If you’re a Tennessean, you know you’re a Volunteer even if you don’t wear orange on Game Day Saturdays (I don’t). Personally, I grew up in Indiana and moved to Nashville in 2002. Growing up in Indiana, there is certainly some debate on what a Hoosier or Pacer represents. But for now, let’s look at Tennessee…the “Volunteer State.” Where did this slogan come from? Even the history may be a point of contention.
Some claim the name bubbled up and stuck during the War of 1812. At that time, Tennessee Governor Willie Blount was asked by President James Madison to send 1500 troops for the defense of the lower Mississippi region. Ironically, this region was commanded by Andrew Jackson. Tennessee’s “volunteer” soldiers played a critical role in this war with Great Britain.
However, most historians say the nickname was given to Tennesseans during the Mexican–American War in the 1840s. And like the battles of 1812, this war was fought outside Tennessee’s borders as well. President Polk made a nationwide appeal for at least 2600 more volunteer soldiers to come and beef up US troops. Almost immediately, some 30,000 Tennesseans responded by painting GTT (Gone to Texas) on their front doors and heading to Texas to fight.
Whichever war inspired the Volunteer name, Tennessee is still going strong! From hospitality, entertainment, and serving as a key gateway to the South, the Volunteer state is certainly something to be proud of.
Here are some more interesting facts about Tennessee:
- Tennessee became the 16th state – June 1, 1796.
- Tennessee covers 42,169 square miles.
- The area now called Tennessee was settled by Paleo natives about 11,000 years ago.
- Spanish explorers, led by Hernando De Soto, arrived here in 1539.
- Indian tribes that lived in Tennessee included Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muscogee and Yuchi.
- After the Revolutionary War, Tennessee was under the government of North Carolina.
- The first governor was John Sevier.
- More battles were fought in Tennessee during the Civil War than in any other state except Virginia.
- Tennessee’s state bird is the Mockingbird, the State flower is the Iris; and State insects are the Firefly and Ladybug. State animal: Raccoon.
- Tennessee is the 36th largestand the 16th most populous of the 50 United States.