|One of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War period was Chicagoan George F. Root. Two days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, on April 12, 1861, he distributed the first song of the war to an audience at a patriotic rally in Metropolitan Hall in Chicago. There, two well-known performers, the Lombard Brothers, sang The First Gun Is Fired: May God Protect the Right. It was in print the next day and ready for sale.|
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, many funeral marches and dirges in memory of the departed leader poured out. C. Everest even set to music Lincoln’s favorite poem, Oh Why Should the Spirit of Mortal Be Proud, written by an unknown author.
Another great American historical event was the discovery of oil in the fields of western Pennsylvania. Oil prospectors were riding high and so were the writers of songs about oil. They wrote humorous ballads like Oil on the Brain, as well as dance numbers such as the American Petroleum Polka.
|During the 1860s and 1870s, the dedicated women of the temperance movement held rallies, enlisting prominent politicians and clergymen to help convince their audiences of the evils of alcohol. And famous Chicago songwriter Henry C. Work wrote tearjerker songs to support their crusade, including Come Home, Father.|
The heyday of the American bicycle, known then as a velocipede, began in 1869. During that year dozens of songs, schottishes, and polkas were dedicated to intrepid cyclists, such as The Flying Velocipede and Velocipediana.
The most widely publicized massacre by American Indians took place in 1876 on the banks of the Little Big Horn River in Montana, where a band of nearly 300 soldiers, under the command of General George Custer, were ambushed by several thousand Sioux warriors who wiped out every man. The event inspired music such as General Custer’s Last March.
|In 1876, the United States celebrated its centennial in Philadelphia with an opening ceremony that took place on May 10 at Memorial Hall. Richard Wagner’s march, which was commissioned for the occasion, was a flop, but Triumph of a Nation’s Age, by Philadelphian E. Mack, was somewhat more successful.||Isaac M. Singer improved the clumsy sewing machines patented in the early 1800s. When The Merry Singer was written, in 1891, and distributed free to patrons of the Singer Manufacturing Company, his sewing machine had been a commodity worldwide for forty years.||The favorite recreation of the 1880s was roller-skating. In hundreds of rinks around the country, gentlemen wearing bowler hats skated hand in hand with ladies in bustles and high-button shoes. A representative song of that period is Gliding in the Rink.|
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