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When Southern Ladies Tried to Change "Dixie's" Words

Discussion in 'Post Civil War History, The Reconstruction Period' started by Pat Young, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    I am reading Caroline Janney's book
    Burying the Dead but Not the Past:
    Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause.

    I found it interesting that at the beginning of the 20th Century the Confederate Southern Memorial Association (CSMA) called for changing the words to the song Dixie! The CSMA was a national organization created by the network of Ladies Memorial Associations which had been burying the Confederate dead and caring for their graves since 1865. Here is what Janney says:

    Perhaps most surprising, at first glance, was its effort to change the words to the South’s unofficial anthem, “Dixie.” When the Montgomery Advertiser asked, “What is the matter with the old words to Dixie?” the women of the association offered a sharp reply. “The words are unworthy of the air” because they had been composed for a “negro minstrel performance.” While the tune became popular during the war, the memorial women contended that “the words are nothing but doggerel and negro dialect.
    Some do not even rhyme.” Since the CSMA wanted schoolchildren to sing the song, they thought it only fitting that the words be changed to something more solemn that reflected the seriousness of the war rather than the light-hearted nature of a minstrel show. Venerating Confederate soldiers might be their mantra, but CSMA women clearly understood their power to shape young white southern minds regarding proper race relations in the early twentieth century.


    Janney, Caroline E.. Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause (Civil War America) (pp. 182-183). The University of North Carolina Press. Kindle Edition.
     

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  3. RobertP

    RobertP Captain

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    I never knew this but am glad they were unsuccessful. I feel the same about those who want to scrap "Maryland, My Maryland."
     
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  4. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    I wonder what the new words were supposed to be. Janney gives as her source Rutherford's scrap-book. Rutherford was, of course, the historian of the UDC. I doubt I'll be looking over her scrapbook any time soon
     
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  5. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Here is what the historian of the CSMA said that the mission of the organization was in a history issued in 1904:

    To future generations of the people of the South and to the sons and daughters of the women of the Confederacy, who first banded themselves together in memorial work, may this Confederation carry its messages and legacy of devotion to the memory of a Cause and the heroes who fought for it, the Deathless Dead of the Southern Confederacy.
     
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  6. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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  7. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Corporal

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    I will look forward to this thread. Thanks for all the interesting posts you make!
     
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  8. RobertP

    RobertP Captain

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    Me too. If both Lincoln and I can agree on the song there must be something universally good about it.
     
  9. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 2nd Lieutenant

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    To some extent the words were changed, or at least the minstrel dialect was removed and most of the verses de-emphasized. Pretty much every time I remember Dixie being sung, it's only the first few verses:

    Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
    Old times there are not forgotten,
    Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

    In Dixie Land, where I was born in,
    early on one frosty mornin',
    Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

    I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
    In Dixie Land I'll take my stand
    to live and die in Dixie.
    Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
    Away, away, away down south in Dixie
     
  10. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain

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    The New Orleans Times-Picayune of May 17, 1903, published a long article which began:
    dixie2.png
    The piece concluded with:
    dixie.png
    The UCV came out emphatically against any change. At the June 16, 1904 Convention in Nashville:
    dixie3.png

    Period newspapers have quite a lot of coverage on this proposal.

    In 1917, there was even an attempt to make it the U. S. National Anthem (with altered words, of course).
     
  11. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Corporal

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    Oh my!
     
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  12. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain

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    Charlotte Observer, April 17, 1917
    dxie17.png
    Genealogybank.com contains well over 100 newspaper articles on the idea in 1917 alone.
     
  13. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Thanks. I appreciate your kind remark.
     
  14. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Our colleagues supplied the answer.
     
  15. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Dan Emmett is usually credited with the songwriting credit. He is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame:

    http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C196

    He is credited with songs like Old Dan Tucker, Jimmy Crack Corn, and Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel. Of Irish Ancestry, he is also in the Irish American Hall of Fame.
     
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  16. John Winn

    John Winn Captain

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    Very interesting. I had no idea this had ever been proposed or considered. Never know what you'll learn around here.
     
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  17. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 2nd Lieutenant

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    Until I saw this, I did not realize that the "Star-Spangled Banner" wasn't already the national anthem by 1917. You inspired me to look at up, and I found out to my surprise that Congress did not confirm it as the national anthem until 1931. (An executive order by Woodrow Wilson had designated it as such in 1916.)
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-star-spangled-banner-becomes-official
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  18. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Hey thanks for posting that. Nice to see Janney was right. BTW, those words are awful.
     
  19. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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  20. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain

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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  21. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    That's the version I was trying to find. Thanks ! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017

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