Whig Thunder

Political cartoon, 1844
Polk in his extremity

Air — What has caused this agitation.

Oh what has caused all this Whig thunder, thunder, thunder,
That now is risin’?
The nomination by the Whigs
Of Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
Of Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
For with them we can beat any man, man, man,
Of the Polk and Dallas clan,
For with them we can beat any man.

The Locos now on every corner, corner, corner,
Are agonizin’,
For all Creation’s going they say
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
For with them we can beat any man, &c.

Loco-Polko stock is going down, down, down.
Whig stock is risin’,
For “Old Virginia” goes it strong
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen, &c.

The Captain’s office-holders think, think, think,
Of taking pison,
To save themselves from sure defeat
By Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen, &c.

A grand Whig army onward moves, moves, moves,
All ranks comprisin’.
To place the wreath of laurels on
The brows of Clay and Frelinghuysen, &c.

Our Theodore will ne’er be guilty, guilty, guilty,
Of Tylerizin’,
Then go it while you’re young, my boys
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen, &c.

The beautiful girls, God’s last best gift, gift, gift.
Above all prizin’
Will all to a man, do all they can
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
For Harry Clay and Frelinghuysen,
And with them we will beat the whole clan, clan,
Of the Polk and Dallas clan,
With the ladies we’ll beat any man.


That’s Henry “The Great Compromiser” Clay of Kentucky and Theodore “The Christian Statesman” Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, the Whig candidates for president in 1844, against the Democratic candidates James K. Polk of Tennessee and George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania.

In  The national Clay minstrel, and Frelinghuysen melodist : for the presidential canvass of 1844 ; being a collection of all the new popular Whig songs the editor tended to italicize the wink-wink-nudge-nudge words, so when they altered “Loco Foco” (the radical Democrats) to Loco-Polko (look, Polk!) there it is, italicized.

Old Virginia, as it happened, went it strong for James K. Polk that November.

Who “the Captain” whose office-holders were thinking of taking poison might have been, I don’t know. I’ve seen it suggested this is meant to be Tyler, but I’m not sure.  Perhaps a full professor of American History specializing in early 19th century political symbolism will show up to enlighten us.

Theodore Frelinghuysen, vice-presidential candidate, won’t “Tylerize,” that is to say, upon becoming president on the death of his running mate suddenly go his own way to veto Whig legislation (as Tyler did after the death of Harrison).  That got “the traitor Tyler” kicked out of the Whig party.

Why “Above all prizin'” might be italicized I don’t know.  In other places in the song book this means there’s a minstrel tune by that name, but I’ve been unable to find it.

Alas!  the beautiful girls in 1844 were unable to vote, so they couldn’t do much for Harry Clay.  And thinking that the beautiful girls would be able to do anything “to a man” suggests that the song writer was unclear on the concept….

Peripherally allied: Rewriting songs for political purposes, copyright, fair use, and the difference between parody and satire, all at the Roger Williams University Law Review.


Tomorrow: Away with the Traitor Tyler!

3 thoughts on “Whig Thunder

  1. On “The Captain” as Tyler:

    http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=83403
    Lyr Add: Assorted Campaign Songs (1844 election)

    AIR — ‘Yankee Doodle’

    D A7 D A7 D A7 D A7
    Yankee Doodle, Whigs huzza, we’re done with Captain Tyler,
    D7 G (Em) A 7 D
    The man who in his country’s flaw shall never more defile her

    G D
    For Farmer Clay then boys hurrah, and proudly here proclaim him
    G Em (D°) D A7 D
    The great, the good, the valiant Hal, and shout when’er you name him

    Our noble Hary is the man, the nation most delights in!
    To place him first is now the plan for this we’er all uniting!

    Brave Whigs! Where’er the gallant song “Log Cabins and Hard Cider”
    Was chorused loud and echoed long, let this be heard–and wider

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