Kingdom Coming (Work, 1862)

Henry Clay Work’s Kingdom Coming (also known as “Year of Jubilo”) was popular in both the North and the South, perhaps because of his ambiguously comical treatment of the plight of “contraband” liberated slaves during the War and the song’s straight-up Minstrel Show stylings:



Say, darkeys, hab you seen de massa,
Wid de muffstash on his face,
Go long de road some time dis morning’,
Like he gwine to leab de place?
He seen a smoke way up de ribber,
Whar de Linkum gunboats lay;
He took his hat, an’ let’ berry sudden,
An’ I spec’ he’s run away!

De massa run? ha, ha! 
De darkey stay? ho, ho! 
It mus, be now de kingdom comin’ 
An’ de year Jubilo!

He six foot one way’ two foot tudder,
An, he weigh t’ree hundred pound,
His coat so big, he couldn’t pay de tailor,
An’ it won’t go half way round.
He drill so much, dey call him Cap’an,
An’ he get so drefful tanned,
I spec’ he try an’fool dem Yankees,
For to tink he’s contraband.


De darkeys feel so berry lonesom,
Libing in de log-House on de lawn,
Dey move dar tings to massa’s parlor,
For to keep it while he’s gone,
Dars wine an’ cider in de kitchen,
An’ de darkeys dey’ll hab some;
I spose dey’ll all be cornfiscated,
When de Linkum sojers come.


De oberseer he make us trouble,
An’ he dribe us round a spell,
We lock him up in the smoke-House cellar,
Wid de key trown in de well.
De whip is lost, de han-cuff broken,
But de massa’ll hab his pay,
He’s ole enuff, big enuff, ought to know better
Dan to went, an’ run away.


Regarding the “contraband” situation, it is instructive to read Gen. Butler‘s letter to Secretary of War Cameron on this subject, as printed in the New York Times (6 August, 1861):

… I have therefore now within the Peninsula, this side of Hampton Creek, 900 negroes, 300 of whom are able-bodied men, 30 of whom are men substantially past hard labor, 175 women, 225 children under the age of 10 years, and 170 between 10 and 18 years, and many more coming in. The questions which this state of facts present are very embarrassing.

First — What shall be done with them? and, Second, What is their state and condition?

Upon these questions I desire the instructions of the Department. …

(Note the appearance of NH’s own “Major-Gen. DIX” in the opening paragraph of said letter.)

The following songsheet includes a bonus lyric, “That’s What’s the Matter” (sung to the tune “Wait for the Wagon”), which recounts several topical news items of the day with humor and patriotic spirit:

Work later composed a sequel to this song, entitled “Babylon is Fallen”

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