History and Information
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. Tennessee
is the 36th most extensive and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States.
Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to
the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and
Missouri to the west. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of
the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border.
Tennessee's capital and second largest city is Nashville, which has a
population of 626,144. Memphisis the state's largest city, with a population of
The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier
pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the
Appalachians. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina,
and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union
as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the
Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861,
and the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.
Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state,
and more soldiers for the Union Army than any other Southern state. Tennessee
has seen some of the nation's worst racial strife, from the formation of the
Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski in 1866 to the assassination of Martin Luther King in
Memphis in 1968. In the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from an agrarian
economy to a more diversified economy, aided at times by federal entities such
as the Tennessee Valley Authority. In the early 1940s, Oak Ridge, Tennessee was
established to house the Manhattan Project's uranium enrichment facilities,
helping to build the world's first atomic bomb.
Tennessee has played a critical role in the development of rock and roll and
early blues music. Beale Street in Memphis is considered by many to be the
birthplace of the blues, with musicians such as W.C. Handy performing in its
clubs as early as 1909. Memphis was also home to Sun Records, where musicians
such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison,
and Charlie Rich began their recording careers, and where rock and roll took
shape in the 1950s. The 1927 Victor recording sessions in Bristol generally
mark the beginning of the country music genre, and the rise of the Grand Ole
Opry in the 1930s helped make Nashville the center of the country music
Tennessee's major industries include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.
Poultry, soybeans, and cattle are the state's primary agricultural products,
and major manufacturing exports include chemicals, transportation equipment,
and electrical equipment. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation's
most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state,
and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North
Carolina border. Other major tourist attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium
in Chattanooga, the Sunsphere in Knoxville, and Elvis Presley's Graceland in
Tennessee borders eight other states: Kentucky and Virginia to the north; North
Carolina to the east; Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi on the south; Arkansas
and Missouri on the Mississippi River to the west. Tennessee ties Missouri as
the state bordering the most other states. The state is trisected by the
The highest point in the state is Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet (2,025 m).
Clingmans Dome, which lies on Tennessee's eastern border, is the highest point
on the Appalachian Trail. The state line between Tennessee and North Carolina
crosses the summit. The lowest point is the Mississippi River at the
Mississippi state line. The geographical center of the state is located in
The state of Tennessee is geographically and legally divided into three Grand
Divisions: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. The state
constitution allows no more than two justices of the five-member Tennessee
Supreme Court to be from one Grand Division and a similar rule applies to
certain commissions and boards. Tennessee features six principal physiographic
regions: the Blue Ridge, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, the
Cumberland Plateau, the Highland Rim, the Nashville Basin, and the Gulf Coastal
Plain. Tennessee is home to the most caves in the United States, with over
8,350 caves registered to date.
The Blue Ridge area lies on the eastern edge of Tennessee, bordering North
Carolina. This region of Tennessee is characterized by the high mountains and
rugged terrain of the western Blue Ridge Mountains, which are subdivided into
several subranges, namely the Great Smoky Mountains, the Bald Mountains, the
Unicoi Mountains, the Unaka Mountains and Roan Highlands, and the Iron Mountains.
The average elevation of the Blue Ridge area is 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea
level. Clingmans Dome, the state's highest point, is located in this region.
The Blue Ridge area was never more than sparsely populated, and today much of
it is protected by the Cherokee National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, and several federal wilderness areas and state parks.
Stretching west from the Blue Ridge for approximately 55 miles (89 km) is the
Ridge and Valley region, in which numerous tributaries join to form the
Tennessee River in the Tennessee Valley. This area of Tennessee is covered by
fertile valleys separated by wooded ridges, such as Bays Mountain and Clinch
Mountain. The western section of the Tennessee valley, where the depressions
become broader and the ridges become lower, is called the Great Valley. In this
valley are numerous towns and two of the region's three urban areas, Knoxville,
the 3rd largest city in the state, and Chattanooga, the 4th largest city in the
The Cumberland Plateau rises to the west of the Tennessee Valley; this area is
covered with flat-topped mountains separated by sharp valleys. The elevation of
the Cumberland Plateau ranges from 1,500 to over 2,000 feet (450 to over 600 m)
above sea level.
West of the Cumberland Plateau is the Highland Rim, an elevated plain that
surrounds the Nashville Basin. The northern section of the Highland Rim, known
for its high tobacco production, is sometimes called the Pennyroyal Plateau; it
is located primarily in Southwestern Kentucky. The Nashville Basin is
characterized by rich, fertile farm country and great diversity of natural
Middle Tennessee was a common destination of settlers' crossing the Appalachians
from Virginia in the late 18th century and early 19th century. An important
trading route called the Natchez Trace, created and used for many generations
by Native Americans, connected Middle Tennessee to the lower Mississippi River
town of Natchez. The route of the Natchez Trace was used as the basis for a
scenic highway called the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Some of the last remaining large American Chestnut trees grow in this region.
