Thursday, November 28, 2019

See the Erie Canal at the Movies

In honor of the the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal (constructed 1817-1825), here are some movies – fictional and documentary – that feature the Erie Canal. Segments (minutes) are given that illustrate or describe the canal.

The Farmer Takes a Wife, 1935 (Wikipedia) (IMDB)

Based on the 1929 novel, Rome Haul, by Walter Edmonds (which was also the basis for the 1934 Broadway production (Wikipedia, IBDB)), most of this movie involves the Erie Canal. Stars Janet Gaynor and Henry Fonda (in his first movie appearance), directed by Victor Fleming. Many canal scenes appear throughout the movie. This scene, which takes place in a tavern, renders a comic version of Low Bridge, Everybody Down.

A DVD of the movie was released by 20th Century-Fox's Cinema Archives and is widely available. Also, you can watch the entire movie here.

The Farmer Takes a Wife, 1953 (Wikipedia) (IMDB)

Another movie based on Walter Edmond's Rome Haul, this one is a musical adaptation with songs by Harold Arlen and Dorothy Fields. Stars Betty Grable and Dale Robertson, directed by Henry Levin. Many canal scenes appear throughout the movie. You can watch it here. or here.

The Farmer Takes a Wife, 1940, 1953

The play was adapted for radio, twice! Listen or download the mp3 here:

Rio Grande, 1950 (Wikipedia) (IMDB)

As John Wayne leads the U.S. Calvary on horseback across the dusty desert southwest, he calls out, “Singers, give us a tune!” The chosen song? Low Bridge, Everybody Down (The Erie Canal Song). Stars Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne, directed by John Ford.
Minutes: 49:12-49:48

How the West Was Won, 1962 (Wikipedia) (IMDB)

This Cinerama epic spans many decades. It begins with the Erie Canal.

Minutes: 9:26-11:00 and 14:08-15:15

New York: A Documentary Film, 1999 (PBS) (Wikipedia) (IMDB)

Episode 1: The Country and the City (1609-1825);
  Chapter 10, A Larger Destiny: The Grid and the Canal
Minutes: 1:33:19-1:43:05

In the next episode of the series, Episode Two: 1825-1865, Order and Disorder, Chapter Two, The Metropolis of America, the important role of the Erie Canal in the growth on New York City is highlighted - minutes 6:38-8:03.

15 Miles On The Erie Canal - Part 1 (2006)

15 Miles On The Erie Canal - Part 2 (2006)

America's Heritage: The Erie Canal (1957)

Carver Companies Move GE Steam Turbines (2016)

 That's all for now! If you know of any other Erie Canal scenes at the movies, please let me know.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

1801 Election: The People’s Right aka Fair and Free Elections

Sheet music for "Election: The Peiople's Right," John J. Hawkins, 1801


John J. Hawkins, March 1801

For the inauguration of

President Thomas Jefferson

Later modified and entitled


Tune: Yankee Doodle

While working on a story about Yankee Doodle (which is a great story, by the way), I came across the following song, written for Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration as President of the United States. Sing it to the tune of Yankee Doodle. Any inferences you might make as to its pertinence to current events are your own.

While some on rights and some on wrongs,
Prefer their own reflections,
The People’s right demand our songs
The Right of free elections.

Law and order be the stake,
With freedom and protections.
Let all stand by the ballot box,
For Fair and Free elections.*

For Government and order’s sake
And Law’s important sections,
We should support and pleasure take
In frequent Free elections.

Our Agricult’ral int’rest, Marts,
And Mercantile connections.
With Manufactures, Science, Arts,
Must thrive by free Elections.

To thwart the schemes of Factious bands
Who for us plan subjections,
The cause of Liberty demands,
Our Votes at all Elections.

Should enemies beset us round
Of foreign fierce complexions.**
Undaunted we can stand our ground
Upheld by free Elections.

Elections are to make us laws,
For trade, peace and protections
Who fails to vote forsakes the cause
Of Fair and Free Elections.*

We’ll never from our duty swerve,
Let who will make objections,
But while we live, unchanged preserve,
The Freedom of Elections.

* Verses in the Fair and Free Elections version that differ from the original.

** As used here, I take “complexion” to mean “a complex of attitudes and inclinations” or “overall aspect or character” rather than “the hue or appearance of the skin and especially of the face” (Merriam-Webster). Nonetheless, you might prefer alternative lyrics such as: “Intent on vote deflections,” “Changing our directions,” or “Tricking our affections.”

  • Oscar Brand’s recording of Fair and Free Elections appears in Election Songs of the United States, Smithsonian Folkways FW05280, 1960.
  • A digital copy of the original 1801 sheet music for Election: The People’s Right can be found in the Levy Sheet Music Collection.
  • For information about the controversial 1800 Presidential election (which was resolved after 35 ballots in the House of Representatives!), click here.