Adams and Liberty
DESCRIPTION: Written for the John Adams campaign, but in praise of American freedom (it never mentions Adams): "Ye sons of Columbia, who bravely have fought For those rights which unstained from your sires have descended" (and so on, for nine weary stanzas)
AUTHOR: Words: Robert Treate Paine, Jr.
EARLIEST DATE: 1798 (composed)
KEYWORDS: patriotic political nonballad America
1796 - John Adams's first (successful) Presidential campaign
1797-1801 - Adams's Presidency
1800 - Adams is defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Lawrence, pp. 148-149, "Adams and Libertay" (1 text, 1 tune, a reprint of the original sheet music)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 11-14, "Adams and Liberty" (1 text, tune referenced)
ADDITIONAL: William Arms Fisher, _One Hundred and Fifty Years of Music Publishing in the United States: 1783-1933_, Oliver Ditson Company, 1933, p. 38, "Adams and Liberty" (reduced facsimile of the original sheet music)
Dichter/Shapiro: Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, _Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889_, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 23, describes six sheet music editions from 1798-1801
cf. "The Star-Spangled Banner" (tune) and references there
cf. "Jefferson and Liberty" (concept)
cf. "Lincoln and Liberty" (concept)
The Boston Patriotic Song
NOTES [327 words]: It may reasonably be questioned if anyone actually survived reading (let alone singing) this piece. Paine (whom Spaeth says was regarded as "vain, lazy, and vicious," and a "literary hack") was nonetheless paid $750 for his efforts. (And you thought the Defense Department overpaid for the goods it received.)
Nonetheless Fisher, p. 37, declares "Of the many patriotic songs of this troubled period, the most popular was Hail! Columbia!, only rivaled by Adams and Liberty."
If this song has any distinction at all, it is that it is probably the version of the "Anacreon" tune known to Ferdinand Durang, who later fitted the tune to "The Star Spangled Banner." Early publications of the latter song advertise that it is to the tune of "Adams and Liberty."
Interestingly, it may be that this was not entirely a campaign song. Jameson has an entry on the song on p. 7: "'Adams and Liberty.' a song written by Robert Treat Paine, Jr., which enjoyed great popularity during the time of John Adams' spirited resistance to French aggression in 1798 and 1799. The air, formerly called 'Anacreon in Heaven,' is that now known as the 'Star-Spangled Banner.'"
In other words, this was not a campaign son but a war song, referring to the "Quasi-War" with France during the Adams administration. By the time this song was written, the Directory was running France, and they were trying to control American actions. They were also unofficially attacking American ships (Morison, pp. 347-348). The infamous XYZ affair followed (Morison, p. 349), and the American attitude became "Millions for Defence, but Not One Cent for Tribute" (Morison, p. 350).
Adams and the Americans did not at once go to war, but they expected France to do so. As a side effect, they created the Navy Department. A limited naval war followed (see the notes to "Truxton's Victory"). Hence the 1798 composition of the song, although it was no doubt still used during the 1800 Presidential campaign. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
- Fisher: William Arms Fisher, One Hundred and Fifty Years of Music Publishing in the United States: 1783-1933, Oliver Ditson Company, 1933
- Jameson: J. Franklin Jameson's Dictionary of United States History 1492-1895, Puritan Press, 1894
- Morison: Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Oxford, 1965
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