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Franklin was founded in 1799 by Abram Maury, Jr, who named the town after Benjamin Franklin. Ewen Cameron built the first European-American house in Franklin. Cameron came to Virginia in 1785 from Scotland then to Tennessee. Cameron died Fin 1846, after having lived forty-eight years in the same house. 

During the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin was fought in the city and resulted in nearly 10,000 casualties (killed, wounded, and missing). Forty-four buildings were converted to field hospitals. The Carter, Carnton and the Lotz historic homes are still in the town from that era.

Franklin has always been a suburb of Nashville, but has seen explosive growth since 1980. In 2012 it had a population of 68,280. Many of its residents commute to businesses in Nashville, but there has been considerable growth in Franklin's regional economy.

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