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What is a Tar Heel: US State North Carolina Victim of Social Slur?

What is a Tar Heel: US State North Carolina Victim of Social Slur?

The nickname “Tar Heel” is associated with the U.S. state of North Carolina, as well as the University of North Carolina’s athletic teams, alumni, students, and fans.

What is a Tar Heel?

North Carolina has long been associated with tar, turpentine, and pitch due to the state’s abundance of pine trees. The Tar Heel nickname originated from this history.

The terms “Tar Heel” and “Rosin Heel,” which were once derogatory, are now commonly used to refer to the citizens of North Carolina. The white labourers who worked in the pitch, tar, and turpentine industries were given nicknames for working with these objects. They were embraced by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

What is a Tar Heel: US State North Carolina Victim of Social Slur?

What is the Meaning of Tar Heels?

Since the 1700s, North Carolina has been known for its tar production, and residents were called “Tarboilers” in a derogatory way as early as the 1840s. The term “Tar Heel” was first used by Confederate soldiers in 1863, which suggests that the saying must have been common among North Carolina people even before then.

A widely accepted explanation proposes that it alludes to North Carolinians having tar on their heels, signifying either their unwillingness to be part of the Confederacy or else their steadfastness during battles when other states’ troops would abandon the field.

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The History of Tar Heel

North Carolina supplied pitch, turpentine, and tar to England in its early years as a colony. These naval stores were used to paint the bottoms of wooden ships mostly because they both sealed and protected the hulls from shipworms. To make tar, people would pile up pine logs and light them on fire until hot oil oozed out of a spout created for that purpose.

According to Albert Newsome and Hugh Lefler in North Carolina: the History of a Southern State (3rd edition, 1973), at one point North Carolina was estimated to produce 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of tar and pitch annually. This made them the world leaders in naval store production from 1720-1870. After 1824 though, they became the top producer in America instead.

In 1861, when the Civil War started, North Carolina was home to more than 1,600 turpentine distilleries. This accounted for two-thirds of all turpentine production in the United States, with half of that coming from Bladen and New Hanover counties alone.

Tar Heels Name Change

The words “rosin heel” and “Tar Heel” were once said to people in a negative way, meaning that their job was lowly. However, during the Civil War, North Carolina soldiers decided to change this narrative. The term “Tar Heel” was adopted by North Carolinians as a way to take pride in their home state. Soon enough, other people began using the term too when referring to North Carolina, and it eventually became known as the “Tar Heel State.”

When North Carolina teams began competing against other colleges in sports in the 1880s, they needed a nickname to show school spirit. According to UNC history, there was no debate over what to call the teams, they’ve always been Tar Heels.

Is Tar Heel a Slur?

The term ‘Tar Heel boys’ was supposedly an insult that alluded to the production of turpentine, pitch and tar in Eastern North Carolina. The slur turned into a badge of honour when Robert E. Lee uttered the words, “God bless the Tar Heel boys,” during battle.

Where did the “Tar Heels” Nickname Come From?

During the Civil War, North Carolina soldiers took an epithet that called them workers of a lowly trade and turned it into something to be proud of. The residents of North Carolina started calling themselves “Tar Heels” as a way to show how proud they were of their state.

What is a Tar Heel: US State North Carolina Victim of Social Slur?

What is UNC’s Mascot?

In 1924, during one of the football team’s tough years, UNC was in need of a mascot to boost school spirit. Comparing N.C’s wolf and Georgia’s bulldog favourably, Huggins thought an animal could do wonders for UNC. The idea to use a ram as their icon came from Tar Heel Jack Merritt’s nickname, “The Battering Ram.”

Why is UNC Called Tar Heels?

In the 1800s, UNC joined sports competitions, therefore they needed an awesome nickname to make sure people would remember them. They instantly became known as the “Tar Heels” and have kept that name since.

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FAQs

When did UNC Adopt the Tar Heel Nickname?

During the 1880s, when UNC started taking place in intercollegiate sports competitions, they adopted the nickname, Tar Heel.

Why is North Carolina Called the Tar Heel State?

North Carolina was called the Tar Heel stated because they traded Tar, Turpentine, and pitch. Now the people of North Carolina take pride in the name.

What is a Tar Heel Mascot?

The UNC mascot is named Tar Heel.

What is a Tar Heel in North Carolina?

North Carolina, a US state adopted Tar Heel as its nickname.

About the author

Ariaa Reeds

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