Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Gourd of Hard Cider

A Gourd of Hard Cider

Let Frenchmen drink claret and sweet muscadine,
And Germans drink hock on the banks of the Rhine;
But give me to quaff, with friends warm and true,
A gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

John Bull may get drunk on his beer and his gin,
Till he can’t leave his seat or spit over his chin;
But if that's in the world on which I’d get blue,
'Tis a gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

Let the Don swill his port, and smoke his cigar,
And Pisanos suck Tiffin and drink "Bolivar;"
But we in log cabins such trash will eschew
For a gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

With praties and whisky let Pat fill his maw,
And Donald get blind on his smoked esquebaugh;
McFingal ne’er drank, nor did Brian Boru,
A gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

In the White House, Van Buren may drink his champagne,
And have himself toasted from Georgia to Maine;
But we in log cabins, with hearts warm and true,
Drink a gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

Old Jove has drank nectar for time and a day,
To drown the dull cares of his heavenly sway;
But if he’d be wise, he’d try something new—
Drink a gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

Hurrah for old Tip!—from his side we'll not shrink,
To our rights, and our laws, and our country, we'll drink,
Success to the banner of "red, white, and blue,"
In a gourd of hard cider t'old Tippecanoe.

The presidential campaign of 1840 was a very public one, indeed, in some sense the first fully public campaign; Whigs and Democrats vied by pamphlet, by debate, and by song. Democratic Van Buren was the incumbent; he was struggling, however, due to economic woes following the Panic of 1837. William Henry Harrison, the Whig nominee, launched a populist campaign against him, and a populist campaign, of course, has to be an active and public one. Thus we owe Harrison our campaign cycles. Harrison had been the commander in charge of troops at the Battle of Tippecanoe against the Shawnee. It was not a particularly brilliant work of a tactics, nor did it actually do much against the Shawnee confederacy under Tecumseh in the long run, but it had been in all the newspapers, and Harrison played up his role as the 'Hero of Tippecanoe' to the fullest. Harrison himself was born into wealth and had the best education, but he put himself forward as one of the people, a man who had done real work and would have no problem living in a log cabin or drinking hard cider, in contrast to fancy, champagne-swilling Van Buren in the White House; although both the log cabin and the hard cider had been a sarcastic Democratic broadside against Harrison's early campaign, he took them both and ran with them, to widespread popularity. John Tyler ended up getting the Vice Presidential nomination; no one really knew why, because he was known to be a policy nullity (on the campaign trail, he would answer questions by saying he was in favor of what Mr. Harrison and Mr. Clay were in favor of), but it was probably his being a Southerner with a (supposed) close association with Henry Clay, who had been beaten out by Harrison. But the result was one of the most famous campaign slogans in U.S. history: "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too."

The above was a popular campaign song; I haven't been able to find out who wrote it, and if it's like other campaign songs, I suspect nobody knows. It gets a brief quotation in Irving Stone's novel about the Lincolns, Love Is Eternal, which is what made me dig it up.

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