They are being used to help breed blight-resistant trees.
Middle Tennessee is one of the primary state population and transportation
centers along with the heart of state government. Nashville (the capitol),
Clarksville and Murfreesboro are its largest cities. Fifty percent of the US
population is within 600 miles of Nashville. US Interstate Highways I-24, I-40
and I-65 trisect the Division.
West of the Highland Rim and Nashville Basin is the Gulf Coastal Plain, which
includes the Mississippi embayment. The Gulf Coastal Plain is, in terms of
area, the predominant land region in Tennessee. It is part of the large
geographic land area that begins at the Gulf of Mexico and extends north into
southern Illinois. In Tennessee, the Gulf Coastal Plain is divided into three
sections that extend from the Tennessee River in the east to the Mississippi
River in the west.
The easternmost section, about 10 miles (16 km) in width, consists of hilly
land that runs along the western bank of the Tennessee River. To the west of
this narrow strip of land is a wide area of rolling hills and streams that
stretches all the way to the Mississippi River; this area is called the
Tennessee Bottoms or bottom land. In Memphis, the Tennessee Bottoms end in
steep bluffs overlooking the river. To the west of the Tennessee Bottoms is the
Mississippi Alluvial Plain, less than 300 feet (90 m) above sea level. This
area of lowlands, flood plains, and swamp land is sometimes referred to as the
Delta region. Memphis is the economic center of West Tennessee and the largest
city in the state.
Most of West Tennessee remained Indian land until the Chickasaw Cession of 1818, when the Chickasaw ceded their land between the Tennessee River and the Mississippi River. The portion of the Chickasaw Cession that lies in Kentucky is known today as the Jackson Purchase.
Areas under the control and management of the National Park Service include:
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Fort Donelson National Cemetery near Dover
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Natchez Trace Parkway
Obed Wild and Scenic River near Wartburg
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Shiloh National Cemetery and Shiloh National Military Park near Shiloh
Stones River National Battlefield and Stones River National Cemetery near Murfreesboro
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Fifty-four state parks, covering some 132,000 acres (530 km2) as well as parts
of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest, and
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park are in Tennessee. Sportsmen and visitors
are attracted to Reelfoot Lake, originally formed by the New Madrid earthquake;
stumps and other remains of a once dense forest, together with the lotus bed
covering the shallow waters, give the lake an eerie beauty.
Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate, with the exception of some
of the higher elevations in the Appalachians, which are classified as having a
mountain temperate climate or a humid continental climate due to cooler
temperatures. The Gulf of Mexico is the dominant factor in the climate of
Tennessee, with winds from the south being responsible for most of the state's
annual precipitation. Generally, the state has hot summers and mild to cool
winters with generous precipitation throughout the year. On average the state
receives 50 inches (130 cm) of precipitation annually. Snowfall ranges from 5
inches (13 cm) in West Tennessee to over 16 inches (41 cm) in the higher
mountains in East Tennessee.
Summers in the state are generally hot and humid, with most of the state
averaging a high of around 90 °F (32 °C) during the summer months. Winters tend
to be mild to cool, increasing in coolness at higher elevations. Generally, for
areas outside the highest mountains, the average overnight lows are near
freezing for most of the state. The highest recorded temperature is 113 °F
(45 °C) at Perryville on August 9, 1930 while the lowest recorded temperature
is -32 °F (-36 °C) at Mountain City on December 30, 1917.
While the state is far enough from the coast to avoid any direct impact from a
hurricane, the location of the state makes it likely to be impacted from the
remnants of tropical cyclones which weaken over land and can cause significant
rainfall, such as Tropical Storm Chris in 1982. The state averages around 50
days of thunderstorms per year, some of which can be severe with large Hail and
damaging winds. Tornadoes are possible throughout the state, with West and
Middle Tennessee the most vulnerable. Occasionally, strong or violent tornadoes
occur. On average, the state has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes in Tennessee
can be severe, and Tennessee leads the nation in the percentage of total
tornadoes which have fatalities. Winter storms are an occasional problem,
although ice storms are a more likely occurrence. Fog is a persistent problem
in parts of the state, especially in much of the Smoky Mountains.
The area now known as Tennessee was first inhabited by Paleo-Indians nearly
12,000 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 (8000–1000 BC), Woodland (1000 BC–1000 AD), and Mississippian
(1000–1600 AD), 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.
