Related page: Resurgence of the Old Order
By 1867, Eastman Johnson's painting Negro Life in the South had become widely known as My Old Kentucky Home after the popular song by Stephen Foster. By the end of the century, however, another song that invoked similarly nostalgic memories of bygone days, James A. Bland's "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" (first issued in 1878), would also come to be associated with this image. Engravers apparently saw the usefulness of using the title of one popular song to attract potential purchasers to another, and so Johnson's supposed painting of "My Old Kentucky Home" began to appear on the sheet music for "Old Virginny."
Such interwoven associations helped lead to the creation of a mythic "Old South," where life—whether it be in Johnson's "South," Foster's "Kentucky," or Bland's "Virginny"—was consistently the same: a romantic, pastoral world of moonlight, magnolias, and mint juleps, of gentlemen and belles, of benevolent masters and contented slaves.
In 1940 the Virginia Legislature adopted "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" as the state song. Because its lyrics about slavery were offensive to many, Bland's piece was relegated to "state song emeritus" in 1997; the search for a new state song for Virginia continues to this day.
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