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The Volunteer State




State Librarian and Archivist



Assistant Librarian and Archivist






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The sea is the creator of history, but the great visions of the world have all come from the inlands.

Commerce is ruthless and brutal—it brings few finer dreams. These have come from over the mountains. American history began in one long stretch down the sea-coast. Their beginnings were all the same—they ran in parallels with the sea-line. They had to do first with sea traffic, and the land from which they came. It was a century before the American colonies thought they were anything more than English, or French, or Spanish colonies just across the sea from their mother land. Their ideals were the mothers'—their religion, their customs, laws, commerce, literature, government—they were mothercolonies.

They did not change because the sea was too handy. They had no new visions because they could see across the sea. And across the sea stood KingsEnglish, French, Spanish.

There was no real Democracy of the plain people in America until they lost sight of the sea and crossed the mountains; until they slept in the wilderness; until they found themselves in the solitude of vast new lands of forest and river, and plain and prairie, where each man was ruler of his own, but held, for protection, to the voice of all.

Thus began real Democracy in America.

One of the first over the mountains was Tennessee—the territory of the United States South of the River Ohio.” It might better have been called the Wilderness Beyond the Mountains. Its history is different from that of all the sea-coast states. It had no tradition of kings, so it set up in the Watauga a representative government of all the people, the first to be established in America. Later, as they swept westward, another was set up on the Cumberland, some three hundred miles farther West. This was the beginning of representative government “of the people, by the people, for the people” in America.

The one on the Watauga swept North and South up and down the valleys of the Clinch, the Holston, the French Broad and the Little Tennessee. The one on the Cumberland swept westward to the Mississippi, North to the Kentucky, and South across the Big Bend of the Tennessee.'

Within that area today lies the State of Tennessee.
It is a virile story, a thrilling one, romantic, heroic, splendid.
It has no parallel among the states.

They were plain Anglo-Saxon people of pure blood and undefiled lineage. They are that today.

They are a law unto their race-self, and they made their laws to fit their race life-a representative Democracy in which their cabin was their castle. As

1 The agreement for the government of the Watauga settlement was the first written constitution adopted by the consent of a free and independent people in America. (See Ramsey, page 107; Roosevelt's Winning of the West, Vol. 1, page 184.)

they knew no King in the state, they wanted none in their government, their church, their commonwealth nor their business. They would stand for no priest, saint, nor preacher between them and their God, and what was greater, between them and their laws.

They were God-fearing, but they feared nothing else.

They chose a Preacher to tell them of God, a General to tell them of war, a Judge to tell them of laws, a Constable to enforce them, a Teacher to tell them of knowledge and a Wife and Mother to tell them of home and the rearing of children.

As they left the sea-line for the wilderness, the savage and the primal passions of their own race, for the conditions that faced them, the problem was to survive or perish.

They survived.

There was scant sympathy and no help from the sea-line; therefore they helped themselves. It was savage or civilization—the primal passions of their own, unhampered by law or order in the wilderness, plus the savage Indian; they regulated one and swept away the other. It was do or die—and they did.

Some of them have always done the one great thing in every crisis of the Republic, of which they are a part, and for every call of patriotism where a man of courage was needed with his gun. For instance: John Sevier and the Watauga boys at King's Mountain; Jackson and his Tennesseans in the Creek War and at New Orleans; "The Bloody First in Mexico”—Forrest, Farragut, the Hindenburg Line-York-Always and every time some son of the Volunteer State has done the one great thing at the one great time.”

It is called the Volunteer State, but they volunteer just as quickly to fight in peace as in war—their race ideals, their religion, their pure blood, their rights, their duties, trade, progress, prejudices, beliefs, memories, maids and wives.

No miscegenation-no social equality”-courageously, but tardily, says, recently, a President of the United States; but the South had to prove it by a half century of abuse, derision, misrepresentation, adverse legislation and fighting.

They have laws written and unwritten: the unwritten laws, being racial and of instinct, with a thousand years of race life behind them, though unspoken, are the strongest. These are some of the unwritten laws of their race which can never be changed by those written:

(1) They are not to be confined by mountains, rivers, seas or continents. They go ever onward for vaster and richer lands. They hold now the great lands of the world-England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Alaska, the Philippines, Canada, the United States, the Indies, and protectorates over vast continents of backward peoples, who are absorbing from their rulers the great principles of self government. Wherever they rule it is for righteousness and the rights of men.

2 The native white of native parentage population of the entire South (Census of 1910) was 18,561,146. This was 37.5 per cent of the total native whites in the U. S. The Tennessee River Basin group of 12,436,092 native whites of native parentage is the largest and purest single group of Anglo-Saxon people in the world outside of England. Tennessee is the center of that group; and from the Battle of King's Mountain in the American revolution, to the battles of the Hindenburg Line in France, have gone, as from adjoining states, heroic men of spectacular achievement who have been an integral part of the hinges upon which has turned the history of the world.--Statistics & Politics, John W. Farley, Memphis, Tennessee, Page 30.

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