Some claim the name is derived from the Mason-Dixon line, the surveyor's boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland. But the name is probably Franco-American slang from the Mississippi river-boat trade. This came from a 10 dollar bill issued by either the 'Citizens Bank of Louisiana' or C.R.Euce financial house in New Orleans both had the word ten written in French, dix, on each corner and were known to tradesmen, stevedores and boatmen as 'dixies.' This of course makes Louisiana the first 'land of Dixies' or 'Dixies Land'.
The song is usually attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett but it is possible that it was written by two coloured brothers, former slaves who lived in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Dan and Lew Snowden. On their gravestone is the text 'They taught 'Dixie' to Dan Emmett'.
Emmett was born at Mount Vernon, Ohio, 29 October 1815. Running away at 16 to join the circus. Here he played songs of his own composition, while accompanying himself on the banjo. He became successful and in 1842 he and his three companions formed the Virginia Minstrels, these were the first black-face minstrel company in the United States. (He also toured England and Scotland).
Emmett sold the publication rights of the song to the New York firm of Peters for five hundred dollars. The song was issued under the title 'I Wish I Was in Dixie Land.' It's first performance in the South seems to have been in Charleston, December 1860 In the March 1861 it was performed on the stage of the Varieties Theatre, New Orleans, the last number saw some gaudily dressed Zouaves march on stage and sing 'Dixie'. The audience went wild and seven encores later the song had entered history.
It was played at Montgomery, Alabama, when the Confederate States of America was provisionally established and at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as President.
The 'Dixie' we know has the original first verse missing. This was because fears were expressed that this verse might offend the religious-minded in the audience. Although never used Emmett sometimes included it in souvenir copies.
If anybody has, or knows, where I can obtain a picture of the above mentioned bank notes could you please let me know as I wish to post them on this page.
Lee on music
Robert E Lee when listening to a band concert in camp said, 'I don't see how we could have an army without music.'
Grant on music
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant claimed he could recognize only two tunes, one was 'Yankee Doodle' 'and the other wasn't.'
Lincoln and 'Dixie'
On 8 April 1865, at dusk, Abraham Lincoln returned from a tour of his army camps below the recently captured Richmond. Worn out, but happy, he settled down on the paddle-wheel steamer ‘River Queen’ anchored where the James met the Appomattox.
A Federal Army band came aboard to serenade him. After a few numbers Lincoln turned to a foreign guest and asked 'Have you heard the Rebel song, 'Dixie'?' 'No' said the guest. The musicians were surprised when the President asked for the tune but played it and as if finished the ‘River Queen’ slipped away downstream, bearing Lincoln on the last trip of his life.
Aboard the vessel was a mulatto seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley, now a servant to Mrs. Lincoln but before the war she had served Mrs. Jefferson Davis. Elizabeth recorded 'The band at once struck up 'Dixie,' that sweet, inspiriting air; and when the music died away there was clapping of hands and other applause.'
'Bonnie Blue Flag'
Harry McCarthey, the Irish comedian, wrote and sang the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' the night the flag was unfurling at the succession convention, singing it for the first time in the Spengler theatre in Jackson, Mississippi, on January the 10th, 1861. (One story tells us that he was aided in his song writing by a ex court musician from Hanover, Germany, Jacob Tannenbaum. They teamed up in Mobile, Alabama, and co-wrote the song. Tannenbaum soon migrated North and joined a minstrel troupe.)
It is felt the reader might like to know the different words, and tune if they don't know it, to the song 'Bonnie Blue Flag'.