James E. Clapp jeclapp at WANS.NET
Thu Aug 5 19:05:43 UTC 1999

A. Vine wrote:
> A. Vine wrote:
> >
> > I really had thought much about the origin of Dixie (probably assuming
>                       ^
>                      n't
> > it was the Mason-Dixon line) until yesterday.
> >
> > I was just wondering if
> > any of the etymological wizards on this list have something more conclusive.

I don't know how conclusive it is, but I found very appealing the origin cited in
an article to which Evan Morris posted a link on this list on 7/21/99, in the
following message:

<quote from Morris>

A reader sent me a link to an interesting article on Civil War words by
Christine Ammer:


</quote from Morris>

If I may quote the relevant passage (plus a little intro):


   Fighting Words: Terms from Military History

 The American Civil War has been called the first
      modern war because of the appearance of
      numerous innovations. Our lexicographer
      examines the war's linguistic heritage.

                 By Christine Ammer

. . .

The South itself acquired the name Dixie, which actually originated
shortly before the outbreak of hostilities. Its earliest recorded use
was in a play of 1850 that featured a black character named Dixie,
but it was popularized mainly through northern minstrel-showman
Daniel Decatur Emmett's 1859 song, "Dixie's Land." According to
historian Darryl Lyman, Dixie was a common name for black
characters in minstrel shows, and Emmett said he often used the term
"Dixie's land" to mean "the black (slave's) land," that is, the South. It
has survived and also appears in such terms as Dixiecrat, coined for
Southern Democrats who left the national party in 1948 because they
opposed President Harry Truman's civil rights platform.


Whether it's true or not, I *want* it to be true that the Dixieland so many white
racists have claimed allegiance to is actually "Dixie's Land."

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