Portal:Tennessee

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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 second 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 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

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the highest ranking officer of either side to die at Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought on April 6 and April 7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack against the Union Army of Major General Ulysses S. Grant and came very close to defeating his army.

On the first day of battle, the Confederates struck with the intention of driving the Union defenders away from the Tennessee River and into the swamps to the west, hoping to defeat Grant's Army of the Tennessee before it could link up with Major General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio. The Confederate battle lines became confused during the fierce fighting, and Grant's men instead fell back in the direction of Pittsburg Landing to the northeast. A position on a slightly sunken road, nicknamed the "Hornet's Nest", defended by the men of Brigadier Generals Benjamin M. Prentiss's and W. H. L. Wallace's divisions, provided critical time for the rest of the Union line to stabilize under the protection of numerous artillery batteries. General Johnston was killed during the first day's fighting, and Beauregard, his second in command, decided against assaulting the final Union position that night.

Reinforcements from General Buell arrived in the evening and turned the tide the next morning, when Buell and Grant launched a counterattack along the entire line. The Confederates were forced to retreat, ending their hopes that they could block the Union invasion of northern Mississippi.

The two-day battle was the bloodiest in U.S. history up to that time. Union casualties were 13,047 (1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing). Confederate casualties were 10,699 (1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing or captured). Both sides were shocked at the carnage.

The battlefield is now part of the Shiloh National Military Park. (Read more...)

Selected biography

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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

Clingman's Dome Tower on a Sunny, Snowy Day.JPG

Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains is the highest point in the state of Tennessee.
Image credit: Scott Basford (2007)

Selected anniversaries in December

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Things to do

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