New Album, ‘Abraham Lincoln and the
Election of 1864,’ Explores U.S. Legacy
American Pioneer Music Says Campaign Songs Offer Unique
Perspective on United States History
A new album of twelve 19th-century campaign songs, “Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864,” explores the popular media that helped influence political history in the United States before the 24-hour cable news cycle, Twitter and presidential debates broadcast on YouTube, says American Pioneer Music Director of Research Stuart Schimler.
“Political campaign songs were a central part to how citizens perceived candidates in presidential elections, and the songs of 1864 give us insight into the critiques of Abraham Lincoln before he became a legend,” says Schimler, whose company is the only record label to exclusively tackle this distinctly American folk and political history.
“Many of the themes expressed during 1864 are still relevant to today’s topics, including the gold standard, income taxes, war profiteering, civil liberties and continuing a war that began to lose favor with the public.”
To say the least, “Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864” is unusual – even for a concept album, says Schimler, who researched and selected the songs for the project.
Catchy campaign songs were an effective way of spreading messages. Promoters, politicians and supporters matched set their lyrics to popular Irish and Scottish melodies, minstrel songs and ballads.
In this compilation, American Pioneer Music offers a collection of interpretations of authentic songs from the political campaign of 1864, from both the Republican and Democratic parties. The powerful 19th century lyrics, with their accurate depiction of themes, language and sentiments of America at its critical juncture, are even more controversial in the 21st century.
Most 19th Century minstrels songs, such as “oh Susannah,” “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Camptown Races” have offensive lyrics removed during recording sessions. American Pioneer Music decided to release the album with its original language as to not change the meaning of the songs. To fully understand the political culture of the time, listeners must be aware of the original lyrics. “Modern audiences can gain valuable insight into a heated presidential campaign,” Schimler says. “This album is perfect for adults that want to experience American history.”