James White was born in 1747 in Rowan County, North Carolina, north of Charlotte. The American pioneer is remembered as Knoxville's founder. In 1783, he led an expedition into the upper Tennessee Valley, where he discovered the future site of Knoxville. The fort was chosen as the capital of the Southwest Territory in 1790, and White sold the land and donated lots for a permanent city in 1791. James White died on August 14, 1821 and was buried next to his wife in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery at 620 State Street in Knoxville.
In 1970, White’s Fort was reconstructed as a museum in downtown Knoxville. White’s other namesakes in Knoxville include the General James White Memorial Civic Coliseum, the James White Parkway, and the James White Greenway.