Andrew Johnson and Emancipation in Tennessee
Andrew Johnson was a man of many seeming contradictions. He was a Southerner, and yet he firmly believed in the Union. He believed in the Union, yet he believed that many political decisions should be left to the individual states. He was a slave owner who was a product of his time, but he was also a man called a "Moses" for the freedom of slaves in Tennessee.
On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states still in rebellion against the United States. Tennessee, although a seceded state, did not fall under the provisions of the proclamation. Tennessee was under Union control, and Andrew Johnson was serving as Military Governor.
The Knoxville Chronicle of August 9, 1871 recorded an August 8th anniversary celebration in Greeneville.
"A procession was formed in the following order:
Johnson's Legacy Continues
August 8th has continued to be recognized as a holiday in the African-American community in Tennessee and surrounding states, and in 2007, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed legislation acknowledging August 8th as "Emancipation Day" in the state...
"… to honor and recognize the celebration of the action of Andrew Johnson, seventeenth president of the United States and then military governor of Tennessee, in freeing his personal slaves on August 8, 1863, and the significance of emancipation in the history of Tennessee.”
Did You Know?
Martha Johnson Patterson, Andrew Johnson's daughter, said their slave Sam would boast that he was Johnson's servant. "But in truth," she continued, "Andrew Johnson belonged to Sam." Andrew Johnson gave Sam land for a church and school for the freedmen of Greeneville, TN.