Oh Shenandoah (this Widipedia entry includes the lyrics to the song)
The provenance (origin) of this song is “unclear.” (Wikipedia) “The lyrics may tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief.” The lover expresses a longing to cross the Missouri River. But it could also tell the nostalgia of a Confederate cadet who wishes to go home.
The American Civil War: the Backdrop
The American Civil War (1861–1865) opposed “eleven southern slave states” that declared their secession from the 25 United States, the Union. Hostilities began on April 12, 1861. If you click on the word Union, you will see which states seceded. The War ended May 9, 1865. It was fought during the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated on April 15, 1865, aged 56 (born: February 12, 1809). Lincoln abolished slavery and was a great Republican. Arguably he may also have been the greatest among American Presidents.
It seems that Americans are still haunted by the defeat of the Confederates, just as many French Canadians have not fully recovered from the Rebellion of 1836-1837. If my memory serves me well, about a dozen Patriotes were hanged and 52, exiled to what is now Australia. The Amnesty Act (1848) allowed exiled Patriotes to return to their homes, but the dead could not be revived and being exiled had harmed patriotes. As for the Confederates, they owned human beings.
The Fate of the Confederate States
Most of the southern states, the Confederate states, are now Republican states, but Republicans are different from President Lincoln. Needless to say, current Republicans do not approve of slavery. On the contrary, they oppose it vigorously. They know that slavery can lead to abuse. For instance, what would prevent the owner of a female slave from feeling free to engage in sexual intercourse with her? She belongs to him. And what would prevent the owner of slaves from making them work beyond exhaustion?
Slavery started a very long time ago and it did not start in the US. But it is an infamy and, to my knowledge, all Americans agree it is just that: an infamy.
Here are the words to one stanza of Oh Shenandoah:Oh Shenandoah I long to hear you, Away you rolling river. Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away, I’m bound to go, ‘cross the wide Missouri.
In today’s National Post, I read that if indépendantistes are elected into office, “[t]he crucifix would be spared in the PQ’s proposed ban on ‘conspicuous religious signs’ for government employees, which tells you everything you need to know about the party’s supposed neutrality toward religions.” (Graeme Hamilton)