The Confederacy espoused the right of secession, but only insofar as it could be used to preserve slavery. Secession was a right of states, not of parts thereof — especially when those parts were controlled by non-slaveowners who had no interest in supporting the aristocratic planters. West Virginia was already effectively out of the Confederacy, and east Tennessee seemed poised to go as well.
The New York Times reproduced an editorial from the Memphis Appeal:
SECESSION JOURNAL ON EAST TENNESSEE.
The Memphis Appeal, in the course of a lofty editorial, says:
We can clearly see from this outcropping of the bud of treason which was engrafted upon the ignorance of the East Tennessee masses by the parricidal hand of ANDREW JOHNSON, that a formidable movement is on foot, to oppose the constitutional authorities of the State, and thus to seek to protect another ‘Pan Handle’ Monarchy, similar to that in Western Virginia, self-styled a State. To effect this end — falsely, yet dangerously denominated ‘a struggle for independence,’ — the Lincoln Government is to be called to the rescue, and its pestiferous congregation of poltroons, with sword and bayonet in hand, be invited to come within the jurisdiction of Tennessee, bringing with them desolation, vandalism, bloodshed, and slaughter.
It is useless, in consideration of these facts, therefore, to parley longer with that clique of political charlatans who conceived the Greenville Convention, and who are soon to continue the session of their traitorous council at Kingston. We have tried a policy of conciliation toward them, and it has signally failed — the hemp policy must be the one for the future. The people, we believe, are not parties to this disreputable movement, but if left alone, and undisturbed by the seditious harangues of these turbulent brawlers, will discard the mere difference of party, and rally to the support of the Southern flag with quite as much unanimity as has characterized the conduct of the Union men of the Gulf States.”