History of Knoxville, TN

As the first capital of the state of Tennessee, Knoxville has a lot of heritage from history that is still being preserved. The city has its origins from Scotland and Ireland with its founder James White establishing a fort and cluster of cabins there in the year 1786. Before being turned into a settlement by the Scot-Irish man, Knoxville had once been the hunting grounds for Cherokee Indians.

Between the year 1786 to early 1791, the settlement was known by the name James White Fort before it was renamed Knoxville later in the year 1791. During that period, the community was named the capital of the Southwest Territory and enjoyed the status that came with the name. In the year 1794, the town became home to present the day University of Tennessee formerly called Blount College.

When Tennessee eventually became a state in 1796, Knoxville became its first capital. The country saw a lot of development during this period as it served as a center of commerce for bordering mountain communities and also a way station for westbound migrants. The growth was continuous up until the early 1900s.

During the 1800s, the government of Knoxville took advantage of its geographical location, access to railroad and proximity to the river to achieve a top position as a major distribution center in the South. The presence of water and rail transport as well as it being surrounded by mineral wealth made Knoxville a prize to be fought for during the American Civil War. During the civil war, the city saw its fair share of both Union and Confederates occupation.

The Confederate had a strong presence in the city from the early 1861s to early September 1863 although the town was mainly pro-Union. However, late 1863 saw a change of ownership as Union soldiers entered the city unopposed. During the Battle of Fort Sanders, Confederate forces tried to lay siege to the town but it was mostly unsuccessful.

After the events of the war, the citizens of Knoxville went about the process of rebuilding the city’s economy through the avenues of commerce and industry. A lot of business leaders emerged from the North establishing significant organizations dealing in iron, textiles, marble, lumber, and coal among others. The presence of abundant natural resources and its river-generated energy also played a part in establishing Knoxville as a high power in the State.

As the city was a connection between great manufacturing industries and Southern Appalachia, Knoxville later grew to become the 3rd largest wholesaling center in the North. Knoxville also earned the nickname “Marble City” because marble resources extracted from it was used in the construction of several monuments and buildings in the city. The growth of the city was slowed down in the 1900s as a result of political rifts encouraging secession.

The creation of federal entities and the expansion of the University of Tennessee helped in introducing stability to the economy in the 1930s. Later in 1960, the city became more upon to change, diversification and urban renewal. Now, the modern-day Knoxville serves as home for leaders of industry, pioneers of art and traditionalists still working on preserving its history.

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