October 5, 1939
Louisiana and the City of New Orleans gave to the South the name of DIXIE — and today the whole Southland in the eyes of persons the world over is Dixie.
It all began way back in 1833, a half dozen years before Farmerville and Union Parish were born. In that year, the Citizens’ Bank of New Orleans was organized — and institution, by the way, which had an honored career until 1911, when its charter expired.
This was a period of wildcat banks scattered throughout the land, and from them poured a snow-storm of paper money, most of which became valueless. The Citizens’ Bank, however, was a strong institution, capably and honestly administered, and it, too, had been given authority to issue notes. By 1837, it was the strongest bank in the South. Its notes were good everywhere; they had a national circulation.
Large French Population
Because of the large French population in New Orleans, it engraved on one side of the bank notes in English, the other side in French. Its principal issue was $10 bills, and in the center of the French-engraved side of the bill was the word, in large letters, “Dix”, which is French for 10.
The English-speaking citizens of the South gave it the obvious English pronunciation “dicks”, not the French “dee”. Up and down the Mississippi Valley, and in faraway New York, men began to refer to New Orleans as Dix-land. This became, in the natural process of language-softening, Dixieland, then Dixie.
In 1859, Dan Bryan’s minstrel troupe in New York needed a new walkaround, or entrance song, and Daniel Decatur Emmet was instructed to compose one.
Being a native of Southerner, Emmet had not altogether become accustomed to the cold winters of the North, and was thus affected while meandering for an idea for his new song:
Came the Idea
He was in his room one cold night, and looked out of the window at the snow and sleet. “I wish I was in Dixie.” From this inspiration sprung the song of that name, and it was an immediate success. It made its way down the valley, and set the South a-tingle. During the War between the State, General Albert Pike modified the song, giving it a martial swing, and it became the marching and fighting song of the Confederacy.
And gave the name DIXIE to the entire South.