…updates Dan Emmett’s “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel” for an abolitionist audience.
Stephen A. Douglas (1858): “This Union will not only live forever, but it will extend and expand until it covers the whole continent, and makes this confederacy one grand, ocean-bound Republic…”
This rewrite of “Battle-Hymn of the Republic” puts the agency of social and economic upheaval squarely on the shoulders — or rather, under the boot-heels — of Colored Troops.
If we can hold our immediate revulsion at the (now offensive) language, we’ll find some shocking critique and surprisingly liberal views in the lyrics…
A humorous slather of wordplay and derision aimed at (former) confederate president Jefferson Davis…
Wallis Willis created the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sometime before 1862; we like to pair it with this 1862 photograph by Concord, NH’s own H.P Moore.
One private’s account of the power & presence of music after a terrible battle:
Abraham Lincoln (April 10, 1865): “Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it.”
Frederick Douglass (1845) ~ “Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears…”
Esther Hill Hawks ~ Diary (February 1863) ~ “It was a proud moment for Robert when he placed a guard of colored soldiers around the house of his former owner…”
Stephen C. Foster ~ Letter to E. P. Christy (May 25, 1852) ~ “As I once intimated to you, I had the intention of omitting my name* on my Ethiopian songs, owing to the prejudice against them by some, which might injure my reputation as a writer of another style of music…”
So is this song about THE John Brown (abolitionist & domestic terrorist), or a more obscure John Brown (enlisted in the 12th MA)… ?