Free Trade Wool

Free Trade

American Workman (to John Bull)– Mr Bull, if Free Trade is such a blessing, why are your agricultural interests in such a wretched condition? Why do your manufacturers cry out for “Fair Trade,” and why does your skilled English workman come to this country instead of the American worker going to England? [The flag reads “English steamer every day.” The men carry bags labeled “English workman” and “English skilled workman,” and the building is labeled “Castle Gardens” (the precursor to Ellis Island).]


THE FREE-TRADE PINAFORE.

[In Which Captain Cleveland Appears at the Head of the Democratic Crew.]

Capt. Cleveland — I am the captain of the Free Trade crew.

Chorus of Democratic Tars — And a right good captain, too.

Capt. C. — You are very, very good, and be it understood,
I’m in for reform right through.

Chorus — We are very, very good, and be it understood
He’s in for reform right through.

Capt. C. — I can trim back and steer with any boss here,
And I know how to twist and squirm.
I was never known to scorn civil service to reform,
And I’ll never take a second term.

Chorus — What! never!
Capt. C. — No, never!
Chorus — What! never!
Capt. C. — Hardly ever!

Chorus — Hardly ever take a second term?
Then here’s one yell and a snicker, too,
For the one-term captain of the Free Trade crew.
Then here’s one yell and a snicker, too,
For the captain of the Free Trade crew.

Capt. C. — I’ve done my best to satisfy you all.

Chorus — And with you we are all content.

Capt. C. — That’s an everlasting whopper, but I think it only proper
To return the compliment.

Chorus — That’s an everlasting whopper, but he thinks it only proper
To return the compliment.

Capt. C. — I have made a heap of noise, and I’ve called in the boys
To warm their frozen toes;
I’ve discouraged all proclivity to partisan activity,
And I’ve always worn Free Trade clothes.

Chorus — What! always?
Capt. C. — Yes, always!
Chorus — What! always?
Capt. C-— Well, recently!

Chorus — He’s recently donned Free Trade clothes?
Then here’s a yell and a snicker, too,
For the free wool captain of the Free Trade crew.
Then here’s a yell and a snicker, too,
For the captain of the Free Trade crew.

Springfield Union.


Notes:

Although not listed, the tune is obviously “I Am the Captain of the Pinafore” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.  That the free traders should be presented as English is no surprise:  English business interests were seen as being behind the Free Trade movement, as a way to allow English manufacturers to dump cheap goods into America, while taking American raw materials at bargain prices.

Grover Cleveland did indeed support Free Trade to an extent: Tariffs were the source of the Federal government’s revenue in those days before income tax and, since the Federal government was running a surplus it seemed to him that tariffs must therefore be too high. When we’re told that he “recently donned Free Trade clothes” it is because he only moved toward free trade in 1887, three years into his presidency.

Cleveland tried to reform Civil Service to create a cadre of government workers appointed and advanced due to merit rather than political connections.

Cleveland had been elected as a reformer (despite being denounced as the candidate of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”).  While Cleveland’s personal life was disordered (Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?), he was scrupulously honest in his public dealings.  His opponent in 1884, James G. Blaine (the Continental Liar from the state of Maine), had a blameless personal life, while his public service was a morass of corruption.

Cleveland lost the election of 1888 in a storm of outright vote-buying engineered by Matthew Quay and other Republican bosses.  If Mr. Cleveland lost the election of 1888 on Free Trade, he won the election of 1892 on the same policy.

What is meant by calling in the boys to warm their frozen toes I don’t know.

A boss is a political boss.  A whopper is a very large lie.


Tomorrow: O, Glorious Standard!

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One Response to Free Trade Wool

  1. Pingback: Index of Titles and First Lines: 1888 Harrison Song Book | Madhouse Manor

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