Historical Background


Beginning and End of Unit Activities; Assessment Strategies

"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"
Traditional, early 1800s
African American song lamenting alienation and loss of home

"Get Off the Track"
Words by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr.; tune "Old Dan Tucker," 1844
A popular Abolitionist song

"Darling Nelly Gray"
Benjamin R. Hanby, 1856
A minstrel song that was sensitive to the plight of slaves and helped the Abolition cause

"The Star-Spangled Banner"
Francis Scott Key; tune "To Anacreon in Heaven," 1814
The national anthem of the United States, originating as a poem in the War of 1812

"The Hunters of Kentucky"
Words by Samuel Woodworth; music by George Colman, 1822
A Jackson campaign song extolling his leadership at the Battle of New Orleans

"I'm Afloat on the Erie Canal"
Words by Eliza Cook; music by Henry Russell, 1841
A song about working on the Erie Canal

"Greenland Whale Fishery"
Anonymous, c. 1700s
A traditional whaling song likely sung on both sides of the Atlantic

"The Song of the Shirt"
Words by Thomas Hood; music by The Hutchinson Family, 1843
A British song about sweatshop labor made popular in the U.S. by the Hutchinson Family

"Hard Times Come Again No More"
Stephen Foster, 1855
A song empathizing with the poor and grieving

Traditional, c. 1800s
A sea chanty moved inland during the keelboat age on western rivers

"Trail of Tears"
Cherokee, 1840s
A song about the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from the American South

"Blue Juniata"
Marion Dix Sullivan, 1844
One of the first popular songs written by a woman, telling the tale of an Indian's love

"Sweet Betsy from Pike"
Words by John A. Stone; tune by John Parry, 1858
A '49er song about crossing the prairies

"The Glendy Burk"
Stephen Foster, 1860
Stephen Foster pays tribute to the steamboat at the peak of its influence

"Go Down, Moses"
Traditional, first published 1861
An African American spiritual inspired by the Old Testament expressing hope for liberation

"Simple Gifts"
Traditional, c. 1840
A hymn of the utopian Shaker community, expressing their ideal of simplicity

"Amazing Grace"
Words by John Newton, 1779; tune "New Britain," 1835
A timeless hymn, made more meaningful by the author's giving up a slave-trading career

"America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)"
Words by Samuel Smith, 1832; tune "God Save the King"
America's version of "God Save the King," an enduring patriotic hymn

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