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As Burnside was fortifying Knoxville, the Confederate army defeated the Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga (near the Tennessee-Georgia line) and laid siege to Chattanooga.On November 3, 1863, the Confederates sent General James Longstreet to attack Burnside at Knoxville.Blount County, just south of Knoxville, had developed into a center of abolitionist activity, due in part to its relatively large Quaker faction and the anti-slavery president of Maryville College, Isaac Anderson. Ramsey, a prominent historian whose father had built the Ramsey House in 1797.Business interests, however, guided largely by Knoxville's trade connections with cotton-growing centers to the south, contributed to the development of a strong pro-secession movement within the city. Thus, while East Tennessee and greater Knox County voted decisively against secession in 1861, the city of Knoxville favored secession by a 2-1 margin.Abishai Thomas, a friend of William Blount, visited Knoxville in 1794 and wrote that, while he was impressed by the town's modern frame buildings, the town had "seven taverns" and no church.Knoxville initially thrived as a way station for travelers and migrants heading west.The arrival of the railroad in 1855 led to an economic boom.Following the war, Knoxville grew rapidly as a major wholesaling and manufacturing center.
Blount believed that he had "purchased" much of what is now East Tennessee when the treaty was signed in 1791.Its location at the confluence of three major rivers in the Tennessee Valley brought flatboat and later steamboat traffic to its waterfront in the first half of the 19th century, and Knoxville quickly developed into a regional merchandising center.Local agricultural products—especially tobacco, corn, and whiskey—were traded for cotton, which was grown in the Deep South.' Among the most prominent citizens of Knoxville during the Antebellum years was James White's son, Hugh Lawson White (1773–1840). In 1836, White ran unsuccessfully for president, representing the Whig Party.However, the terms of the treaty came under dispute, culminating in continued violence on both sides.When the government invited the Cherokee's chief Hanging Maw for negotiations in 1793, Knoxville settlers attacked the Cherokee against orders, killing the chief's wife. Early issues of the Knoxville Gazette—the first newspaper published in Tennessee—are filled with accounts of murder, theft, and hostile Cherokee attacks.
First settled in 1786, Knoxville was the first capital of Tennessee.