10 February 2008

Silly southern states... and I learned something

I was catching up on my blog/news reading today, and saw where the State of Georgia is working on legislation to redefine part of its northern border with Tennessee as a backhanded attempt at getting access to Tennessee's more abundant water resources. This in itself is a sad, yet bizarrely amusing development (as evidenced by the reaction to the news in Nashville). Yet I figured that since I grew up in the area in question, I would blog about a funny little bit of related history that only a local would know.

See, the section of border in question falls along the northern line of Dade County, Georgia, which is the state's most northwestern county. The old legend about "the State of Dade" is that at the beginning of the Civil War, residents of the county were pissed about the whole thing, and seceded from both Georgia and the Union. Some say this is because Georgia didn't secede fast enough (not really plausible given the Western half of the Southern Appalachians pro-Union tendencies), and others say (much more plausibly) that the county wanted to stay in the Union, and the only way it could think to do so was to secede from Georgia. Nobody would really notice the county being gone anyway, as there wasn't a road that connected it with the rest of Georgia until 1939 (you had to go through Tennessee or Alabama). In an elaborate ceremony in 1945, Dade County officially rejoined both the Union and Georgia -- allegedly Harry Truman even placed a phone call to the county to welcome them back. This was such a humorously big deal, that an article about it even ran in the New York Times.

So today while I was poking around the net looking for an actual link to point you to about all this hilarity, I learned that I was wrong. Dade County never did secede, and was indeed very pro-Union, like most poor mountain areas in the Tennessee River basin. Next time you and yours visit my old stomping grounds at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, enjoy debunking one of the few old guides who might still tell the story of Dade County's secession (it always gets a fun reaction).

And now for me to stake out my ground in the current controversy: It'll be a cold day in hell before Tennessee shares part of its river with Georgians. It's bad enough that through a fault of geography, we have to share it with Alabamans.

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