The Governor of Tennessee when South Carolina seceded from the Union was Isham Green Harris. Elected in 1857, Harris urged secession after the November 1860 election named Abraham Lincoln president. Voters in Tennessee initially rejected the idea of secession, especially in the eastern part of the state. When the Tennessee general assembly finally passed an ordinance of independence and alliance with the Confederacy, Harris prevented the separation of East Tennessee and its alliance with the Union. Tennessee was the last state to secede, joining the Confederate States of America on June 8, 1861.
Harris remained governor until he was forced to flee the state in 1862 after the fall of Nashville. Harris volunteered to serve the Confederacy as an aide-de-camp and participated in all of the major battles fought in Tennessee and by the Army of the West except Perryville. When Lee surrendered, Harris fled to Mexico City fearing retribution from the Union victors. In 1867 he moved to Memphis where he again practiced law.
Harris was born in Tullahoma, Tennessee on February 10, 1818. After attending public aschols and Winchester Academy he moved to Paris, Tennessee and worked as a merchandise store clerk. He moved to Mississippi to study law, passed the bar in 1841 and returned to Paris, Tennessee to practice. He had a long political career before dying in Washington D. C. in 1897.
He was a Democrat and his political career began when he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 1847, the U.S. House of Representatives in 1849 serving until 1853, Governor of Tennessee from 1857 until 1862 (3 terms), and the U. S. Senate from 1877 until his death in 1897.
Serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from March 4, 1859 to March 4, 1861 for the 8th Congressional District of Tennessee was James Minor Quarles from the Opposition Party. The 8th Congressional District in 1860 covered the northwestern part of the state and included the present day counties of Lake, Henry, Weakley, Obion, and Stewart. Quarles was born in Virginia in 1823, moving to Kentucky in 1833. He was an attorney admitted to the bar in 1845 and practiced in Clarksville, Tennessee. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army under his brother, Brig. Gen. W. A. Quarles, until the end of the war. He then moved to Nashville in 1872 continuing to practice law. He died in Nashville on March 3, 1901.