“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Parrottsville in Cocke County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Johnson's Parrottsville Slaves

Origin of Tennessee Emancipation Day

Johnson's Parrottsville Slaves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, January 29, 2016
1. Johnson's Parrottsville Slaves Marker
Inscription. In 1842, state senator Andrew Johnson, a resident of neighboring Greene County, purchased his first slave here in Parrottsville. Her name was Dolly, and she was fourteen. Her son claimed that she approached Johnson and asked him to buy her because she "liked his looks." Johnson later bought Dolly's half-brother, Sam. In 1857 he acquired another boy, thirteen-year-old Henry.

When Tennessee seceded in 1861, Andrew Johnson (by then a United States senator) remained loyal to the Union. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of the state in March 1862. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves only in states still in rebellion on January 1, 1863. Tennessee, although it had seceded, was considered under Union control and therefore exempt from the Proclamation's provisions. Johnson, nonetheless, freed his own slaves on August 8, 1863. He followed his personal action with an official proclamation on October 24, 1864, declaring all Tennessee slaves to be free.

After Johnson liberated Dolly and Sam, they took his surname as their own. Dolly Johnson had three children, Liz, Florence, and William. Sam Johnson and his wife Margaret had nine children. Dolly Johnson lived with her son William in Andrew Johnson's former tailor shop in Greeneville, where they baked and sold pies. In 1937, William Johnson met President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who presented him a silver-headed cane.

Beginning in 1875, African Americans in this area observed August 8 as Emancipation Day. Now the date officially marks Tennessee's commemoration of Andrew Johnson's decision to bestow the dignity of freedom on his Parrottsville slaves.

Johnson's Parrottsville Slaves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, January 29, 2016
2. Johnson's Parrottsville Slaves Marker

Erected 2015 by
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 36° 0.509′ N, 83° 5.412′ W. Marker is in Parrottsville, Tennessee, in Cocke County. Marker is at the intersection of Tennessee Route 340 and Old Hwy 321, on the right when traveling north on State Route 340. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Parrottsville TN 37843, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Hanging of Peter Reece (approx. 0.2 miles away); Swaggerty Fort (approx. 1.2 miles away); The War Ford (approx. 6.1 miles away); Kiffin Yates Rockwell (approx. 6.2 miles away); Governor Ben Walter Hooper (approx. 7.7 miles away); John Floyd Arrowood (approx. 7.9 miles away); Bright Hope Industries (approx. 8.8 miles away); Grace Moore (approx. 9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Parrottsville.
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansWar, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 6, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 332 times since then and 77 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 6, 2016, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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