Learn The History Of Memphis To Understand Poverty And Crime In Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee is known for its high poverty as well as a high rate of crime. To get a good idea of the crime and poverty issues in Memphis, it is necessary to first understand the history of Memphis city.

Memphis Origins

Memphis city was originated by a group of investors in 1819. Being one of the investors, the 7th USA President “Andrew Jackson” named the city after the old capital of Egypt situated on the Nile River. He had high expectations with regard to the greatness of the city. This place soon flourished as a major center for transportation, marketing of cotton and grading.

The cotton industry was largely dependent on forced African American slaves. This has made Memphis a prime focus of the slave market. Over 1/4th population of Memphis is slaves. With the nearing of the US civil war, the slave population expanded even more. Memphis Crime Commission is an initiative led by youth leaders to minimize violence in the Memphis city.

American Civil War

In 1862, Memphis merged the Union and became a Union supply base that thrived even more. Memphis became a freedman’s colony. 20,000 blacks fled to Union lines. This increased the population of black people to 3,000 before the war. The blacks faced a lot of racial discrimination that made their survival difficult in Memphis.

Race Riot

Post-war, Irish migrants put efforts to meet the ends. All the frustration of racial tension resulted in riots that harmed the African American neighbors. As a result of this riot, 46 African Americans got dead, twice of them got injured, 100 of them got robbed, 5 got raped, and 91 homes, 4 churches, and 12 black schools got destroyed.

The African Americans were poor. Most of the firms were reluctant to recruit them due to their race. In addition to it, all the black schools got destroyed. It became impossible for black population to get educated, and earn their livelihood.

Yellow Fever

In the year 1870, Memphis city suffered a lot from the “yellow fever epidemic”. This brought a lot of mortalities, losing 68.8% of the entire Memphis population. The affluent managed to leave while leaving the poor ones behind to die.

Only the tiny percentage of black people succeeded to leave. Only seventy percent of the whites survived, but they also couldn’t sustain life for a long time and unfortunately died. Seven percent of black people died. As a result of the epidemic, Memphis went bankrupt for fourteen years.

The year 1900 made Memphis the largest producer of hardwood and cotton in the world. The city progressed at a large rate and the population also quadrupled between 1990 and 1950. Though several advancements happened during this time, the issue within the wealthier and white community left unsolved.


As seen in the history of Memphis, the city completely deprived the black and poor communities. They don’t get the authority to raise their voice and failed to get representation in the government. This led to a drastic increase in the crime rates in Memphis.

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