“If The Johnnies Get Into Power Again” - 1880 James A. Garfield campaign song
In 1880, Republican James Garfield campaigned for the presidency against the Democratic nominee, Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock. To the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” the song warns of what might happen if “the Johnnies” (as in Southern Democratic “Johnny Rebs”) take office.Jeff Davis’s name they’ll proudly praiseAvailable on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings “Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996.” Sung by Oscar Brand.
And Lincoln’s tomb will be disgraced
The nation’s flag will lose its stars
The stripes they’ll change to rebel bars
And we’ll all wear grey
If the Johnnies get into power.
Responsible, sensible campaigning with James Garfield.
Oh, let’s see, 1880. My father appropriated my copy of Charles Reagan Wilson’s Baptized In Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause and has yet to return it, so I don’t have it on hand. Thus my only handy (i.e. within ten feet of where I’m sitting) volume related to Confederate memory is Karen L. Cox’s Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture. The UDC didn’t form until 1894, and they didn’t do the majority of their monument-building, curriculum-writing, absolute fucking horrors of slavery-denying shit until after the turn of the century, but there were plenty of state and local Ladies’ Memorial Associations active in the South around the time of the 1880 election. Says Cox:
Once the period of Federal intervention ended and southern conservatives resumed control of their state governments, regional enthusiasm for the Lost Cause increased. The Confederate tradition then focused less on bereavement and became a celebration of the region and patrician values. During the late 1870s and into the 1880s, many southerners began writing and revising the history of the Civil War; the movement to build monuments expanded; and Confederate organizations multiplied. (4)
(For further context, the 1880 presidential election was the first election after the end of Reconstruction.)
Point being: this ain’t a scene, it’s an arms race. An arms race towards the most ridiculous propaganda.