Ten'nessee, one of the central southern states of the American Union, is surrounded by Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, and separated by the Mississippi River from Arkansas and Missouri.
Its mean length is 385 miles, its mean width 109 miles; area, 42,050 sq. m. East Tennessee extends from the Unaka and Smoky Mountains to the crest of the Cumberland Plateau, contains some of the great ridges of the Appalachians, and abounds in magnificent scenery. Between the eastern ridges and the plateau stretches a valley region 100 miles wide, sloping from N. to S. Along its western edge the plateau rises in a bold wall 100 to 200 feet high; and on the plateau are the ridges and peaks of the Cumberland Mountains. The southern end is divided-into two arms by a deep gorge with perpendicular sides (800 to 1000 feet). Between the Tennessee River in its northern course and the Cumberland Mountains is Middle Tennessee, presenting a varied landscape of mountains, plains, hills, and valleys. Between the Tennessee and the Mississippi rivers lies the western division. From the ridge bounding the Tennessee valley on the west, slopes a rolling plain, terminating in a steep bluff, beyond which are the alluvial bottom lands of the Mississippi. The coal-measures occupy an area of 5100 sq. m., and the seams are of exceptional thickness. The deposits of iron ore are practically inexhaustible; copper and zinc are found, and the marbles are celebrated. Several famous mineral springs are the resorts of invalids. The soil is fertile, and the forests of hard-wood timber constitute a great natural source of wealth. The climate is generally mild. Herbage is often green throughout the year, and cattle graze during the winter months. The rainfall amounts to 54 inches. The drainage of the state is ultimately received by the Mississippi. The Cumberland River, which enters the state from Kentucky, flows about 150 miles through the northern central part and then re-enters Kentucky. The Tennessee (800 miles), the largest affluent of the Ohio, formed by the Clinch and the Holston, flows southward through the depression in East Tennessee into Alabama, and then back northward across the state towards the Ohio. Agriculture is the leading industry. The staple crops are corn, cotton, hemp, tobacco, and peanuts. Stock-raising is extensively carried on. The production of pig-iron has greatly increased, and factories for machinery, agricultural implements, etc, have become numerous. There are also many cotton, woollen, flour, and paper mills, besides tobacco-factories and potteries. The chief towns are Memphis, the largest city (105,000), Nashville, the capital (82,000), Knox-ville (33,000), and Chattanooga (31,000). The first permanent settlement was made in 1756; territorial government was established in 1790; and in 1796 Tennessee became a state. It was the last state to secede in 1861, and the first to re-enter the Union in 1866. Pop. (1800) 105,602; (1850) 1,002,717; (1880) 1,542,359; (1900) 2,020,616 (480,430 coloured). See Histories by Ramsey (1860), Carpenter (1863), Phelan (1889), and Thruston's Antiquities of Tennessee (1890).