Marching for Freedom
DESCRIPTION: "The farmers of Nebraska now are in a fearful plight, For years they have been worse than slaves... But now they are marching for freedom.... Hurrah for Powers, a farmer true and grand." Banks, speculators, railroads cannot defeat the farmers
AUTHOR: Words: Luna E. (Mrs. J. T.) Kellie (1857-1940)
EARLIEST DATE: 1890 (Farmer's Alliance, August 23, 1890 edition, according to Welsch)
KEYWORDS: farming poverty hardtimes derivative political
1889 - John H Powers elected president of the Farmer's Alliance
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Welsch, pp. 60-61, "Marching for Freedom" (1 text, tune referenced)
ADDITIONAL: Nebraska Folklore, Pamphlet Eighteen, "Farmers' Alliance Songs of the 1890's," Federal Writers' Project, 1938, p. 3, "Marching for Freedom" (1 text)
cf. "Marching through Georgia" (tune)
NOTES: The author of this, Luna E. Sanford Kellie (Mrs. J. T. Kellie), was a prolific creator of poems about the Farmer's Alliance. She operated in the Joe Hill mode of setting her lyrics to well-known tunes. The list of Kellie compositions listed by Welsch includes:
Marching for Freedom ("The farmers of Nebraska now are in a fearful plight"; tune: Marching Through Georgia)
The Donkey's Song ("Oh, Thomas Benton is his name, Yonc huh, yonc huh"; tune: When Johnny Comes Marching Home)
Who Has Managed ("I've traveled through the state, dear Tom"; tune: Twenty Years Ago)
The Independent Broom ("Oh, say did you ever in years long gone by"; tune: The Star-Spangled Banner)
Dear Prairie Home ("There's a dear old homestead on Nebraska's fertile plain"; tune: Darling Nellie Gray)
The Pauper's Cowhides ("Say, Richards, have you seen the paupers"; tune: Kingdom Coming)
A Song of the Times ("There's a deep and growing murmur Going up through all the land"; tune: John Brown's Body)
Poking around the Internet turns up these other Farmers' Alliance items by Kellie (mostly found in WPA Nebraska Writers' Project pamphlets from the 1930s):
Good-bye, Oh Tommy, Good-Bye ("Tom Benton is on the G. O. P.)
Vote for Me ("Oh father, dear father, come vote for me now"; tune: Father Come Home)
Our John ("John Thurston is a railroad man, As such he is a dnady"; tune: Yankee Doodle)
Spread the News ("Oh, the farmers hae united, And their actions will be cited"; tune: Sweet Memorie)
The Independent Man ("I was a party man one time, The party would not mind me"; tune: The Girl I Left Behind Me)
Senator Paddock's Sentiments ("Oh, bankers, come and give me credit"; tune Kingdom Coming [this time listed as "The Year of Jubilo"])
Lament of the G. O. P. ("Up in congress now forever Will be many a vacant char"; tune: "The Vacant Chair")
Man the Pumps ("At the railroad's late convention They observed at last"; tune: Hold the Fort)
Queen Victoria's Lackey ("There is a man at Buzzard's Bay To whom the goldbugs daily pray")
She also produced a political manifesto, "Stand Up for Nebraska," in 1894; it contained a poem beginning
There's a land where the toiler is free,
Where no robber of labor can come,
Where wealth gives not power to oppress,
Nor another man's labor to own.
I suspect this was meant to be sung to "Sweet By and By."
The poem "Stand Up for Nebraska" ("Stand up for Nebraska! from the hand of her God She came forth, bright and pure as her own golden rod") which concludes the address does not have such an obvious melody, even though it seems to be her anthem.
There is a short biography of Kellie on the Nebraska Historical Society web site as well as material in the memoirs listed below. Born in Pipestone, Minnesota, she was the eldest of five children of J. M. Sanford, and married James Thompson Kellie (died 1918/9) on the last day of 1874. They lived a difficult life on the Nebraska prairie; in that time she bore eleven children. She also served as State Secretary of the Nebraska Farmers' Alliance, and served in the Temperance movement as well as being active in the Methodist Church. Her efforts met little success and she spent her later years in Arizona.
The University of Iowa in 1992 published a book of her memoirs, A Prairie Populist: The Memoirs of Luna Kellie, edited by Jane Taylor Nelsen with a foreword by Albert E. Stone, now apparently available as a free download. It contains her political memoir, a text of "Stand Up for Nebraska," and a biographical sketch that she wrote for one of her daughters. It also informs us that she also published a newspaper called "Prairie Home." The Afterward (p. 147) rells us that "Her writing re- veals her living conditions, familial networks, the division of labor in her home, and women's roles in the Farmers' Alliance and the Populist party. Her accounts help explain what motivated women to become involved in politics. Furthermore, they illustrate how the Middle-of-the-Road Alliance movement -- so-called because members took a middle ground between the Republican and Democratic parties-evolved, prospered, and then died when 'fusion' proponents pushed for major-party alignment."
Despite all this activity, I can find no evidence that any of her works actually went into tradition. RBW
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