Did you know Murfreesboro was the state capital from 1818 till 1825?
The Tennessee General Assembly met only every other year in the
early days – after all Tennessee was still a very young state having
been established only 25 years earlier.
Knoxville was the first center of state government from 1796 till 1812
when the general assembly moved to Nashville (1812-1817).
1817 saw the capital return to Knoxville, but it wasn’t long before the
general assembly moved to the geographic center of the state -
The General Assembly held its sessions in the Rutherford County
courthouse until the courthouse burned in 1822. Following this
unfortunate incident the Legislature met in the two-story
Presbyterian Church on East Vine Street, present day location of the
old City Cemetery. You see, during the Civil War, the Federal
occupation troops razed the Presbyterian Church, as a form of
retaliation against the local population…
James K. Polk was a student at Bradley Academy in Murfreesboro,
served as a clerk for the Senate during these capital years; Sam
Houston was adjutant-general. Davy Crockett was a member of the
Legislature. Andrew Jackson was a frequent visitor in Murfreesboro
while the Legislature was in session.
Just think about it – Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk and
Andrew Jackson were all in Murfreesboro – at the same time-
conducting the business of state government.
What was Murfreesboro like during the town’s stint as the State
Capital? Murfreesboro was a boom town having been established in
seven years prior in 1811. A whopping 950 citizens claimed
Murfreesboro as their home with only 19,000 residents in all
When the General Assembly was in its biennial session (again, the
Legislature met only every other year), businesses in Murfreesboro
flourished. Tavern keepers and boarding houses were crowded with
members and visitors. There was a race track a short distance from
center of town.
The State Assembly left in 1826, never to return.
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