Forward-Looking Statements

Democratic Candidates Satirized


THE MOON WAS SHINING SILVER
BRIGHT.

A WHIG SONG, BY J. GREENIER.

Tune— “Old Dan Tucker.”

The moon was shining silver bright.
The stars with glory crowned the night,
High on a limb that “same old coon,”
Was singing to himself this tune:

Get out the way, you’re all unlucky;
Clear the track for old Kentucky!

Now in a sad predicament,
The Lokies are for President,
They have six horses in the pasture,
And don’t know which can run the faster.

Get out of the way, &c.

The wagon horse from Pennsylvania,
The Dutchman thinks he’s best of any;
But he must drag in heavy stages,
His federal notions and low wages.

Get out of the way, &c.

They proudly bring upon the course,
An old and broken down war-horse;
They shout and sing, ‘O rumpsey dumpsey,
Col. Johnson killed Tecumsey!’

Get out of the way, &c.

And here is Cass, though not a dunce,
Will run both sides of the track at once;
To win the race will all things copy,
Be sometimes pig, and sometimes puppy.

Get out of the way, &c.

The fiery southern horse Calhoun,
Who hates a Fox and fears a Coon,
To toe the scratch will not be able,
For Matty keeps him in the stable.

Get out of the way, &c.

And here is Matty, never idle,
A tricky horse that slips his bridle;
In forty-four we’ll show him soon,
The little Fox can’t fool the Coon.

Get out of the way, &c.

The balky horse they call John Tyler,
We’ll head him soon, or burst his boiler;
His cursed ‘Grippe’ has seized us all,
Which Doctor Clay will cure next fall.

Get out of the way, &c.

The people’s favorite, Henry Clay,
Is now the ‘Fashion’ of the day;
And let the track be dry or mucky,
We’ll stake our pile on old Kentucky.

Get out of the way he swift and lucky;
Clear the track fur old Kentucky!


NOTES:

The “same old Coon” and “Old Kentucky” are both names for Henry Clay.

The “Lokies” are the Locofocos, a disparaging name for the Democrats.

The six horses in the pasture are the presumed Democratic candidates; this song was evidently written before the Democratic nominating convention in Baltimore:  Polk isn’t mentioned (and, indeed, on the day the convention started no one dreamed Polk would come out the eventual nominee).

The “wagon horse from Pennsylvania” is James Buchanan, who had served as both congressman and senator from that state.  “The Dutchman” is probably Van Buren (whose first language was Dutch; the only US president who was not a native English speaker).  Buchanan is being slandered as a Federalist, and having his statement that ten cents a day  was a good wage for a working man pinned to him.  Ten cents in 1844 would be about $2.50 in 2016.  A wagon horse is not a race horse, and has no hope in a race.

The “old and broken down war-horse” was Richard M. Johnson.  Johnson would have been 64 at the time of the election; his fame dates to the War of 1812 when he killed Shawnee chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames.  “Rumpsey dumpsey, rumpsey dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumpsey” was his slogan in the election of 1836.

General Lewis Cass was, at that time, the US minister to France.  In the actual convention he was next-to-last man standing.

The “fiery Southern horse,” John C. Calhoun was, at that time, John Tyler’s Secretary of State.  He’d been Jackson’s vice president (before resigning to become Senator from South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis).  Calhoun was a fervent supporter of States Rights.  Also of slavery.  “Matty” is Martin Van Buren, who is seen as the Democratic puppet-master.  To “toe the scratch” is to come up to the starting line.

Which brings us to Matty himself, the favorite going in to the convention.  Van Buren had run for president and lost in 1840, and run for president and won in 1836.  He’s “little” because he was physically short.   He also had a reputation for political trickery; hence his symbolic animal was the fox.

John Tyler had been elected vice-president as a Whig.  As soon as president William Henry Harrison died (after one month in office), Tyler started vetoing Whig legislation (mostly concerning the central bank of the US).  Tyler was thrown out of the Whig party; here the songwriter figures Tyler would run as a Democrat (he didn’t).   The “Grippe” was the “Tyler Grippe,” the flu epidemic that swept the USA in 1841.  Tyler has the distinction of being the only US president who has a disease named after him.  The Tyler Grippe’s most famous victim was President W. H. Harrison  himself. Of interest is that the writer rhymes “Tyler” with “boiler.”


Tomorrow:  The Rubber; or, Mat’s Third and Last Game!

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One Response to Forward-Looking Statements

  1. Pingback: 1844 Whig Songbook Index | Madhouse Manor

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