Clinton is a city in Anderson County, Tennessee, United States. Its population was 9,409 at the United States Census, 2000. It is the county seat of Anderson County. Clinton is included in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Prehistoric Native American habitation was not uncommon throughout the Clinch valley, especially during the Woodland period (1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) and the Mississippian period (1000-1550 A.D.). A number of such habitation sites were excavated in the 1930s and 1950s in anticipation of the construction of Norris Dam and Melton Hill Dam, respectively. The Melton Hill excavations uncovered two substantial Woodland period villages along the Clinch at Bull Bluff and Freels Bend, both approximately downstream from Clinton.
By the time Euro-American explorers and long hunters arrived in the Clinch valley in the mid-18th century, what is now Anderson County was part of a vast stretch of land claimed by the Cherokee. Although the Treaty of Holston, signed in 1791, was intended as a negotiation with the Cherokee to prohibit settlement of the area including what is today Anderson County, the treaty became ineffective as more settlers moved through the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia and North Carolina into Tennessee. The earliest settlers in Anderson County included the Wallace, Gibbs, Freels, Frost and Tunnell families. The flooding of white settlers into the Indian domain was cause for several skirmishes, which eased after the Treaty of Tellico in 1798 (including an origination point for the land to be relinquished from the Cherokee being the Tellico Blockhouse) allowed for greater ease in settling the area.
Founded in 1801, the town of Burrville was named in honor of Aaron Burr, first term Vice President under Thomas Jefferson. Land was selected and partitioned for a courthouse, and Burrville was designated as the county seat for the newly formed Anderson County, Tennessee. Anderson County was partitioned from a portion of Grainger County, Tennessee as well as a portion of Knox County, Tennessee, in 1801; neighboring Roane County, Tennessee, was also formed from a portion of Knox County, Tennessee, in 1801, making Anderson and Roane counties effectively called 'sister counties'.
On November 8, 1809, by act of Tennessee State Legislature, the town of Burrville was renamed because of the disgrace of the Burr-Hamilton duel, which resulted in the death of Alexander Hamilton. The selection of the name "Clinton" was most likely to honor George Clinton or his nephew, DeWitt Clinton. George Clinton was one of Burr's New York political rivals who, along with Alexander Hamilton, destroyed Burr's bid for the governorship of the state of New York after his single-term Vice Presidency. George Clinton succeeded Burr as the second-term Vice President for Thomas Jefferson in 1805 (and also served as James Madison's Vice President, making Clinton the first Vice President to serve under two presidents and the first Vice President to die in office). Because of the political position of George Clinton as Vice President at the time of Burrville's name change, compared to DeWitt Clinton's position as the mayor of New York City, most likely the residents of the town of Burrville would have been more readily identifiable and more honorable toward George Clinton than DeWitt; therefore, it is most likely Clinton was named after George Clinton, barring historical proof.
The Clinton High School desegregation controversy
In 1956, Clinton gained national attention when segregationists opposed the desegregation of Clinton High School. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, a court order required the desegregation of the high school. Twelve African-American students enrolled in the high school in the fall of 1956. On August 27, 1956, the Clinton Twelve attended classes at Clinton High School for the first time, becoming the first African-Americans to desegregate a state-supported public school in the Southeast. While the first day of classes occurred without incident, pro-segregation forces led by John Kasper and Asa Carter arrived in Clinton the following week and rallied the city's white citizens. Riots broke out in early September, forcing Governor Frank G. Clement to station National Guard units in Clinton throughout September. Sporadic violence and threats continued for the next two years, culminating in the bombing of Clinton High School on October 5, 1958. With an influx of outside aid, however, the school was quickly rebuilt.