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Traditional symbol of the South: the "Rebel flag", based on battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia
Dark red indicates the states almost always included in modern-day definitions of Dixie, red - sometimes included (see Southern United States for the U.S. Census definition), while pale red - occasionally included due to their historic connections to the South.
Although Maryland is not included in Dixie today, Maryland is on the Dixie side of the Mason-Dixon line; if the origin of the term Dixie is accepted as referring to the region south (and west) of that line, Maryland was in Dixie in 1760. It can also be argued that Maryland was, in 1860, part of Dixie, especially culturally. In this sense, it would remain so into the 1970s, when an influx of people from the Northeast made the state and its culture significantly less Southern (especially Baltimore and the suburbs of Washington DC).
However, the location and boundaries of "Dixie" have, over time, become increasingly subjective and mercurial. Today, it is most often associated with those parts of the Southern United States where traditions and legacies of the Confederate era and the antebellumSouth live most strongly. The concept of "Dixie" as the location of a certain set of cultural assumptions, mind-sets and traditions (along with those of other regions in North America) was explored in the 1981 book The Nine Nations of North America.
In terms of self-identification and appeal the popularity of the word "Dixie" seems to be declining. A 1976 study revealed that on some 350,000 sq. miles "Dixie" reached 25% popularity of "American" in names of commercial business entities. Though a 1999 analysis provided confusing evidence, a 2010 study conclusively demonstrated that in course of 40 years the area in question shrunk to just 40,000 sq. miles, to the territory at the confluence of Louisiana, Mississipi, Alabama and Florida. In 1976 at some 600,000 sq. miles "Dixie" reached at least 6% popularity of "American"; in 2010 the corresponding area was some 500,000 sq. miles.
Origin of the name
Ten dollar note from Banque des citoyens de la Louisiane, 1860
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of this nickname remains obscure. The most common theories according to A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (1951) by Mitford M. Mathews:
"Dixie" is derived from Jeremiah Dixon, a surveyor of the Mason-Dixon line, which defined the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, separating free and slave states subsequent to the Missouri Compromise.
The word "Dixie" refers to currency issued first by the Citizens State Bank in the French Quarter of New Orleans and then by other banks in Louisiana. These banks issued ten-dollar notes labeled Dix on the reverse side, French for "ten". The notes were known as "Dixies" by southerners, and the area around New Orleans and the French-speaking parts of Louisiana came to be known as "Dixieland". Eventually, usage of the term broadened to refer to the Southern states in general.
The word preserves the name of a Mr. Johan Dixie (sometimes spelled Dixy), a slave owner on Manhattan Island where slavery was legal until 1827. An apocryphal tale claims that following their posting to the South, the slaves who formerly worked "Dixie's Land" told of the relatively less harsh treatment they faced while in the North.
^Vance, Rupert Bayless, Regionalism and the South, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1982, p. 166 "West Virginia is found to have its closest attachment to the Southeast on the basis of agriculture and population."
^ the territory in question was all Mississipi and Alabama, almost all of Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina, and around a half of Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. The study in question was John Shelton Reed, "The Heart of Dixie: An Essay in Folk Geography", [in:] "Social Forces" 54/4 (1976), pp. 925-939
^the research demonstrated that between 1976 and 1999 in some 19% of US cities sampled there was an increase of relative use of "Dixie", in 48% of cities sampled there was a decline and there was no change recorded in 32% of cities, Derek H. Alderman, Robert Maxwell Beavers, "Heart of Dixie Revisited: an Update on the Geography of Naming in the American South", [in:] "Southeastern Geographer" XXXlX/2 (1999), p. 196
^ Christopher A. Cooper, H. Gibbs Knotts, "Declining Dixie: Regional Identification in the Modern American South", [in:] "Social Forces" 88/3 (2010), pp. 1083-1101
^from Eastern areas of Texas and Oklahoma to Southern areas of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia
^compare a map at Cooper, Gibbs Knotts 2010, p. 1090