The song originated in the blackface minstrel show of the 1850s and quickly grew famous across the United States. Its lyrics, written in a racist, exaggerated version of African American Vernacular English, tell the story of a freed black slave pining for the plantation of his birth. During the American Civil War, "Dixie" was adopted as a de facto anthem of the Confederacy. New versions appeared at this time that more explicitly tied the song to the events of the Civil War. Since the advent of the American Civil Rights Movement, many have identified the lyrics of the song with the iconography and ideology of the Old South. Today, "Dixie" is sometimes considered offensive, and its critics link the act of singing it to sympathy for the concept of slavery in the American South. Its supporters, on the other hand, view it as a legitimate aspect of Southern culture and heritage.
Chivington was born in Lebanon, Ohio. Drawn to Methodism, Chivington decided to become a minister and was ordained in 1844. During 1853, he worked in a Methodist missionary expedition to the Wyandot people in Kansas. Because of his outspoken hatred of slavery, Chivington received a threatening letter from pro-slavery members in his congregation in 1856. As a result the Methodist Church transferred Chivington to a parish in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1860 Chivington moved with his family to Denver, Colorado, having been made the presiding elder of the Rocky Mountain District of the Methodist Church.
When war broke out the following year, Colorado territorial governor William Gilpin offered him a commission as a chaplain, but Chivington refused it, saying he wanted to fight. Thus, he was made a major in the 1st Colorado Volunteers under Colonel John P. Slough. During Henry Hopkins Sibley's Texan offensive on the New Mexico Territory, Chivington led a 418-strong detachment to victory at Apache Canyon, and later captured Sibley's entire supply train during the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Chivington had completely reversed the result of the battle and Sibley's men reluctantly retreated all the way to Texas, never again to threaten New Mexico.