Our songs are singing history
A history of America, vivid, dramatic, and personal, could be written with the songs of its people. Much of this history would be fittingly exultant, even glorious, in celebration of the birth of a nation founded on ideals of personal freedom; but much also would be pitched to a mournful tone, for the birth of American democracy was an agonizing travail for many people at the bottom of the economic and social pyramid. To write such a history would be a worthy undertaking for a scholar with the ability and temerity to attempt it; certainly it is a task beyond the comprehension of this study. The songs in this chapter and the incidents that produced them are samplings of the rich material that awaits further exploration; they are illustrations of but a few of the crises that the American people faced with the support of humble song.