Monday, January 15, 2018

"Dixie" Is More Than The Confederacy


On January 10th, singer Dolly Parton announced that she was eliminating the word "Dixie" from the name for her dinner show formerly known as the "Dixie Stampede."

According to its website, the "Dolly Parton Stampede is an extraordinary dinner show with thirty-two magnificent horses and a cast of top-notch riders. They will thrill you with daring feats of trick riding and competition, pitting North against South in a friendly and fun rivalry. You will enjoy a barrel full of music, dancing, special effects and family friendly comedy along the way. Celebrate as the North and South join together in a patriotic salute of Red, White and Blue featuring COLOR ME AMERICA, written and recorded by Dolly herself. The Patriotic Grand Finale soars with flying Doves of Peace, luminous costumes and fireworks, reminding you of the pride and spirit of America."


Since her announcement, I've received a number of emails asking me a couple of questions about this. Yes, while I'm sort of shocked, I've been asked for my opinion on this. But though that's the case, I'm going to put my opinion aside for a moment or two and instead try to answer a couple of other more important questions pertaining to this.

The first question that a few readers have asked is "what does the word Dixie mean and where did it come from?" The second question that's being put to me is something that I hope to find a suitable answer for. Basically, my readers want to know what's so wrong with the word "Dixie" that Dolly Parton had to say she was removing the word over "cultural concerns"?

So let's take the first question first. Dixie is an area of our great nation. Yes, it is an historical nickname for the South. Yes, the states in the Southern part of the United States. Yes indeed it's a nickname for the area below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Most agree that the word "Dixie" is in reference to the states below the Mason-Dixon Line which was also once called the "Mason and Dixon Line". In fact, the most popular theory of where the word "Dixie" originated has to do with the Mason-Dixon Line.

It is believed by many that the Mason-Dixon Line was a direct result of the secession of states from the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War. But before folks start jumping to conclusions that it was established when the South seceded from the Union, fact is that's not true. The Mason-Dixon Line was created before we broke away from England and became the United States. It's true, it was actually created before the United States became the United States. 

In reality the Mason-Dixon Line was actually created because of colonial borders. It was established after a survey was undertaken in 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. It was done in an attempt to resolve border disputes which involved Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware which were still British colonies. It is said that the Dixon side of the line is the South. Yes, "Dixie"!

The Mason-Dixon Line set by the Missouri Compromise of 1820 is the white line.
Fifty-three years later, it was the result of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that made the Mason-Dixon Line important to the history of slavery. It was during the Congressional debates leading up to the Missouri Compromise that the term "Mason-Dixon Line" was first used to designate the geographical and political boundary between free states and slave states.

So all and it might be surprising to know that the nickname "Dixie" for the South was already widely in use over 50 years before the political boundaries of the Missouri Compromise and almost 100 years before the establishment of the Confederate States of America and the Civil War.

So knowing that, ask yourself if you think that's the reason the South is known as "Dixie"? I believe that's the case. Yes, even thought there are others who give other reasons why that area is called what it is.

For example, some say that the name "Dixie" is in reference to "Dix Notes" which is what $10 bills in Louisiana were called. "Dix Notes" was paper money issued by the Bank of New Orleans up to 1860. 


On one side of the banknote is the word "Dix". The word "Dix" is French meaning "Ten". Since folks in Louisiana spoke French before they ever spoke English, "Dix" appeared on the bilingual notes which were issued in New Orleans long before the Civil War.

Remember, with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from France, President Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase, western half of the Mississippi River basin was purchased in 1803 from France at less than three cents per acre for 828,000 square miles. The purchase not only doubled the size of the United States, but it also strengthened the country materially, strategically, while also providing the motivation for America's westward expansion.

New Orleans being the gateway to the Mississippi River had a huge financial impact on the South. The New Orleans $10 bills were used as currency throughout the South. And no, it wasn't unusual for someone on the Mississippi River to say that he just left New Orleans with a "pockets full of Dixies." After a while, all of the area South of the Ohio River was being referred to as "Dixieland" or simply "Dixie". 

Another theory about the word "Dixie" has to do with a farm on Long Island, New York. That story about the origin of "Dixie" goes to a the story of a man named Johan Dixie, some say his surname was Dixy. He was said to have been a a Manhattan farmer who was also a slave owner in the mid 1800’s. With the abolition of slavery on Manhattan Island where slavery is said to have been legal until 1827, Johan Dixie relocated his farm and slaves somewhere in the South. Supposedly his slaves missed their treatment on Mr. Dixie's farm in New York state and reminisced about "Dixieland."

Frankly, I don't put a lot of credence in the story of a New York farmer as being the origin of the word "Dixie". And as for the song "I Wish I Was in Dixie," that song was very popular song throughout the United States. The song was extremely popular, and soon simply became known as "Dixie."


While it was about Southern pride and love for the South, it's said to have actually been written by a Northern from Mount Vernon, Ohio. His name was Daniel Emmett. He supposedly published the song in the 1850s as a minstrel show tune. It's said the song was performed on stage with the singers in blackface using what's termed "an exaggerated negro vernacular" of the times.

