Finding out who discovered Tennessee will be a bit hard. For one thing there have been several inhabitants of the area even before western pioneers drove in. The place was inhabited by various peoples covering a span of several thousands of years. It will be a tough task to name that really discovered the territory since there are no records that would indicate that fact.
Though researchers are unable to tell who discovered Tennessee archaeologists were able to decipher several cultural phases in its early history. Each phase covers a specific span of time covering several hundred years or even more. The earliest phase in Tennessee history is the Archaic Phase which spans from 8000 BC to 1000 BC. Next is the Woodland phase spanning from 1000 BC to 1000 AD. Lastly we have the Mississippian Phase from 1000 AD to 1600 AD.
Contact with Europeans
There were three expeditions into the said area conducted by Europeans. Though such excursions have been the earliest recorded explorations, we cannot credit the said explorers as the ones who discovered Tennessee. The excursions were led by Spanish explorers. The first one was in 1540 which was led by Hernando de Soto. It was followed by the one led by Tristan de Luna who explored the territory in 1559. The third was in 1567 led by Juan Pardo.
Tennessee was then inhabited by various Native American peoples. Particularly the Yuchi and Muscogee. These native tribes were ravaged by disease brought by European settlers. This also forced the Cherokee people to migrate to the south into the area that we now know as Virginia. Other displaced natives included the Chickasaw and Choctaw.
From this we can see that the ancient people who have inhabited the area may well be considered as the ones who discovered Tennessee. We may only credit European explorers as the first outsiders to discover the area. The 1760’s were a time of great exploration, which was mainly conducted by long hunters. Later in that same decade came European settlers who made permanent colonies in the area.
Statehood and Later History
Tennessee was the 16th state to enter the Union in the year 1796. In 1861 secessionists wanted Tennessee to sever any relationship with the United States. However, such efforts were in vain since voters rejected the move by a margin of 54-46%. A lot of the battles fought in the American Civil War were fought within Tennessee territory. It included both naval battles and those fought over land.
Though European explorers were said to be the ones who discovered Tennessee we may not completely give them the credit. This is due to the fact that there were already Native American settlements in the said area who may well be credited as the ones who discovered Tennessee.