Harry of the West

Political cartoon, 1838


Tune. — ‘Tis my delight of a shiny night

Once more our glorious banner out,
Upon the breeze we throw —
Beneath its folds with song and shout,
Let’s charge upon the foe!
Our chosen chief, alas!— no more
Shall place his lance in rest.
But well we know the love he bare
Our Harry of the West,
Our Harry of the West, my boys,
Our Harry of the West.

Then brothers rise, and rally round,
The statesman ever true,
Until his name with trumpet sound,
Shall make the welkin’s blue.
And millions with admiring eyes,
Shall call him from his rest,
The hero of new victories,
Our Harry of the West, &c.

When sought the red coats, as of old,
The empire of the Free,
And British cannons once more rolled,
Its thunder o’er the sea.
Who loudest cheered our gallant tars,
And fired the soldier’s breast,
Till victory hailed our stripes and stars.
But Harry of the West, &c.

And when no more the groaning South
To Spain would bend the knee,
But rising, at the cannon’s mouth,
Proclaimed she would be free —
Who heard his burning accents fall,
And reared her starry crest,
Young Independence, at the call,
Of Harry of the West, &c.

Whene’er forgot the commonweal,
And party waves run strong,
‘Till e’en the wisest halt and feel
That every thing goes wrong,
There’s one the olive branch who brings
And lulls the storm to rest,
‘Till peace comes on her angel wings,
‘Tis Harry of the West, &c.

Let Ty with Calhoun “jump just so,”
And dance “Virginny reels,”
Each striving which to Whigs can show
The cleanest pair of heels,
Let loco focos bid them hail,
We’ll head their trait’rous guest,
Kentucky rifles never fail
With Harry of the West, &c.

Let Van his mottled forces drill,
‘Till Benton swears ’tis hard,
And Captain Tyler shows his skill,
With his tremendous Guard.
What care we for them, great and small,
E’en though they do their best?
For old Kentuck will head them all—
Our Harry of the West, &c.

The honors which the hero won,
Encircle not his head,
Like withered wreaths they rest upon
Another’s brow instead —
The statesman never faithless known,
The worthiest and the best,
Shall make them bloom again — our own
True Harry of the West, &c.

Oh! ever green the sod that lie
Above the sainted dead —
And o’er our path his memory
For aye, his radiance shed!
Its hallowed light shall fall upon
Our flag, where’er it rest,
And write the name of Harrison,
With Harry of the West, &c.

Then let the glorious banner float
To the sunshine and the blast,
Till victory sounds her bugle note,
The din of battle past,
No brighter name can lead us on,
High on its folds imprest,
Than thine, truth’s gallant Champion,
Our Harry of the West, &c.


The chosen chief, the sainted dead, who is no more would have been General Harrison, who died after just one month in office.

The British cannon would have been in the War of 1812.

Ty, who’s dancing “Virginny reels” with Calhoun was President Tyler of Virginia, AKA “Captain” Tyler.  The “Guard” was the “poor corporal’s guard” (that is to say, very small in number) that were Tyler’s supporters in congress.  Tyler showing clean heels to the Whigs means running  as fast as he can, seeing if he can get away from the Whigs (he was elected as a Whig then started vetoing Whig bills) as far as a Democrat (Calhoun).

“Jump just so” is from the 1834 black-face minstrel song, “Jim Crow”:
“Wheel about and turn about and jump just so;
Every time you wheel about, you jump, Jim Crow.”

(Yes, that is the song that gave us the term “Jim Crow.”)

The Loco Focos were the radical Democrats.

Van (Van Buren)’s “mottled forces” are Van Buren’s support for Abolitionists and Amalgamators.  Benton is saying “’tis hard” because Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a Democrat of Missouri, favored hard currency (as opposed to paper money).  Benton, in political cartoons of the time, is frequently shown carrying a bag of “lemon drops,” that is to say, gold coins.  Clay and the Whigs favored paper currency.

“Old Kentuck” is Henry Clay.

Tomorrow:  another amusing anecdote!

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