Isham Green Harris (February 10, 1818 – July 8, 1897) was an American politician who served as Governor of Tennessee from 1857 to 1862, and as a U.S.
Senator from 1877 until his death.
He was the state's first governor from West Tennessee.
A pivotal figure in the state's history, Harris was considered by his contemporaries the person most responsible for leading Tennessee out of the Union and aligning it with the Confederacy during the Civil War.Harris rose to prominence in state politics in the late 1840s when he campaigned against the anti-slavery initiatives of northern Whigs.
He was elected governor amidst rising sectional strife in the late 1850s, and following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, persistently sought to sever the state's ties with the Union.
His war-time efforts eventually raised over 100,000 soldiers for the Confederate cause.
After the Union Army gained control of Middle and West Tennessee in 1862, Harris spent the remainder of the war on the staffs of various Confederate generals.
Following the war, he spent several years in exile in Mexico and England.After returning to Tennessee, Harris became a leader of the state's Bourbon Democrats.
During his tenure in the U.
Senate, he championed states' rights and currency expansion.
As the Senate's president pro tempore in the 1890s, Harris led the charge against President Grover Cleveland's attempts to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.