Thurman’s Boils

Mr. Harrison Goes Shooting and Fishing
Benjamin Harrison in a boat, trying to shoot ducks “voters” with musket “force bill” and catch fish labeled “voters.”


Air — “Auld Lang Syne.”

Should brave old soldiers be forgot?
Should patriots fail to twine
Wreaths, glorious wreaths, for those who fought
In the days of old lang syne?
No! Long as life endures will we
Deep in our hearts enshrine
The names of those who made us free
In the days of old lang syne.

Proud England, gloating o’er her Crown,
And King and Right’s Divine,
Sent forth her slaves to chain us down
In the days of old lang syne;
But Freedom’s champions averred
They’d make the Lion whine,
And nobly did they keep their word
In the days of old lang syne.

They drew a charter, strong and full;
Nor did they fear to sign
The bulletin that pricked John Bull,
And cut in every line.
Among the hearts of flint, whose fire
Lit up the flame benign,
Was Harrison — Tip’s great-grandsire —
A Whig of old lang syne.

But not the grandsire’s fame alone
Exalts our Harrison;
He has bright laurels of his own,
In hard fought battles won;
For when rebellion raised its head
He led a royal line,
Fought treason till he left it dead,
In days of old lang syne.

And what was Cleveland? Where or when
Did he lead on the brave,
Or raise his voice or wield his pen,
Or ope his purse to save?
Oh, yes; according to repute
Did Grover Cleveland shine,
By sending out a substitute
In war days, old lang syne.

And Thurman, he who stands beside
This Grover, what did he?
Did he rush where the crimson tide
Flowed fast to make men free?
He stayed at home and styled the war
Disastrous and malign,
And not a flag or musket bore,
In days of old lang syne.

The knapsack pillowed Harry’s head,
The hard ground eased his toils;
While Cleveland slept on downy bed,
And Thurman nursed his boils.
Shall these men then exalted be?
Shall loyalty decline?
Forbid it Heaven! Forbid it, ye
Who bled in old lang syne!

Let those who love the Free Trade charms,
Hard work and little pay,
Closed working-shops and mortgaged farms,
Extol King Grover’s sway;
But we have solemnly affirmed
“No Free Trade, sir, in mine!”
And Grover shan’t be second-termed,
Not by an old lang syne!


Our song starts with a paean to the American Revolution, and Ben Harrison’s great-grandfather.  Pretty soon we move on to Harrison’s grandfather, the one whose hat Ben Harrison wears in so many political cartoons of the period.  William Henry Harrison was the last US president to have been born a British subject.

John Bull is England.

At last, we come to the fact that the current Harrison was himself legitimately a war hero in the Civil War.

In the Civil War, Grover Cleveland hired a substitute to serve in his place (it was legal, and common among the well-to-do), which left him open to the charge of being a draft-dodger.

Thurman was Senator Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, Cleveland’s running mate.  Cleveland had supported Stephen Douglas in the election of 1860, and opposed the Civil War.  While he did not believe that states could secede, he didn’t believe that once a state had seceded that force could be legitimately used to bring it back.

“Harry” is Harrison.

Thurman’s boils: During the election campaign when Thurman gave speeches, he talked some about policy positions, but mostly about his many health problems, including neuralgia, cholera, head colds, and those famous boils.  Thurman also collapsed on stage twice during the campaign.  (On the other hand, Thurman was popular among his fellow senators; he never exchanged an angry word with another senator, and it was widely noted that he left the senate as impoverished as he had entered it.)

And finally we come to something substantial: Free Trade (which is defined as “hard work and little pay”).  The Democrats favored free trade; the Republicans favored protectionism.

Tomorrow: Buckeye Boys

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