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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Tennessee

State History

People have been living in the land that is Tennessee for thousands of years. Archeologists believe that the Mound Builders lived in the area up until the 1500s. Several of the tall mounds built by these people can still be seen.


Smoky Mountains
The Great Smokey Mountains by Aviator31

Native Americans

Before the Europeans arrived in Tennessee, the land was settled by the Cherokee and Chickasaw Native American tribes. The Cherokee lived in the eastern part of Tennessee and built permanent homes. The Chickasaw lived to the west and were more of a nomadic tribe, moving often.

Europeans Arrive

The first European to arrive in Tennessee was Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. He claimed the land for Spain, but it would be over 100 years later until Europeans began to settle the area.

In 1714, Charles Charleville built a small fort in Tennessee called Fort Lick. He traded furs with the local Indian tribes for many years. This area would eventually become the city of Nashville.

After the French and Indian War in 1763 between France and Britain, Britain took control of the land. They made it part of the colony of North Carolina. At the same time, they made a law that said colonists could not settle west of the Appalachian Mountains.


Nashville skyline
Nashville, Tennessee by Kaldari

Colonizing Tennessee

Despite the British law, colonists began to settle in Tennessee. It was a land rich with furs and open land. The city of Nashborough was founded in 1779. It would later become Nashville, the capital city. People moved into the Tennessee frontier and the land became more and more settled over the next several years.

Becoming a State

After the Revolutionary War, Tennessee became part of the United States. Eastern Tennessee became the State of Franklin in 1784, but this only lasted until 1788. In 1789, Tennessee became a U.S. Territory and on June 1, 1796 Congress made Tennessee the 16th state of the United States.

Civil War

When the Civil War broke out between the Union and the Confederacy in 1861, Tennessee was divided on which side to join. Eventually they decided to secede. Tennessee became the last southern state to join the Confederacy in June of 1861. Men from Tennessee went to fight on both sides of the war including 187,000 to the Confederacy and 51,000 to the Union.

A number of major Civil War battles were fought in Tennessee including the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Chattanooga, and the Battle of Nashville. The Union had control over much of Tennessee by the end of the war and, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, it was Andrew Johnson from Tennessee who became president.

Country Music

In the 1920s, Nashville, Tennessee became known for country music. The Grand Old Opry music show began to broadcast on the radio and became very popular. Since then, Nashville has been the country music capital of the world with the nickname "Music City."


The Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry from the US Department of Defense

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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