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History | Lyrics | Daniel Decatur Emmett
"Dixie" was written by Daniel Decatur Emmett of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and premiered in September of 1859 in New York. According to an article by Mike Petee in the Knox County Observer, Mount Vernon, Ohio, Dan Emmett learned to play various instruments at a young age, including the banjo, fife, fiddle and a small drum. He was enlisted in a Minstrel group when they stopped in Mount Vernon and needed a replacement for a sick player, beginning a long musical career.
Although best known as the song adopted by the Confederacy, "Dixie" was also Abraham Lincoln's favorite song, and it was played at his inauguration. Even though Abe Lincoln loved and supported the song, Dan Emmett was ostracized in the North for writing a song associated with the South. In his last performance in Mount Vernon, it is reported that he cried when he was warmly welcomed and given a standing ovation as it's writer.It is still considered to be one of the top two or three songs associated with the history of this country.
One popular theory of the origin of the name Dixie is that the old $10 Lousiana notes were known (by mispronouncing the French names that were printed on them) as "dixies," and the Louisiana region became known in slang as Dixie Land. This term was later expanded to include the rest of the South.
The other competing theory is that "Dixie" comes from the Mason-Dixon Line. There is a third theory that the title honors a kind farmer in Manhattan Island by the name of Dixy who was rumored to be connected with the Underground Railroad; "Dixy's Land" became known as a safe haven. However, it is unlikely that this could actually be the origin of the song since Manhattan Island has never been "the land of cotton"; in addition, Manhattan is clearly not "away down south".
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