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The Tennessee Portal


Map of USA highlighting Tennessee.png
Map of Tennessee

Tennessee is a state located in the Southern United States. Tennessee borders eight other states: Kentucky and Virginia to the north; North Carolina to the east; Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi on the south; and Arkansas and Missouri on the Mississippi River to the west.

Tennessee attained statehood in 1796, becoming the sixteenth state to join the Union.

The state is divided geographically and by law into three Grand Divisions: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. Physiographically, East Tennessee includes the Blue Ridge area characterized by high mountains, including the Great Smoky Mountains and the Ridge and Valley region, in which numerous tributaries join to form the Tennessee River in the Tennessee Valley. The state's third- and fourth-largest cities, Knoxville and Chattanooga, are located in the Tennessee Valley.

To the west of East Tennessee lies the Cumberland Plateau, a region of flat-topped mountains separated by sharp valleys. West of the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee is the Highland Rim, an elevated plain that surrounds the Nashville Basin, characterized by rich, fertile farm country and high natural wildlife diversity. Nashville, the state's capital and largest city, is in Middle Tennessee.

The landscape of West Tennessee is formed on the Gulf Coastal Plain, ranging from rolling hills just west of the Tennessee River to the region of lowlands, floodplains, and swamp land referred to as the Mississippi Delta region. Memphis, Tennessee's second largest city, is on the banks of the Mississippi River in the southwestern corner 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.

Selected article

Christ Church (left) and Thomas Hughes Library in Rugby, Tennessee

Rugby is a settlement in Morgan County, Tennessee, that was founded in 1880 by British author Thomas Hughes, who is best known for writing the novel Tom Brown's School Days. Rugby, Tennessee, is named for Rugby, Warwickshire, England, where Hughes had attended Rugby School, the school that furnished the setting for the book.

Rugby was set up as an experiment in utopian living, it was intended in part as a community for the younger sons of the English gentry, who, because of the accepted system of primogeniture, would inherit little or no property. The settlement flourished for only a short while.

About half the original buildings, many in Ruskinian gothic revival style, survive and have been restored. Rugby currently has a population of around 85, the area's natural beauty, historic architecture, and seasonal festivals attract a brisk tourist trade. (Read more...)

Selected biography


James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, but mostly lived in and represented the state of Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as Speaker of the House (1835–1839) and Governor of Tennessee (1839–1841) prior to becoming president.

A firm supporter of Andrew Jackson, Polk was the last "strong" pre-Civil War president, he is noted for his foreign policy successes, particularly the successful Mexican–American War. Also, he threatened war with Britain, then backed away and split the ownership of the Pacific Northwest with Britain, he lowered the tariff and established a treasury system that lasted until 1913. A "dark horse" candidate in 1844, he was the first president to retire after one term without seeking re-election, he died three months after his term ended.

As a Democrat committed to geographic expansion (or "Manifest Destiny"), Polk was responsible for the largest expansion of the nation's territory, exceeding the Louisiana Purchase in total area, he secured the Oregon Territory (including Washington, Oregon and Idaho), then purchased 1.2 million square miles (3.1 million km²) through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican–American War. In the end, Polk completed the acquisition of most of the current contiguous 48 states.

The expansion re-opened a furious debate over allowing slavery in the new territories, the controversy was inadequately arbitrated by the Compromise of 1850, and only found its ultimate resolution in the Civil War. (Read more...)

Selected picture

Downtown murfreesboro9741.JPG

Downtown Murfreesboro. The center of population of Tennessee is located in Murfreesboro.
Image credit: Pollinator (2006)

Selected anniversaries in June

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