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The territory that we now know as Tennessee was first visited by La Salle who was responsible for the building of Fort Prudhomme in 1682. It is believed that Fort Prudhomme is possibly on the site of present day Memphis. French claims to area were lost to British in 1763 in French and Indian Wars. The first settlement to take hold was made 1769 in Watauga River valley. The Watauga Association, which was formed by settlers along the Watauga River in eastern Tennessee, was established in 1772. Tennessee was the 16th state admitted to the Union in 1796. Jonesboro, which is the oldest town in the state, was founded in 1779.
Settlers of eastern Tennessee formed a short lived government from 1784 to 1788 under John Sevier. This was formed by the inhabitants of Washington, Sullivan and Greene counties to present eastern Tennessee after North Carolina ceded to the United States its western lands. The government passed out of existence when the terms of its officers expired. The region was later included in Southwest Territory which was established in 1790. In 1796 Tennessee was the 16th state to be admitted to the Union.
Settlers came to the Tennessee territory by way of the Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap. The Wilderness Road was a route taken by the American pioneers of the old southwest, running down the Valley of Virginia to Fort Watauga in eastern Tennessee. Daniel Boon later blazed this trail further through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. The Wilderness Road became a principal avenue to migration west. In the 19th century the road was impassable and deserted until it became a section of U. S. 25 and the Dixie Highway in 1926. Andrew Jackson was a state and national leader from the Tennessee area.
Cherokee and Chickasaw Indians who had lived in the Tennessee territory were forced to move west in late 1830s. The state seceded from the Union on June 8, 1861. During the Civil War a battle at Shiloh was one of the most important battles fought. After a victory at Fort Donelson, Grant moved up river for an attack on Corinth, Mississippi. On April 6, 1862, A. S. Johnson and P. G. T. Beauregard made a surprise attack, routing Federals. Johnson was killed and the next day Grant, with the aid of D. C. Buell's army of Ohio, counter attacked. Outnumbered, Beauregard withdrew to Corinth. The city was later abandoned to the Federals. The Battle at Shiloh was one of the bloodiest and most controversial battles of the war. It was the Unions victory at Shiloh that led to the later successful campaigns in the west. Two other battles at Murfreesboro and the Chattanooga Campaign aided the Union with victory.
Tennessee was the first state readmitted to the Union in March of 1866. The Tennessee Valley Authority which was established in 1933 has aided recent growth and diversification of industry. Tennessee covers a 42,244 square mile area. The Capitol is Nashville. The State Bird is the Mockingbird and the State Flower is the Iris.