American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860
Table of Contents
Music Copyrighted in Federal District Courts, ca. 1820-1860:
Political Campaigns

American history is reflected in this collection both in songs and in instrumental pieces such as marches and dances for the piano--hereafter treated interchangeably. Many pieces reflect patriotism. Some of these pieces are old favorites such as Yankee Doodle. Hail Columbia, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, There are new songs, of which the most successful was William Vincent Wallace's setting of George Pope Morris's The Flag of Our Union. And, there are several extended Odes for the Fourth of July.

image: caption following
Young America's schottisch
by Francis H. Brown.

The songs reflect issues and events of the times. Not all the songs invoking the Union are simple patriotic songs. Many of these songs have as subtext Andrew Jackson's 1829 toast "Our Federal union: it must be preserved." These songs were written in answer, to the threats of Southern secession which occurred periodically during the years of this collection. Southern separatism is represented by a single piece, Southern Rights March.

The historical event most heavily represented in this collection is the Mexican War of 1846-48. Most songs were celebratory, although Jesse Hutchinson's "Eight Dollars a Day" castigates the war as a "war for slavery." Songs also celebrate the American generals who fought in the war, notably Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. There also is one piece honoring Jefferson Davis for his part in the war. (Taylor and Scott are also represented by campaign songs, discussed below.) There are a few pieces on Texas and Mexico apart from the war. The Star-Spangled Banner is the best-known piece celebrating the War of 1812; there are a few more pieces on that war as well as some on the American Revolution.

American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860