Nigger Trader Boatman
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NIGGER TRADER BOATMAN. AKA - "Trader Boatman." American, Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Mike Yates (2002) suggests this tune is a distant relative of Emmett Lundy's "Julie Ann Johnson." His source, Pug Allen of Stuarts Draft, Augusta County, Va., learned the tune 'way back' from his father, and recalled these words sung to the tune:
N.... trader boatman, now mammy don't you cry.
Hug and kiss you 'fore I go, and call you honey pie.
When I was a little boy about six inches high,
I used to climb the table leg and steal my mammy's pie.
Great big hog into the pen, corn to feed him on,
All I wants a pretty little girl, to feed him when I'm gone.
The second verse is to be found in a ditty called "Training the Boy," collected by Fisk University African-American researcher Thomas Talley, printed in his Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise and Unwise (1922):
Wen I wus a liddle boy,
Jes thirteen inches high,
I useter climb de table legs,
An' steal off cake an' pie.
Altho' I wus a liddle boy,
An' tho' I wusn't high,
My mammy took dat keen switch down,
An' whupped me till I cry.
The last verse is a floating verse and appears in several tunes. Yates says that Glen Neaves' version has more content about the slave trade.
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