Old North State and Tar Heel State
In 1629 King Charles I of England "erected into a province" all the land from Albemarle Sound on the north to the St. John's River on the south, which he directed should be called Carolina. The word Carolina is from the word Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.
When Carolina was divided in 1710, the southern part was called South Carolina and the northern or older settlement, North Carolina. From this came the nickname the "Old North State." Historians have recorded that the principal products during the early history of North Carolina were "tar, pitch, and turpentine." It was during one of the fiercest battles during the War Between the States, and the story proclaims that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it alone, were greeted from the retreating regiment with the question: "Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?" Quick as a flash came the answer: "No, not a bit, old Jeff's bought it all up." "Is that so; what is he going to do with it?" was asked. "He's going to put on you-un's heels to make you stick better in the next fight." Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: "God bless the Tar Heel boys," and from these series of events the name stuck.
The song known as "The Old North State" was adopted as the official song of the State of North Carolina by the General Assembly of 1927. (Public Laws, 1927, c. 26; G.S. 149-1). THE OLD NORTH STATE (William Gaston; Collected and Arranged by Mrs. E. E. Randolph)
Carolina! Carolina! heaven's blessings attend her, While we live we will cherish, protect and defend her, Tho' the scorner may sneer at and witlings defame her, Still our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her. Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever, Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State. Tho' she envies not others, their merited glory, Say whose name stands the foremost, in liberty's story, Tho' too true to herself e'er to crouch to oppression, Who can yield to just rule a more loyal submission. Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever, Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.
Then let all those who love us, love the land that we live in, As happy a region as on this side of heaven, Where plenty and peace, love and joy smile before us, Raise aloud, raise together the heart thrilling chorus. Hurrah! Hurrah! the Old North State forever, Hurrah! Hurrah! the good Old North State.
Sources: Grandfather Tales of North Carolina by R. B. Creecy, Histories of North Carolina Regiments, Vol. III, by Walter Clark, and State Library of North Carolina. Transcribed by Matthew D. Parker.
© 2005-2011 Diane Siniard