Athens is located in McMinn county in southeastern Tennessee. Athens lies in the Tennessee River valley, between the Great Smoky Mountains (east) and the Cumberland Plateau (west), and just southwest of Knoxville. Athens was founded in 1821 as a seat of justice, and the courts were moved there in 1823 from a temporary courthouse that had been erected at nearby Calhoun. It was named for the city of Athens, Greece. In August 1946 what became known as the Battle of Athens was fought as returning World War II veterans struggled against pervasive corruption and vote fraud in local government.