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TN History for Kids

Teacher's guide to Whole Nations Melt Away

This page contains standards and background information, along with quiz answers, for the booklet Whole Nations Melt Away: The Volunteer State through 1850.

Rather than buying a single classroom set, please consider buying one for every student. We sell these booklets for $2 and print them on non-glossy paper because we want students to write in their booklets and keep them.

Regarding the quizzes: we tried hard to come up with thoughtful questions that meet curriculum objectives for non-fiction reading. Because of this, many of these questions have multiple right answers.

If you have any comments about the booklet or this teachers guide, please email Bill Carey at

Chapter One: Getting your hands dirty

Standard: 4.1

1. The development of corn was a big deal because corn can be made into many things that last a long time. You can grind corn into meal, which can be used to make foods weeks and even months later. Corn also has a higher nutritional value that any of the crops that preceded it.

2. Over the years, farmers, settlers and even modern developers have flattened and gotten rid of most of Tennessee's Misssissippian mounds. There are hundreds of examples of this all over Tennessee. For instance, when the settlers got to Fort Nashbough (present day Nashville), there were mounds right across the river, at the present site of the Titans NFL stadium. Those mounds were dug up and cleared out sometime before 1850.

3. ANSWERS MAY VARY. Truthfully, we don't know why they were buried together. Perhaps these women died at the same time. Perhaps they were different generations of elite women, and all the elite women were buried in the same place. If you go to Pinson Mounds, ask.

Chapter Two: A culture different than our own

Standards:4.2 and 4.9

1. Cherokee villages were always located next to a river, because a river gave them sources of water, food and transportation.

2. ANSWERS WILL VARY. All depends on the point of view of the student. They may think that differences of religion were the most important, but they also might think that differences in weaponry, tools or domesticating animals were more important.


Chapter Three: Explorers from another planet

Standards: 4.4 and 4.5

1. De Sotos' expedition brought with it axes, swords, cross-bows, armor and domesticated animals--all of which are listed in the text. He and his men also brought metal coins, books, clothes and eating utensils unlike the ones Native Americans would have seen. These last three things weren't mentioned in the text, but some of your smarter students may be able to come up with these on their own.

2. We don't go into this discussion very much in the text, but it is hard for us to know exactly where de Soto went because his army didn't leave much behind. And even though there are written accounts of the journey, it is hard for us to determine exactly where they were when certain things happened.

In fact, we are learning more about de Soto's journey all the time! Twice in recent years, archaeologists have found things left behind by de Soto's men in different Florida locations: Once near Tallahassee, the other near Ocala. If you google these things, you should be able to find information about them.

3. European diseases had a huge impact on Native Americans because the immune systems of Native Americans weren't able to cope with the onslaught of new diseases. This may be a complicated concept, but this is a big one. Kids may be aware that some people have stronger immune systems than others.

Chapter Four: Deerskins for a pistol

Standards: 4.10, 4.12, 4.22 and 4.23

1. They were hunting more deer in the late 1700s because deerskins became "legal tender"--deerskins could be exchanged with European settlers for weapons, gunpowder, metal tools and cloth.

2. Fort Loudoun was built by the British, and with the cooperation of the Cherokee, to give British troops a fort west of the mountains and give the Cherokee a place where they could exchange deerskins for goods. It was built at a time when the British were getting along well with the Cherokee.

3. ANSWERS MAY VARY. We assume George III did not enforce the Proclamation of 1763 because he didn't have enough soldiers and money to police the western frontier and stop explorers, longhunters and settlers who were moving beyond the boundary.

Chapter Five: Bewildered for three days

Standards: 4.20 and 4.53

1. Daniel Boone was the most famous longhunter.

2. Because they carried LONG guns and were gone for LONG periods of time.

3. ANSWERS MAY VARY. Let's see... they had to be good at shooting and aiming their weapons, tracking game, navigating , building shelters, making fire, surviving and swimming. I'm sure some of your students will come up with other legitimate answers.

Chapter Six: A dangerous example

Standards:4.20, 4.25, 4.34 and 4.36

1. This is a pretty deep question for fourth grader, but the idea here is to make the students aware that history should not be carved in granite because we are learning more about it all the time. We have always assumed that Bean was the first, and he has always been cited in books as the first, but for all we know, someone got here before he did. Perhaps one day we will discover an old manuscript, or letter, or something that says otherwise. It is possible.

2. It is safe to say that the early Tennessee settlers were suspicious of too much power being placed in the hands of one person. Also, they weren't trying to challenge King George III's authority with the Watauga Compact. They just wanted to create a system under which lawbreakers were punished.

3. Since the colonial governor of Virginia is not here for to us to ask, we are making assumptions about why he said anything. But perhaps he understood that any "government" made by people who were igoring the king's authority by migrating in the first place was a first step toward a rebellion.

Chapter Seven: Bloody Ground

Standards: 4.25, 4.34 and 4.36

1. Obviously the answer is either yes or no. It should be pointed out that both the Virginia and North Carolina legislatures later declared the Transylvania Purchase invalid, but by that time it was too late to stop the migration.

2. The settlers obviously thought George Washington was a real hero, and this was their way of taking sides in the American Revolution.

3. What it tells you is that the educational level was pretty high among Tennessee's early settlers (even though very few of them had actually been to organized schools)

Chapter Eight: Making do

Standard: 4.53

1. ANSWERS WILL VARY. Obviously, life on the frontier was nothing like it is for kids today.

2. This question requires students to refer back to Chapter Two. Many thoughtful students will realize that, even though Native American life was different than that of the early settlers, our lifestyle today is far different  than anything people back then could have foreseen.

