Tennessee, The Volunteer State

Tennessee, The Volunteer State

By Sandra Merville Hart

Tennessee’s nickname is the Volunteer State. Tennesseans earned this name when its soldiers volunteered to serve in the War of 1812 with General Andrew Jackson and fought bravely at the Battle of New Orleans.

In 1567, a Spanish explorer visited Tanasqui, an Indian village. About 200 years later, Cherokee villages of Tanasqui and Tanase were near a river that folks began to call the Tennessee River. The original meaning of these Native American words is not known.

The early history of Tennessee … or Franklin?

After the Revolutionary War ended, the state of North Carolina gave the United States Congress control of its land between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River—what later became Tennessee.

Settlers in that area, fearing their land would be sold to France or Spain to pay war debt, declared their independence in 1784. They petitioned for statehood for Franklin. Though Congress didn’t pass their petition, Franklin wrote a constitution and signed treaties. It survived 4 years, until Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Chickamauga tribes attacked its settlements. They then rejoined North Carolina.

Tennessee becomes a state

Tennessee became the 16th state on June 1, 1796.


In the early 1800s, Sequoya, a silversmith and member of the Cherokee, invented an alphabet and system of writing for the Cherokee language.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

usa-1647305_960_720With about 9,500,000 visitors every year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States. The park was established in 1934.

The beautiful forest and over 2,000 miles of streams invite those interested in fishing to try catching brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout in the fishable streams inside the park. There are hiking trails, horse trails, and camping for fun family vacations.


guitar-2276181_960_720Tennessee is home Nashville, which is known as “Music City.” Memphis is the “Home of the Blues.” Bristol is called the “Birthplace of Country Music.”

The Grand Ole Opry, where country music stars perform, is in Nashville. The Opry is a live radio show that’s been broadcasting since 1925—our country’s longest running radio show!

Other fun facts about Tennessee

Head to Jonesborough for the annual National Storytelling in October.

See 7 states from the top of Lookout Mountain on a clear day—Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 created Reelfoot Lake.

The state capital is Nashville.

The state bird is the mockingbird.

The state flower is the iris.



50 States Our America: Time for Kids, Time Inc. Books, 2017.

Balkan, Gabrielle. The 50 States, Wide Eyed Editions, 2015.

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About The 50 States, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.

Fast Facts About the 50 States. Children’s Press, 2010.

Keenan, Sheila. Greetings from the 50 States, Scholastic Inc., 2008.

“State of Franklin Declares Independence,” History.com, 2019/01/13 https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/state-of-franklin-declares-independence.


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