The first recorded European excursions into what is now called Tennessee were
three expeditions led by Spanish explorers, namely Hernando de Soto in 1540,
Tristan de Luna in 1559, and Juan Pardo in 1567. Pardo recorded the name
"Tanasqui" from a local Indian village, which evolved to the state's current
name. At that time, Tennessee was inhabited by tribes of Muscogee and Yuchi
people. Possibly because of European diseases devastating the Native tribes,
which would have left a population vacuum, and also from expanding European
settlement in the north, the Cherokee moved south from the area now called
Virginia. As European colonists spread into the area, the native populations
were forcibly displaced to the south and west, including all Muscogee and Yuchi
peoples, the Chickasaw, and Choctaw.
The first British settlement in what is now Tennessee was Fort Loudoun, near
present-day Vonore. Fort Loudoun became the westernmost British outpost to that
date. The fort was designed by John William Gerard de Brahm and constructed by
forces under British Captain Raymond Demeré. After its completion, Captain
Raymond Demeré relinquished command on August 14, 1757 to his brother, Captain
Paul Demeré. Hostilities erupted between the British and the neighboring
Overhill Cherokees, and a siege of Fort Loudoun ended with its surrender on
August 7, 1760. The following morning, Captain Paul Demeré and a number of his
men were killed in an ambush nearby, and the most of the rest of the garrison
was taken prisoner.
In the 1760s, long hunters from Virginia explored much of East and Middle
Tennessee, and the first permanent European settlers began arriving late in the
decade. The vast majority of 18th century settlers were English or of primarily
English descent but nearly 20% of them were also Scotch-Irish. These settlers
formed the Watauga Association, a community built on lands leased from the
During the American Revolutionary War, Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals (in
present-day Elizabethton) was attacked (1776) by Dragging Canoe and his warring
faction of Cherokee who were aligned with the British Loyalists. These renegade
Cherokee were referred to by settlers as the Chickamauga. They opposed North
Carolina's annexation of the Washington District and the concurrent settling of
the Transylvania Colony further north and west. The lives of many settlers were
spared from the initial warrior attacks through the warnings of Dragging
Canoe's cousin, Nancy Ward. The frontier fort on the banks of the Watauga River
later served as a 1780 staging area for the Overmountain Men in preparation to
trek over the Appalachian Mountains, to engage, and to later defeat the British
Army at the Battle of Kings Mountain in North Carolina.
Three counties of the Washington District (now part of Tennessee) broke off
from North Carolina in 1784 and formed the State of Franklin. Efforts to obtain
admission to the Union failed, and the counties (now numbering eight) had
re-joined North Carolina by 1789. North Carolina ceded the area to the federal
government in 1790, after which it was organized into the Southwest Territory.
In an effort to encourage settlers to move west into the new territory, in 1787
the mother state of North Carolina ordered a road to be cut to take settlers
into the Cumberland Settlements—from the south end of Clinch Mountain (in East
Tennessee) to French Lick (Nashville). The Trace was called the “North Carolina
Road” or “Avery’s Trace,” and sometimes “The Wilderness Road (although it
should not be confused with Daniel Boone's "Wilderness Road" through the
Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796 as the 16th state. It was
the first state created from territory under the jurisdiction of the United
States federal government. Apart from the former Thirteen Colonies only Vermont
and Kentucky predate Tennessee's statehood, and neither was ever a federal
territory. The state boundaries, according to the Constitution of the State
of Tennessee, Article I, Section 31, stated that the beginning point for
identifying the boundary was the extreme height of the Stone Mountain, at the
place where the line of Virginia intersects it, and basically ran the extreme
heights of mountain chains through the Appalachian Mountains separating North
Carolina from Tennessee past the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota, thence
along the main ridge of the said mountain (Unicoi Mountain) to the southern
boundary of the state; all the territory, lands and waters lying west of said
line are included in the boundaries and limits of the newly formed state of
Tennessee. Part of the provision also stated that the limits and jurisdiction
of the state would include future land acquisition, referencing possible land
trade with other states, or the acquisition of territory from west of the
During the administration of U.S. President Martin Van Buren, nearly 17,000
Cherokees—along with approximately 2,000 black slaves owned by Cherokees—were
uprooted from their homes between 1838 and 1839 and were forced by the U.S.
military to march from "emigration depots" in Eastern Tennessee (such as Fort
Cass) toward the more distant Indian Territory west of Arkansas. During this
relocation an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died along the way west. In the
Cherokee language, the event is called Nunna daul Isunyi—"the Trail Where We
Cried." The Cherokees were not the only Native Americans forced to emigrate as
a result of the Indian removal efforts of the United States, and so the phrase
"Trail of Tears" is sometimes used to refer to similar events endured by other
Native American peoples, especially among the "Five Civilized Tribes". The
phrase originated as a description of the earlier emigration of the Choctaw
Civil War and Reconstruction
Main article: Tennessee in the American Civil War
In February 1861, secessionists in Tennessee's state government—led by Governor
Isham Harris—sought voter approval for a convention to sever ties with the
United States, but Tennessee voters rejected the referendum by a 54–46% margin.
