American Pioneer Music Blog

The Great Baby Show 

The great songwriter, Stephen Foster, is most known for songs such as "Campton Races," "Beautiful Dreamer," and "My Old Kentucky Home." However, Foster happened to be a member of the Demoractic Party. He was also an in-law of James Buchanan, who ran in the 1856 presidential election. He witnessed a Republican parade that year in his home state of Pennsylvania. He thought the view of the speakers were ridiculous, as were the participants. Foster wrote "The Great Baby Show" in response to that political gathering. 


Air: Villikins & his Dinah 

Lyrics: Stephen Foster 

On the Seventeenth day of September, you know, 
Took place in our city the great baby show; 
They shut up the factories and let out the schools, 
For the Seventeenth day was the day of all fools. 


Sing tu ral lal lu ral la lu ral lal lay. 

Sing tu ral lal lu ral la lu ral lal lay. 

They made a procession of wagons and boats, 
Of raccoons and oxen (they all have their votes) 
Sledge hammers, triangles and carpenter's tools, 
One thousand and eight hundred horses and mules. 


They had gemmen ob color to join in their games 
And jokers and clowns of all ages and names 
They had pop guns and tin pans and all kinds of toys 
And a very fine party of women and boys. 


They had young men on horse back, so nice and so gay, 
Aged Seventeen years on this Seventeenth day, 
And the ladies all thought they were bold cavaliers 
These bright looking lads ages seventeen years. 


They had grim border-ruffians, I'll bring to your mind, 
And they've plenty more left of the very same kind, 
They drank from a flask and played cards on the way, 
And the children looked on, on this Seventeenth day. 


They had Ohio Yankess of Western Reserve 
Who live upon cheese, ginger cakes and preserve, 
Abolition's their doctrine their rod and their staff, 
And they'll fight for a sixpence an hour and a half. 


Now was it not Kind in these good simple clowns 
To amuse all the children in both of our towns 
To shut up their work shops and spend so much money 
To black up their faces, get tight and be funny. 


They called it a council of freemen you know 
But I told you before 'twas a great baby show, 
For when they had met they had nothing to say 
But "Poor Bleeding Kansas" and "Ten Cents A Day" 


Then their ship Constitution was hauled through the street 
With sixteen small guns she was armed complete 
But the brave ship of State by which Democrats stand 
Carries thirty one guns with old Buck in command 


In the year '45 when the fire laid us waste 
Old Buck gave us five hundred dollars in haste 
They then took his money and lauded his name 
But he's now "Ten cent Jimmy", their banners proclaim.

Martin Van of Kinderhook and the 1848 Election Song for Free Soil 

Martin  Van Buren, from Kinderhook New York, had a second phase of his political life after his presidency. Still a power in the Democratic party, he surprised a few people by leaving it to run on the anti-slavery Free Soil party. One of the most entertaining songs of that election, was put to the minstrel song "Dandy Jim of Caroline." 


The song does modify a few lyrics that are not appropriate for Youtube and general audiences. The complete lyrics can be viewed here.

Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election appears on CD Baby 

We have some great news to report about our first release: Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election is now available for purchase on CDBaby:

The album was released back in 2013 by American Pioneer Music to help listeners understand political campaign songs, featuring original lyrics from the 1864 campaign. Since the release, our website has grown, and continues to add lyrics from past presidential contests. We are also adding some vocal sketches for some songs, which can easily be found by going to our youtube site. Feel free to send us e-mails to make requests. 

As the site grows, we will release new albums, concentrating on songs that have historical significance but have yet to be recorded.

Thank you to our fans for continuing to support our organization and American History!


Tale of a Slain President 

Most people would think the title of this post is about Abraham Lincoln or maybe John F. Kennedy. Our most faithful followers know that were are preserving the complete history of the American Republic's presidential campaign songs. 

The tale we are posting today is about president James Garfield , who won the election of 1880 and was assassinated in 1881. Although he is not remembered much today, he was a giant in his time. Listen to the below song, Boatman Jim, which reviews Garfield's life. The song is put to a popular Stephen Foster song, "Old Folks at Home"

This is an election song that is just as educational for voters as it is for Americans living today. 

