HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — This Fourth of July weekend, the folks in Scott County celebrate a history that's a bit more free and independent than the rest of Tennessee.
Back when the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, Tennessee was still 20 years from existing as a state. Therefore, Scott County may be the only place in Tennessee to ever declare its independence while aligned with the United States.
Scott County didn't declare independence from Britain. It declared independence from Tennessee and the Confederacy.
In 1861 when the rest of the South was separating from the United States at the start of the Civil War, Scott County remained U.S.A. all the way.
Counties across Tennessee voted locally on whether the state should separate from the Union. When the voting was complete in Scott County, 521 voted to remain in the United States with just 19 votes to secede.
When Tennessee ultimately seceded from the United States, the Scott County Court voted unanimously to secede from Tennessee. A messenger was sent to Nashville to inform the state government that the county was "then and henceforth to be known as the Free and Independent State of Scott" loyal to the Union.
Scott County was far from the only place in Tennessee supporting the Union during the Civil War. Most mountainous regions in Appalachia as well as Knoxville were decidedly loyal to the United States. But Scott County was the only one to actually split from Tennessee.
That said, the rest of the world saw the move as symbolic. Neither the Confederacy nor the Union treated Scott County as a separate state.
When the war was over, the State of Scott went seamlessly back to being a county in the Volunteer State. But it took around 125 years for anyone to make it official.
In 1986, Governor Lamar Alexander signed a resolution officially readmitting Scott County to Tennessee.
Now 34 years after re-joining the state, Scott County is likely the only place in Tennessee that can celebrate Independence Day as a location that declared its independence while never leaving the United States.
Read more on the history of the Free and Independent State of Scott at the secretary of state's Tri-Star Chronicles linked below.