The strongest opposition to secession came from East Tennessee (which later
tried to form a separate Union-aligned state). Following the Confederate attack
upon Fort Sumter in April and Lincoln's call for troops from Tennessee and
other states in response, Governor Isham Harris began military mobilization,
submitted an ordinance of secession to the General Assembly, and made direct
overtures to the Confederate government. The Tennessee legislature ratified an
agreement to enter a military league with the Confederate States on May 7, 1861.
On June 8, 1861, with people in Middle Tennessee having significantly changed
their position, voters approved a second referendum calling for secession,
becoming the last state to do so.
Many major battles of the American Civil War were fought in Tennessee—most of
them Union victories. Ulysses S. Grant and the U.S. Navy captured control of
the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in February 1862. They held off the
Confederate counterattack at Shiloh in April. Memphis fell to the Union in
June, following a naval battle on the Mississippi River in front of the city
The Capture of Memphis and Nashville gave the Union control of the western and
middle sections; this control was confirmed at the Battle of Murfreesboro in
early January 1863 and by the subsequent Tullahoma Campaign.
Confederates held East Tennessee despite the strength of Unionist sentiment
there, with the exception of extremely pro-Confederate Sullivan County. The
Confederates besieged Chattanooga during the Chattanooga Campaign 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 Perryville, Kentucky to Confederate
defeat at Chattanooga.
The last major battles came when the Confederates invaded Middle Tennessee in
November 1864 and were checked at Franklin, then completely diminished by
George Thomas at Nashville in December. Meanwhile the civilian Andrew Johnson
was appointed military governor of the state by President Abraham Lincoln.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, Tennessee was mostly held by
Union forces. Thus, Tennessee was not among the states enumerated in the
Proclamation, and the Proclamation did not free any slaves there. Nonetheless,
enslaved African Americans escaped to Union lines to gain freedom without
waiting for official action. Old and young, men, women and children camped near
Union troops. Thousands of former slaves ended up fighting on the Union side,
nearly 200,000 in total across the South.
Tennessee's legislature approved an amendment to the state constitution
prohibiting slavery on February 22, 1865. Voters in the state approved the
amendment in March. It also ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution (abolishing slavery in every state) on April 7, 1865.
In 1864, Andrew Johnson (a War Democrat from Tennessee) was elected Vice
President under Abraham Lincoln. He became President after Lincoln's
assassination in 1865. Under Johnson's lenient re-admission policy, Tennessee
was the first of the seceding states to have its elected members readmitted to
the U.S. Congress, on July 24, 1866. Because Tennessee had ratified the
Fourteenth Amendment, it was the only one of the formerly secessionist states
that did not have a military governor during the Reconstruction period.
After the formal end of Reconstruction, the struggle over power in Southern
society continued. Through violence and intimidation against freedmen and their
allies, White Democrats regained political power in Tennessee and other states
across the South in the late 1870s and 1880s. Over the next decade, the state
legislature passed increasingly restrictive laws to control African Americans.
In 1889 the General Assembly passed four laws described as electoral reform,
with the cumulative effect of essentially disfranchising most African Americans
in rural areas and small towns, as well as many poor Whites. Legislation
included implementation of a poll tax, timing of registration, and recording
requirements. Tens of thousands of taxpaying citizens were without
representation for decades into the 20th century. Disfranchising legislation
accompanied Jim Crow laws passed in the late 19th century, which imposed
segregation in the state. In 1900, African Americans made up nearly 24% of the
state's population, and numbered 480,430 citizens who lived mostly in the
central and western parts of the state.
In 1897, Tennessee celebrated its centennial of statehood (though one year late
of the 1896 anniversary) with a great exposition in Nashville. A full scale
replica of the Parthenon was constructed for the celebration, located in what is
now Nashville's Centennial Park.
On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the thirty-sixth and final state necessary
to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which
provided women the right to vote. Disfranchising voter registration requirements
continued to keep most African Americans and many poor whites, both men and
women, off the voter rolls.
The need to create work for the unemployed during the Great Depression, a
desire for rural electrification, the need to control annual spring flooding
and improve shipping capacity on the Tennessee River were all factors that
drove the federal creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933.
Through the power of the TVA projects, Tennessee quickly became the nation's
largest public utility supplier.
During World War II, the availability of abundant TVA electrical power led the
Manhattan Project to locate one of the principal sites for production and
isolation of weapons-grade fissile material in East Tennessee. The planned
community of Oak Ridge was built from scratch to provide accommodations for the
facilities and workers. These sites are now Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the
Y-12 National Security Complex, and the East Tennessee Technology Park.
