The North Carolina Toast
The North Carolina Toast is a beloved poem about the state of North Carolina. Many students over the years have been required to memorize this poem. Over the past century, this toast has become a significant part of North Carolina heritage.
The North Carolina Toast, also know as the Tarheel Toast, was written by Leonora Monteiro Martin of Raleigh. It was written for a banquet of the North Carolina Society of Richmond, Virginia, in 1904. It became the official state toast for North Carolina on May 21, 1957.
In 1964, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine was created. This Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards in North Carolina. It is presented by the Governor of North Carolina to those who have provided extraordinary service to the state of North Carolina. Members of the order become “cultural ambassadors of the state” and “can propose the state toast at any time.”
The following is the toast in it’s entirety:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron‘s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell‘s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!
Before Europeans, longleaf pine forest littered the southeastern United States. After the civil war, stand of Longleaf pine were some of the most sought after timber trees in the country. Current stands of Longleaf Pines are less than 5% in area compared to their coverage before European settlement. This is due to clear cutting practices used over the years. It will take Longleaf pines some time to recover since it takes 100 to 150 years for the pine to become full sized and they can live to be 500 years old.
As a young colony North Carolina, became a source of tar, pitch, and turpentine, especially for the British navy. They used the tar and pitch to paint the bottom of wooden ships which would seal the wood and prevent shipworms from damaging the hull. By the civil war two thirds of the turpentine in the United States came from North Carolina.
At the time, tar was created by piling up pine logs and burning them until hot oil seeped out from a canal. This earned North Carolinians the derisive nickname of “Tarboilers”. North Carolina became nicknamed the “Tar and Turpentine State.”
These terms evolved until the nickname Tar Heel and gained prominence during the American Civil War. The nickname Tar Heel was a derogatory name, but starting around 1865, the term began to be used as a source of pride.
At the peak of the timber cutting in the 1890s and the first decade of the new century, the longleaf pine forests of the Sandhills were providing millions of board feet of timber each year. The timber cutters gradually moved across the South; by the 1920s, most of the “limitless” virgin longleaf pine forests were gone.
The scuppernong grape is a large variety of muscadine that is native to the Southern United States. The scuppernong grape is the state fruit of North Carolina. On Roanoke island, North Carolina the oldest cultivated grapevine, known as “The Mothervine” in the world grows. It is estimated to be over 400 years old.
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi river. It is a part of the Appalachian Mountain range and is a part of the Pisgah National Forest. Mount Mitchell’s elevation is 6,684 feet above sea level.
The mountain was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who first explored the Black Mountain region in 1835, and determined that the height of the range exceeded by several hundred feet that of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, commonly thought at the time to be the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. Mitchell fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.