Eight states neighbor Tennessee: Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. Tennessee is tied with Missouri for having the most bordering states.
Much of the land that comprises modern-day Tennessee was a part of North Carolina in colonial times. In 1784, residents of a portion of what is now eastern Tennessee attempted to break away from North Carolina and form a state known as Franklin. They claimed to have named their would-be state for Benjamin Franklin, likely in an effort to garner his backing, which he politely declined. Franklin never gained admission into the Union and dissolved in 1788. In 1789, North Carolina ceded the land that is now Tennessee to the federal government. For about six years, this area was referred to as the “Southwest Territory.” Tennessee joined the United States in 1796, making it the 16th state and the first state to be born out of a former federal territory.
Tennessee’s longest border is with Kentucky to its north, but contrary to widespread belief, this border isn’t a straight line. Due to the inaccuracies inherent with the surveying equipment and techniques of the early 1800s, Tennessee’s northern border wanders north and south, particularly in eastern and central Tennessee. Additionally, Tennessee’s border with Georgia -- which was initially supposed to lie at a latitude of 35 degrees north -- actually lies at about 34 degrees north.
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