Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee, behind Memphis, and the fifth largest city in the southeastern United States. It is known as a center of the country music industry, earning it the nickname "Music City U.S.A." According to 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 659,042.
The town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough. It was named for Francis Nash, the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville quickly grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a port on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River; and its later status as a major railroad center. By 1800, the city had 345 residents, including 136 African American slaves and 14 free blacks. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee. By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a very prosperous city. The city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes. In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. The state was occupied by Union troops for the duration of the war. The Battle of Nashville(December 15–16, 1864) was a significant Union victory and perhaps the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war; it was also the final major military action of the war, which afterwards became almost entirely a war of attrition consisting largely of guerrilla raids and small skirmishes, with the Confederate forces in the Deep South almost constantly in retreat. Within a few years after the Civil War, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and also developed a solid manufacturing base. The post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought new prosperity to Nashville and Davidson County. These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, which can still be see around the downtown area.