Despite recognized effects of limiting voting by poor whites, successive
legislatures expanded the reach of the disfranchising laws until they covered
the state. In 1949 political scientist V. O. Key Jr. argued that "the size of
the poll tax did not inhibit voting as much as the inconvenience of paying it.
County officers regulated the vote by providing opportunities to pay the tax
(as they did in Knoxville), or conversely by making payment as difficult as
possible. Such manipulation of the tax, and therefore the vote, created an
opportunity for the rise of urban bosses and political machines. Urban
politicians bought large blocks of poll tax receipts and distributed them to
blacks and whites, who then voted as instructed."
In 1953 state legislators amended the state constitution, removing the poll
tax. In many areas both blacks and poor whites still faced subjectively applied
barriers to voter registration that did not end until after passage of national
civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Tennessee celebrated its bicentennial in 1996. With a yearlong statewide
celebration entitled "Tennessee 200", it opened a new state park (Bicentennial
Mall) at the foot of Capitol Hill in Nashville.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Tennessee was
6,403,353 on July 1, 2011, a 0.90% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
The center of population of Tennessee is located in Rutherford County, in the
city of Murfreesboro.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2006, Tennessee had an estimated
population of 6,038,803, which is an increase of 83,058, or 1.4%, from the
prior year and an increase of 349,541, or 6.1%, since the year 2000. This
includes a natural increase since the last census of 142,266 people (that is
493,881 births minus 351,615 deaths), and an increase from net migration of
219,551 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States
resulted in a net increase of 59,385 people, and migration within the country
produced a net increase of 160,166 people. 20% of Tennesseans were born outside
the South, compared to a figure of 13.5% in 1990.
In recent years, Tennessee has received an influx of people relocating from
several northern states, California, and Florida, for the low cost of living,
and the booming healthcare and automobile industries. Metropolitan Nashville is
one of the fastest-growing areas in the country due in part to these factors.
At the 2010 census, 77.6% of the population was White (75.6% non-Hispanic white),
16.7% African American or Black, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.4%
Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.7% from two or more
races. 4.6% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may
be of any race).
In 2000, the five most common self-reported ethnic groups in the state were:
American (17.3%), African American (16.4%), Irish (9.3%), English (9.1%), and
German (8.3%). Most Tennesseans who self-identify as having American
ancestry are of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry. An estimated 21–24% of
Tennesseans are of predominantly English ancestry. In the 1980 census 1,435,147
Tennesseans claimed "English" or "mostly English" ancestry out of a state
population of 3,221,354 making them 45% of the state at the time.
6.6% of Tennessee's population were reported as under 5 years of age, 24.6%
under 18, and 12.4% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.3% of
On June 19, 2010, the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs granted state
recognition to six Indian tribes which was later repealed by the state's
Attorney General because the action by the commission was illegal. The tribes
were as follows:
The Cherokee Wolf Clan in western Tennessee, with members in Carroll County,
Benton, Decatur, Henderson, Henry, Weakley, Gibson and Madison counties.
The Chikamaka Band based historically on the South Cumberland Plateau, said to
have members in Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Warren and Coffee counties.
Central Band of Cherokee, also known as the Cherokee of Lawrence County, Tennessee.
United Eastern Lenapee Nation of Winfield, Tennessee.
The Tanasi Council, said to have members in Shelby, Dyer, Gibson, Humphreys and
Perry counties; and
Remnant Yuchi Nation, with members in Sullivan, Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Unicoi,
Johnson and Washington counties.
The religious affiliations of the people of Tennessee are:
Christian: 82% Baptist: 39%
Church of Christ: 6%
Roman Catholic: 6%
Church of God: 2%
Other Christian (includes unspecified "Christian" and "Protestant"): 12%
Other religions: 2%
The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Southern
Baptist Convention with 1,414,199; the United Methodist Church with 393,994; t
he Churches of Christ with 216,648; and the Roman Catholic Church with 183,161.
Tennessee is home to several Protestant denominations, such as the National
Baptist Convention (headquartered in Nashville); the Church of God in Christ
and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (both headquartered in Memphis); the
Church of God and The Church of God of Prophecy (both headquartered in
Cleveland). The Free Will Baptist denomination is headquartered in Antioch; its
main Bible college is in Nashville. The Southern Baptist Convention maintains
its general headquarters in Nashville. Publishing houses of several
denominations are located in Nashville.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2005 Tennessee's gross
state product was $226.502 billion, making Tennessee the 18th largest economy
in the nation. In 2003, the per capita personal income was $28,641, 36th in the
nation, and 91% of the national per capita personal income of $31,472. In 2004,
the median household income was $38,550, 41st in the nation, and 87% of the
national median of $44,472.
