[Ads-l] "Dixon's land" & "Dixey's line"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Jun 30 09:46:00 UTC 2020

Given apparently myriad mentions of Mason and Dixon's Line, I suppose it was well known enough to have influenced Dixie's Line and Dixie's Land.

Here's an instance (admittedly after D. D. Emmett's songs) from New-Hampshire Statesman (Concord) Fri. April 24, 1863, p. 1. col. 3 [19th c. USNews], with the article title "Artemis Ward Crossing Dixie's Line":
"....suffysit it to say I got across Mason and Dixie's line safe at larst."

For a different opinion, David L. Gold, in an excerpt from "....Appendix 3: On the Origins of Dixie and Jazz" [italics omitted], p. 155 in Studies in Etymology and Etiology...(Universidad de Alicante, 2009):

"Lighter et al. 1994:609 give a good summary of the etymological problem which Dixie poses. They say, inter alia, "Of the various proposed etymologies, that sugg. by Hotze in the 1861 quot. below [[[i.e., in HDAS]]] is perh. to be favored on phonological as well as historical grounds." Hotze proposed that Dixie comes from Mason and Dixon's Line. That suggestion is not immediately convincing: although the name of a border can come to designate what the border delimits, Mason and Dixon's Line may have been too little known to the average person to give rise to a word as informal as Dixie."

Stephen Goranson
From: Stephen Goranson
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2020 5:38 AM
Subject: "Dixon's land" & "Dixey's line"

About the proposed move from “Dixon’s Line” to “Dixie’s Land,” two related collocations may be of interest.

“Dixon’s land” appears in June 15, 1835 (Monday) Evening Star [New York, NY] p.2, col. 2 [AmHistN]  :

Query—What would be the punishment of a negro flogging an alderman, south of Mason and Dixon’s land?

And “Dixon’s land” also appears in many July, 1861 accounts about politician John Bell of Tennessee.

“Dixey’s line” appears in the Feb. 10, 1861 Sunday Dispatch [Philadelphia], p.1 col.7 [AmHistN]:

…for two months, there hasn’t been a paragraph in any paper north or south of Mason & Dixon’s line, or on Dixon’s, or Dixey’s line itself that hasn’t been as reeking with blood ….

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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