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George Washington Dixon
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||March 2, 1861(aged 59–60)|
George Washington Dixon (1801? – March 2, 1861) was an American singer, stage actor, and newspaper editor. He rose to prominence as a blackface performer (possibly the first American to do so) after performing "Coal Black Rose", "Zip Coon", and similar songs. He later turned to a career in journalism, during which he earned the enmity of members of the upper class for his frequent allegations against them.
At age 15, Dixon joined the circus, where he quickly established himself as a singer. In 1829, he began performing "Coal Black Rose" in blackface; this and similar songs would propel him to stardom. In contrast to his contemporary Thomas D. Rice, Dixon was primarily a singer rather than a dancer. He was by all accounts a gifted vocalist, and much of his material was quite challenging. "Zip Coon" became his trademark song.
By 1835, Dixon considered journalism to be his primary vocation. His first major paper was Dixon's Daily Review, which he published from Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1835. He followed this in 1836 with Dixon's Saturday Night Express, published in Boston. By this point, he had taken to using his paper to expose what he considered the misdeeds of the upper classes. These stories earned him many enemies, and Dixon was taken to court on several occasions. His most successful paper was the Polyanthos, which he began publishing in 1838 from New York City. Under its masthead, he challenged some of his greatest adversaries, including Thomas S. Hamblin, Reverend Francis L. Hawks, and Madame Restell. After a brief foray into hypnotism, "pedestrianism" (long-distance walking), and other pursuits, he retired to New Orleans, Louisiana.
On February 27, 1861, he checked into the New Orleans Charity Hospital, noting his occupation as "editor". Dixon died on March 2.
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