How popular was the song? Well, it's said that the song was played at the inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1861. It's also said that the song became the "unofficial" anthem of the Confederate States of America. Of course, the man responsible for freeing the slaves, President Abraham Lincoln, is said to have loved the song. In fact, it should be noted that when President Lincoln heard about General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, he asked the military band to play "Dixie". As he was reported as saying at the time, "I've always loved that song." He must have since he also used it during his 1860 presidential campaign.

But since the song is associated with the Confederacy, despite the fact that it was written in the North by a Yankee, a Northerner, a man from Ohio, some people today perceive the song as offensive, racist, and about Southern slavery. Those same people say the song "Dixie" is a racist reminder of the Confederacy and decades of white domination. In my opinion, that's a lot to get out of a song that does not talk about slavery or oppression of others. After all, no where in it's lyrics is there a mention of buying, selling, or owning slaves.

And while those same people see the song as offensive with hidden connotations of racism in every note, I've always loved the tune and have always seen it as a song celebrating a sense of Southern pride that goes a lot farther back in time than just the Civil War. I've never seen it about slavery or racism. And frankly, though I love the entire song, my favorite version is "An American Trilogy" sung by Elvis Presley where he combines "Dixie" with the parts of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and parts of "All My Trials" which is referred to as an "old negro hymn."

I see my liking the song "Dixie" as simply a song of Southern pride versus those individuals out there who see the song as offensive and racist, as a perfect example of the divide in our nation these days. Even though nowhere in the song does it talk about racism, people like Dolly Parton are going along with the political correctness in a time when our past as a nation is being attacked by those who want to rewrite and change America into some place that they envision.

Their notion of what America is supposed to be eliminates regional pride. They have the desire to cleanse us of our past by wiping out those things which we honor, our defenders, our local heroes, our heritage and history as a nation.

In Seattle, Washington, those same people see it as OK that a statue of the founder of Communist Russia, the Soviet Union, is located where the public can view it. Yet those same people are upset by Civil War monuments in the South. Monuments of those who heard to call and went to war to fight for their states. Right or wrong, those Southern men waged war against those who they saw as invaders. They answered the call to mostly defend their towns and cities. It was to hold back the destruction that was being waged on the South. Yes, destruction in terms of "Total War."

We forget that towns, cities, manufacturing plants, and farms were wiped out by advancing Union armies. Horses, mules, and cattle were in many cases consumed as food to stave off starvation because of the destruction of food sources and because of the block-aid of the South.

Over a half of the South's livestock were killed by the end of the war. The South's transportation infrastructure was in ruins with little to none railroad and riverboat service. As for the railroads, two-thirds of the South’s rails, rail yards, and bridges were systematically destroyed by the Union Army. During the war, Southerners went hungry. When the war was finally over, Southerners still went hungry for a long time.

Thank God for their resilience, fortitude, and perseverance. Thank God they pulled together and rebuilt. Thank God for those who fought to save towns and cities from the onslaught of the Union Army. Many of those who defended towns or ran the block-aids to get food to starving Southerners had statues raised in their honor over the years.


Today, there are people who work diligently to tear down those statues, to remove the word "Dixie," to remove Confederate battle flags, all because they see those things as offensive relics. Sadly, I see Dolly Parton as joining those who believe in censuring speech and removing our history.

These are the same people who want to add the inscription to President Thomas Jefferson's monument to say that he was a "slave owner." Of course these same people aren't intelligent enough to know that Thomas Jefferson also ended the importation of black slaves into the United States in 1806 because he was anti-slavery. They're too busy trying to re-write our history to actually know what the real history of our great nation really is.   

And now, Dolly Parton has joined their ranked. Personally, I find it hard to believe that she dropped the word "Dixie" from her Stampede Show. Her company says that they did it to make the show more "palatable" for a "broader audience." But frankly, I can't help but wonder if she understands that the word "Dixie" is the longtime nickname of our Southern states. A nickname that predates our nation ever being established. I can't help but wonder if she realized that the word's origin has zero to do with slavery and is derived from when the Mason-Dixon Line was surveyed by the British before we were Americans.

Dolly's Stampede Show is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri. Both are tourist destinations which specifically cater to the Southern culture and country music fans. I can't help but wonder if she understands that her removal of "Dixie" will be seen as her surrendering to those who want the Confederate battle flag removed from the South, that her actions embolden those who want statues of Southern heroes removed, or that she has now joined the Snowflakes who want all symbols of the South removed permanently. 

To me, it appears she has now joined the few very vocal people out there who have made it their mission in life to remove all aspects of our history from America. First they started with the Confederate battle flag, next they attacked Southern monuments, and in recent months they've attacked George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It's sad to see her associated with such people. Very sad.

You wrote to ask for my opinion, and that's the way I see it. 

Tom Correa 


 

2 comments:

  1. Elizabeth L. Johnson said, I concur, sir. I was in school in Arkansas for a short time. In elementary school there, we had a school assembly each and every school morning. We listened to a scripture, we prayed, we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and we sang "I Wish I Was In Dixie", and the national anthem. I thought the tearing down of statues in the south was foolishness. I like Dolly very much, and saw nothing wrong with Dixie Stampede, in the least.

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  2. I read your article again, we're in big trouble,dolly of all people has fallen for the politics of the new political bs of today's movement in America, when will it end? Dolly you have forgotten where you came from.

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