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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please add your comment ...