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Tennessee County Overwhelmingly Votes Down Plan to Raise Confederate Flag

The Greene County Commission voted 20-1 against a controversial resolution to fly the Confederate flag above the county courthouse on Monday evening.
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A Tennessee county voted overwhelmingly Monday night against a plan by one commissioner to raise the Confederate flag above the county's courthouse.

The Greene County Commission voted 20-1 against the controversial resolution, NBC station WBIR reported. The proposal suggested that the flag is a storied part of Tennessee history.

Ironically, however, historians say the county was actually a bastion of pro-Union support during the Civil War.

The proposal was sponsored by Commissioner James Randolph, who claimed that the flag is crucial to remembering the history of Greene County.

"Greene County recognizes and remembers those who fought for the South ... These Tennesseans' fought for what they believed to be right," the proposal reads. "These efforts of these men to persevere must not be forgotten and the Confederate Flag represents that heritage and history that our County should be proud of."

But according to Dr. Carroll Van West, Tennessee State Historian and Director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Greene County was predominantly Unionist during the Civil War.

The county was also the home to former President Andrew Johnson, a then Southern senator who remained loyal to the Union.

"Before the fighting began Unionists from across the state met in Greeneville at what became known as the Greeneville Convention of 1861, the largest and most important pro-Union meeting held in the state before the civil war began," Dr. Van West said.

Civil War monument to the Union soldiers on the Greene County courthouse grounds
Civil War monument to the Union soldiers on the Greene County courthouse groundsDr. Carroll West

The Greene County courthouse where the flag would have been raised is currently home to a Civil War monument on the courthouse grounds that are dedicated to Union Soldiers who enlisted in the army.

Some residents of Greene County have also spoken out against the controversial proposal, saying that the flag misrepresents the history of the county. In a letter to the editor published in the Greeneville Sun last week, retired historian Richard Hood wrote that Greene County was "profoundly anti-Confederate."

"Commissioner Randolph may not like this history, but it has the virtue of being factual. He should be celebrating Greene County's heritage of resistance to the Confederacy, not propping up a grotesque distortion of "history" that debases our true past and offends many, many of our own neighbors," Hood wrote.

Mayor of Greene County David Crum also came out against the contentious resolution in a letter to the community obtained by NBC News. He says the raising of the rebel banner has the potential to divide the community.

"If you want to embrace the Confederate flag as part of your heritage that's your decision. In my opinion it has no place being endorsed by a government entity," Crum wrote.