Why Is the South Called Dixie?

While no one knows for certain how the term Dixie came to represent the South, theories include that it is derived from the name of a relatively kind slave owner named Dix or from the word Dix, which at one time referred to $10 notes in Louisiana. Another possibility is that it is a shortened version of the Mason-Dixon line, which delineated the slaveholding portion of the nation.

Minstrel composer Daniel Decatur Emmett wrote the song "Dixie" in the mid-1800s. He wrote the song in New York City and was not, in fact, from the South.

The song became popular in the North about the time the South prepared to secede. The song quickly became an informal anthem for the South. It is believed this was partly due to the fact that residents of the South were looking for something new and not related to the United States to represent them in song.

Not all southerners regarded the song warmly, with some believing it offered too much of a nod to African Americans to be worthy of the South. However, over time, the song became so ingrained in the culture that it became inseparable from the region's identity.

There are no written records of the word Dixie being used before Emmett's song was published, which makes tracing the origins of the term in relation to the South particularly challenging.