Uncle Gabriel (1)

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UNCLE GABRIEL. AKA - "Uncle Gabriel the Negro General," "Uncle Gabriel the Darkey General." American, Minstrel Song (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The tune appears in a later edition of the earliest known banjo tutor, published in 1848. The tutor was written by Elias Howe, whose pseudonym 'Gumbo Chaff' is taken from Thomas Dartmouth Rice's 1834 blackface character. The 1851 edition was published in Boston by Oliver Ditson. In 1850 Howe sold some of his works to Ditson (this one among them) and agreed not to publish similar works for ten years.

The (E.P.) Christy Minstrels published a version in 1848 called "Uncle Gabriel the Negro General"[1]. The song conflates aspects of the two primary slave revolts in American, that of Nat Turner and Gabriel Prosser (1800), but seeks to disarm the fear they provoked in the South by calling the protagonist 'Uncle'.

Oh my boys, I'm bound to tell you;''
Oh!, Oh!
Listen awhile and I will tell you,''
Oh!, Oh!
I'll tell you a little 'bout Uncle Gabriel;
Oh, boys, I've just begun.
Hard times in old Virginny.

Oh, don't you know old Uncle Gabriel?
Oh!, Oh!
Oh, he was a darkey General.
Oh!, Oh!
He was the chief of the insurgents,
Way down in Southampton.
Hard times in old Virginny.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Chaff (The Complete Preceptor for the Banjo), 1851; p. 4.

Recorded sources:




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