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This popular political ballad celebrated the victory of Thomas Jefferson over his Federalist opponent in the sharply contested election of 1800. As you listen to the song and read the lyrics, consider what principles it associated with Jefferson. What specific acts of the previous administration could have inspired the song’s concern that America, without Jefferson, would have slipped into a state of enslavement like the Old World.
Jefferson and Liberty
The gloomy night before us lies, The reign of terror now is o’er;
Its gags, inquisitors and spies,
Its hordes of harpies are no more Rejoice, Columbia’s sons, rejoice To tyrants never bend the knee But join with heart, and soul and voice
For Jefferson and Liberty.
O’er vast Columbia’s varied clime Her cities, forests, shores and dales;
In riding majesty, sublime,
Immortal liberty prevails,
Hail! long expected glorious day Illustrious memorable morn:
That freedom’s fabric from decay Secures - for millions yet unborn.
His country’s glory, hope and stay,
In virtues and in talents tried;
Now rises to assume the sway,
O’er freedom’s temple to preside.
Within its hallow’d walls immense No hireling band shall e’er arise;
Array’d in tyranny’s defence,
To hear an injur’d people’s cries.
No lordling here with gorging jaws.
Shall wring from industry its food;
No fiery bigot’s holy laws,
Lay waste our fields and streets in blood.
Here strangers from a thousand shores Compell’d by tyranny to roam;
Shall find, amidst abundant stores,
A nobler and a happier home.
Here art shall lift her laurel’d head Wealth industry and peace divine;
And where dark forests lately spread Rich fields and lofty cities shine.
From Europe’s wants and woes remote A dreary waste of waves between;
Here plenty cheers the humble cot,
And smiles on every village green.
Here, free as air’s expanded space,
To every soul and sect shall be;
That sacred privilege of our race,
The worship of the Deity.
These gifts, great Liberty, are thine,
Ten thousand more we owe to thee;
Immortal may their mem’ries shine,
Who fought and died for Liberty.
What heart but hails a scene so bright What soul but inspiration draws;
Who would not guard so dear a right Or die in such a glorious cause.
Let foes to freedom dread the name,
But should they touch the sacred tree Twice fifty thousand swords would flame,
For Jefferson and Liberty.
From Georgia up to Lake Champlain From seas to Mississippi’s shore;
Ye sons of freedom loud proclaim,
The Reign of Terror is no more.
Rejoice-Columbia’s sons, rejoice!
To tyrants never bend the knee;
But join with heart, and soul and voice For JEFFERSON and LIBERTY.
"For Jefferson and Liberty (Thomas Jefferson)" by Oscar Brand from the recording entitled Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996, SF45051 provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1999. Used by Permission.