Palestine

According to Gideon Levy, an Israeli reporter for the newspaper Ha’aretz, since April 2001 a total of 59 Israelis have died in hostilities between them compared to 4,717 Palestinians in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

There’s this story about a Palestinian, an American, a French Iranian, and an Israeli meeting on a tour boat on the River Seine through Paris…sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?  Only it really happened; I know because I was one of them.  The picture we had taken of the four of us together has proven to be one of the more popular that I’ve posted to Facebook.  It’s about peace, and the hope for a future in which We the People of the World will finally fulfill President Eisenhower’s prediction that one day we will want peace so much that our governments will have to step aside and let us have it. 

And if they fail to do that, we will just step around them.

(NOTE:  This article was originally written as an opinion piece in a local online newspaper, The Chattanoogan.  However, when I sent it, I received this reply from the editor: "chuck not sure want to get into that topic".  He was silencing not just me but my niece and all the other victims in the Gaza Strip.)