Interpretive Themes

How the Civil War and Reconstruction transformed this nation's economic, social, and political structures has been a major storyline in American history for over 130 years. In the South, transformation occurred on a dramatic scale through changes brought about by the end of slavery, urbanization, industrialization, the rise to power of the Republican party, and the temporary extension of the franchise to African-American males.

Tennessee is an ideal laboratory to explore these changes. Tennessee has extreme geographical diversity (from Appalachia to the Delta), a legacy of physical changes upon the land (it saw the second-most battles of any state), and was home to Reconstruction President Andrew Johnson and major Reconstruction institutions such as Fisk University.

This story of transformation can be traced through the Heritage Area's five major themes.


1. War Clouds on the Horizon

2. Battles and Leaders, 1861-1865

3. Occupation and the Homefront, 1861-1865

4. Reconstruction, 1865-1875

5. Legacies, 1870-1930