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Three groups of
Native Americans lived in the Tennessee region when European settlers
first visited the area. Cherokee claimed Middle Tennessee for hunting, Chickasaw
lived in West Tennessee, and Creek lived in the southeastern region.
the end of the 1600s, both England and France claimed land in North
America that included Tennessee. This
eventually led to the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris surrendered all French land east of
the Mississippi to England. The Tennessee region became part of the English colony North
settlement began in Tennessee during the early 1770s. In 1775, the Transylvania Company bought a large region of
land from the Cherokee. The
famous Wilderness Road was soon created and became the main route from
Virginia to the new settlements. In
1779 settlers of Fort Nashborough (now Nashville) established government
representation for the area by writing the Cumberland Compact.
the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), a group from Tennessee led by John
Sevier helped the American army win the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Several Indian battles were also fought at this same time in the
Tennessee region. When help
did not come from North Carolina, some of the counties in East Tennessee
revolted and formed their own government. North Carolina eventually gained back control, but gave the
land to the federal government in 1789.
June 1, 1796, Tennessee had a large enough population to become the 16th
state of the Union. It was
the first state to be created out of a government territory. During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson led Tennessee’s
voluntary troops to defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans.
He later became President of the U.S. in 1828 and the state
became known as the volunteer state.
1840, most of the Native Americans had been forced to leave Tennessee.
Many traveled the “Trail of Tears” to what would become
Oklahoma. Tennessee grew
quickly as settlers flocked to the state to grow cotton, tobacco and
corn. Railroads expanded
throughout the area.
divided the nation during the late 1850s.
Several southern states seceded from the Union that led to the
Civil War (1861-1865). After
the war began, Tennessee became the last of eleven states to secede from
the Union. More than 200
battles took place in Tennessee, the bloodiest being the Battle of
Shiloh in 1862. Over 10,000
Confederates and 13,000 Union soldiers died when Confederate troops
tried to stop Union soldiers from going into Mississippi.
Confederacy surrendered on April 9, 1865, only days before the
assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Vice-president Andrew Johnson of Tennessee became President of
the United States. After
some controversy, Tennessee was the first state to be readmitted to the
Union in July 1866.
was a difficult period for Tennessee.
Much of the state was destroyed and thousands were left
unemployed and homeless. Plantation
owners were forced to divide into smaller farms.
Political unrest led to secret societies like the Klu Klux Klan.
the early 1900s, Tennessee was growing again.
Manufacturing and mining industries increased greatly, providing
jobs for some of the unemployed. During
the Great Depression (1929-1939) the economy dropped dramatically,
closing factories and making thousands unemployed.
In 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was organized to
conserve and develop natural resources.
Many found jobs building dams on Tennessee rivers.
1941, the federal government built the Oak Ridge National Laboratories.
This atomic energy plant helped to develop the atomic bomb that
ended World War II (1939-1945). After the war, the TVA continued to build dam and steam
plants throughout the state. This
encouraged new industries into Tennessee from neighboring states.
Tennessee’s economy became one of the fastest growing economies
in the South.
1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools
illegal. Desegregation of
Tennessee began in Clinton in 1956.
The National Guard was sent to enforce the new law.
the 1960s, many large diverse industries have moved to Tennessee.
Manufacturing, banking and business, medical, tourism and
entertainment, along with the agriculture industry have kept
Tennessee’s economy steady. Nashville
has developed a multi-billion dollar country music industry, complete
with the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Elvis’ home Graceland has become the most visited celebrity
museum in the country.