Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Last Campaign Song of 1860

During the first years of the sesquicentennial, I frequently found stories in the Covington Journal from 150 years prior and reprinted or discussed then here. Unfortunately, the list of available surviving editions stopped in August 1862 and did not resume until 1868. It was a pro-Southern and Democratic journal, so perhaps those sentiments led it to shutting down for a while, or maybe other issues were destroyed, not saved for modern microfilming,  but at least we have come issues from the war left.

Anyway, I have been on a genealogy kick lately and thought again of this resource and decided to start  looking through it again for more interesting stories, probably focusing on the pre- and post-war period, though who knows what I may find? I doubt I find a lot, but suspect there are at least some interesting stories waiting for me.

Today, I take some song lyrics from the November 3, 1860 issue, the final issue before the monumental Presidential election of that year. I don't think they need too much explaining as the writer's preferences come across fairly strongly (though I will add that "phiz" is an apparently old-fashioned word for "face.")

The Last Campaign Song
To the air of "Oh, Susannah"

I had a dream the other night,
When all around was still.
I thought I saw poor Breckenridge
A sitting on a hill.
A corn-cob pipe was in his mouth,
A tear was in his eye;
Says he, they beat us North and South
But Yancey do not cry.

(Chorus) Fire-eaters do not cry, said he
Tho' we are left of hope bereft,
By Bell of Tennessee. 

Not far away stood Stephen A., 
I think I see him now;
With clenched fists and lips compressed,
And dark and frowning brow.
With sorrowing phiz poor Breckenridge
No sooner caught his eye,
Than hands did place upon his face,
And loud began to cry.

---Oh, Lord Stephen, don't be mad with me, 
There was nothing so deceivin'
As Bell of Tennessee.

Then in the rear, there did appear,
A doleful picture drawn,
With clothes neglect and hair erect,
And features woe-begone
I'll go again to splitting rails
Quoth he, with piteous sigh;
The colored question once more fails,
So, darkies, let us cry;

---Oh, dear niggers, come and cry with me;
Our hopes are o'er for evermore,
With Bell of Tennessee.

Then by his side I then espied,
Old Buck with phiz demure,
Friend Abe, he said, I'm much afraid, 
Our cause is hopeless sure.
To Breckenridge tho' I was pledged,
All powers I did apply,
Tho' indirect, to you elect,
So, Lincoln do not cry.

--- Oh, fanatic, do not cry said he, 
We all have fell by Old John Bell,
That hails from Tennessee. 

John Bell did end up winning Kentucky's electoral votes, which clearly did not help the three candidates mentioned here, so perhaps the song's point was not totally off-the-mark.

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