I'm back and I have changed the format of my Web site. I hope you enjoyed the Christmas and New Year holidays. I had no luck fishing, but I had a good time trying to catch them. I changed my Web site to make it easier for me to post my material on Friday of each week. Most of what I had previously reported is still there, just in a different location of the page. It is now so easy to post that even a caveman man can do it. This week I bring your attention to the history of Tennessee <> my birth state. Please visit my site http://www.semperfidelisnoah.com/ every week and sign my Guest Book and let me know your thoughts. ~Noah
History of Tennessee
The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville has been the site of much of the State's history.
Tennessee is an American state and a constitutent part of the United States of America. It was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796.
The area now known as Tennessee was first settled by Paleo-Indians nearly 11,000 years ago. The names of the cultural groups that inhabited the area between first settlement and the time of European contact are unknown, but several distinct cultural phases have been named by archaeologists, including Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian whose chiefdoms were the cultural predecessors of the Muscogee people who inhabited the Tennessee River Valley prior to Cherokee migration into the river's headwaters.
European exploration and settlement
Discovery and interaction with native peoples
Government under North Carolina
In the days before statehood, Tennesseans struggled to gain a political voice and suffered for lack of the protection afforded by organized government. Six counties—Washington, Sullivan and Greene in East Tennessee and Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee in Middle Tennessee—had been formed as western counties of North Carolina between 1777 and 1788. After the American Revolution, however, North Carolina did not want the trouble and expense of maintaining such distant settlements, embroiled as they were with hostile tribesmen and needing roads, forts and open waterways. Nor could the far-flung settlers look to the national government, for under the weak, loosely constituted Articles of Confederation, it was a government in name only.
State of Franklin
When North Carolina finally ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1789, it also ceded its western lands, the Tennessee country, to the Federal government. North Carolina had used these lands as a means of rewarding its Revolutionary soldiers, and in the Cession Act of 1789, it reserved the right to satisfy further land claims in Tennessee. Congress designated the area as the Territory of the United States, South of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Southwest Territory. The territory was divided into three districts—two for East Tennessee and one for the Mero District on the Cumberland—each with its own courts, militia and officeholders.
President George Washington appointed William Blount as territorial governor. He was a prominent North Carolina politician with extensive holdings in western lands.
Admission to the Union
In 1795, a territorial census revealed a sufficient population for statehood, and a referendum showed a three-to-one majority in favor of joining the Union. Governor Blount called for a constitutional convention to meet in Knoxville, where delegates from all the counties drew up a model state constitution and democratic bill of rights. The voters chose Sevier as governor, and the newly elected legislature voted for Blount and William Cocke as Senators, and Andrew Jackson as Representative. Tennessee leaders thereby converted the territory into a new state, with organized government and constitution, before applying to Congress for admission. Since the Southwest Territory was the first Federal territory to present itself for admission to the Union, there was some uncertainty about how to proceed, and Congress was divided on the issue. Nonetheless, in a close vote on June 1, 1796, Congress approved the admission of Tennessee as the sixteenth state of the Union. Its borders were drawn by extending the northern and southern borders of North Carolina, with a few deviations, to the Mississippi River, Tennessee's western boundary.
The American Civil War, to a large extent, was fought in cities and farms of Tennessee—only Virginia had more battles.
In February 1861, fifty-four percent of the state’s voters voted against sending delegates to a secession convention. With the attack on Fort Sumter in April, however, followed by President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to coerce the seceded states back into line, public sentiment turned dramatically against the Union.
After Nashville was captured (the first Confederate state capital to fall) Andrew Johnson, an East Tennessean from Greeneville, was appointed military governor of the state by Lincoln. During this time, the military government abolished slavery. The Confederates continued to hold East Tennessee despite the strength of Unionist sentiment there, with the exception of pro-Confederate Sullivan County.
The Confederates besieged Chattanooga in early fall 1863 but were driven off by Grant in November. Many of the Confederate defeats can be attributed to the poor strategic vision of General Braxton Bragg, who led the Army of Tennessee from Shiloh to Confederate defeat at Chattanooga. The last major battles came when the Confederates invaded in November 1864 and were checked at Franklin, then totally destroyed by George Thomas at Nashville in December.