Chapter Nine: Marks on the trees

Standard: 4.36

1. It was a harsh winter (it has to be really cold, and for a long time, for the Cumberland River to freeze over). They were attacked by Chickamaugans along the way. These are the two things your students will note.

2. They attacked the Middle Tennessee forts for various reasons, the main one being that they saw the forts as an illegal invasion onto their land.

Chapter Ten: Overmountain Men

Standards: 4.30 and 4.31

1. They invaded the South mainly because they thought that there were more tories in the south than there were in the north. They hoped that as their army worked its way through the south, it would gain support as it went.

2. This is a VERY IMPORTANT POINT. According to the current books about Kings Mountain, and according to the information presented at the Kings Mountain National Military Park, Ferguson was the ONLY person at the Battle who was actually trained to fight in England. This was a battle between southerners allied to King George III and southerners who were rebelling against the king.

3. It was obviously a big mistake for Ferguson to have issued the written warning, because it galvanized fighting men from as far away as present-day Tennessee to come fight him.

Chapter 11: Franklin and the Southwest Territory

Standards: 4.38 and 4.45

1. The answer to this question is not obvious, and books about the Lost State of Franklin devote entire chapters to how it was that the state of North Carolina opposed the creation of the state of Franklin. The safest answer is that the leaders in North Carolina weren't ready to see its western frontier be split off into another state yet. Some of North Carolina's leaders probably thought that they could continue to raise money through the sale of land in the western frontier.

2. The reason deerskins rather than "cash" was legal tender at that time is that "cash" as we know it did not exist yet.

3. We can assume that the people in the western settlement would have picked someone that they knew (such as John Sevier) rather than someone they didn't know.

Chapter 12: Blount's problems

Standard: 4.45

1. Since the stated purpose of the Treaty of the Holston was that "there shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all citizens of the United States of America and the individuals comprising the whole Cherokee nation of Indians," then the treaty has to be regarded as a failure. Practically every term of the treaty was violated within a few years, most notably, the territorial boundaries.

2. Interesting point: It was called the Treaty of the Holston because at that time, the river adjacent to the fort was called the Holston River. At a later time it was renamed the Tennessee River.

3. He did not officially "authorize" the Nickajack Expedition because the U.S. government had not told him that he could. The U.S. government was worried that its settlements in the Southwest Territory would drag the young nation into a war against Spain.

Chapter 13: Bugs, fleas and the itch

Standards: 4.53 and 4.57

1. Farms grew a little of everything because households had to provide just about everything for themselves at that time.

2. This is good question, and it may be that there were people in those days who would rather have slept outside than stay at an inn. But if you slept outside, you might be attacked by a wild animal, hostile Native American or criminal. Also, in the days before waterproof pup tents, it could get pretty cold sleeping outside in the rain or the snow.

3. This is a very important point. You would have travelled much faster in the spring than in the fall. Also, some rivers moved so much slower in the fall than in the spring that going upstream was only possible in the fall.

Sidebar: Land of the shakes - Standard: 4.52

Chapter 14: Revenge of the dirty shirts

Standards: 4.49, 4.51 and 4.53

1. It is wrong to simply say that an American army defeated Native Americans at Horseshoe Bend because there were Native Americans on both sides at Horseshoe Bend, including some Cherokee fighting for Jackson.

2. They did not know that a peace treaty had already been signed because in those days, it took weeks, even months, for news to travel that far.

3. The clearest result is that Andrew Jackson became a national hero, and this eventually helped him become president. Some historians have speculated that the lopsided nature of the Battle of New Orleans convinced the British that they did not want to fight another war against the United States. Also, the Battle of New Orleans gave Tennesseans a reputation for toughness.

Chapter 15: The place where they cried

Standards: 4.55 and 4.56

1. By 1825, most Cherokee were farmers, blacksmiths, tailors, or other occupations--similar to the types of occupations done by other Americans. Most Cherokee had adopted the American religion. Some Cherokees had fought for the U.S. Many Cherokee had also learned how to read!

2. Crockett believed that he lost his re-election bid because he opposed Jackson on the matter of Indian removal.

3. There is a Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina because about a thousand Cherokee simply refused to leave, and hid in the ravines and caves of the Great Smoky Mountains. The American army eventually let them stay in exchange for the arrest of Tsali.

Chapter 16: Old, young hickory

Standards: 4.55 and 4.63

1. Polk and Jackson were both born in the Carolinas, both migrated to Tennessee, both were U.S. Representatives from Tennessee, and they agreed on many things. However, Polk had a formal education; Jackson did not. Polk had a supportive family; Jackson did not. Polk was never a soldier; Jackson was a war hero.

2. A dark horse candidate is one that achieves unexpected success, especially during a political convention.

Sidebar: Gone to Texas - Standard: 4.62

Chapter 17: The other Tennesseans

Standards: 4.58, 4.60 and 4.61

1. West Tennessee had the most slaves, and East Tennessee had the fewest numbers of slaves.

2. One of Tennessee's wealthiest slaveowners, Montgomery Bell, decided toward the end of his life that slavery was wrong.

3. Embree published The Emancipator to be entirely devoted to the antislavery cause. His purpose, therefore, was to spread the anti-slavery opinion.