Jefferson and Liberty
DESCRIPTION: Campaign song for Thomas Jefferson, to the tune of a reel: "The gloomy night before us flies, The reign of terror now is o'er; Its gags, inquisitors and spies, Its hordes of harpies are no more. Rejoice, Columbia's sons... For Jefferson and liberty"
EARLIEST DATE: 1802 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: political nonballad
1801-1809 - Presidency of Thomas Jefferson
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 207-209, "Jefferson and Liberty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Grimes, p. 117, "Jefferson and Liberty" (1 text)
Scott-BoA, pp. 100-101, "Jefferson and Liberty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lawrence, p. 165, "Jefferson and LIberty" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, p. 340, "Jefferson and Liberty" (1 text)
Arnett, pp. 42-43, "Jefferson and Liberty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 292, "Jefferson And Liberty" (1 text)
Pete Seeger, "Jefferson and Liberty" (on PeteSeeger05)
cf. "Adams and Liberty" (concept)
cf. "Lincoln and Liberty" (concept)
NOTES [220 words]: The Jeffersonian ideal was a nation of small, independent farmers; this is alluded to in one of the verses. The "reign of terror" refers to the Alien and Sedition Acts, two pieces of Federalist policy designed to control dissent. Both passed in 1798; the former gave the President the power to arbitrarily expel foreigners while the latter made it illegal to speak against the federal government (!). Jefferson made good on his promises after the election; all victims of the Acts were freed.
Having finally sat down to read all dozen verses of this wordy piece, I must admit that listeners would probably have wanted liberty in the form of forcing the singer to just shut *up.*
Although most versions of this that I've heard list it as being to a Virginia Reel (perhaps "The Gobby-O"), the sheet music described on p. 1 of Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941 describes the first known printing as by N. G[orien] Dufief of Philadelphia. Printed in 1802, it is described as "A new song. To the air of Jefferson's March. The words by Michael Fortune."
Also, Lawrence, in addition to a fairly normal "Jefferson and Liberty" text on p. 165, on p. 163, has a song entitled "Jefferson and Liberty" which does not appear to be the same song. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
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 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.