Clay the Hero

Portrait bust of Clay in a toga
Hail Hero!


Tune — Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances.

Welcome the strain that around us is pealing,
Fraught with a music to Freemen so dear,
Who but will join it, the glad truth revealing,
That our victory’s sure, our triumph is near!

Back to his element,
Madly impenitent,
Proclaim to the world, the traitor must go!
Send forth the sound again,
Raise high your voices then,
“For Harry of Kentucky, ho! ieroe!”

Rouse from your lethargy, ye who have slumber’d,
Brace on the armor once gallantly worn!
Tell that the hours of King Veto are number’d,
Ere you strip him of honors so faithlessly borne!

All ye hill sides awake;
The charm let us break,
And rise in our might for Freedom’s last blow,
Up from the valley all,
Shout loud the battle call,
“For Harry of Kentucky, ho! ieroe!”

Honest and true is the Kentucky Farmer,
Firmly he stood when the tempest raged high;
Though the Union shook, no peril could harm her,
While he guarded her helm with unsleeping eye;

Unfurl the banner bright,
Blaze high the beacon light,
They’ll shine on our path and dazzle the foe;
Down then with Tyranny,
Strike then for Liberty,
“And Harry of Kentucky, ho! ieroe!”


“The traitor,” AKA “King Veto” is president John Tyler.

“Harry of Kentucky” and “the Kentucky Farmer” is Henry Clay.

Although the tune “Hail to the Chief” has been associated with presidents since Madison’s time, it didn’t become the official Presidential Anthem until 1954 and Eisenhower.  According to the story, the reason “Hail the the Chief” was played for Madison was this:  James Madison was remarkably short.  Therefore, Dolley Madison instructed the band to play “Hail to the Chief” when he walked into a room so that people would know he was there.

The original song was from the stage-play version of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake.  Its first stanza ran thus:

Hail  to the Chief who in triumph advances!
Honoured and blessed be the ever-green Pine!
Long may the tree, in his banner that glances,
Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line!
Heaven send it happy dew,
Earth lend it sap anew,
Gayly to bourgeon and broadly to grow,
While every Highland glen
Sends our shout back again,
‘Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!’

Tomorrow: The Days When We Went  Canvassing.


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