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The Cherokee referred to this area as "Head of Coosa".Several Cherokee national leaders settled here, developing plantations, including chiefs Major Ridge and John Ross.They had moved down from areas of Tennessee, under pressure from settlement by European Americans migrating from eastern territories across the Appalachians.A Cherokee village named Chatuga was settled in this area during the late eighteenth century, in the period of the Cherokee–American wars (1776–94) during and after the American Revolutionary War.Rome was built at the confluence of the Etowah and the Oostanaula rivers, forming the Coosa River.Because of its strategic advantages, this area was long occupied by the Creek and later the Cherokee people.They occupied a broad territory before being pushed out by Cherokee migrating from Tennessee.

The city has developed on seven hills with the rivers running between them, a feature that inspired the early European-American settlers to name it for Rome, the longtime capital of Italy.In the 18th century, a high demand in Europe for American deer skins had led to a brisk trade between Native hunters and white traders.A few white traders and some settlers (primarily from the British colonies of Georgia and Carolina) were accepted by the Head of Coosa Cherokee.Higher-level institutions include private Berry College and Shorter University, and the public Georgia Northwestern Technical College and Georgia Highlands College.In the late 1920s a United States company built a rayon plant in a joint project with an Italian company.

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