Major outputs for the state include textiles, cotton, cattle, and electrical
power. Tennessee has over 82,000 farms, roughly 59 percent of which accommodate
beef cattle. Although cotton was an early crop in Tennessee, large-scale
cultivation of the fiber did not begin until the 1820s with the opening of the
land between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. The upper wedge of the
Mississippi Delta extends into southwestern Tennessee, and it was in this
fertile section that cotton took hold. Currently West Tennessee is also heavily
planted in soybeans, focusing on the northwest corner of the state.
Major corporations with headquarters in Tennessee include FedEx Corporation,
AutoZone Incorporated and International Paper, all based in Memphis; Pilot
Corporation and Regal Entertainment Group, based in Knoxville; Eastman Chemical
Company, based in Kingsport, the North American headquarters of Nissan, based
in Franklin; and the head-quarters of Caterpillar Financial (the finance
division of the well known mining company Caterpillar) based in Nashville.
Tennessee is also the location of the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant and
a $1.2 Billion polysilicon production facility by Hemlock Semiconductor Group
Tennessee is a right to work state, as are most of its Southern neighbors.
Unionization has historically been low and continues to decline as in most of
the U.S. generally. As of November 2011, the state had an unemployment rate of
The Tennessee income tax does not apply to salaries and wages, but most income
from stocks, bonds and notes receivable is taxable. All taxable dividends and
interest which exceed the $1,250 single exemption or the $2,500 joint exemption
are taxable at the rate of 6%. The state's sales and use tax rate for most
items is 7%. Food is taxed at a lower rate of 5.5%, but candy, dietary
supplements and prepared food are taxed at the full 7% rate. Local sales taxes
are collected in most jurisdictions, at rates varying from 1.5% to 2.75%,
bringing the total sales tax to between 8.5% and 9.75%, one of the highest
levels in the nation. Intangible property is assessed on the shares of stock of
stockholders of any loan company, investment company, insurance company or
for-profit cemetery companies. The assessment ratio is 40% of the value
multiplied by the tax rate for the jurisdiction. Tennessee imposes an
inheritance tax on decedents' estates that exceed maximum single exemption
limits ($1,000,000 for deaths in 2006 and after.)
Interstate 40 crosses the state in a west-east orientation. Its branch
interstate highways include I-240 in Memphis; I-440 in Nashville; and I-140 and
I-640 in Knoxville. I-26, although technically an east-west interstate, runs
from the North Carolina border below Johnson City to its terminus at Kingsport.
I-24 is an east-west interstate that runs cross-state from Chattanooga to
Clarksville. Interstate 22 is an east-west interstate that will connect with
I-240 or I-269 in Memphis to I-65 in Birmingham. In a north-south orientation
are highways I-55, I-65, I-75, and I-81. Interstate 65 crosses the state
through Nashville, while Interstate 75 serves Chattanooga and Knoxville and
Interstate 55 serves Memphis. Interstate 81 enters the state at Bristol and
terminates at its junction with I-40 near Dandridge. I-155 is a branch highway
from I-55. The only spur highway of I-75 in Tennessee is I-275, which is in
Major airports within the state include Nashville International Airport (BNA),
Memphis International Airport (MEM), McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville,
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA), Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), and
McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), in Jackson. Because Memphis International
Airport is the major hub for FedEx Corporation, it is the world's largest air
Memphis and Newbern, Tennessee, are served by the Amtrak City of New Orleans
line on its run between Chicago, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Nashville is served by the Music City Star commuter rail service.
Tennessee's governor holds office for a four-year term and may serve a maximum
of two consecutive terms. The governor is the only official who is elected
statewide. Unlike most states, the state does not elect the lieutenant governor
directly; the Tennessee Senate elects its Speaker, who serves as lieutenant
The Tennessee General Assembly, the state legislature, consists of the 33-
member Senate and the 99-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four-
year terms, and House members serve two-year terms. Each chamber chooses its
own speaker. The speaker of the state Senate also holds the title of lieutenant-
governor. Constitutional officials in the legislative branch are elected by a
joint session of the legislature.
The highest court in Tennessee is the state Supreme Court. It has a chief
justice and four associate justices. No more than two justices can be from the
same Grand Division. The Supreme Court of Tennessee also appoints the Attorney
General, a practice that is not found in any of the other 49 states in the
Union. Both the Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals have 12
judges. A number of local, circuit, and federal courts provide judicial services.
Tennessee's current state constitution was adopted in 1870. The state had two
earlier constitutions. The first was adopted in 1796, the year Tennessee joined
the union, and the second was adopted in 1834. The Tennessee Constitution
outlaws martial law within its jurisdiction. This may be a result of the
experience of Tennessee residents and other Southerners during the period of
military control by Union (Northern) forces of the U.S. government after the
American Civil War.