After the war, Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery on February 22, 1865; ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on July 18, 1866; and was the first state readmitted to the Union on July 24, 1866. Because it ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, Tennessee was the only state that seceded from the Union that did not have a military governor during Reconstruction. The Nashville Republican Bannerb on January 4, 1868, published an editorial calling for a revolutionary movement of white Southerners to unseat the one-party state rule of the Republican Party and restore the racial subjugation of the region's blacks. "In this State," the paper argued, "reconstruction has perfected itself and done its worst. It has organized a government which is as complete a closed corporation as may be found; it has placed the black man over the white as the agent and prime-move of domination; it has constructed a system of machinery by which all free guarantees, privileges and opportunities are removed from the people.... The impossibility of casting a free vote in Tennessee short of a revolutionary movement ... is an undoubted fact." The Banner urged readers to ignore the presidential election and instead put energies into building "a local movement here at home" that would end Republican rule. [cited in Harcourt 2005]
Alvin C. York
Tennessee became the focus of national attention during the campaign for women’s voting rights. Women?s suffrage, like the temperance movement, was an issue with its roots in middle-class reform efforts of the late 1800s.
The organized movement came of age with the founding of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association in 1906. Despite a determined (and mostly female) opposition, Tennessee suffragists were moderate in their tactics and gained limited voting rights before the national question arose. In 1920, Governor Albert Roberts called a special session of the General Assembly to consider ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Leaders of the rival groups flooded into Nashville to lobby the General Assembly. In a close House vote, the suffrage amendment won passage when an East Tennessee legislator, Harry Burn, switched sides after receiving a telegram from his mother encouraging him to support ratification. Tennessee thereby became the pivotal state that in approving the Nineteenth Amendment. Women immediately made their presence felt by swinging Tennessee to Warren Harding in the 1920 presidential election—the first time the state had voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1868.
Further national attention came Tennessee’s way during the trial of John T. Scopes, the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial.”
In 1925, the General Assembly, as part of a general education bill, passed a law that forbade the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Some local boosters in Dayton, Tennessee concocted a scheme to have Scopes, a high school biology teacher, violate the law and stand trial as a way of drawing publicity and visitors to the town. Their plan worked all too well, as the Rhea County Courthouse was turned into a circus of national and even international media coverage. Thousands flocked to Dayton to witness the high-powered legal counsel (William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution, and Clarence Darrow for the defense, argue their case. Tennessee was ridiculed in the northeast and West Coast press as the “Monkey State,” even as a wave of revivals defending religious fundamentalism swept the state. The legal outcome of the trial was inconsequential: Scopes was convicted and fined $100, a penalty later rescinded by the state court of appeals (although the law itself remained on the books until 1967). More important was the law’s symbolic importance: it was an expression of the anxiety felt by Tennessee’s rural people over the threat to their traditional religious culture posed by modern science.
Country music birthplace
Ironically, at the very time that Tennessee’s rural culture was under attack by sophisticated, urban critics, its music found a national audience. In 1925, WSM, a powerful Nashville radio station, began broadcasting a weekly program of live music which soon was dubbed the “Grand Ole Opry.” Such music came in diverse forms: banjo-and-fiddle string bands of Appalachia, family gospel singing groups, and country vaudeville acts like that of Murfreesboro native Uncle Dave Macon. Still the longest-running radio program in American history, the Opry used the new technology of radio to tap into a huge market for “old time” or “hillbilly” music. Two years after the Opry’s opening, in a series of landmark sessions at Bristol, Tennessee, field scouts of the Victor Company recorded Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to produce the first nationally popular rural records. Tennessee thus emerged as the heartland of traditional country music—home to many of the performers as well as the place from which it was broadcast to the nation.
The Great Depression and TVA
TVA had an impact on the lives of nearly all Tennesseans. The
World War II
World War II brought relief to Tennessee by employing ten percent of the state’s populace (308,199 men and women) in the armed services. Most of those who remained on farms and in cities worked on war-related production, since Tennessee received war orders amounting to $1.25 billion. Tennessee military personnel served with distinction from Pearl Harbor to the final, bloody assaults at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and 7,000 died in combat during the war. In 1942-43, Middle Tennessee residents played host to 28 Army divisions that swarmed over the countryside on maneuvers preparing for the D-Day invasion. Tennesseans participated in all phases of the war—from combat to civilian administration to military research. Cordell Hull served twelve years as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of State and became one of the chief architects of the United Nations, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
War-based industries hummed with the labor of a greatly enlarged workforce. A giant shell-loading plant was built at Milan, as well as the Vultee Aircraft works in Nashville; TVA projects also expanded in East Tennessee. Approximately 33% of the state’s workers were female by the end of the war. Especially significant for the war effort was Tennessee’s role in the Manhattan Project, the military’s top secret project to build an atomic weapon. Research and production work for the first A-bombs were conducted at the huge scientific/industrial installation at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Oak Ridge community was entirely a creation of the war: it grew from empty woods in 1941 to a city of 70,000 (Tennessee’s fifth largest) four years later.