Moving West – The Cumberland Gap 1779–96


Map Code: Ax00562

The Cumberland Gap is a pass at the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains and is known as ‘the gateway to the west’. In 1790 North Carolina handed this area of land over to the Federal government who called it the Southwest Territory. There were many Euro-American settlers in the region who had moved there to escape the American Revolutionary War. In 1796, this land became the 16th state of Tennessee. White’s Fort became the state capital, Knoxville, and settlements were established throughout the Gap. The Cumberland Gap was used as a hunting ground by the Cherokee Indians, who leased land to the settlers. However, the Cherokees resented their presence, creating tension. To the north of Tennessee, Virginia established the region beyond the Appalachian Mountains as Kentucky, giving them state-hood. This was formalized by the Federal government in 1792.

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