Tennessee was inhabited early by the Muscogee and Yuchi people long before it was ever a state at all. For unknown reasons many of these people moved or died out soon after their first contact with Europeans. They were replaced by the Cherokee who expanded into Tennessee from the Virginia areas. As the Europeans crossed the Appalachian Mountains and colonized the Tennessee area the tribes were displaced including the remaining Muscogee and Yuchi.
Tennessee became a state in 1796. Between 1838 and 1839, thousands of Cherokee and the black slaves that they owned were forcibly relocated to the Arkansas territory from Tennessee by the federal government. Tennessee became half slave and half free over the first half of the 19th century. By the time of the United States Civil War, Tennessee was sharply divided. They finally did secede with the rest of the south, providing more soldiers to the Confederate army than any other state. But they also provided more union soldiers than any other southern state. Tennessee was the first state re-united with the north after the civil war.
Until the early 1900’s Tennessee was mostly agrarian, but the Great Depression and World War II era changed the state and brought in industry, including the Manhattan Project, which created the world’s first nuclear bombs. During these years too, racial relations deteriorated, and groups like the Ku Klux Klan were revitalized. Eventually Tennessee became one of the states at the center of the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. Today Tennessee’s major industries are textiles, cotton, cattle and electrical energy.
Tennessee Map Exploration
Color a Tennessee Map.
Tennessee Fabulous Facts
- Tennessee is known as the volunteer state because of their major force and contribution to the battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
- The town of Greeneville has a monument honoring both confederate and union soldiers.
- Famous Tennesseans: Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, Sam Huston, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Casey Jones, Sequoyah, Alvin York, Al Gore, and Dolly Parton.
- The largest earthquake in recorded American history happened in 1811 in Tennessee.
- Nashville is the site of the Grand Ole Opry.
- Great Smokey Mountains National Park is the most popular National Park in the US in terms of numbers of visitors.
- The architect of the state capitol building, William Strickland, died during the construction and is buried in the walls.
- 82% of the people of Tennessee are Christian, most of the rest are non-religious.
- The state sales tax is one of the highest in the nation, but income tax is only assessed on incomes from investments and not on salaries or wages.
- The state is politically moderate, with a slight conservative edge. Before the civil rights era and extension of voting rights, rich white men controlled the state and voted Democrat. Since then the state has tended to go Republican in presidential elections.
- Voting in the south, including Tennessee, was often controlled through a poll tax. Find out about poll taxes and how they can be used to manipulate elections.
- Learn about the Manhattan Project the development of nuclear technology.
- Learn more about one of the famous people of Tennessee and do a biography report on them.