Young America

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YOUNG AMERICA HORNPIPE. AKA and see "Farewell to Whiskey (1)," "Goodbye Whiskey," "Ladies Triumph (1)." New England, Hornpipe. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Burchenal): AABB (Coles). The melody is credited to one “Pushee” in Ryan's Mammoth/Cole's 1000, but is in Scottish fiddler-compser Niel Gow's [1] (1727-1807) famous composition "Farewell to Whiskey" printed in the early 19th century. “Pushee” refers to Abram Pushee (1791-1868), a New Hampshire fiddler, band leader and dancing master who lived in Lebanon, New Hampshire, for most of his life. Michael McKernan has researched him and finds that he was well-known in the central Vermont and New Hampshire area as a dance musician and teacher, and he influenced several generations of musicians. For many years in the mid-19th century he organized the Musicians’ Annual Balls in Lebanon, New Hampshire, that brought together players from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts (see note for “Headlight Reel (The)," “Old Granite State Reel”). Pushee is also recorded as leading a band in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1849 (McKernan was able to obtain a photocopy of the 1st violin parts of the manuscript repertoire). Obituary notices praised him for his talent and moral character, but McKernan finds that a more personal account gave that Pushee was rather loud-mouthed and an atheist, at least in private (see his other Ryan/Cole composition “Pushee's Hornpipe”). “Young America” was often used as a tune for the dances "Twin Sisters" or "Merry Dance (The)," according to Ryan (1883), presumably for regional dances in the northeast United States. See also notes under alternate titles, where Gow's tune has been set in other dance meters, including a polka in Sliabh Luachra, Ireland.

There was a singer in the mid-19th century named Young America, who is mentioned in an ad in the New York Clipper (an entertainment newspaper) in 1851. Listing her among other performers to appear at the Melodeon concert hall at 539 Broadway, she is described as a “beautiful balladist.” However, there were other performers who also appropriated the title (there are several instances of performers trying to gain success using a more popular performers name), including Hughey Dougherty (b. 1844), whose career began in 1858 with Sanford's Minstrels. E. Le Roy Rice (Monarchs of Minstrelsy) says the name originated with him and was given to him by Sam Sanford. His tag line in the show was "stick a pin in dar, Brudder Bones" and had success as a 'stump speaker'. Young America was a member of numerous famous minstrel organizations over a long career. He was with Leavitt & Curran's Minstrels when they made their debut performance in December, 1866, in New Bedford, Mass., and remained with the troupe for several years. The performer was also a sometime member of the New Orleans Opera Troupe in the 1850's and, briefly, in the late 1860's, [Charley] Pettengill's Minstrels in Albany. In the 1870's he even was a member of a minstrel show that made an extensive tour of Africa.

Al Smitley suggests the tune may have been named for the clipper ship Young America, a name that appears in American Clipper Ships 1833-1858 by Howe and Matthews. The Young America was a three-masted wooden extreme clipper ship built in New York in 1853 for George B. Daniels. It was 243 feet long and was originally rigged with three skysails (although later re-rigged with double top-sails). A builder’s half model of the ship is at the Smithsonian Institute. After a productive career under the American flag the Young America was sold to and Austrian firm, renamed the Miroslav, and put into the trans-Atlantic case oil trade. In 1886 she departed from Philadelphia for Fiune under the command of Captain Vlassich but was never heard from again.

In fact, the title “Young America” has been applied to several tunes, including a polka, schottishe and galop [see the American Memory website [2]. All of them appear to be written in honor of the Young America movement, an American political idea popular in the 1840’s. It was inspired by the European youth movements of the previous decade, such as Young Italy, and was formed as a political organization in 1845 by Edwin de Leon and George H. Evans. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, “it advocated free trade, expansion southward into the territories, and support for republican movements abroad. It became a faction in the Democratic Party in the 1950’s. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas promoted its nationalistic program in an unsuccessful effort to compromise sectional difficulties.”

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Burchenal (American Country Dances, vol. 1), 1918; pp. 7 8. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 101. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 137.

Recorded sources:




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