Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/386

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

next day it rained and I stayed indoors. At first when I went at the song I couldn't get anything. But a line,

'I wish I was in Dixie'

"kept repeating itself in my mind, and I finally took it for my start. The rest wasn't long in coming. And that's the story of how Dixie was written.

"It made a hit at once, and before the end of the week everybody in New York was whistling it. Then the South took it up and claimed it for its own. I sold the copyright for five hundred dollars, which was all I ever made from it. I'll show you my first copy."

He went into the house and returned in a moment with a yellow, worn-looking manuscript in his hand.

"That's Dixie," he said, holding it up for inspection. "I'm going to give it to some historical society in the South, one of these days, for though I was born here in Ohio, I count myself a Southerner, as my father was a Virginian."

It was at New Orleans that Dixie got its great start as a war song. In 1861, just after the breaking out of the Civil War, an actress sang it at one of the New Orleans theatres. It was received with a storm of applause, and at once passed to the street, and then to the camp. It flew over the South on wings, and is now a universal favorite.

Emmett died in 1904, at Mount Vernon.

The song has been changed and paraphrased many times. The most elaborate attempt of this kind was made by General Albert Pike, of Confederate fame, who tried to give it more dignity. But his attempt did not prove successful. The public preferred Dan Emmett's doggerel and the tune, which he had adapted from an old "Coon Song."—The Advance.