The not-yet-Old "North State" (pre-nickname for North Carolina), 1796; the old "Rip van Winkle State", [1835], 1844 (antedates OED3, 1857--)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 5 20:13:18 UTC 2014

Gosh, these finds are so great, Joel.  Thank you so very much.

Here's a (very) slightly earlier usage of "the Rip Van Winkle State":


The nickname of the *Rip Van Winkle State* has lately been given to
North Carolina, on account of its slow progress in improvement, and
the alleged sluggishness and want of enterprise of its population.
[Alexandria (VA) Gazette, 6 March 1834, p. 2, col. 3; via  (The Gazette credits the Baltimore Gazette for
this article.)]


What this native Tar Heel finds interesting (and a little
embarrassing) about this business is that the words of the state's
song ("The Old North State") were penned at the same time (1835).  As
Nicholas Graham pointed out in 2006 [1]:

"Though the words to 'The Old North State' are appropriately
patriotic, one line often stands out to people hearing or reading it
for the first time: 'Tho' the scorner may sneer at, and witling defame
her, Yet our hearts swell with gladness, Whenever we name her.' Who
were these scorners and witlings? [William] Gaston was writing at a
time when North Carolina was one of the poorest states in the nation.
The state was rapidly losing population as people emigrated, often to
newly opened western territories, in search of more promising
opportunities for themselves and their families. It was not unlikely
then for local elites who were determined to stay in the state, such
as Gaston, to feel a little bit defensive."

-- Bonnie


On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

> I.  "north state", 1796.
> My interest aroused, I widened the search to "north state" as a
> reference to North-Carolina.  Perhaps in 1796 it was not yet old,
> being but a youth of 7.  (It had been admitted to "the Union" in
> 1789, the twelfth to ratify the Constitution although not one of the
> original 13 colonies.  Remember recalcitrant Rhode-Island.)
> -----
> Santee Canal. To the Public.  [headline]
> The exports from, and imports to, the south-western inhabitants of
> North-Carolina, which are likely to pass through the canal, will far
> exceed any thing that has ever yet come to this city [Charleston] by
> land or by the mouth of the Santee. This must be the case as long as
> our neighbours in that part of the north state, increase in numbers
> and pursue their own interest.
> -----
> [City Gazette (Charleston, S.C.), 1796 Feb. 19, p. 2, col. probably 1.  EAN.]
> II.  "Rip Van Winkle State", [1835], 1844; antedates OED3 1857--
> Then there is this nickname for North-Carolina!
> -----
> North-Carolina.---By the following extract of a letter from a member
> of the Legislature, it will be seen that the Rip Van Winkle of the
> South, as the North State has been sometimes good humoredly called,
> has roused up from his sleep, and signally VETOED THE VETO.
> -----
> [New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene), 1835 Jan. 22, p. [3], col. 1.  EAN.]

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