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Tennessee State History for Kids

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The state of Tennessee has a lot of history along with its fair share of famous people, resources and great places to visit. The weather is also fairly decent year-round, with a long growing season. The Smoky Mountains are not only beautiful for vacationers but offers many activities that you can enjoy. Here’s more Tennessee State History and what has shaped it into such a great state to not only visit, but live.  

The state of Tennessee has a lot of history, famous people, resources and great places to visit. Here’s more Tennessee State History, did you know these? #history #tennessee #unitstudy #roadschooling #ourroaminghearts | Tennessee History | Unit Study | Tennessee Unit Study | Roadschooling | Homeschooling

Tennessee State History for Kids

This is just part of our Tennessee State Unit Study that includes books, movies, and crafts!


Tennessee was first visited by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto back in 1540. The state of Tennessee was admitted into the Union on June 1, 1796, becoming only the 16th  state to do so. President George Washington signed a bill so that the state could begin taking shape. 

Indian Tribes and Facts

The state of Tennessee had several Indian tribes that were spread out all over the state. Cherokee, Catawba, Chiaha, Shawnee, Chickasaw, Natchez, Mosopelia and the Kaskinampo tribes were the main native peoples that lived there.

A vast majority of these tribes were relocated by congress, due to the Removal Bill of 1830. Then in 1838, they were completely removed from their lands, in what is known as The Trail of Tears, where over 4,000 Native Americans died along the way. 

Related: Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park – Manchester, Tennessee  



The state of Tennessee is made up of a temperate climate that consists of warm summers and mild winters. The geographical landscapes and terrain create different weather conditions all over the state.  

Native Animals and Plants

Tennessee’s native animals include squirrels, foxes, bobcats, bats, and black bears in the eastern part of the state. Native plants include azaleas, zinnias, ironweed, thistles, and buttonbush. 

tennessee state flag
Tennessee State Flag

State Flag History

The Tennessee state flag is a crimson flag, with a blue circle in the middle that contains three white stars. There is also a navy blue bar at the end of the flag. The three stars represent the different geographical divisions of the state, which vary from the west, middle and eastern parts of the state. The flag was designed by LeRoy Reeves and adopted by the legislature on April 17, 1905. 

Raccoon Tennessee State Animal

State Animals, Food, Songs

The state animal of Tennessee is the raccoon, while the state birds are the Northern Mockingbird and the Northern Bobwhite.

Irises are the state flower.

The state’s nickname is The Volunteer State, because of how many volunteers signed up during the War of 1812.

Rocky Top, since 1982 is the official state song, written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant.

As far as food is concerned, the residents of Tennessee enjoy a barbecue, whether it’s pulled pork sandwiches or ribs that are lavished in barbecue sauce. Coleslaw and spicy beans usually complete the meal.  

Important State History Dates

  • 1838- Tennessee is the first state to pass a temperance law. 
  • June 8, 1861– Tennessee is the last state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. 
  • 1865-The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Pulaski County. 
  • July 26, 1866– Tennessee becomes the first state to rejoin the Union. 
  • 1915- Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. 
  • 1925-The “Scopes Monkey Trial” takes place. Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution and were found guilty and fined $100. 
  • 1925– The Grand Ole Opry is born, which is now the longest-running radio music shows in history. Thousands of country legends, writers and singers have performed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. 
Johnny Cash Museum
Johnny Cash

Famous People

The state of Tennessee has several people that lived or were born there. Several of these include the legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett, Hattie Caraway, the first-ever women elected senator. Songwriters Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus, football player Reggie White and former vice president Al Gore.   

My favorite Tennessee residents are Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton!

Related: Johnny Cash Museum – Nashville, Tennessee


Limestone is the most valuable mined resource, that is used to build highways and used to create cement. Coal and zinc come in second and third as the state’s most valuable mined resources. Tobacco is the most important crop in the state. 

Cotton, soybeans, corn are also important crops that are produced, while peaches are the leading fruit. However, the most valuable of the state’s agricultural income comes from producing beef cattle. Farmland and agriculture make up more than half the state. 

Related: 45 Amazing Free Things to Do in Nashville TN

Make the most of your time in Nashville. Use this extensive
Nashville – Tennessee State Capitol

State Capitol History

During the state’s history, 4 Tennessee towns have served as the state’s capital. Knoxville was the first city, and then from 1796 to 1812, Nashville became the capital. Kingston served as the capital for only one day! 

Then in 1817 the capital moved back to Knoxville and then to Murfreesboro the following year. Then in 1826 was moved back to Nashville, where the legislature voted on it to become the permanent home for the capital. 

Related: Top 21 Things To Do on Your Nashville Vacation

Current Population/Average Income

There is an estimated population of 6.54 million people in the state of Tennessee, with an average income of $51,340 a year. 

Grand Ole Opry

State Landmarks

Tennessee is full of landmarks that are unique and offer different experiences. For country music lovers, you’ll want to see the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville

There’s also Graceland, Elvis Pressley’s home in Memphis. Take a tour of the home and property of the historic Belle Meade Plantation that has stood for centuries.

You can tour President Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage. 

Then you have the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with places like Cades Cove and Clingman Dome! 

Gatlinburg Overlook
Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination that’s situated just before the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest. The mountain scenery is stunning, especially a view of Clingmans Dome. Visitors enjoy horseback riding, ziplines, great hiking trails to several waterfalls and seeing wildlife in Cades Cove.

Right next door to Gatlinburg is Pigeon Forge the two practically run together. Pigeon Forge holds many museums like the Titanic Museum, Alcatraz East and more. This is also where Dollywood it. 

Nashville is another neat place to visit. Being the heart of country music, you’ll want to head over to the legendary Grand Ole Opry for a visit. The city also has a great night time atmosphere with several bars, pubs, and restaurants to choose from. 

Visitors also come to Chattanooga Tennessee to check out the Ruby Falls and the Rock City Gardens.  The Tennessee Aquarium and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway are other neat places to check into.    

Memphis is known as the home of the Blues. Home to Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the Civil Right museum, this is also home to the famous Memphis BBQ!

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sign

List of National Parks and NPS Sites 

What is your favorite part of Tennessee State History?

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