Tennessee politics, like that of most U.S. states, is dominated by the
Republican and the Democratic Parties. Except for in two nationwide Republican
landslides of the 1920s (in 1920, when Tennessee narrowly supported Warren G.
Harding over Ohio Governor James Cox, and in 1928, when it more decisively
voted for Herbert Hoover over New York Governor Al Smith), the state was part
of the Democratic Solid South until the 1950s, when it twice voted for
Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. Tennessee has since voted for Republicans in
most presidential elections.
While the Republicans control slightly more than half of the state, Democrats
have moderate support in parts of rural Middle Tennessee and northern West
Tennessee and have strong support in the cities of Nashville and Memphis. The
latter area includes a large African-American population. Historically,
Republicans had their greatest strength in East Tennessee prior to the 1960s.
Tennessee's 1st / 2nd congressional districts based in East Tennessee are one
of the few historically Republican districts in the South; the 1st has been in
Republican hands continuously since 1881, and the 2nd district has been held
continuously by Republicans since 1873.
In contrast, long disfranchisement of African Americans and their proportion as
a minority (16.45% in 1960) meant that white Democrats generally dominated
politics in the rest of the state until the 1960s. The GOP in Tennessee was
essentially a sectional party. Former Gov. Winfield Dunn and former U.S. Sen.
Bill Brock wins in 1970 built the Republican Party into a competitive party for
the statewide victory. Tennessee has selected governors from different parties
In the 2000 presidential election, Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S.
Senator from Tennessee, failed to carry his home state, an unusual occurrence.
Support for Republican George W. Bush increased in 2004, with his margin of
victory in the state increasing from 4% in 2000 to 14% in 2004. Democratic
presidential nominees from Southern states (such as Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy
Carter, Bill Clinton) usually fare better than their Northern counterparts do
in Tennessee, especially among split-ticket voters outside the metropolitan
Tennessee sends nine members to the US House of Representatives, of whom there
are seven Republicans and two Democrats. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey is the
first Republican speaker of the state Senate in 140 years. In 2008 elections,
the Republican party gained control of both houses of the Tennessee state
legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. Now considered as 30% of
the state's electorate are independents.
The Baker v. Carr (1962) decision of the US Supreme Court, which established
the principle of one man, one vote, was based on a lawsuit over rural-biased
apportionment of seats in the Tennessee legislature. This significant ruling
led to an increased (and proportional) prominence in state politics by urban
and, eventually, suburban, legislators and statewide officeholders in relation
to their population within the state. The ruling also applied to numerous other
states long controlled by rural minorities, such as Alabama.
The state of Tennessee maintains four dedicated law enforcement entities: the
Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), and the Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
The Highway Patrol is the primary law enforcement entity that concentrates on
highway safety regulations and general non-wildlife state law enforcement and
is under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Department of Safety. The TWRA is an
independent agency tasked with enforcing all wildlife, boating, and fisheries
regulations outside of state parks. The TBI maintains state-of-the-art
investigative facilities and is the primary state-level criminal investigative
department. Tennessee State Park Rangers are responsible for all activities and
law enforcement inside the Tennessee State Parks system.
Local law enforcement is divided between County Sheriff's Offices and Municipal
Police Departments. Tennessee's Constitution requires that each County have an
elected Sheriff. In 94 of the 95 Counties the Sheriff is the chief law
enforcement officer in the County and has jurisdiction over the county as a
whole. Each Sheriff's Office is responsible for warrant service, court security,
jail operations and primary law enforcement in the unincorporated areas of a
county as well as providing support to the Municipal Police Departments.
Incorporated municipalities are required to maintain a Police Department to
provide police services within their corporate limits.
The three Counties in Tennessee to adopt Metropolitan governments have taken
different approaches to resolving the conflict that a Metro government presents
to the requirement to have an elected Sheriff.
Nashville/Davidson County split law enforcement duties and authority between
the Metro Sheriff and the Metro Police Chief. In this instance the Sheriff is
no longer the chief law enforcement officer for Davidson County. The Davidson
County Sheriff's duties focus on warrant service and jail operations. The
Metropolitan Police Chief is the chief law enforcement officer and the
Metropolitan Police Department provides primary law enforcement for the entire
Lynchburg/Moore County took a much simpler approach and abolished the Lynchburg
Police Department when it consolidated and placed all law enforcement
responsibility under the Sheriff's Office.
Hartsville/Trousdale County, although the smallest county in Tennessee, adopted
a system similar to Nashville's that retains the Sheriff's Office but also has
a Metropolitan Police Department.
Important cities and towns
The capital is Nashville, though Knoxville, Kingston, and Murfreesboro have all
served as state capitals in the past. Memphis has the largest population of any
city in the state. Nashville's 13-county metropolitan area has been the state's
largest since c. 1990. Chattanooga and Knoxville, both in the eastern part of
the state near the Great Smoky Mountains, each has approximately one-third of
the population of Memphis or Nashville. The city of Clarksville is a fifth
significant population center, some 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Nashville.
