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Tennessee Description

hernando de soto The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first visited the Tennessee area in 1540, and quickly claimed the land for Spain. This uninvited intrusion into the ancestral homeland of Native Americans would eventually prove disastrous for the Cherokee Indians and other indigenous tribes.

In their continuing search for gold and silver in the Americas, Spanish expeditions returned again and again, but they searched in vain for treasure. By the middle of the 17th century, after French and English explorations, both nations claimed this land as their own.

As European settlers from the original thirteen colonies gradually spread west, small communities were established in the northeast, along the North Carolina border. As a few hundred hardy pioneers reached the area now called Nashville, Indians were being summarily squeezed out of what was rightfully theirs, and they would eventually be forced to move further south and west just to survive.

During the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763), Great Britain defeated France and their Native American allies, thus taking control of a vast area of North America, including present day Tennessee. As the American Revolutionary War played out across the eastern colonies, west of the Appalachian Mountains, colonists against Native Americans, the British, and their loyalist supporters fought that war.

patrick ferguson In 1780, at the Battle of King's Mountain in North Carolina, Tennessee militiamen overwhelmed the loyalist militia led by British Major Patrick Ferguson, and helped turn the tide of the Revolution War in the South. At war's end, hundreds of Revolutionary War veterans and their families streamed backed into Tennessee.

In the late 1780's, a few counties in western North Carolina broke off and formed the State of Franklin. This fractured area tried to join the Union, but failed. Eventually North Carolina, after joining the Union, ceded that land to the federal government in 1790, after which it was officially organized into the Southwest Territory, land collectively corresponding to modern-day Tennessee.

In 1795, there were enough people in the Southwest Territory to petition for statehood. Then Governor Blount (appointed by George Washington) convened a constitutional convention and its delegates drafted a state constitution. The Southwest Territory was the first federal territory to petition to join the Union; after some conflicting opinions in the U.S. Congress, Tennessee was finally admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796 as the 16th state.

In 1838, as the population of Tennessee continued to grow and demand for land increased, U.S. President Martin Van Buren ordered nearly 17,000 Cherokees uprooted from their ancestral homes in Tennessee. They were subsequently forced by the U.S. military to move to Indian Territories west of Arkansas. During that brutal relocation march, an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died along the way.

Slavery and States' Rights long fueled the desire for independence across the south. By February of 1861, six southern states had already seceded from the Union, and Tennessee joined them on June 8, 1861. Although Tennessee joined the Confederacy there was much pro-Union sentiment in the state.

robert e lee "There is a terrible war coming, and these young men who have never seen war cannot wait for it to happen, but I tell you, I wish that I owned every slave in the South, for I would free them all to avoid this war." Robert E. Lee.

Tennessee is aptly called "The Volunteer State," as in the Civil War, it distinguished itself with military leadership, and by the brave, unwavering exploits of its native sons.

Tennessee Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Oak Ridge Anderson 865
Shelbyville Bedford 931
Camden Benton 731
Pikeville Bledsoe 423
Maryville Blount 865
Cleveland Bradley 423
La Follette Campbell 423
Woodbury Cannon 615
McKenzie Carroll 731
Elizabethton Carter 423
Ashland City Cheatham 615
Henderson Chester 731
Tazewell Claiborne 423
Celina Clay 931
Newport Cocke 423
Manchester Coffee 931
Bells Crockett 731
Crossville Cumberland 931
Nashville Davidson 615
Parsons Decatur 731
Smithville DeKalb 615
Dickson Dickson 615
Dyersburg Dyer 731
Somerville Fayette 901
Jamestown Fentress 931
Winchester Franklin 931
Humboldt Gibson 731
Pulaski Giles 931
Rutledge Grainger 865
Greeneville Greene 423
Tracy City Grundy 931
Morristown Hamblen 423
Chattanooga Hamilton 423
Sneedville Hancock 423
Bolivar Hardeman 731
Savannah Hardin 731
Rogersville Hawkins 423
Brownsville Haywood 731
Lexington Henderson 731
Paris Henry 731
Centerville Hickman 931
Erin Houston 931
Waverly Humphreys 931
Gainesboro Jackson 931
Dandridge Jefferson 865
Mountain City Johnson 423
Knoxville Knox 865
Tiptonville Lake 731
Ripley Lauderdale 731
Lawrenceburg Lawrence 931
Hohenwald Lewis 931
Fayetteville Lincoln 931
Lenoir City Loudon 865
Lafayette Macon 615
Jackson Madison 731
Whitwell Marion 423
Lewisburg Marshall 931
Columbia Maury 931
Athens McMinn 423
Selmer McNairy 731
Decatur Meigs 423
Madisonville Monroe 423
Clarksville Montgomery 931
Lynchburg Moore 931
Wartburg Morgan 423
Union City Obion 731
Livingston Overton 931
Linden Perry 931
Byrdstown Pickett 931
Benton Polk 423
Cookeville Putnam 931
Dayton Rhea 423
Harriman Roane 865
Springfield Robertson 615
Murfreesboro Rutherford 615
Oneida Scott 423
Dunlap Sequatchie 423
Sevierville Sevier 865
Memphis Shelby 901
Carthage Smith 615
Dover Stewart 931
Kingsport Sullivan 423
Hendersonville Sumner 615
Covington Tipton 901
Hartsville Trousdale 615
Erwin Unicoi 423
Maynardville Union 865
Spencer Van Buren 931
McMinnville Warren 931
Johnson City Washington 423
Waynesboro Wayne 931
Martin Weakley 731
Sparta White 931
Franklin Williamson 615
Lebanon Wilson 615

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.