Happy Land of Canaan, The

DESCRIPTION: "Down in Harper's Ferry Section there was an insurrection, John Brown thought the niggers would sustain him. But old Governor Wise put his specs upon his eyes For to send him to the happy land of Canaan." The rebels defy the abolitionist northerners
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Belden)
KEYWORDS: Civilwar rebellion death war slavery
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
October 16-18, 1859 - John Brown and 20 others (15 of them, including Brown's three sons, are white) capture the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, hoping to gather the weapons needed for a slave rebellion. Forces led by Robert E. Lee soon attack the rebels; only Brown and four others live to be captured and placed on trial
Dec 2, 1859 - Hanging of John Brown at Charlestown, Virginia
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Belden, pp. 363-364, "The Happy Land of Canaan" (1 text)
Randolph 226, "The Happy Land of Canaan" (3 texts (one Unionist), 1 tune)
Thomas-Makin', p. 81, (no title) (1 fragment, perhaps of this piece or perhaps another "Happy Land of Canaan" variant, but it uses that line and dates from the slavery era)
cf. WolfAmericanSongSheets, #845-#851, p. 57, "Happy Land of Cannaan No. 3" through "No. 6" plus "A New Version" and "Happy Land of Kanaan"" (14 total references); #1125, p. 77, "John Beoqn" (2 references)

Roud #7705
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Bull Run (War Song)" (floating lyrics)
SAME TUNE:
Execution of Hicks ("All you people far and near") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 39)
Uncle Snow ("Oh, my name is Uncle Snow," by Ben Cotton) (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 161)
Union Happy Land of Canaan ("Oh I'm almost 79 and I'll tell you in my rhyme") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 163)
("You Rebels come along and listen to my song") (WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 194)
NOTES: The "Governor Wise" in the first stanza of both Randolph's and Belden's texts is Henry A. Wise (1806-1876), Governor of Virginia 1856-1860 and later a Confederate Brigadier. As ex-governor, he was strongly pro-secession, and worked hard to push his state and his successor in that direction.
The title "Happy Land of Canaan" seems to have been very popular in the mid-nineteenth century; Edwin Wolf 2nd, American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963, p. 57, lists five "Happy Lands of Canaan," "(A New Version Of) The Happy Land of Canaan," and "Happy Land of Kanaan." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: R226

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.