Haywood County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,787. Its county seat and largest city is Brownsville.
Haywood County was created from part of Madison County in 1823–24, and was named for Tennessee judge and historian John Haywood. The state legislature designated Brownsville as the county seat. Haywood County was later reduced in size, when both Lauderdale and Crockett counties were created from its territory.
For much of the county's history, agriculture, especially growing cotton, was the basis of the local economy, as it was throughout western Tennessee. Before the Civil War, this was accomplished by a plantation system based on the use of large gangs of enslaved African-American workers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 534 square miles (1,380 km²), of which 533 square miles (1,380 km²) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) (0.2%) is water.
Haywood County is situated on the southeastern edge of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area with a high earthquake risk.
From 1940 to 1970, the county population declined. Many blacks left after confrontations and the murder of Elbert Williams in 1940 related to black attempts to register to vote. In addition, mechanization of agriculture reduced the need for farm workers, and other African Americans left as part of the second wave of the Great Migration. A total of more than five million migrated out of the south during those decades, moving especially to the West Coast for the expanding defense industry, and to industrial cities for work opportunities.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 18,787 people residing in the county. 50.4% were Black or African American, 45.9% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 2.5% of some other race and 0.9% of two or more races. 3.8% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
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