How to Build a Log Cabin


AIR— “Old Tip’s raisin’

Come all ye log cabin boys, we’ll have another raising,
We have a job on hand, that we think will be pleasing,
We’ll turn out and build Harry Clay a new cabin,
And finish it off with chinkin’ and with daubin’.
We want all the log cabin boys in the nation,
To be on the ground to build the foundation,
And every Loco Foco will think it is amazing.
To see how we work, at the Clay cabin raising.

Hurra, hurra, it happens very lucky,
We have such good Clay in Old Kentucky.

We’ll clear off the ground plat and put the “dornicks” under.
And put the sleepers on them without any blunder;
We’ll all go to work as good Whigs ought to do,
And Matty shall be routed like Bonaparte at Waterloo,
We’ll shoulder our axes and cut down the timber—
We all learn’d the trade boys in forty, you’ll remember —
So hurrah boys — there’s no two ways in,
The fun we’ll have at the Clay cabin raisin’ .

Hurra, hurra, &c.

We’ll have it well chinked, and we’ll put on the cover.
Of good sound clapboards, with the weight-poles over,
And a good wide chimney for the fire to blaze in,
To keep the Whigs warm in the cold winter season;
And let us all keep the ball rolling,
‘Till we drive all the Lokies away,
Calhoun, Tom Benton and Walker,
And rally round Henry Clay,
And as for Petticoat Allen,
His earthquakes he had better stay,
For the Whigs they will make the earth tremble
When shouting for old Henry Clay.
And there is old Low Wages Tappan
We’ll make him walk-jaw-bone away.
And send to the senate Tom Corwin,
And for President, Henry Clay.
And there is Jimmy Buchanan,
A dabster at dodging away,
Although he was surely instructed,
To vote for the Land Bill of C|ay,
Oh, ladies, come rally around us,
And smile as we pass on our way.
It nerves our heart for the action,
In the cause of old Henry Clay.
Oh, see the white handkerchiefs waving,
The emotion no patriot can stay,
For the ladies will nerve all creation,
In favor of Henry Clay.

Then the boys sing louder and louder,
For we’ll have a new song every day,
And like rats from a ship that is sinking
The locos will scamper away.

Then huzza, huzza, and huzza.
Oh, don’t let the steam die away,
For the fields of new glory await you,
When we hoist the broad banner of Clay.


This song compares Clay’s campaign to building a log cabin.  It is a throw-back to the “log cabin and hard cider” campaign of William Henry Harrison in 1840.  The tune, “Old Tip’s Raisin’,” I have been unable to find, other than as a song listed in a Whig “Log Cabin” songster from 1840.  “Tip” is “Tippecanoe,” that is, William Henry Harrison.

“Chinking” is filling in the spaces between logs in the walls of a log cabin with blocks of wood.  “Daubing” is covering the cracks between the logs with clay.

The “Loco Focos” were the Democrats.

“Plat,” as in “ground plat” is an alternate spelling of “plot.”  A dornick is a small stone.

The sleepers are the logs that go on top of the sill logs.  The joist logs go on top of the sleepers.

Matty is Martin Van Buren, who lost to Harrison in 1840, and was expected to run again in 1844.  Bonaparte was Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, who was defeated by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, Belgium, in 1815.  (While Waterloo was Napoleon’s final defeat, his defeat was by no means a certain thing; as Wellington observed, “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”  Possibly not what the Whigs intended….)

The “cover” is the roof.  “Weight poles” were small logs, put on the roof to hold down the clapboards.

The “ball” that’s rolling would be a  Victory Ball, a ten-foot sphere emblazoned with slogans, pushed from campaign rally to campaign rally.

“Calhoun, Tom Benton and Walker,” were prominent Democratic Senators:  John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, and Robert J. Walker of Mississippi. ” Petticoat Allen” was Senator William Allen of Ohio, another Democrat, also known as “Earthquake Allen” and “The Ohio Gong” for his loud voice.  “Petticoat” was a name he got in the 1840 campaign for alleging that the women of Ohio had given Harrison a set of petticoats in token of Harrison’s lack of personal courage.  Allen was the one who came up with the slogan “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!” two years later during the Oregon Boundary dispute.

“Low Wages Tappan” was Senator Benjamin Tappan, also of Ohio. “Walk Jaw Bone” is a reference to a black-face minstrel song about a runaway slave.  Whig  candidate Thomas “The Wagon Boy” Corwin did in fact defeat Tappan in 1844 to become a US senator from Ohio.  Fortunately, the Corwin Amendment, an attempt to prevent civil war by amending the Constitution to keep the Federal government from ever outlawing slavery, was never ratified.

A “dabster” is someone who is particularly accomplished at some task.  James  Buchanan had originally supported Clay, but switched allegiance to Andrew Jackson.  The “land bill of Clay” is likely the Land Bill of 1833, more formally “An act to appropriate for a limited time the proceeds of the sales of the public lands of the United States and for granting lands to certain States,” which got a pocket veto from Andrew Jackson.

Nerve, as a verb, means, “to give strength or courage to”

Tomorrow: Our Candidate

One thought on “How to Build a Log Cabin

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: