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Free Traveling Guides » States » Tennessee

History of Tennessee

Tennessee, situated in Southern United States, was first inhabited by the Paleo-Indians nearly 11,000 years ago. Several other cultural groups, including the Yuchi, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and the Muscogee people, also settled in the area prior to the arrival of the European explorers. Spanish explorers, led by Hernando De Soto, were the first Europeans to explore this area in 1539-43. The Dragging Canoe and his militaristic group of Cherokee aligned with the British Loyalists and attacked Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals early during the American Revolutionary War, in 1776. However, the British Army was later defeated at the Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina.

In the late 1780s, nearly 8 counties of western North Carolina separated from it and joined together to form the State of Franklin. This region was ceded to the federal government in 1790 and was later organized into the Southwest Territory of Tennessee. The “Avery’s Race” or “The Wilderness Road” was constructed to encourage settlers to move west into this new territory. Tennessee was finally added to the Union as the 16th state in the year 1796. Another significant historical event took place in 1838-39, during the presidency of the U. S. President Martin Van Buren, when over 17,000 Cherokees were forced to abandon their homes and move from the "emigration depots" in Eastern Tennessee to the more distant Indian Territory, west of Arkansas. More than 4,000 Cherokees died on the way, during this relocation. This event is popularly known as Nunna daul Isunyi—"the Trail Where We Cried."

Tennessee separated from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America on June 8, 1861. The state also played an integral role during the American Civil War. Several major battles of the War were fought in Tennessee. The legislature of Tennessee endorsed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on April 7, 1865, abolishing slavery in every state. It was on August 18, 1920 that the state of Tennessee ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, providing women the rights to vote. The state grew rapidly and observed a great deal of industrial development in the late 20th century.

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