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Dixie No.3, or Dixie ‘War Song’

Dixie No.3, or Dixie ‘War Song’

Publisher: Horace Partridge, Boston

Medium: Print On Paper

Shelfmark: RB 23 b 7019 (0020)

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Printed Music

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By far one of the most famous tunes associated with the Confederacy, Dixie originated before the Civil War. Also titled Dixie Land and I Wish I Was in Dixie, the tune was first developed in the 1850s by blackface minstrel productions and was popular across America. 'Dixie' was a colloquial reference to the Southern states derived from a corruption of 'Dixon', as in the Mason–Dixon line that divided North and South.

The tune was adopted by the Confederacy from the very beginning, with the song played at the South Carolina secession debate in December 1860. The Confederacy’s fervent appropriation of the tune has led to the belief that the song was a uniquely Southern cultural production. However, the tune remained well–known in the Union and was especially popular with President Lincoln, who often had it played during political rallies. Confederate versions of the tune were published for Northern audiences during the war, as highlighted by the Library’s songster, which contains three different Dixie songs.

This version above, Dixie, No. 3, makes reference to the Confederacy as a country in its own right and that there will be no surrender in its defence. One lasting legacy of the war is that Dixie has become a Southern cliché, with the tune appearing in countless Civil War films and television shows, as well as a stock-reference to virtually everything related to the American South. Yet the different lyrics of the wartime versions provide an interesting look at culture and contemporary patriotism in the Confederate states.

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