Before TV came on the scene, presidential candidates relied on songs for negative advertising. Consider this 1889 ditty in support of Benjamin Harrison: "Ben’s a man who bravely went for his native land to shoot / Whereas Grover Cleveland skulked behind the nearest substitute" Presidential Campaign Songs, from Smithsonian Folkways (1999), features tunes spanning 40 elections. The time-honored tactics of campaigning are all represented, from celebrity endorsements (a Charles Lindbergh testimonial in favor of Herbert Hoover in 1929) to fear-mongering (fire, pistols, guns, swords, knives and famines are threatened in a 1828 song if John Quincy Adams is not elected). And you thought dirty politics was new?
Music courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Please click here to purchase or for more information