While some of the most famous natives to Tennessee are likely Elvis Presley and Alvin York, the the earliest people to settle the hills of Tennessee were Paleo-Indians, who arrived about 11,000 years ago. Over several thousnad years a thriving civilization developed, much of which can still be observed in various archaeological sites today. However the names of these earliest tribes has been lost to the eons of time. Known by various archaeological names, including Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian, these people were builders of great mounts that can be seen in the region.

The area was explored by the Spanish in the 16th century, and at the time what is today modern day Tennessee was inhabited by the Muscogee and Yuchi tribes, among some other smaller groups. After the American Revolution, Tennessee became the 16th state of the Union in 1796, and the various tribes in the region were displaced by migration of the Cherokee from the East; and later these tribes, including the Cherokee, along with others including the Chickasw and Choctaw were forced to move to the Indian Territory that is modern Oklahoma. The name Tennessee actually comes from a word, “tanasi” in the Cherokee language, and it is believed to mean “village” and was possibly the name of the capital of the Cherokee nation.

Much of the American Civil War, from 1861 until 1865, was fought in Tennessee, which was actually the last border state to secede from the Union. Among the largest battles was the Confederate counterattack at Shiloh in April 1862. After the war the state adopted a new constitution and rarified the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery.  

During the Great Depression of the 1930s the state was the center of efforts to provide rural electrification as a job creation program that became the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is the nation’s largest public utility. And during World War II the site of Oak Ridge was one of the main locations the Manhattan Project, of America’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.