Smith County Courthouse in Carthage
Location of Carthage, Tennessee
|Named for||Ancient Carthage|
|• Total||2.9 sq mi (7.4 km2)|
|• Land||2.9 sq mi (7.4 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||515 ft (157 m)|
|• Density||807/sq mi (311.4/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1279827|
Carthage is a town in Smith County, Tennessee, United States, and is part of the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,306 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Smith County, and perhaps best known as the hometown of former Vice President Al Gore and his father, Senator Albert Gore, Sr. The younger Gore announced his 1988 and 2000 presidential bids, as well as his 1992 vice-presidential bid, from the steps of the Smith County Courthouse.
The earliest known Euro-American settler in what is now Carthage was William Walton (1760–1816), who arrived in the late 1780s. Circa 1800, Walton directed the construction of the Walton Road (Cumberland Turnpike), an early stagecoach route connecting the Knoxville area with Middle Tennessee. The road, which roughly paralleled what is now U.S. 70, would prove influential in the early settlement of the Cumberland region. Walton operated a ferry and tavern along the road, around which a small community developed. In 1804, Walton's community was chosen as the county seat of the newly formed Smith County after a heated election, and the town of Carthage was laid out shortly thereafter.
Carthage's situation at the confluence of the Cumberland and Caney Fork rivers made it an important shipping and steamboat port throughout the first half of the 19th century. During the Civil War Carthage became an important post in the Eastern Highland Rim area of Tennessee. Carthage was selected as part of the route Confederate General Braxton Bragg marched the Army of Mississippi through on his Confederate Heartland Offensive into Kentucky. Later on March 6, 1863, Union Brigadier General George Crook established a Union outpost in Carthage to serve as a base from clearing out the considerable Confederate guerrilla activity that was active from east Tennessee through middle Tennessee. As for Carthage's prominence as a river port on the Cumberland River, the emergence of railroads later in the century made steamboat and river travel largely obsolete, and the area's industrial focus shifted to South Carthage and Gordonsville.
Carthage is located at . The town is situated amidst a series of low hills at the confluence of the Cumberland River and the Caney Fork, and just southwest of the former's Cordell Hull Lake impoundment. South Carthage is located along the opposite bank of the Cumberland to the south.(36.254960, -85.949211)
U.S. Route 70 passes east-to-west through South Carthage, connecting the area with Nashville to the west and Cookeville to the east. State Route 53 connects U.S. 70 with Gordonsville and Interstate 40 to the south. State Route 25 connects Carthage with Trousdale County and north-central Tennessee to the northwest, and State Route 80 connects the town with Macon County to the north.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,251 people, 952 households, and 560 families residing in the town. The population density was 784.5 people per square mile (302.8/km²). There were 1,050 housing units at an average density of 365.9 per square mile (141.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.67% White, 6.53% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.76% from other races, and 1.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.16% of the population.
There were 952 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.1% were non-families. 38.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 80.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $24,375, and the median income for a family was $32,159. Males had a median income of $30,531 versus $20,417 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,709. About 18.6% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.0% of those under age 18 and 19.2% of those age 65 or over.
Carthage and other surrounding areas in Smith County are served by Smith County Schools and the Smith County Board of Education. They include:
- Carthage Elementary
- Defeated Elementary
- New Middleton Elementary
- Union Heights Elementary
- Forks River Elementary
- Smith County Middle School 
- Smith County Adult Education
- Smith County HeadStart
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Carthage has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
- Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
- Larry Miller, Tennessee Place Names (Indiana University Press, 2001), p. 39.
- Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Certified Population of Tennessee Incorporated Municipalities and Counties, State of Tennessee official website, 14 July 2011. Retrieved: 6 December 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Carthage town, Tennessee". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "The History of Smith County." Retrieved: 17 January 2013.
- W. Calvin Dickenson, "Walton Road." The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: 17 January 2013.
- Sue Maggart, "Smith County." The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009. Retrieved: 17 January 2013.
- Official Record of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume XXIII, Part II, No. 110
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
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- "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Climate Summary for Carthage, Tennessee