Looney's Tavern, 2010, HD video, 2 minutes 33 seconds
A video talking about the convention at Looney’s Tavern where Winston County Alabama said they could secede from the Confederacy if Alabama could secede from the United States.
The date was July 4th, 1861. The place was Looney’s Tavern in Winston County Alabama. A crowd of between 2500 and 3,000 people from a dozen north Alabama counties and some from as far away as Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi were there. Tom Curtis, Chairman for the committee on resolutions was reading for the meeting the almost unanimous wishes of those assembled.
The resolutions were:
First: We commend the honorable Chris Sheets and the other representatives who stood with him for their loyalty and fidelity to the people whom they represented in voting against secession, first, last, and all of the time.
Second: "We agree with Jackson that no state can legally get out of the Union, but if we are mistaken in this, and a state can lawfully and legally secede or withdraw, then a county, any county, being part of the state, by the same process of reasoning, could cease to be a part of the state."
According to witnesses, a Confederate sympathizer in the crowd, upon hearing the resolution, shouted, "Ho! Ho! Winston secedes! The Free State of Winston! The Free State of Winston!"
Third: We think our neighbors in the South made a mistake when they bolted the convention and the Democratic Party, resulting in the election of Mr. Lincoln and that they made a greater mistake when they attempted to secede and set up a new government. We, however, do not desire to see our neighbors in the South suffer wrong, and, therefore, we are not going to take up arms against them; but on the other hand, we are not going to shoot at the flag of our fathers’, Old Glory, the flag of Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson. Therefore, we ask the Confederacy on the one hand and the Union on the other to leave us alone, unmolested, that we may work out our own political and financial destiny here in these hills and mountains of North Alabama.
Unfortunately, this neutrality was not to last. As the war dragged on and the South became desperate for troops the home guard was ruthless in its pursuit of conscripts. Many had to flee to behind Union lines or risk fates as horrific as skinning. Neighbors turned against each other in a microcosm reflective of the rest of the war. The county’s representative, Chris Sheets, spent the majority of the war in prison in Montgomery for refusing to sign the secession decree.
I knew about the convention at Looney’s Tavern when I was growing up nearby, my ancestors were even friends with the Looney family around the time of Civil War, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I became proud of what these people had stood for and what they had endured.