Tennessee Symbols: History And Significance

Tennessee is known for its rich history, culture and natural beauty, and what better way to showcase this than through its official symbols? Tennessee boasts a variety of symbols, from its state bird and flower to its state tree and song. Understanding these symbols not only helps to appreciate the state’s heritage, but also promotes a sense of pride and belonging among its residents. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most iconic Tennessee symbols and their importance to the state.

History of the Tennessee State Flag

The Tennessee State Flag was designed and adopted in 1905, but the state did not officially adopt the flag until 1915. The flag was designed by LeRoy Reeves, a Tennessee National Guard officer who wanted a flag to represent the state during the Spanish-American War. The flag was inspired by the flag of the United States, with three stars in the center representing the three grand divisions of the state: East, Middle, and West Tennessee.

Design and symbolism of the flag

The Tennessee State Flag features a blue field with a white circle in the center. The circle contains three white five-pointed stars, each representing one of the grand divisions of Tennessee. The stars are arranged in a vertical line to represent the state’s geography, with East Tennessee at the top, Middle Tennessee in the center, and West Tennessee at the bottom. The blue field of the flag represents the American South, and the white circle represents the unity of the three grand divisions of the state.

Controversies surrounding the flag

In recent years, there have been some controversies surrounding the Tennessee State Flag. Some people have called for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the flag, which is located on the right side of the flag. The emblem features a red background with a blue X and white stars, which is a well-known symbol of the Confederacy. Others argue that the emblem is a historical symbol that should be preserved. Despite these debates, the current design of the Tennessee State Flag remains unchanged.

Tennessee State Flower: The Iris

The Iris was designated as the official state flower of Tennessee in 1933. This beautiful flower is easily recognizable with its six-petal shape and vibrant purple color. The name “Iris” comes from the Greek word for “rainbow,” which is fitting because the Iris comes in many different colors. The Iris has a long history and has been featured in art and literature for centuries. It was even used as a symbol by the French monarchy in the 12th century.

The Iris was chosen as the state flower of Tennessee because of its beauty and resilience. The Iris can survive in a variety of climates and is a hardy plant that can withstand droughts and floods. The flower is also commonly found throughout the state, making it a natural choice for the state flower.

While the Iris is the official state flower, there were other flowers considered for the title. The dogwood, passion flower, and goldenrod were all in the running, but ultimately, the Iris won out. It’s easy to see why the Iris was chosen – its beauty and symbolism make it the perfect representative for the state of Tennessee.

The Iris holds a special place in Tennessee’s history and culture. It’s not just a beautiful flower, it also represents the resilience and strength of the people of Tennessee. The Iris is a symbol of hope and endurance in difficult times. So the next time you see an Iris blooming in Tennessee, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and the significance it holds for the people of this great state.

Tennessee State Bird: The Mockingbird

When Tennessee was choosing its state bird, the Northern Mockingbird was the clear choice. The Mockingbird is a common bird in Tennessee, found in fields, forests, and parks throughout the state. It is known for its beautiful singing voice, which can mimic the sounds of other birds and even human-made sounds like car alarms and cell phone ringtones.

History and Significance of the Mockingbird

The Mockingbird was officially designated as Tennessee’s state bird in 1933. It was chosen because of its ability to mimic the songs of other birds, as well as its lively and energetic personality. Mockingbirds are also known for their fearlessness and their willingness to stand up to larger birds and predators.

Other Birds Considered as State Symbols

While the Mockingbird is Tennessee’s official state bird, there are several other birds that are also important to the state’s identity. These include the Wood Duck, which is the state’s official game bird, and the Eastern Bluebird, which is the state’s official bird of happiness.

Importance of the Mockingbird to Tennessee

The Mockingbird is an important symbol of Tennessee’s natural beauty and its vibrant culture. Its beautiful singing voice is a reminder of the state’s rich musical heritage, while its fearlessness and energy reflect the state’s independent spirit. As a common bird found throughout the state, the Mockingbird is also a reminder of Tennessee’s diverse and unique ecosystem. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor to Tennessee, keep an eye out for this beloved state bird and its beautiful songs.

Tennessee’s State Tree: The Tulip Poplar

If you’re a Tennessee resident, you may already know that our state tree is the Tulip Poplar. This magnificent tree holds a lot of significance for Tennesseans, and it has a fascinating history that dates back to early America.

History and Significance of the Tulip Poplar

The Tulip Poplar has been a crucial natural resource for Tennessee since the earliest days of our country. With its tall, straight trunk and beautiful springtime blooms, the Tulip Poplar was a prized tree for early settlers who used its wood for everything from furniture to cabinetry. The tree was so important that it was even used for canoes by Native Americans!

In addition to its practical uses, the Tulip Poplar has also become a symbol of Tennessee’s natural beauty. With its majestic size and stunning flowers, the tree is a beloved part of our state’s ecosystem and an important reminder of our state’s history.

Other Trees Considered as State Symbols

While the Tulip Poplar is the official state tree of Tennessee, there were several other trees considered for the honor. The Redbud, Dogwood, and Oak were all considered due to their beauty and significance to the state. However, the Tulip Poplar ultimately won out due to its importance in early American history and its widespread presence throughout the state.

