Did You Know…

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Did You Know Tennessee is not the Volunteer State?

At some point in our education, we have been taught that Tennessee’s state nickname is the “Volunteer State,” but that was not officially true until February 10, 2020, when Tennessee’s lawmakers finally passed a resolution officially making Tennessee the “Volunteer State.”

There are several stories that go back for 200 years that tell us how the state earned the nickname.

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One story says that during the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson came to Tennessee looking for volunteers to go with him to fight the British at New Orleans. Jackson wanted at least 1800 men to go with him. When he came to Tennessee, 7000 men volunteered to go fight the Battle of New Orleans.

Later, during the Texas struggle for independence from Mexico, many Tennesseans heard the call to battle again and left their homes for Texas. When they left, many painted GTT (Gone To Texas) on their doors and went to Texas where they volunteered in the Texas Army.

One of these volunteers was a former Tennessee Congressman named Davy Crockett. After he lost the election of 1834 and his seat in Congress, it is said he stated “the people of Tennessee can go to ____. As for me, I am going to Texas.” He went to Texas, volunteered to help defend the Alamo and was killed with the rest of the defenders of the Alamo in 1836.

Another story says that during the Mexican War, the U.S. Secretary of State wanted volunteers to fight against the Mexican Government for Mexico’s land claims in the southwest. He asked for 2600 volunteers from Tennessee and 30,000 volunteered.

It seems that Tennessee has always been known as a state that did not back down from a fight and the first to volunteer in times of war.

One surprising fact that most people do not know is Tennessee has had more than one nickname.

Another nickname given to Tennessee by soldiers during the Civil War was the “Butternuts.” This was given to Tennessee Civil War soldiers because of their tan color uniforms.

Tennessee has also been called the “Big Bend State.” This name came from the Indian name for the Tennessee River, “the river with the big bend.”

The “Hog and Hominy” state nickname was given to Tennessee in the 1830s and 1840s because the state produced so much corn and pork products. This name is now obsolete.

Finally, the state has also been called “The Mother of Southwestern Statesmen.” This nickname was given to Tennessee because Tennessee furnished three presidents and several other leaders who served with distinction in high government offices.

I am proud to live in a state that is willing to step up for a cause and who has individuals who will not back down from a fight. You might say I am a Volunteer, and I hope to be one until I leave this world.