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TN History for Kids

Middle Five: The top ten list

Tennessee History for Kids has produced a video that goes great with this section. In the segment, called "What kind of a MALL is this???," History Bill checks out Nashville's Bicentennial Mall and finds an outdoor museum of Tennessee history. And he always did want to walk across the state in seconds.

We've put together a list of things we think every Tennessean should know:

Tennessee's "state birthday" was June 1, 1796.
How old does that make the state now?
PHOTO: Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

1. In 1796 Tennessee became the 16th state in the United States. But most of what we now call Tennessee was still Native American land back then.

2. Tennessee's flag is red, with a circle in the middle that has three stars in it. The three stars represent East, Middle and West Tennessee -- Tennessee's three "grand divisions.

3. The name "Tennessee" was originally the name of a Cherokee Indian village in Monroe County (once spelled "Tanase"). We now think that the village was part of the Yuchi tribe before that time. In any case, unfortunately, the site of Tanase is now underwater.

A window on Memphis' Beale Street

4. Nashville hasn't always been the state capital. Earlier in Tennessee's history, the capital was Knoxville, Kingston and Murfreesboro.

5. Three American presidents came from Tennessee -- those being Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson. However, none of the three were actually born in Tennessee. All three of them were born in the Carolinas and quickly corrected the situation by moving to Tennessee.

6. The largest cities in Tennessee are Memphis and Nashville, which have about the same population, followed by Knoxville and Chattanooga.

7. If you had to pick a single thing Tennessee is known for, that would be music.

A few years ago the federal government began a program under which quarters were designed to honor each state. There was little doubt in anyone's mind that Tennessee's quarter should reflect the state's musical heritage.

On the Tennessee quarter, shown here, the fiddle represents East Tennessee, the guitar reflects Middle Tennessee, and the trumpet represents West Tennessee.

Former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist (left),
former Tennessee Governor (and current
US Senator) Lamar Alexander (middle), and
current Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
PHOTO: Office of Governor Haslam

8. Tennessee's two U.S. Senators are Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of whom are Republicans. Corker was re-elected in 2012 and will have to run again in 2018. Alexander was re-elected in 2014, so his seat won't be up again until 2020. Tennessee also has nine U.S. Congressional districts. If you don't know the name of your Congressman, you need to learn that immediately. Click here to find out.

9. Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State because the state has a long history of its citizens volunteering for military duty.

10. The governor of Tennessee is Bill Haslam. He will finish serving two terms in 2018 and cannot run for a third term under the state constitution.

Click here to learn more about him in the next chapter of the Intermediate Civics section of Tennessee History for Kids.