1Southerners often romanticized slavery as
being good both for the African Americans,
who Southerners thought were incapable
of taking care of themselves, and for slave
owners, and this song is in African-American
dialect. Cotton was a major Southern crop
largely picked by African Americans in less
than idyllic conditions. This heightens the
paternalistic quality of the song, with its
references to treasured memories of life in
the South.
2Southerners considered the South to be
their homeland, and they viewed the con-
fl ict over slavery as a war between two
equally sovereign states (North and South),
one of which they were defending.
Daniel Decatur Emmett’s
“(I Wish I Was In) Dixie’s Land”
Americans often express pride in the region where they were born, raised, and live, and
Southerners were no exception. The following tune, while loved in both North and South,
was at hand even before Southern states sought to secede and became something of
a Southern anthem during the Civil War, much as the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy” had
served for patriot forces during the Revolutionary War. The tune’s implicit acceptance of
slavery provides a fascinating comparison with Julia Ward Howe’s “The Battle Hymn of the
Republic,” which was probably the nearest Union equivalent.
I wish I was in de land ob cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land whar’ I was born in,
Early on one frosty mornin’,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
Den I wish I was in Dixie, Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray!
In Dixie land, I’ll took my stand to lib and die in Dixie;
Away, away, away down south in Dixie,
Away, away, away down south in Dixie .
Old Missus marry Will-de-weaber,
Willium was a gay deceaber;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
But when he put his arm around ‘er
He smiled as fi erce as a forty-pounder,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
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