Tennessee history is long and varied but one aspect of it stands apart from all the rest and has presented itself as the main artery of Tennessee and its history since the 16th century, the Mississippi. The Mississippi River has been the stage upon which the region's inhabitants lives have unfolded. The cultural phenomena that have unraveled along the banks of the river are parallel to the valley's physical environment. In Tennessee history the Mississippi has witnessed great changes over the years.
Tennessee history unfolds through the rise and then the fall of paramount Native American colonies in the beginning of Tennessee history, the influx of the initial European explorers, the Civil War, the era of steam powered river boats, the great cotton trade, the intonation of gospel music, the rhythms of soul and blues and finally "The King" of rock and roll, Elvis Presley himself. The region has also been blessed with exceedingly fertile soil deposited by seasonal flooding which has given the area extremely productive agricultural soils which are some of the best in North America.
Tennessee history facts denote that explorer Hernando de Soto happened upon the Mississippi Valley in about 1540 and was the first one to make contact with Native communities in the area and see the great river. 1682 saw the first building erected by whites in Tennessee named Fort Prudhomme. Tennessee history facts show a second fort was built in 1739-1740 in present-day Memphis. A land rush ensued over the years because of the rich natural resources such as the river transportation, the rich soil and the fantastic hardwood perfect for building.
As Tennessee history facts state, control over the Mississippi as a transport route was high priority because of the immense strategic value. The initial extreme battles of the Civil War were fought along the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee river systems. Approximately 10,000 people watched from the safety of the river bluffs as the Civil War raged on.
Bitter politics and violence led to the infamous Memphis
Race Riot of 1866 which left 2 white residents and 46
African American residents for dead. Tennessee history
facts show that it was this event that eventually led
to the passage of a federal Civil Rights Bill and the
14th Amendment to the Constitution. This monumental piece
of history can be better understood from a visit to the Civil Rights
Museum in Memphis. Around that time Memphis became
a motley crowd of segregated neighborhoods and many African
American slaves were bing set free and establishing their
Tennessee's merging railroad system transformed it into a bustling trade center and the economy took off. After this time in the history of Tennessee, in about the 1890's urban and industrial expansion boomed and carried the Tennessee people ahead until the 3 time devastation of the massive floods of 1927, the Great Depression and more devastating floods in 1937. Things started looking up in the history of Tennessee and after sometime, levees were brought to the river as well as an entire new infrastructure network of roads, river improvements and utilities. Industry shaped towns and cities and altered the traits of cotton farming throughout the area.
From war, autonomy, soil, labor, trial and celebration
came a gilded cultural legacy that was expressed through
music. American roots music flourished and grew into its
own musical category through musicians such as Lucie Campbell,
Herbert Brewster and the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy.
Elvis personified rockabilly music from his first recordings
at Sun Studio and these
musical traditions forever changed the sounds echoing
throughout the Mississippi Valley.