A popular component of every presidential campaign from as far back as 1800 is campaign music, collections of ditties
written to build up enthusiasm in crowds, satirize opponents and highlight key campaign issues. With the help of Cleveland financier, Mark Hanna, Ohio Governor William McKinley (1845-1901) defeated his opponent, William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 and 1900 presidential elections. The Cleveland Public Library owns the sheet music for eight of McKinley’s campaign songs especially written for the 1896 election. Entitled McKinley Campaign Songs, all the songs are rare and several of the pieces are one-of-a-kind. It is now housed in the library’s Special Collections Department. Most of the songs in the 1896 collection emphasize McKinley’s key campaign points: the gold standard and higher tariffs. Perhaps more interesting is that they were authored by individuals as diverse as a prolific writer of hymns to a barber in Youngstown, Ohio.
Also owned by Special Collections is the Garfield and Arthur Campaign Songbook (1880) assembled for Republican Presidential candidates, James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. The Blaine and Logan Songster: Popular Campaign Songs was a collection touting candidates James G. Blaine and John A. Logan in their unsuccessful 1884 bid against Grover Cleveland and Thomas A. Kendricks.
Do we want him? Well, I should say so!
Do We Want Him? Words and Music by P.J. Meahl . Lyon & Healy, Chicago, IL.
New Jersey native, Philip J. Meahl, later composed A Ragtime Masquerade: Cake Walk and Two Step. He also held several patents for player piano apparatus and music rolls.
Hail the better day! 'tis coming and 'twill not be very long:
The Little Dinner Bucket. Words and music by A.M. Bruner. L.E. West Publishing Co. Rock Island, IL.
In his 1900 bid for re-election, McKinley’s campaign used the slogan “Full Dinner Pail” hailing the prosperity of McKinley’s first term which appears to be a variation on Bruner’s The Little Dinner Bucket.
Start it with a song. A song for McKinley and Protection!
McKinley and Protection. Words by Post Wheeler. Music by Louisa Lear Eyre. The New York Press.
Post Wheeler (1869-1956), a noted journalist and career diplomat probably wrote while serving as a foreign correspondent in France and Morocco. He did not however serve in an official capacity until five years after McKinley’s death. Louisa Lear Eyre (1872-1953) was a renowned sculptor, known for her copper bas-relief images of children
Set the factory wheels a fly-ing, send the smoke in-to the air,
With Protection for the Nation and McKinley in the chair
McKinley in the Chair. Words and music by A.M. Bruner. L.E. West Publishing Co. Rock Island, IL
A.M. Bruner is also the composer of The Little Dinner Bucket.
The Grand Old Par-ty takes the lead, Mc-Kin-ley is the man!
McKinley is the Man! Words by Ida Scott Taylor. Music by B.M. Henry. Emil Wulschner & Son. Indianapolis
Ida Scott Taylor (1820-1915) one of the pseudonyms used by Frances Jane Crosby, a prolific writer of hymns as well as patriotic songs. Blind since the age of 6 weeks, Fanny Crosby authored more than 8,000 songs. Interestingly, McKinley’s birthday is incorrectly given as 1844.
We wave McKinley banners high, As happy times we greet.;
Protection is the battle cry, And free trade we'll defeat...
The McKinley Song. Music by Charles Kunkel. Kunkel Bros. St. Louis, MO.
German immigrant Kunkel (1840-1923) was a musician who honed his art under the noted composer of the day Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Under the name Claude Melnotte, Kunkel teamed with Charles Spooner to compose Angels' Visits (1869) – a song with a heavenly sound yet being totally secular in nature. In 1868 Charles and his brother Jacob Kunkel (1846-1882) moved to St. Louis, where they established a music store and began to publish music in 1869. It was there The McKinley Song was composed and published.
His movements may be slow, But he kept them on the go;
McKinley Will Save Our Country. Words by Comrade James T. Cheney. Music by W.C. Harris. D. O. Evans. Youngstown, Ohio.
Comrade James T. Cheney (c.1846-1902) was an African-American barber from Youngstown, Ohio. He also served as a Private in Kentucky’s 5th USCC during the Civil War. What makes this item especially unique is the (faded) cover of the sheet music which includes a picture of the composer. D.O. Evans was a Youngstown-based publisher still extant well into the 1920’s.
There'll be no shaky fence posts Nor rotten rails in sight
When Uncle Sam employs our gallant Billy
Our Billy. Words by D.J. Norton. Music by C.N. Schneider. The Fort Orange Publishing Co. Albany, N.Y.