Wondering Why?

Why North Carolina is called the Tar Heel state?

Why North Carolina is called the Tar Heel state?

The nick name of North Carolina has come from one of the important products of the Colonial Era known as tar. This tar is prepared or made by firing the wood of long leaved pine trees. North Carolina is considered as the foremost state to produce naval stores that include ‘tar’ from 1720 till 1870.

According to the various stories told regarding the origins of this nick name, it might have come from many regiments and armies from North Carolina during the war period between 1861 and 1865. Based on the story by Walter Clark, after the North Carolinians failed in an aggressive battle, it seems they were questioned by the army of Northern Virginia, whether they have bought all the tar from the North State? They all answered that Jeff (President of confederate states of America, Jefferson Davis) has bought it all. When they were asked what the Jeff is going to do with that? They answered that Jeff is about to put the tar in your (supporting group) heels to make you ‘stick, better in the forth coming battle.

In another anecdote by John S. Farmer in Americanisms-Old and New, the fight between North Carolina and Mississippians was described. In this story it is said that North Carolinians failed to hold their position in the war. So the Mississippians teased the NCs to tar their heels next day so that their tarred heels will make them ‘stick, to their position.

Another reason observed for getting this nick name was that workers in North Carolina who were coating the ships with water proof using pine tree sap. The workers were found to have struck their heels to the tar extracted from the pine trees. Since then the NCs were nick named as ‘Tar Heels, in those days. It is also believed that Corn Wallis army in 1781 was known to have travelled through Tar River and got the Tar glued to their feet. These are some of the stories from the history which say that North Carolina is called ‘Tar Heel’ state.


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