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Burnett, Alfred (02 November 1824–04 April 1884), entertainer and journalist, was born in Bungay, Suffolk, England. The names of his parents and other facts about his early life are unknown. In 1828 he was sent to live with an aunt in New York City. After four years of schooling in Utica, New York, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1836. He later became proprietor of a confectionery business and by 1860 owned three such establishments....

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Dixon, George Washington (1801?–02 March 1861), blackface minstrel and newspaper editor, was born probably in Richmond, Virginia. Little is known about his parents other than that his father might have been a barber and his mother a domestic. One account claims that Dixon was educated in a charity school. Around age fifteen he became an apprentice in a traveling circus and subsequently performed with several such troupes throughout the 1820s. By 1827 Dixon was enjoying renown as a singer of popular stage songs, especially those of a comic nature, which allowed him to advertise himself as “The American Buffo Singer.” His leap to fame came in New York City in 1829, when he put on blackface makeup and sang “Coal Black Rose,” impersonating an African American. He was, thus, one of the very first to practice a genre of stagecraft that came to be called blackface minstrelsy....