When good old Father Washington
Was just about to die
He called our Uncle Samuel
Unto his bedside nigh:
“This flag I give you, Sammy dear,”
Said Washington, said he;
“Where’er it floats, on land or wave,
My children shall be free.”
And fine old Uncle Samuel
He took the flag from him,
And spread it on a long pine pole,
And prayed and sung a hymn.
A pious man was Uncle Sam
Back fifty years and more:
The flag should fly till Judgment-Day,
So, by the Lord, he swore!
And well he kept that solemn oath;
He kept it well, and more:
The thirteen stars first on the flag
Soon grew to thirty-four;
And every star bespoke a State,
Each State an empire won:
No brighter were the stars of night
Than those of Washington.
Beneath that flag two brothers dwelt;
To both ’twas very dear;
The name of one was Puritan,
The other Cavalier.
“Go build ye towns,” said Uncle Sam
Unto those brothers dear;
“Build any where, for in the world
You’ve none but God to fear.”
“I’ll to the South,” said Cavalier,
“I’ll to the South,” said he;
“And I’ll to the North,” said Puritan–
“The North’s the land for me.”
Each took a flag, each left a tear
To good old Uncle Sam;
He kissed the boys, he kissed the flags,
And, doleful, sung a psalm.
And in a go-cart Puritan
His worldly goods did lay;
With wife, and gun, and dog, and axe,
He, singing, went his way.
Of buckskin was his Sunday suit,
His wife wore linsey-jeans;
And fat they grew, like porpoises,
On hoe-cake, pork, and beans.
But Cavalier a cockney was;
He talked French and Latin;
Every day he wore broadcloth,
While his wife wore satin.
He went off in a painted ship–
In glory he did go;
A thousand negroes up aloft,
A thousand down below.
The towns were built, as I’ve heard said;
Their likes were never seen:
They filled the North, they filled the South,
They filled the land between.
“The Lord be praised!” said Puritan;
“Bully!” said Cavalier;
“There’s room and town-lots in the West,
If there isn’t any here.”
Out to the West they journeyed then,
And in a quarrel got;
One said ’twas his, he knew it was;
The other said ’twas not.
One drew a knife, a pistol t’other,
And dreadfully they swore:
From Northern Lake to Southern Gulf
Wild rang the wordy roar.
And all the time good Uncle Sam
Sat by his fireside near,
Smokin’ of his kinnikinick,
And drinkin’ lager-beer.
He laughed and quaffed, and quaffed and laughed,
Nor thought it worth his while,
Unitl the storm in fury burst
On Sumter’s sea-girt isle.
O’er the waves to the smoking fort,
When came the dewy dawn,
To see the flag he looked–and lo,
Eleven stars were gone!
“My pretty, pretty stars!” he cried,
And down did roll a tear.
“I’ve got your stars, Old Fogy Sam;
“Ha, ha!” laughed Cavalier.
“I’ve got your stars in my watch-fob;
Come take them, if you dare!”
And Uncle Same he turned away,
Too full of wrath to swear.
“Let thunder all the drums!” he cried,
While swelled his soul like Mars:
“A million Northern boys I’ll get
To bring me home my stars.”
And on his mare, stout Betsey Jane,
To Northside town he flew;
The dogs they barked, the bells did ring,
And countless bugles blew.
“My stolen stars!” cried Uncle Sam—
“My stolen stars!” cried he.
“A million soldiers I must have
To bring them home to me.”
“Dry up your tears, good Uncle Sam;
Dry up!” said Puritan.
“We’ll bring you home your stolen stars,
Or perish every man!”
And at the words a million rose,
All ready for the fray;
And columns formed, like rivers deep,
And Southward marched away.
And still old Uncle Samuel
Sits by his fireside near,
Smokin’ of his kinnikinick
And drinkin’ lager-beer;
While there’s a tremble in the earth,
A gleaming of the sky,
And the rivers stop to listen
As the million marches by.
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