First visited by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540, the Tennessee area would later be claimed by both France and England as a result of the 1670s and 1680s explorations of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, Sieur de la Salle, and James Needham and Gabriel Arthur. Great Britain obtained the area after the French and Indian Wars in 1763.
During 1784-1787, the settlers formed the “state“ of Franklin, which was disbanded when the region was allowed to send representatives to the North Carolina legislature. In 1790 Congress organized the territory south of the Ohio River, and Tennessee joined the Union in 1796.
The state is now predominantly industrial; the majority of its population lives in urban areas. Among the most important products are chemicals, textiles, apparel, electrical machinery, furniture, and leather goods. Other lines include food processing, lumber, primary metals, and metal products. The state ranks high in the production of marble, zinc, pyrite, and ball clay.
Tennessee's largest crop is soybean, contributing about 11% to the state's total agricultural receipts. The state is also a leading tobacco producer. Other farming income is derived from livestock and dairy products, as well as greenhouse and nursery products and cotton.
With six other states, Tennessee shares the extensive federal reservoir developments on the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems. The Tennessee Valley Authority operates a number of dams and reservoirs in the state.
Among the major points of interest are the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site at Greeneville, the American Museum of Atomic Energy at Oak Ridge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson near Nashville), Rock City Gardens near Chattanooga, and three National Military Parks.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- James Agee writer;
- Eddy Arnold singer;
- Chet Atkins guitarist;
- Julian Bond Georgia legislator;
- Davy Crockett frontiersman;
- Miley Cyrus actor, singer;
- David G. Farragut first American admiral;
- Lester Flatt bluegrass musician;
- Tennessee Ernie Ford singer;
- Abe Fortas jurist;
- Aretha Franklin singer;
- Nikki Giovanni poet;
- Al Gore, Jr. vice president;
- Red Grooms artist;
- Isaac Hayes composer;
- Benjamin L. Hooks civil rights activist;
- Cordell Hull secretary of state;
- Andrew Jackson president;
- Andrew Johnson president;
- Estes Kefauver legislator;
- Anita Kerr singer;
- Grace Moore soprano;
- Bettie Page model, pinup;
- Dolly Parton singer;
- Minnie Pearl singer and comedienne;
- James K. Polk president;
- Grantland Rice sportswriter;
- Carl Rowan journalist;
- Wilma Rudolph sprinter;
- Sequoyah Cherokee scholar and educator;
- Cybil Shepherd actress;
- Dinah Shore actress and singer;
- Quentin Tarantino filmmaker;
- Tina Turner singer;
- Usher singer;
- Alvin York World War I hero.