Memphis, Tennessee

City: Memphis

County: Shelby

State: Tennessee

Lat/Long: 35.1333, -90.0333

Located on the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, ten miles north of the Mississippi border, Memphis is the county seat of Shelby County. Prior to European incursion into the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys, the area around what would become Memphis was home to a settlement of Chickasaw Indians. It became a strategic river port in the rivalry between Great Britain, France, and Spain in the eighteenth century, and French and Spanish erected forts in the area. In 1797, the United States established a military post at the site of the old Native American village, and in 1819, a colony mission sent by Andrew Jackson and other prominent Tennesseans established a village. The Tennessee General Assembly incorporated Memphis as a town in 1826, and in 1849, the General Assembly incorporated it as a city. Memphis quickly became a leading cotton market, second only to New Orleans. In 1850, it became a port of customs. At the beginning of the Civil War, Memphis became an important military center for the Confederacy, and in 1862, it became the temporary state capital. In June 1862, Memphis surrendered to Union forces after the Battle of Memphis, and it remained under Union occupation until the end of the war.

Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1997), 728; Courtlandt Canby, The Encyclopedia of Historic Places (New York: Facts on File, 1984), 2:588; James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 418.