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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.
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Tennessee 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.
Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state besides Virginia, and more soldiers for the Union Army than the rest of the Confederacy combined. Beginning during Reconstruction, it had competitive party politics, but a Democratic takeover in the late 1880s resulted in passage of disenfranchisement laws that excluded most blacks and many poor whites from voting. This sharply reduced competition in politics in the state until after passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-20th century. In the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from an agrarian economy to a more diversified economy, aided by massive federal investment in the Tennessee Valley Authority and, in the early 1940s, the city of Oak Ridge. This city was established to house the Manhattan Project’s uranium enrichment facilities, helping to build the world’s first atomic bomb, which was used during World War II.
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Tennessee’s major industries include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Poultry, soybeans, and cattle are the state’s primary agricultural products, and major manufacturing exports include chemicals, transportation equipment, and electrical equipment. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Other major tourist attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga; Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg; the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg; Elvis Presley’s Graceland residence and tomb, the Memphis Zoo, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; and Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol.
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The state of Tennessee has 202,185 miles of roadway within its state lines. 1,073 of the state’s roadway miles are composed of solely Interstate Highways. Tennessee has six primary interstates and nine auxiliary interstates. Of these interstates, Interstate 40 is the longest at 455.28 miles. I-40 runs east-west throughout the entire state, from the Arkansas state line at the Mississippi River, crossing through major cities such as Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, and Knoxville, before ending at the northern base of the Great Smoky Mountains at the North Carolina state line. I-40 also has five branch interstate highways, I-240 in Memphis; I-440 in Nashville; I-840 in Nashville; I-140 from Knoxville to Alcoa; and I-640 in Knoxville. Other primary east-west routes in the state include Interstate 26 (begins in Kingsport, TN and ends at the North Carolina state line) and Interstate 24 (I-24 at the Kentucky state line to I-75 in Chattanooga). The longest north-south interstate highway is Interstate 75 which runs 161.86 miles from I-75 at the Georgia state line to I-75 at the Kentucky state line. The other north-south interstate highways are I-55 (I-55 at the Mississippi state line to I-55 at the Arkansas state line), I-65 (I-65 at the Alabama state line to I-65 at the Kentucky state line), and I-81 (I-40 in Dandridge, TN to I-81 at the Virginia state line).