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Tennessee (/ˌtɛnəˈs/ (About this sound listen), locally /ˈtɛnəsi/; Cherokee: ᏔᎾᏏ, translit. Tanasi) is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th 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. Nashville is the state's capital and largest city, with a population of 660,388. Tennessee's second largest city is Memphis, which has a population of 652,717.

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 American Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.

Selected article

A Fisk University class around 1900

Fisk University is a historically black university in Nashville, Tennessee, which opened its doors to its first classes on January 9, 1866.

Fisk is the home of the world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers. The Jubilee Singers started out in the 1870s as a group of traveling students who set out from Nashville to raise money for the school through their singing. After a tour of Europe in 1873 they sent enough money back to Fisk to build Jubilee Hall, the first permanent building in the country built for the education of newly-freed slaves.

Notable Fisk alumni include Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington D.C.; Cora Brown, the first African-American woman to be elected to a state senate; W. E. B. Du Bois, a sociologist and scholar, who was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University; poet Nikki Giovanni; U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings and John Lewis; concert singer Roland Hayes; and Alma Powell, wife of General Colin Powell. (Read more...)

Selected biography


Alvin York, born to an impoverished farming family in Fentress County, Tennessee on December 13, 1887, became the most decorated American soldier in World War I. For leading an attack against a German machine gun nest during fighting in France, killing 25 German soldiers and capturing 132 others, he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor, Italy's Croce di Guerra, and a War Medal from Montenegro.

When he was first drafted into the United States Army in 1917, York was a conscientious objector who opposed war on religious grounds. However, eventually he became convinced that warfare could be justified.

His heroic actions occurred during a mission to secure a German railroad line on October 8, 1918. York was one of 17 men who infiltrated behind enemy lines and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German prisoners. The American unit then came under heavy machine gun fire, killing six of the Americans and wounding three others, including the sergeant in command. York, a corporal, took command of the other seven remaining men and succeeded in silencing the machine guns while continuing to guard the prisoners. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. York was promoted to sergeant and was awarded several medals for his heroism. (Read more...)

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Chattanooga, Tennessee. Government Stable MET DP70501.jpg

Chattanooga during the Civil War.
Image credit: Mathew Brady collection (1864)

Selected anniversaries in August

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