The Name 'Dixie' – Why?

Back prior to the American Civil War, a fellow named Daniel Decatur Emmett composed “Dixie,” a minstrel song that included the now-famous refrain “Away, away, away down south in Dixie!” It was an immediate successful song, even Abraham Lincoln referred to the song one of the best tunes he had ever heard. The song by Emmett became the nickname for the southern states.

It really began with the Mason-Dixie Line, the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland done in 1767 by surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. The boundary line was to help with any border dispute between the Pennsylvania and Maryland colonies.

There was also in Louisiana years before the Civil War, the state’s Citizen Bank of New Orleans issued ten-dollar note with the French word of ten written ‘dix’ printed on one side. So people using these bills referred to them as ‘Dixies’.

When a major road was constructed in the mid-1910s from Michigan and Chicago, Illinois headed south into Florida. Since it was headed through ‘The South’ into Florida it was named ‘Dixie Highway’. The auto lane was very basic at first and narrow. Over the years it has been paved and enlarged in several locations. Many portions in different counties and locations do have a different name but the full length is known as Dixie Highway.

Photos: Dixie Song sheet; Daniel Emmett; and Dix money bill.

Related Blogs:

Museum of the Confederacy

Appalachian States

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