Isham G. Harris: Tennessee’s War Governor at August’s Round Table

On Sunday, August 14 at 3 P.M., in the Community Room of the Franklin Police Department on Columbia Pike in Franklin, the Franklin Civil War Round Table will present author and Chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission, Sam Davis Elliott, who will speak on “Isham G. Harris: Tennessee’s War Governor.”

Born in Middle Tennessee, Harris grew up to serve in the Tennessee State Senate, as a U.S. congressman, and as governor during the secession crisis. He tirelessly dedicated himself to the Confederate war effort, raising troops and money and establishing a logistical structure and armament industry. When the Federal army occupied Middle and West Tennessee in 1862, he attached himself to the Confederate Army of Tennessee, served as a volunteer throughout the war and was considered a possible successor to Jefferson Davis should the new republic survive.

Elliott will present a picture of this overlooked leader, establishing him as the most prominent Tennessean in the Confederacy and a dominating player in nineteenth-century Tennessee politics, offering Isham used his political influence and constitutional power to trample on the state constitution to align Tennessee with the Confederacy.

An attorney in the Chattanooga area, Elliott is the immediate past president of the Tennessee Bar Association, a board member of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, a past president of the Friends of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and a member of the Society of Civil War Historians and the Historians of the Western Theater.

Elliott’s most recent book is Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator, published in 2010 by Louisiana State University Press as part of its prestigious Southern Biography Series. The book was the co-winner of the 2010 Tennessee History Book Award. He is also the author of Soldier of Tennessee: General Alexander P. Stewart and the Civil War in the West and editor of Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee: The Memoir and Civil War Diary of Charles Todd Quintard.