This bit of information would have startled me awake in my 7th grade Tennessee History class: While doing research on Scott County, I discovered that in 1861, United States Senator Andrew Johnson made a speech in Scott County against secession from the Union. Scott County voters voted against secession. A short time later the county court, by resolution, formed “the Free and Independent State of Scott.” This took place after Tennessee voted to secede in June 1861. Although neither Tennessee nor the United States government ever legally recognized the Free State of Scott, the vote to create it was rescinded in 1986 as part of the statewide Homecoming ’86 celebration. You can read more about it in the Tennessee State Library archives at https://sos.tn.gov/tsla/tri-star-chronicles-scott-county.
Recently, I saw an ad for a movie on Netflix titled “Free State of Jones” and thought it might be fiction relating to Scott County, but it is actually the story of the real Jones County in Mississippi that became an independent state after a Confederacy draft law passed allowing one white male to be exempted from military service for every 20 slaves on a plantation. Poor farmers did not want to “fight a rich man’s war.” It turns out there was also a county in Alabama (Winston) that also chose to become a “free state” instead of joining the Confederacy! You can read more about these three counties in the online encyclopedias for each state.