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Tennessee during 1939-1945


Tennessee spring
Tennessee spring

During World War II (1939-1945), the Tennessee National Guard was among the first to be called into federal service. The guard units marched off to forts in September 1940, even before the United States entered the war. Many of those mustered in from the guard served for the duration of the war, and most of those participated in the Normandy (Normandie) invasion of 1944. Thousands of other soldiers were sent to the Pacific theater to protect American interests against Japan. There they fought at Okinawa and a host of other islands in the Pacific.

The outbreak of the war provided a strong stimulus for industrial development in the state. During the war, the federal government established the Oak Ridge atomic research plants, where scientists in the Manhattan Project secretly worked in the production of atomic bombs. Other defense industries, including aircraft and munitions plants, were located in the state. By the war’s end, total income from industry surpassed agricultural income for the first time.

Population growth and change have been striking during the past half century, especially during the past 25 years when the population grew by 25 percent. After 1945 a shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial and service economy was apparent, and the 1950 census showed that the urban population for the first time exceeded the rural. Cities exhibited remarkable growth while a few remote rural counties experienced declines. While the estimated state population in 1995 exceeded 5 million, Memphis, with more than 600,000, and Nashville, with 500,000, made up more than 20 percent of the total. Unemployment is very low in several of the heavily industrialized counties but is more than 40 percent in some rural counties. The state’s per capita income has grown from $3,000 in 1970 to more than $19,000 in 1995.

Rutherford County, in the center of the state, is the fastest growing county in the nation. The influx of foreign capital and industry has brought employment to thousands. Typical are the plants of the Japanese companies Nissan Motors and Bridgestone Tire and Rubber Company near Nashville. Urban population growth in the early 1960s resulted in city dwellers going to federal court to get more equitable representation in the legislature and other representative bodies. The ultimate result was a renowned 1962 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Baker v. Carr, ordering reapportionment. As a result of this precedent, city dwellers have gained more equitable representation in many states. In Tennessee this has increased the political strength of urban blacks. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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