Murfreesboro is the sixth-largest city in Tennessee, consisting of some 108,755
Tennessee has a rich variety of public, private, charter, and specialized
education facilities ranging from pre-school through university education.
Colleges and universities
Public Higher education is under the oversight of the Tennessee Higher
Education Commission which provides guidance to two public university systems –
the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents. In
addition a number of private colleges and universities are located throughout
American Baptist College
Aquinas College (Tennessee)
The Art Institute of Tennessee- Nashville
Austin Peay State University
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences
Chattanooga State Technical Community College
Christian Brothers University
Columbia State Community College
Dyersburg State Community College
East Tennessee State University
Emmanuel School of Religion
Free Will Baptist Bible College
Jackson State Community College
Lincoln Memorial University
Martin Methodist College
Meharry Medical College
Memphis College of Art
Memphis Theological Seminary
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
Middle Tennessee State University
Motlow State Community College
Nashville School of Law
Nashville State Community College
Northeast State Technical Community College
Nossi College of Art
O'More College of Design
Pellissippi State Technical Community College
Roane State Community College
Southern Adventist University
Southern College of Optometry
Southwest Tennessee Community College
Tennessee State University
Tennessee Technological University
Tennessee Temple University
Tennessee Wesleyan College
The University of the South
Trevecca Nazarene University
University of Memphis
University of Tennessee System University of Tennessee (Knoxville) University
of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis)
University of Tennessee Space Institute
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
University of Tennessee at Martin
Volunteer State Community College
Walters State Community College
Watkins College of Art and Design
Local school districts
Public primary and secondary education systems are operated by county, city, or
special school districts to provide education at the local level. These school
districts operate under the direction of the Tennessee Department of Education.
Private schools are found in a many counties.
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Southern League (Double-A)
Southern League (Double-A)
Southern League (Double-A)
Appalachian League (Rookie)
Appalachian League (Rookie)
Johnson City Cardinals
Appalachian League (Rookie)
Appalachian League (Rookie)
National Basketball Association
American Basketball Association (2000–present)
National Football League
National Hockey League
Professional Indoor Football League
Knoxville Ice Bears
Southern Professional Hockey League
USL Premier Development League
National Premier Soccer League
National Premier Soccer League
Tennessee is also home to Bristol Motor Speedway which features NASCAR Sprint
Cup racing two weekends a year, routinely selling out more than 160,000 seats
on each date as well as Nashville Superspeedway.
The earliest variant of the name that became Tennessee was recorded by Captain
Juan Pardo, the Spanish explorer, when he and his men passed through a Native
American village named "Tanasqui" in 1567 while traveling inland from South
Carolina. In the early 18th century, British traders encountered a Cherokee
town named Tanasi (or "Tanase") in present-day Monroe County, Tennessee. The
town was located on a river of the same name (now known as the Little Tennessee
River), and appears on maps as early as 1725. It is not known whether this was
the same town as the one encountered by Juan Pardo, although recent research
suggests that Pardo's "Tanasqui" was located at the confluence of the Pigeon
River and the French Broad River, near modern Newport.
The meaning and origin of the word are uncertain. Some accounts suggest it is a
Cherokee modification of an earlier Yuchi word. It has been said to mean
"meeting place", "winding river", or "river of the great bend". According to
James Mooney, the name "can not be analyzed" and its meaning is lost.
The modern spelling, Tennessee, is attributed to James Glen, the governor of
South Carolina, who used this spelling in his official correspondence during
the 1750s. The spelling was popularized by the publication of Henry Timberlake's
"Draught of the Cherokee Country" in 1765. In 1788, North Carolina created
"Tennessee County", the third county to be established in what is now Middle
Tennessee. (Tennessee County was the predecessor to current-day Montgomery
County and Robertson County). When a constitutional convention met in 1796 to
organize a new state out of the Southwest Territory, it adopted "Tennessee" as
the name of the state.
Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State," a nickname earned during the War
of 1812 because of the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from
Tennessee, especially during the Battle of New Orleans.
State symbols include:
State bird – "Northern Mockingbird"
State game bird – "Bobwhite Quail"
State wild animal – "Raccoon"
State sport fish – "Largemouth Bass"
State commercial fish – "Channel Catfish"
State horse – "Tennessee Walking Horse"
State insect – "Lightning Bug and the Lady Bug"
State cultivated flower – "Purple Iris"
State wild flower – "Passion Flower"
State tree – "Tulip Poplar"
State fruit – "Tomato"
State reptile – "Box turtle"
State rock – "Limestone and agate"
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