Shouting our Battle Cry McClellan

AIR: "The Battle Cry of Freedom"

"The Battle Cry of Freedom" was one of the most popular songs of the Civil War. Written and published by George F. Root in 1962, the song was originally pro-union and quickly adapted to various political causes. The presidential election campaign of 1864 naturally saw both McClellan and Lincoln supporters use the popular tune. In this version, McClellan supporters are excited by their hero putting down the "Joker," which was a common name thrown around to describe Abraham Lincoln, who was known for telling crass jokes. Attacks on the first U.S. income tax (later ruled unconstitutional), paper money (Greenbacks) and Salmon Chase (Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury) were important critiques of the Lincoln administration's methods to finance the Civil War. Many of these policies led to inflation; the McClellan crowd complained about the rise of basic necessities of life such as "bread and butter." The song's nature becomes vulgar when it describes its perception of Lincoln's abolitionist policies and the dishonorable manner in which he is carrying out the war. These characterizations are not unique in 19th century politics; the offensive language attempted to strike a chord with a disillusioned and angry electorate.

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