Slavery is a Hard Foe to Battle (Hutchinson Family, 1855)

“Slavery is a Hard Foe to Battle” by the Hutchinson Family Singers:

Slavery Hard Foe a8636-1

…updates Dan Emmett‘s “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel” for an abolitionist audience and more:

I looked to the South and I looked to the West,
I saw old Slavery a coming, 
With four Northern dough faces hitched up in front
Driving Freedom to the other side of Jordan.

The term “Dough faces” refers to Northern Democrats aligned politically with pro-slavery southern politicians; their shaved, white faces providing the ultimate symbol of naked pliability.  (Or were they “does”, to be hunted & collected by slavery’s advocates?)  The most prominent dough face at the time would have been NH’s own President Franklin Pierce.

Slavery Hard Foe a8636-6


The final verse is notable, too:

But the day is drawing nigh the Slavery must die,
And every one must do his part accordin’:
Then let us all unite to give every man his right (and women too!)
And we’ll get our pay the other side of Jordan.

The mid-century struggle against slavery led many women to draw connections between their lot and the lot of the slaves in a society dominated by white males; indeed, after Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were refused seats at an abolitionist convention in 1840, they organized a women’s rights convention of their own!  Several other prominent female abolitionists went on to become advocates and organizers in the women’s rights movement.  Here, the Hutchinson family gives them a shout-out in 1855!

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