Annotation:Jefferson and Liberty (1)

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X:1 T:Jefferson and Liberty [1] M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig B:Elias Howe – Second Part of the Musician’s Companion (1843, p. 77) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C A/B/|c2A AGA|E2A ABc|B2G ABc|B2G GBc| dBG GAB|c2A AGA|E2A A2e|edc BAB|[E2A2]A A2:| |:c|A2B c2d|e2f g3|e2f g2e|dBG G2E| A2B c2d|efg a3|edc BAB|[E2A2]A A2:|]

JEFFERSON AND LIBERTY. AKA and see "Gobby-O (The)," "Paul Revere's Ride." New England; March, Air and Jig (6/8 time). A Minor (most versions): B Minor (Hopkins). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Buarchenal): AABB (Howe, Miller & Perron, Welling). The 6/8 time tune "Jefferson and Liberty" is the also the air "Gobby-O (The)," an older English song whose then-familiar air was appropriated song for Thomas Jefferson's Presidential campaign in 1800. The phrase 'Jefferson and Liberty' was a powerful campaign slogan, an early meme, and linked Jefferson's name with the still-fresh protests of the Alien and Sedition Acts, signed into law by President John Adams in 1798[1]. Jefferson was Adams' opponent in the election and the song reflects the feelings of many Jeffersonian Republicans, who were viscerally critical of Adams and the Federalist Party.

"Jefferson and Liberty" (the 'Gobby-O' version) was first published in the Philadelphia, Pa., newspaper Aurora of January 24, 1801, and anticipated Jefferson's electoral victory with the optimistic title "A Patriotic Song, for the Glorious Fourth of March, 1801." The poem was written by Scots-born ornithologist, poet, and painter Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), who had fled Scotland in 1794 under threat of prosecution for libel. Wilson moved around frequently till 1796, when he settled in as a schoolmaster in Milestown, Pa., but in early summer 1801, following a scandal, he left Milestown and relocated to Bloomfield, N.J., near New York city, where he found another short-lived teaching position. It would seem that 'liberty' was a personal concern as well as a political concern of the poet. His lyric begins:

The gloomy night before us flies,
The reign of Terror now is o'er;
Its Gags, Inquisitors and Spies,
Its herds of Harpies are no more!
Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, rejoice!
To tyrants never bend the knee,
But join with heart and soul and voice,
For Jefferson and Liberty.

In addition to "The Gobby-O" there are other airs to which various sets of words called "Jefferson and Liberty" were sung. Wilson himself indicated in his notebook his own poem was to be sung to the air "Tune "Vive la souverain People", changed to the Scots tune "Willie was a Wanton Wag" (which sometimes itself appears in early 19th century American tune books as "Constitution March") when printed in the Aurora Magazine. "Jefferson and Liberty" appears in a few musicians' manuscripts dating from around 1800 and later. It can be found, for example, in the Woburn (Mass.) Fife Manuscript [1], a ms. collection inscribed with the the name Seth Johnson and "Woburn. April 20th day, 1807. I Bought this Book, 5:3." Entries were made between 1807 and as late as 1840. The music for the "Gobby-O" version of "Jefferson and Liberty" also was printed in Boston music publisher Elias Howe's Musician's Companion, Part 2 (1843), a large and influential collection of the time.

Paul Gifford remarks that Edgerton, Michigan, hammered dulcimer player Chet Parker (1891–1975), played the tune in A minor on his dulcimer at a local gig about 1969. When Gifford asked him the name of the tune Parker replied there were two names, of which he could only remember one, "The Old Lady, She Shit in the Haymow," and said it was a song the Civil War soldiers sang:

A rippety shit and away she went
Her ass stuck out like a Canada cent
With every jump she took, she spent
The old lady, she shit in the haymow.

The 'haymow' lyrics have also been set to the melody of "Raw Recruit".

The alternate title "Paul Revere's Ride" was used in A.H. Hopkins' American Veteran Fifer (1905), and, so far, appears unique to that collection. The full title of the tune in that publication is "Paul Revere's Ride or Jefferson and Liberty - 1776" which conflates the turn of the 19th century campaign song with Jefferson's War of Independence fame.

Welling's version has both 'A' and 'B' parts with 9/8 measures interposed in the regular 6/8 measures. Burchenal prints a New England contra dance of the same title with the tune.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Burchenal (American Country Dances, vol. 1), 1918; p. 29. Hopkins (American Veteran Fifer), 1905; No. 20. Elias Howe (Second Part of the Musician's Companion), 1843; p. 77. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; p. 33. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 12. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p 18. Welling (Hartford Tune Book), 1976; p. 9.

Recorded sources : - North Star NS0038, "The Village Green: Dance Music of Old Sturbridge Village."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]

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  1. So strong was the association of the song with civil liberties that is was still being sung at a celebration at Danbury, Connecticut, on December 5, 1832, "on the Liberation of the Editor of the Herald of Freedom from Prison."