Since last October, The New York Times has been running the excellent online series "Disunion" telling the story of the Civil War by describing key events during the corresponding week 150 years ago using diaries, images, and contemporary pieces by historians and essayists.
In this week's entry, "When Tennessee Turned South," historian Dwight Pitcaithley gives an engaging account of the political process that led Tennessee to be the last Southern state to join the Confederacy in early June 1861, and the first to return to the union in 1866. Pitcaithley explains why it took Tennessee so long to secede:
Tennessee was a complicated state. Like its neighbor Virginia, it was profoundly divided over the issue of secession, with its mountainous eastern section deeply opposed to the idea. They weren’t alone: A special election on Feb. 9 revealed the political gulf between Governor Harris and the people of the state: On the same day that Mississippi left the Union, the voters of Tennessee voted 80 percent against secession.
Pitcaithley goes on to explain that Tennesseans remained divided on the issue throughout the war, with fully a fourth of those going to fight doing so for the good guys ... um, I mean the North.