Posted by: Democratic Thinker | March 19, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: I Wish I Was In Dixie

The American Civil War—Victory

Following General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Abraham Lincoln joins the general celebration in Washington, D.C.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.—Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

The Rejoicing in Washington Over Lee’s Surrender.—President Lincoln Speaking From the White House.


Lincoln’s Impromptu Speech on “Dixie.”


THE night following the President’s arrival in Washington, the workmen of the Navy-yard formed in procession, marched to the White House, in front of which thousands were assembled, bands playing, and the entire throng alive with excited calls having been made for him, he appeared at the window, on the entrance door, calm amid the tumult, and was greeted with cheers and waving of hats.

Comparative silence having been secured, he said:

MY FRIENDS:—I am very greatly rejoiced that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people can’t restrain themselves. I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of formal demonstration— perhaps this evening or to-morrow night. If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, will have to respond to it; and I will have nothing to say if you dribble it out of me.

I see you have a band. I propose now closing up by requesting you to play a certain piece of music, or a tune—I thought ‘Dixie’ one of the best tunes I ever heard.

I had heard that our adversaries over the way had attempted to appropriate it. I insisted yesterday we had fairly captured it! I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his opinion that it is our lawful prize. I ask the band to give us a good turn upon it.

The band accordingly played “Dixie,” with extraordinary vigor, when “three cheers and a tiger” were given, followed by the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” The President then proposed three rousing cheers for Grant and all under his command—and next, three cheers for the Navy and all its forces.

The President then retired, amid cheers, the tune of “Hail Columbia,” and the firing of cannon.

—Frank Crosby, Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1865.


I Wish I Was in Dixie, 2nd South Carolina String Band.


Life of Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States (1865).
Life of Abraham Lincoln.
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