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The Antebellum period of 1840 to 1860 was a time of prosperity and cultural development for many Tennesseans. (Antebellum is from the Latin words ante, before, and bellum, war. It is used to signify the period before the Civil War.) Cities and towns became trade centers, as railroads and steamboats drew people closer together. The increasing prosperity manifested itself in several ways. Artists, whether trained or self-taught, found a ready market for their skills as the rising middle and upper classes sought to have their portraits painted. Silversmiths, gunsmiths, tailors, and other craftsmen established themselves in cities and towns. Exhibits of Tennessee-made silver, firearms, and quilts attest to that prosperity. Another display on African American life points out that one-fourth of Tennessee’s population were blacks who not only did not share in the state’s prosperity but also lived as slaves unable to control their own lives.
Contact: (615) 741-2692
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Closed Mondays and four holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.