Hail Columbia!: American Music and Politics in the Early Nation (Hardcover)
To the tune of "Yankee Doodle," the American obsession with politics was born alongside America itself. From the end of the Revolutionary War through to the antebellum era, music made front page news and brought men to blows. Both common citizens and politicians even early presidents of the young nation used well-known songs to fuel heated debates over the meaning of liberty, the future and nature of the republic, and Americans' proper place within it. As both propaganda and protest, music called for allegiance to a new federal government, spread utopian visions of worldwide revolution, broadcast infringements on American freedoms, and spun exaggerated tales of national military might. In Hail Columbia , author Laura Lohman uncovers hundreds of songs circulated in newspapers, broadsides, song collections, sheet music, manuscripts, and scrapbooks over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. These give evidence that a diversity of Americans elite lawyers, immigrant actresses, humble craftsmen, and African American abolitionists employed music for political purposes, creating new and deeply partisan lyrics to famous tunes of "Yankee Doodle," "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the like. These charged versions found their way to electioneering, tavern gatherings, presidential encomia, street theatre, and community celebrations, making song a political weapon between neighbours and citizens, to hail the new nation in partisan terms.
Laura Lohman is a music scholar who explores the intersections of music and politics in varied cultures ranging from twentieth-century Egypt to early America. The author of Umm Kulthum: Artistic Agency and the Shaping of an Arab Legend, 1967-2007, Lohman has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Musicological Society, and New England Regional Fellowship Consortium. She serves as Director of the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence and is a professor of music at Queens University of Charlotte.