February 3, 1861 - Plotting Tennessee's Secession through Political Action Committees
"Read the Treasonous Circular!"
The desperation [sic] of Disunionism is showing itself in Nashville and in all other portions of the state. The following Secret Circular[sic] was sent to a Post Master in Jefferson County, supposing him to be a Disunionist and he has transmitted it to us. We publish it and ask a perusal of it. Let it be denounced and spit upon, and let it be rebuked at the ballot box as the offspring of Treason [sic]!
Dear Sir – Our earnest solicitude for the success of the Great Southern Rights movement to secure an immediate release from the overwhelming dangers that imperil our political and social safety, will we trust, be a sufficient apology for the results which we beg to impose on you.
The sentiment of the Southern heart is overwhelming in favor of the movement. Light only is wanted that men many see their way clearly and the prayer of every true patriot will eventually be realized. Tennessee will be a unit.
Although the time be so very short, this object may yet be accomplished, if a few m en only, (the more the better, however) in each county, will devote their entire energies to it during the canvass for Delegates. We earnestly beg your attention, therefore, to the following suggestions:
1. Be sure to have your best men in the field, WITHOUT REGARD TO PAST POLITICAL OPINIONS [sic].
2. Be sure that no submissionist, under whatever pretext of compromising our rights, or of waiting beyond the 4th of March for new guarantees, impose himself on you. Our only hope of peace and safety consists in decided action before the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln.
3. Do not wait for general meetings of citizens, but get together immediately a few active, intelligent, discreet but thoroughgoing, uncompromising, true-hearted, "Southern-Rights Anti-Coercion" friends and appoint Committees and Canvassers, who are willing to devote themselves entirely and unceasingly to the great and perilous work, from this hour up to the close of the election.
4. Appoint Committees, also, for each Civil District, of men known to coincide with you and ourselves in sentiment.
5. Organize, forthwith, Southern Rights Anti-Coercion Societies.
6. We will send during the canvass, the UNION AND AMERICAN and GAZETTE [sic], to supply your County. These we confidently trust you will send immediately to the District Committees, who on the hour of delivery, start out on the work of distribution, and this though there be but half a dozen copies for each district. Do not, we beg of you, wait for persons to call for documents, of papers to read and CIRCULATE [sic].
7. Write as many letters to your friends [as] possible, and urge them by every consideration of patriotism, to work, work, work.
Please write as many letters to your friends, and advise us of your organization, and to whose address we shall send papers, &c., at your county seat and elsewhere; and also, in public sentiment, and whatever else you may think useful.
Once more may we not, without offense, beg of you by all you hold dear on earth, to give yourself entirely to this great work that you will know no rest until success shall crown our efforts for our country's safety in deliverance from all further alliance with those whose very breath is poisoned, whose embrace is death – until as satisfactory guarantees are offered before the army, navy and treasure of the government shall have passed into the hands of a party virtually pledged to the odious doctrine for coercion.
We can, we must, carry our State. Our hearts would link within us, at the bare thought of the degradations and infamy of abandoning our more Southern brethren united to us by all the views so sympathy and interest, and of being chained to the car of Black Republican States, who would themselves despise us for our submission; and worse than all, by moral influences alone, if not by force of legal enactment destroy our entire social fabric, and all real independence of thought and action.
Your own good judgment will suggest many things we can not now allude to.
Wm. Williams, Chm'n.
S. C. Goethall [?], Sec'y,
J. R. Baus [?],
R. H. Williamson,
G. W. Cunningham,
H. M. Cheatham,
W. S. Peppin.
States Central Southern Rights Anti-Coercion Committee.
Knoxville Whig, February 3, 1861
Tennessee Historical Commission
2941 Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214