Importance of the Tulip Poplar to Tennessee

The Tulip Poplar is not only Tennessee’s state tree, but it also plays a crucial role in our state’s ecology. The tree provides essential habitat for wildlife, including birds and squirrels, and its leaves and bark have medicinal properties that have been used for centuries. Additionally, the tree is an important part of Tennessee’s logging industry, which brings jobs and economic growth to the state.

In short, the Tulip Poplar is a vital part of Tennessee’s natural heritage and an important symbol of our state’s history and beauty. Next time you see one of these remarkable trees, take a moment to appreciate all that it represents!

Tennessee State Animal: The Raccoon

Did you know that the Raccoon became the official state animal of Tennessee in 1971? The history and significance of this adorable creature date back to the early days of the state when the fur trade was a vital part of Tennessee’s economy. The Raccoon’s fur was particularly valuable and was a significant source of income for many early settlers. The Raccoon’s intelligence and adaptability also made it a popular hunting target.

But the Raccoon’s significance doesn’t stop there. This animal is also an essential part of Tennessee’s ecosystem. Raccoons help control the population of insects and small rodents, and they are known to eat carrion, which helps to keep the environment clean. Plus, their presence in the wild makes for great viewing opportunities!

Other animals were considered for the position of state animal, but the Raccoon ultimately won out. Some contenders included the Bobcat, the Eastern Box Turtle, and the White-tailed Deer. All of these animals are still vital parts of Tennessee’s ecosystem, and the state is lucky to have such a diverse range of wildlife.

So, what is it about the Raccoon that clinched the state animal title? It could be their intelligence, their playful nature, or their adorable little faces. Whatever the reason, Tennesseans have embraced the Raccoon as one of their own. So, the next time you see one of these masked critters running around, remember that they are a vital part of Tennessee’s history, present, and future.

The Significance of “Rocky Top” to Tennessee

When it comes to state songs, few are as beloved and iconic as “Rocky Top.” Written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967, this bluegrass classic was made famous by the Osborne Brothers and has since become a staple at Tennessee Vols football games and other state events.

But what makes “Rocky Top” so special to Tennessee? For starters, the song is a tribute to the Great Smoky Mountains, which are located in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The lyrics describe a simpler way of life in the foothills of the Smokies, where “corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top” but “that’s where I drew my first breath.” As such, “Rocky Top” has become a symbol of Tennessee’s natural beauty and rugged spirit.

Of course, “Rocky Top” isn’t the only song that Tennessee has considered as a state symbol. Other contenders have included “Tennessee Waltz” by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart, “My Homeland, Tennessee” by Nell Grayson Taylor, and “When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee” by Willa Waid Newman. However, “Rocky Top” has stood the test of time and remains the most popular choice among Tennesseans.

Overall, “Rocky Top” is more than just a catchy tune—it’s a celebration of Tennessee’s unique culture and heritage. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or just passing through, it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride when you hear those famous opening banjo notes. So the next time you find yourself in the Volunteer State, be sure to crank up “Rocky Top” and sing along at the top of your lungs!

Discovering the Historical and Architectural Marvel of the Tennessee State Capitol

The History and Significance of the Tennessee State Capitol Building

When it comes to state capitols, the Tennessee State Capitol Building is a true historical and architectural marvel. Completed in 1859, the Capitol building has been the epicenter of Tennessee’s government for over a century and a half. It was designed by renowned architect William Strickland, who also designed the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia.

The Capitol building has seen many significant moments in Tennessee’s history. In 1861, it was the site of the secession convention that led to Tennessee’s decision to join the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Union troops used the building as a hospital and barracks. In 1920, it was the site of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.

The Design and Architecture of the Building

The Capitol building is a stunning example of Greek Revival architecture, with its grand columns, pediments, and domed roof. The exterior of the building is made of limestone, while the interior is adorned with marble, brass, and stained glass. The building’s most notable features include its spiral staircase, which extends from the first floor to the dome, and the House and Senate chambers, which are decorated with portraits of Tennessee’s governors and other notable figures.

The Importance of the Capitol to Tennessee

The Tennessee State Capitol Building is not only a symbol of Tennessee’s rich history, but it is also a hub of political activity to this day. The building serves as the office of the Governor of Tennessee and the Tennessee General Assembly, which meets annually to pass laws and hold hearings on important issues.

Visitors to the Capitol can take guided tours of the building and learn about the history of Tennessee and its government. The building is also a popular spot for events, such as political rallies, concerts, and weddings.

In conclusion, the Tennessee State Capitol Building is an architectural masterpiece that has played a significant role in Tennessee’s history and government. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply curious about the inner workings of state government, a visit to the Capitol is a must-do when in Tennessee.


Tennessee is a state that is rich in history and culture, and its symbols play a significant role in shaping its identity. From the state seal to the mockingbird, there are many unique symbols that represent the state and its people. These symbols not only help us understand and appreciate the history and culture of Tennessee but also remind us of the importance of preserving our heritage. So if you’re interested in learning more about Tennessee and its symbols, don’t hesitate to dig deeper and discover all the fascinating stories that make this state so special.

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