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Campaign Sheet Music: Historical Background

Political music was written to stir the emotions, generate candidate support, and cast doubt on the opposition. Many of the lyrics in the 1800's were set to popular tunes of the day such as "John Brown's Body,""Go Tell Aunt Rody," "Yankee Doodle," and "Battle Cry of Freedom." The following is one example of words set to an existing tune.

    Zachary Taylor, Whig 1848

    Rough and Ready - Celebrates Taylor's Military Career
    Words by Alfred Wheeler
    Tune: "Yankee Doodle"
    Published By: Firth, Hall & Pond, New York, N.Y., 1847

    We'll sing a song to suit the times,
    With voices bold and steady,
    And cheerily we'll tell in rhymes
    Of good old Rough and Ready.
    His foes may slander as they can,
    And bluster at his manners,
    Who cares a fig? He's just the man
    To lead the Yankee banners.

    In Florida he gained a name
    That won our admiration,
    And loudly has his gallant fame
    Been echoed thro' the nation.
    There's not a heart in all the land,
    That beats not firm and steady,
    For the hero of the Rio Grande,
    Old gallant Rough and Ready.

    At Monterrey he showed the world
    That Yankees ne'er are daunted,
    The flag of freedom he unfurled,
    And on the towers planted;
    And there it waves in triumph high
    'Mid freemen bold and steady,
    A monument to every eye
    Of gallant Rough and Ready.

    Old Zach's the boy for Santa Anna,
    Ampudia or Arista,
    And long 'twill be ere they forget
    The field of Buena Vista.
    Though legions of the foeman swarm,
    Against our brave defenders,
    Old Rough and Ready they will find
    The man who ne'er surrenders.

    Success has aye with glory bright
    Upon his path attended,
    And give him but the chance to fight,
    The war will soon be ended.
    And never shall Columbia cease
    To cherish long and steady,
    The man in war and peace,
    The same old Rough and Ready.

    Now we predict it won't be long,
    In spite of Madam Rumor,
    Before we sing this very song
    In the Halls of Montezuma.
    And then we'll shout in chorus strong,
    With voices firm and steady,
    And this the burden of our song,
    Old gallant Rough and Ready.

    Then Rough and Ready let it ring,
    And set the bells a chiming,
    Where'er we go we're bound to sing
    His praises in our rhyming.

Original music was also created. Marches were very popular in the 1800's as was Ragtime in the campaigns of the early twentieth century.

Grand March
People's Choice March
Grant's Grand March and the McKinley "People's Choice March" do not have any lyrics. They were probably used at political events to rally the crowd. The Harding music had a companion piano roll and record.

These three examples are courtesy of the Macy Hallock collection.

    Warren G. Harding, Republican 1920

    Words and Tune By: John C. Madden
    Published By: Welden Company, Philadelphia, 1920

    Blow those whistles, Toot that horn,
    There's a new man on his way to Washington
    It's time the news to the world was borne,
    You can tell what he will do down there from what he's done,
    He's handled mighty well some ticklish jobs,
    And he's brot a-bout results exactly right, you know,
    Oh "Cits" and soldiers, marines and gobs,
    Come get in line for Harding from OHIO.

    Cease your worries, Be content,
    There's a new man on his way to Washington,
    It's time that we had a President,
    Who will do the things he should,
    Oh! He can deal with Bolshivik or King,
    And in such a way that's exactly right, you know,
    What Harding's got, Boys is just the thing,
    To make a bang-up President from OHIO.

    Oh, Harding has always done the proper thing,
    Oh, harding, satisfactions's bound to bring,
    When duty calls, he never stalls, he always does his level best,
    For North or South, for East or West.
    Oh! Harding will prove a first class diplomat,
    You've never called him yet, but he's been there,
    He's the man for the best job in the land, Washington,
    Here's a reg'lar son,
    For Presidential Chair.

Updated February 22, 2009
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