The incredible success of the 1840 election "Tippicanoe" songs not only ensured Harrison and Tyler's victory but for the next 100 years afterward spawned a stream of odes, songs, waltzes, marches and polkas for presidential candidates. Though most campaign songs were written by relative unknowns, some of music's greatest writers added their talents to the fray. The 1864 presidential campaign pitted Ex-General George McClellan against his former commander in chief, Abraham Lincoln. Removed from command of the Army of the Potomac late in 1862, McClellan managed to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 1864 and mounted a spirited campaign against his former boss. The Democratic platform on which McClellan ran called for an immediate armistice and a convention of all the warring parties to "secure peace without further bloodshed." Like many others, McClellan believed that Lincoln's insistence on preserving the Union at all costs was destroying the very thing he hoped to protect.

The Democratic party would be mortified to see this song associated with their party today as it represents one of the earliest uses of name calling and mudslinging in political songs and uses some language most any politician today would want to run for cover to avoid. Musically, it is brief but of the quality one would expect from a composer of Foster's caliber (except for that unfortunate phrase) and is a pleasant tune. The song was written for solo and chorus so I've voiced the music with piano and MIDI voice synthesis. I usually avoid the voice synthesis for it has a pretty cheesy sound to it sometimes and is inauthentic, however I've relented this time to add some sense of the song's sound as written.

Ultimately, McClellan's campaign came to nothing. Following the fall of Atlanta in September 1864 and General Philip Sheridan's defeat of the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia a month later, the Northern voting public could sense victory in the air and gave Lincoln another chance to do it his way. Although McClellan finally won elective office as governor of New Jersey (1878–1881), he never achieved the success his early career at West Point had predicted.

Little Mac! Little Mac! You're The Very Man
Music by:  Stephen C. Foster
Lyrics by:  Foster
Cover artist:  unknown

[Verse 1]
Lit-tle Mac, lit-tle Mac you're the ver-y man,
Go down to Wash-ing-ton as soon as you can
Lin-coln's got to get a-way and make room for you,
We must beat Lin-coln and John-son too.

Hur-rah, Hur-rah, Hur-rah!
Sound the ral-ly thro' the whole U-ni-ted States
Lit-tle Mac and Pen-dle-ton are our can-di-dates.

[Verse 2]
Dem-o-crats, Dem-o-crats, do it up brown
Lin-coln and his Nig-ger heads won't go down
Gree-ley and Sum-mer and all that crew,
We must beat Lin-coln and John-son too.

Listen to the song.

Originally published on Reprinted by permission.


Articles in this Issue

1864 - George B. McClellan (D)
1868 - Salmon P. Chase (D)
1872 - Horace Greeley (D)
1876 - Samuel J. Tilden (D)
1880 - Winfield Scott Hancock (D)
1884 - James G. Blaine (R)
1888 - Grover Cleveland (D)
1904 - Alton B. Parker (D)
1908 - William J. Bryan (D)
1916 - Charles E. Huges (R)
1920 - James M. Cox (D)