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The city of Athens, in McMinn County, Tennessee is the county seat of McMinn County. The land upon which Athns now sits, as well as all the rest of the land in McMinn County, was sold to the United States government by the Cherokee as part of the Calhoun Treaty in 1819. Athens was established specifically to be the seat of McMinn County. In 1836, the Bridges Hotel, across the street from the County courthouse, was where General John Wool set up coordination of the Cherokee Removal, which is more infamously known as the Trail of Tears. The town was soon serviced by the Hiwassee Railroad, which was finished in 1851. The county was divided as to whether to enter the Civil War and if so, on which side. In 1861, McMinn County voted 1,144 to 904 against secession. Following the vote, they sent 12 units to the Union army and 8 to the Confederate army. General William Tecumseh Sherman made his headquarters at the Bridges Hotel while he formulated his famous march to the sea. Athens was also the setting of the McMinn County War, the 1946 rebellion led by citizens after a corrupt election which was the subject of the book and movie entitled “The Battle of Athens.”

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