Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Origin and history of the name Tennessee
The name Tennessee was first recorded by Captain Juan Pardo, the Spanish explorer, when he and his men passed through a Native American village named "Tanasqui" in 1567 while travelling inland from South Carolina. European settlers later 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).
The meaning and origin of the word are uncertain. Some accounts suggest it is a Cherokee modification of an earlier Yuchi/Creek word. It has been said to mean "meeting place", "winding river", or "river of the great bend".
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. In 1788, North Carolina named the third county to be established in what is now Middle Tennessee "Tennessee 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.
The area now known as Tennessee was first settled by Paleo-Indians nearly 11,000 years ago. When Spanish explorers, led by Hernando de Soto first visited the area in the 1500s, it was inhabited by tribes of Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw Native Americans. As European colonists spread into the area, the native populations were forcibly displaced to the west. From 1838 to 1839, nearly 17,000 Cherokees were forced to march from Eastern Tennessee to Indian Territory west of Arkansas. This came to be known as the Trail of Tears, as an estimated 4,000 Cherokees died along the way.1
Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796 as the 16th state, and was created by taking the north and south borders of North Carolina and extending them with only one small deviation to the Mississippi River, Tennessee's western boundary. Tennessee was the last Confederate state to secede from the Union when it did so on June 8, 1861. After the American Civil War, Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery (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 (July 24 of the same year).
Tennessee was the only state that seceded from the Union that did not have a military governor after the American Civil War, mostly due to the influence of President Andrew Johnson, a native of the state, who was Lincoln's vice president and succeeded him as president, due to the assassination.
In 1897, the state celebrated its centennial of statehood (albeit one year late) with a great exposition.
During World War II, Oak Ridge was selected as a US Department of Energy national laboratory, one of the principal sites for the Manhattan Project's production and isolation of weapons-grade fissile material.
Law and Government
Tennessee's governor holds office for a four year term and may serve any number of terms, but not more than two in a row. The speaker of the state Senate has the title of lieutenant governor. See:List of Tennessee Governors.
The General Assembly (the state's 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.
The highest court in Tennessee is the state Supreme Court. It has a chief justice and four associate justices. The Court of Appeals has 12 judges. The Court of Criminal Appeals has nine judges.
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.
Tennesee lies adjacent to 8 other states (more than any other U.S. state). It is bordered on the north by Kentucky and Virginia, on the east by North Carolina, on the south by Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, and on the west by Arkansas and Missouri. The state is trisected by the Tennessee River. The highest point in the state is the peak of Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet (2,025 meters), which lies on Tennesee's eastern border.
The state of Tennessee is traditionally divided by its people into three grand divisions - East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The Tennessee River is generally considered the dividing line between Middle and West Tennessee. The Cumberland Plateau is generally considered the dividing line between East and Middle Tennessee.
Tennessee features six principal geographic regions. Roughly from west to east, these are:
- Gulf Coastal Plain - including the Mississippi embayment
- Nashville Basin
- Highland Rim - this is continuous with the region in Kentucky termed the Pennyroyal Plateau
- Cumberland Plateau - also called the Appalachian Plateau
- Ridge-and-valley Appalachians
- Blue Ridge Mountains - including the Great Smoky Mountains
- State income
According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2003 Tennessee's Gross State Product was $199,786,000,000, 1.8% of the total Gross Domestic Product.
In 2003, the per capita personal income was $28,641, 36th in the nation, and only 91% of the national per capita personal income of $31,472. Total earnings were $167,414,793,000.(BEARFACTS)
- Major industries/products
- state taxes
State sales tax is 7%, while the counties charge an additional 2.25% for a total of 9.25% across Tennessee. Some cities charge additional taxes, leading to some of the highest sales taxes in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Tennessee's population was estimated at 5,841,748 people.
The racial makeup of the state is:
6.6% of Tennessee's population were reported as under 5, 24.6% under 18, and 12.4% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.3% of the population.
The religious affiliations of the citizens of Tennessee are:
- Protestant – 85%
- Roman Catholic – 5%
- Other Christian – 1%
- Other Religions – 1%
- Non-Religious – 6%
Important cities and towns
The capital is Nashville. Memphis has the largest population of any city proper in the state, but Nashville has a slightly larger metropolitan area, comprising over 20% of the state's population. Chattanooga and Knoxville, both in the eastern part of the state near the Great Smoky Mountains, have approximately a third of Memphis or Nashville's population. The three towns of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City make up a fifth significant population center, often called the "Tri-Cities", in the far northeast of the state. As of 2000, the population is 5,689,283.
Tennessee cities' claims to fame are:
- Memphis - blues music center, assassination of Martin Luther King, home of Elvis Presley, home of Memphis Grizzlies NBA team, home of University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University), home to worldwide shipping giant FedEx, one of the centers of 60s and 70s soul music (Stax, Hi)
- Nashville - World center of country music industry, Southern Baptist Convention headquarters, Home of Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University among many other small private colleges and universities, home of Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators professional sports teams
- Knoxville - main campus of University of Tennessee, proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, site of original capital of Tennessee
- Chattanooga - railroad center, "See Rock City", major Civil War battleground
- Oak Ridge - major scientific/research center, Manhattan Project
- Bristol - site of major NASCAR track
- Lynchburg - home of Jack Daniels distillery
- Smyrna - site of very large Nissan production facility
- Spring Hill - like Smyrna, major automotive manufacturing center, only for Saturn automobiles
- Carthage - home of recent Vice President and Presidential candidate Al Gore
- Lawrenceburg - home of legendary pioneer Davy Crockett
- Clarksville - main campus of Austin Peay State University
- Fort Campbell - home of the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division (though the base headquarters and address lie in Kentucky, the majority of the base is located in Tennessee)
- Cleveland - Church Of God (Cleveland) headquarters
- Murfreesboro - home of Middle Tennessee State University; geographic center of Tennessee; home of famous American Civil War Battle of Stones River (also known as the Battle of Murfreesboro); site of second state capital of Tennessee
- Lebanon - home to Cracker Barrel restaurant chain and site of first location, home of Nashville Superspeedway
- Pigeon Forge - tourist destination, home to Dollywood amusement park
- Gatlinburg - tourist destination, gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Johnson City - home of East Tennessee State University
- Jonesborough - Tennessee's Oldest Town 6% Catholic
Colleges and universities
Professional sports teams
See: Tennessee State Flag
See: Music of Tennessee
- State song: Rocky Top
- The Tennessee Valley Authority is based in Knoxville.
- On August 18, 1920, Tennessee become the thirty-sixth and clinching state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing women the right to vote.
- The USS Tennessee was named in honor of this state.
- 1 Satz, Ronald. Tennessee's Indian Peoples. Knoville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1979. ISBN 0870492853
- Tennessee Encyclopedia Online
- State Government Website
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Tennessee Obituary Links Page
- GenealogyBuff.com - Tennessee Library of Files
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