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Dixie (song)

"Dixie", also known as "Dixie's Land", "I Wish I Was in Dixie", and other titles, is a song about the Southern United States first made in the mid-19th century. It is one of the most distinctively Southern musical products of the 19th century and probably the best-known song to have come out of blackface minstrelsy. It was not a folk song at its creation, but it has since entered the American folk vernacular. The song likely cemented the word "Dixie" in the American vocabulary as a nickname for the Southern U.S. Most sources credit Ohio-born Daniel Decatur Emmett with the song's composition, although other people have claimed credit, even during Emmett's lifetime. Compounding the problem are Emmett's own confused accounts of its writing and his tardiness in registering its copyright. The latest challenge has been made on behalf of the Snowden Family Band of Knox County, Ohio, who may have been the source of Emmett's "Dixie". One strong assertion of the Snowden's claim is the point of view of the original lyrics—not making fun of "darkies", but describing relationships—between the mistress of the house and a her beau, and residents of the "Quarters". This unique point of view reflects the life circumstances of the Snowden family matriarch on her birthplace plantation in Maryland, prior to moving to Ohio. "Dixie" originated in the minstrel shows of the 1850s and quickly became popular throughout the United States. During the American Civil War, it was adopted as a de facto national anthem of the Confederacy. New versions appeared at this time that more explicitly tied the song to the events of the Civil War. The song was a favorite of President Abraham Lincoln (himself born in Kentucky); he had it played at some of his political rallies and at the announcement of General Robert E. Lee's surrender. Early recordings of the song include band versions by Issler's Orchestra (c. 1895), Gilmore's Band (1896) and the Edison Grand Concert Band (1896) and a vocal version by George J. Gaskin (1896).