Proposed Tennessee state flag, April 1861
by Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr.
, 16 March 2000
Proposed Tennessee Flag
On 25 April 1861 the Tennessee General Assembly convened in Nashville in the second extra session of the legislature to be called since the turn of the year. The first extra session, in January, had put to a vote of the people the question of joining the deep South in seceding from the United States. Taking a wait-and-see position towards the Lincoln government, the people rejectd secession in the February election. In April, however, war had become a reality, and the question was again to be placed before the voters.
On the first day of the session, the speaker of the Senate, Tazewell B. Newman, introduced Senate Resolution No. 2, to establish a flag for the State of Tennessee. The resolution required the Secretary of State to have a flag of the Confederate States made which would be modified by replacing the stars with the Great Seal of Tennessee. The resolution was referred to the Committee on Federal Relations, but was never acted upon further, and never became law. The committee apparently thgouht it improper to fly an obviously Confederate flag on Tennessee’s capitol while Tennessee was still technically one of the United States.
Despite the inaction of the legislature, the flag recommended by Senator Newman did see some limited use. At least two Tennessee infantry regiments used “Stars and Bars” style flags with the Tennessee state seal painted in the canton. A modern version of Newman’s flag is used by the Tennessee descendants of Confederate soldiers. At their 1983 reunion, the Tennessee Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans adopted as their official flag the “Stars and Bars”, with the stars replaced by the original version of the State seal (as adopted in 1801, and used from 1802 to 1829).
Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr.