Brief History of Tennessee

By | May 19, 2022

Population: 6 403.353 thousand people (2011)
Area: 109151.0 sq. km

According to, the state of Tennessee is located in the east of the United States and is the state of the so-called Southeast Center. The first inhabitants of this territory appeared here at least 12,000 years ago, and they belonged to the following cultures: archaic, forest and Mississippian, which are the predecessors of the Muskogee Indians, who were located in the Tennessee River valley before the arrival of the Cherokee tribes.

The Spaniards were the first Europeans to visit these places. They turned out to be conquistadors led by Hernando de Soto and it happened in 1540. It is likely that it was their appearance that led to the extinction of the Muscogee tribe, who had not previously known European diseases.

Fort Loudon, located in the east of the state, is the first European settlement founded by the British. In 1760, the Indians captured Loudon, but within ten years the valley was completely developed by the colonists. By the end of the decade, a permanent white population reappears here, but the Cherokee Indians do not cease to actively resist colonization. By 1780, the Europeans were holding out only on the Virginian frontier, which was the center of the struggle with both the Indians and the British. In the mid-1780s, the western part of North Carolina and Watagua separated from the United States, but after 4 years they reunited with North Carolina. As a state, Tennessee did not form until 1796. Cherokee Indians were evicted to Arkansasonly by the 1830s, when the colonization of the western territories ended.

Tennessee acted as the epicenter of the fighting, being on the side of the South during the Civil War. On February 22, 1865, constitutional amendments were passed to outlaw slavery.

The 1920s are remembered by Tennessee for the birth of the “country” musical style. To this day, the state hosts the largest festivals of this direction in music, and Nashville is the “Music City”. In March 1968, the most famous Baptist minister, Martin Luther King, was assassinated in Memphis. Not far from this city, in the Graceland estate in the 60-70s of the XX century, the most popular singer, Elvis Presley, lived. Here he died in 1977. Today, Graceland is a US National Historic Landmark.


Population: 132,000 thousand people (2010)
Area: 247.4 sq. km
Founded: 1785
Time zone: UTC-5, summer UTC-4

The city of Clarksville is located in northern Tennessee, in the borough (county) of Montgomery. The city lies in a bend of the Cumberland River at its confluence with the Red River. See Tennessee counties.

The pre-colonial history of the settlement of the district began 11 thousand years ago. At least the oldest human traces in these places indicate this age. Muskogee and Cherokee lived here immediately before the arrival of Europeans. They were forced to leave their lands at the end of the 18th century and move to the west along the so-called “Road of Tears”. Two centuries earlier, the expedition of Hernando de Soto visited here, but did not have a significant impact on the life of the indigenous peoples. Intensive colonization began only in the 18th century.

Clarksville was founded in 1780 on the site of a French trading post by settlers from eastern Tennessee. The settlement was named after the American Revolutionary War hero George R. Clark. In 1785, Clarksville became the first Tennessee town to receive city rights. Before the Civil War, the city’s economy was focused on the production and sale of agricultural products. In modern Clarksville, there are large industrial enterprises in the engineering and chemical industries. Not far from the city is the Fort Campbell Air Force Base, Clarksville’s largest employer.

The city has enough interesting places to arouse the tourist’s “appetite”. Clarksville has some great parks, notably the Arboretum and Port Royal Park. Not far from Clarksville there is a complex of Dunbar karst caves (13 kilometers of underground passages), surrounded by a picturesque park.

Architectural landmarks include the L&N train station (1901), Ringold’s Old Mill (1810), and the county courthouse. The most significant cultural leisure facilities are represented by the Roxy Theatre, a museum and a cultural center in the former customs building. In the Southside area (a suburb of Clarksville) there is an open-air museum, where a typical Tennessee settlement of the late 18th – early 19th century is reconstructed.


Population: 677,000 thousand people (2007)
Area: 763.4 sq. km
Founded: 1819
Time zone: UTC-6, summer UTC-5
Altitude: 103 m

Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee. It is located in the southwestern part of the state, on the border with two states – Mississippi and Arkansas. Memphis proper lies at the confluence of the Wolf River with the Mississippi. The urban agglomeration also includes settlements in neighboring states. Memphis is connected to Arkansas by four bridges, one of which is the Hernando de Soto Bridge, a modern symbol of the city.

Prior to colonization, the Memphis area was inhabited by the Chickasaw tribes. In the 16th century, the expedition of the Spaniard Hernando de Soto penetrated here. Later, the territory is explored by the French. The settlement was founded in 1819, and was named after the capital of ancient Egypt, Memphis. The town grew due to its favorable location. Local plantations of cotton and other crops required a large amount of labor, so Memphis was at one time the largest slave market in the American South. The city met the Civil War as part of the Confederation, but in 1862 it was recaptured by the “northerners”, who turned Memphis into a supply base.

In the 20th century, Memphis developed into the cotton capital of the world. There was also a flourishing timber trade, and in the 1950s, the largest mule market was located here. However, Memphis has a very high crime rate, both in Tennessee and in the United States as a whole. For example, Martin Luther King’s son was killed in Memphis.

However, the city has something to boast of culturally. In the 1950s, Memphis became the capital of the blues and nascent rock and roll. The stars of that time are somehow connected with Memphis: Johnny Cash, BB King, Madi Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and, of course, the “King” himself – Elvis Presley. Not surprisingly, the city hosts many music festivals, the most famous of which is Bill Street. In addition, Memphis hosts the multi-day Cotton Carnival and the World BBQ Championship.

There are few ancient architectural sights in Memphis. Basically, they are represented by places of worship and some administrative buildings. However, there are museums, parks, sports arenas. The archaeological sites include the Indian village of Chukalisa, which includes museum expositions, reconstructions of the settlement and burial mounds.

Brief History of Tennessee