Bidwell Campaign Song

Campaign button for the 1892 Prohibition Party national election.

Campaign button for the 1892 Prohibition Party national election.

As long as we are on the topic of political campaign songs, here’s another one. This is from Bidwell’s run for president on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1892. Bidwell’s vice-presidential running mate was James B. Cranfill of Texas. This song, which was written for the campaign in California, promotes A. M. Hough, who was the Prohibition Party gubernatorial candidate. He was Bidwell’s running mate in 1890, when Bidwell was the Prohibition candidate for governor.

Be prepared; they liked their songs lengthy back then:

With General Bidwell at the Front, by D.C. R.

With General Bidwell at the front, and A.M. Hough beside,

We’ll make the fight–see if we don’t– Whatever ill betide.

But ill will  not betide us long, we’re growing grandly great;

Our men are marching, thousands strong, to vote and save the state.

Hurrah for Bidwell and for Hough!

And Prohibition too;

Our nominees are good enough,

They’re stalwart, strong, and true.

We aim to save our golden state, fronting the calm west sea.

From shame, from ruin doubly great, for truth and purity.

We aim to save, alas! the need, the rum-invaded home;

Save from the spoiler”s cruel greed, Secure from base to dome.                            Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

The churches are at last awake,–alive to high emprise;

It is a fight they too must make; or basely compromise;

They’ve prayed too long, God’s will be done, whilst voting the reverse;

Their votes and prayers should both be one against the dreadful curse.                   Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

The workingmen, the farmers, and  those who for daily wage

Toil hard;’ are banding in  one band their sorrows to assuage:–

They see with us the corporate greed deserves a killing blow,

And so, to satisfy their need, their ballots they’ll bestow.                                      Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

The Rep’s they fence the liquor in and make it pay a tax;

They think high license is no sin their morals are so lax.

They’re “hand in glove” with the base trade for pelf and party gain,–

Fair promises they’ve often made, which we’ve believed in vain.                  Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

The Dem’s also! are just as bad;–or worse, perhaps than they;

Free whisky is with them a fad– free whisky night and day;

They have and hold their lofty “Jinks” and shout for liberty;

But soon will come a change, me thinks! we’ll all be glad to see.          Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

Hurrah! Hurrah! once more hurrah! and then hurrah again;

Hurrah for order and for law, clean politics and men;–

Hurrah for peace, at home, abroad; through all our vast domain–

The home redeemed, the rum outlawed never to rule again.          Hurrah for Bidwell, etc.

I’ve got to say, this is not the most inspiring campaign song that I can  imagine. “Our  nominees are good enough”? “Soon will come a change methinks”? I wonder just how singable this song was, and whether it did the job of rousing the troops.

The printed copy I have of this doesn’t indicate the tune. These kind of songs were usually written to fit some well-known tune like “Yankee Doodle” or “Rosin the Bow.” These lyrics would fit the sailing song “A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea,” which was better known then than now.

Campaign songs in our modern age have fallen on hard times. You don’t hear very many, and they don’t often have original lyrics, like this one does. For a comparison, check out The Republican Campaign Songster for 1860. It has over forty songs extolling Lincoln, freedom, and abolition.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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