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Knoxville History, Tennessee

Knoxville History – Town Territory

Knoxville history begins with the European settlers that came to the area and occupied it illegally, as the territory still belonged to the Cherokees. This caused many tensions that failed to go away over the years and by the end of the 18th century they had already reached a point of maximum instability. In 1786 a man named James White was the first to build up a settlement in the area and also made plans for the construction of a town on the land he had previously bought. The parcels were separated and designed for a cemetery, a church, a school and the town common. Under George Washington’s presidency what followed was the urge to clearly separate territories through legal documents, so the Cherokees finally decided which part of the land they would cede and the capital of the newly acquired land was named Knoxville after a general from the Revolutionary War. Still, the terms of the contract were not very clear and when the Cherokees’ chief was called for negotiations the whites murdered his wife without any orders and thus made the tensions continue till 1794.

Knoxville History – Early Development and Political Choice

Early accounts about Knoxville (which served as a capital for both the Territory South of the River Ohio and for Tennessee) describe the city as a quiet one where still several murders took place and where people had mean drinking habits and didn’t frequent church at all. Still, due to its location on the riverfront, Knoxville soon developed and turned into a regional trading center, surpassing Asheville and Kingsport. Tobacco and whisky were traded for cotton and once the Georgia railway was built in 1855 the population started thriving and quickly grew in numbers. Although the atmosphere in the city was largely anti-slavery and anti-secession, the cotton business that depended on the south led to a pro secession movement that finally ended with devastating attack upon the city form the Union, although forts were being build all around in order to protect the population.

Knoxville History – Modern City History

The period after the war swathe city recovering at a relatively rapid pace due to the numerous investors that arrived in the territory. Lots of companies and more than 100 factories were established and there were massive productions of iron, textiles and food products. Unfortunately, this was the very reason for which the great depression was such a devastating period in Knoxville history. The constant flooding of the Tennessee valley also heavily damaged the city and there came the moment when Knoxville was called the ugliest city in America, which led to constant efforts from local authorities to improve its aspect. Since then the downtown area has improved significantly, infrastructure was made more viable and several administrative, business and cultural centers were built.


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