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In 1860, they had voted by a slim margin for the Constitutional Unionist John Bell, a native son and moderate who continued to search for a way out of the crisis.
A vocal minority of Tennesseans spoke critically of the Northern states and the Lincoln presidency.
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It also provided more regiments to the Union than every other Confederate state combined.
"The people of the South are preparing for their next highest duty– resistance to coercion or invasion," wrote the Nashville Daily Gazette on January 5, 1861.
The newspaper expressed the view that Florida, Georgia, and Alabama were exercising the highest right of all by taking control of all forts and other military establishments within the area– the right to self-defense. Harris convened an emergency session of the Tennessee General Assembly in January 1861.
Harris agreed with the idea of popular sovereignty, that only the people within a state can determine whether or not slavery could exist within the boundaries of that state. 88,803 votes were cast for Unionist candidates and 22,749 votes were cast for Secession candidates.
Furthermore, he regarded laws passed by Congress that made U. territories non-slave states as taking territories away from the American people and making them solely for the North, territories from which "Southern men unable to live under a government which may by law recognize the free negro as his equal" were excluded. That day the American flag was displayed in "every section of the city," with zeal equal to that which existed during the late 1860 presidential campaign, wrote the Nashville Daily Gazette.