Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee

Section 2: The Land Beckons
Natalie L. Haslam Signature Gallery

The Land Beckons

Their vallies are of the richest soil…. Should this country once come into the hands of the Europeans, they may with propriety call it the American Canaan.
—J. W. Gerard DeBrahm, Fort Loudoun engineer, 1756
The great God of Nature has placed us in different situations…. He has given each their land…he has stocked yours with cows, ours with buffaloe; yours with hog, ours with bear; yours with sheep, ours with deer.
—Chief Old Tassel, 1777

Long before there was a United States or a state of Tennessee, the land that is now East Tennessee was a magnet for travelers and settlers. First, Native Peoples. Then, the Europeans. The prospects of a better life outweighed both the challenges and dangers posed by the land and the inevitable conflicts between two divergent ways of living. This is the story of early East Tennessee told by the voices of its people.

"Gateway to the West: Daniel Boone Leading the Settlers through the Cumberland Gap, 1775" by David Wright, 2002