Interracial marriage and VP Richard Johnson 

Today when people think of VP Johnson, they think of Andrew or Lyndon. But in the 19th Century, Richard Johnson became the 9th Vice President on the ticket with Martin Van Buren. Amazingly, the electors from Virginia, refused to follow their pledge to elect Johnson as VP. The United States Senate, as per the US Constitution, ended up voting Johnson in as VP anyway. 

At the time, Johnson seems to have been famous for two things, killing the Indian Tecumseh in battle and marrying his slave, who was one-eighth black. Despite being dropped from the ticket by Van Buren in the election of 1840, the Henry Clay campaign still went after Johnson and his interracial marriage, as shown in the Coon Song:

"There's Old Tecumseh: he won't do: 
While he loves black, he will get blue; 
And taking a wife, so weak his sight. 
Poor man! he didn't know black from white."


The Republican attempt to take down Andrew Johnson 

Some historians may argue that Andrew Johnson  hurt his own presidency by not working with the Republican congress and brought on his own downfall. However, that particular viewpoint has only gained popularity in couple of decades. The first wave of historians that evaluated the Reconstruction period showed much sympathy for Johnson. 

As Johnson did not run for President in 1868, there are not many campaign songs that were written in his favor. American Pioneer Music has put together a vocal sketch of a song included in a Horatio Seymour songbook, which was part of his losing campaign against Grant. 

Fans of Civil War Music will recognize the tune as "Grafted into the Army," as popular anti-war song written by Henry C. Work.

Lincoln and Liberty ..what about Van Buren and Liberty? 

American history is a complicated story. Often, our knowledge of history is seen through the lens of modern popular culture. Abraham Lincoln has only seen his reputation grow in the past 150 years. Our album Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election is certainly part of that story. However, the myth has grown so large that we forget that Lincoln did not emerge from  nothing the Republican party itself grew out of other political movements.

One song that is often recorded by old folk singers is Lincoln and Liberty: Here is a popular version:


The last verse is identical to the closing lyrics of The Trumpet of Freedom:

So hurrah ! for the old fashioned doctrine, 
That men are created all free ! 
And down with the power of the tyrant. 
Whoever that tyrant may be

Few people remember the importance of the Free Soil Party. But to understand Lincoln and the Civil War, these songs should be remembered and put in their proper context. 

The Civil War after the Civil War 

Although the Civil War ended in 1865, it did not leave American politics. A review of campaign songs during Reconstruction show Republican candidates often using the war as a justification for their own election, more specifically always blaming the Democrats for the war. Let's look at a set of lyrics from the losing 1884 Blaine and Logan campaign from the song Our Next President:

They say we wave the "bloody shirt," 
Hurrah! hurrah! 
And if we do—who does it hurt? 
Hurrah! hurrah! 
We have a right, by all the tears, 
By all the war's great woe and fears! 
Hurrah for Blaine our coming President!

For a variety of reasons, this did not work for Blaine as well as it did for past Republican politicians. Grover Cleveland won the election and became the first Democratic President since James Buchanan

Tippecanoe and Morton Too?? 

Did American Pioneer Music get the slogan wrong? Don't lose faith in us yet!

Benjamin Harrision called upon the spirit of his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, and had a campaign song to the tune of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!" The song definitely makes less sense, especially since Benjmain Harrision was not present at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Even so, lyricists often tried to let the world know that Ben did have a war record, as he was a veteran of the Civil War. His opponent, Grover Cleveland, avoided going to war. 


The harsh attacks on Van Buren 

Few sitting Presidents have had more songs written against them than President Martin Van Buren. His administration happened to take place during America's worst economic panic and his opponent in the 1840 Election brought about a new style of campaigning. One of the attacks on Van Buren is represented in the song Oh Matty Van, My Jo, Matt.  Andrew Jackson remained famous and hand picked Van Buren as his successor. Whig writers note in the song that Van Buren cannot fill the shoes of a man like Jackson.