Campaign song

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Campaign songs are songs used by candidates or political campaigns. Most modern campaign songs are upbeat popular songs or original compositions that articulate a positive message about a campaign or candidate, usually appealing to patriotism, optimism, or a good-natured reference to a personal quality of the candidate such as their ethnic origin or the part of the country they are from. In some cases, the campaign song can be a veiled attack on an opposing candidate or party. The use of a campaign song is primarily known in the quadrennial United States presidential election, where both major party candidates usually use one or more songs to identify with their campaign.

History in the United States[edit]

The origin of campaign songs were partisan ditties used in American political canvasses and more especially in presidential contests. The words were commonly set to established melodies like "Yankee Doodle," "Hail, Columbia," "Rosin the Bow," "Hail to the Chief" "John Brown's Body," "Dixie" and "O Tannenbaum" ("Maryland, My Maryland"); or to tunes widely popular at the time, such as "Few Days," "Champagne Charlie," "The Wearing of the Green" or "Down in a Coal Mine," which served for "Up in the White House." Perhaps the best known of them was "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," (in which words by Alexander C. Ross were adapted to the folk tune, "Little Pigs"). First heard at Zanesville, Ohio, this spread rapidly over the country, furnishing a party slogan. It has been said: "What the Marseilles Hymn was to Frenchmen, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler Too' was to the Whigs of 1840." In 1872 an attempt was made to revive the air for "Greeley Is the Real True Blue." The words, sometimes with music, of campaign songs were distributed in paper-covered song books or "songsters." Among these were the Log Cabin Song Book of 1840 and Hutchinson's Republican Songster for the presidential campaign of 1860, compiled by J. W. Hutchinson. For many years national campaigns included itinerant stumpspeakers, live animals, fife-and-drum corps, red fire, floats, transparencies and rousing mass meetings in courthouses and town halls. Glee clubs were organized to introduce campaign songs and to lead audiences and matchers in singing them. The songs were real factors in holding the interest of crowds, emphasizing issues, developing enthusiasm and satirizing opponents. With changes in the methods of campaigning, the campaign song declined as a popular expression.

Source: Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940

Presidential campaign songs[edit]

Jackson supporters used this Battle of New Orleans anthem as their campaign song.

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As used in the 1840 campaign.

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