Get the Ball Rolling!

A raccoon with a Victory Ball routs a fox.

Get Out of the Way for Old Kentucky

HARRY THE TRUE, AND THE JERSEY BLUE.

BY F. BUCKINGHAM GRAHAM.

Air — What has caused this great commotion.

What has caused this agitation, ‘tation, ‘tation,
Our country through?
It is the ball a rolling on,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue,

For with them we can beat any clan, clan, clan,
Oh, yes we can.
For with them we can beat any clan.

At the great Baltimore convention, ‘vention, ‘vention,
Were not a few,
Who set the ball a rolling on,
For Harry ihe true, and the Jersey Blue,
For Harry the true and the Jersey Bluie,

For with them &c.

Mechanics, Labourers, Merchants, Farmers, Farmers, Farmers,
Have it in view,
To make the ball prepare the way,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue.

For with them, &c..

We all will vote for gallant Markle, Markle, Markle,
The brave and true,
And he will help to clear the way,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue.

For with them, &c.

The ladies who are on us smiling, smiling, smiling,
Will help us too,
And surely they can clear the way,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue.

For with them, &c.

Come, all true-hearted patriots rally, rally, rally,
Your zeal to show,
Doubt not, this ball will clear the way,
For Harry the true, and the Jersey Blue,

For with them, &c.


Notes:

Harry the True is Henry Clay; the Jersey Blue is Theodore Frelinghuysen.

The tune, “What Has Caused This Great Commotion” is from the 1840 Harrison campaign.  In the Harrison songbooks the tune is identified as “Little Pig’s Tail,” which I have yet to locate.

The “ball” that they’re getting rolling is a Victory Ball, a sphere of some ten or twelve feet in diameter, covered with leather and painted with campaign slogans, that teams of volunteers would roll from rally site to rally site, sometimes over hundreds of miles.  (They didn’t have TV commercials and had to do something.)  That’s the origin of the phrases “let’s get the ball rolling” and “keep the ball rolling.”

The gallant Markle was Joseph Markle, the Whig candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.  Markle lost, and went back to farming (although later, at the age of eighty-six, he raised and drilled a group of volunteers when Lee invaded Pennsylvania).

In the cartoon illustration above, you recognize, I am sure, the raccoon on the right, clutching the Constitution in one paw as the Whig party, “Old Kentucky” as Henry Clay of Kentucky, and the fox, scurrying away with his tail between his legs on the left as Martin Van Buren (The Sly Fox of Kinderhook).  Even though Van Buren wasn’t the candidate the Whigs were still running against him.

It strikes me that as the Victory Balls, covered with slogans, were being rolled along 19th century roads that the slogans would  become covered with horseshit.  In that way, too, they were surprisingly modern….

 

Tomorrow:  The Second Polk Song

 

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2 Responses to Get the Ball Rolling!

  1. Pingback: 1844 Whig Songbook Index | Madhouse Manor

  2. Pingback: Beaux Arts in Baltimore | Madhouse Manor

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