Lincoln & Liberty/The Liberty Ball

Words by Jesse L. Hutchinson, Music Traditional

“We’ll go for the son of Kentucky….”

Noah Brooks

Both of these songs use the melody of the old tune, “Rosin the Beau.” The lyrics to “The Liberty Ball” were written as a rallying song for the abolitionist cause by Jesse Hutchinson of the Hutchinson Family Singers, famous throughout the country for their abolitionist activism as well as their music. “Lincoln and Liberty” adds new lyrics to the tune in service to Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 campaign for President.

Though Lincoln was outspoken against extending slavery to new states, he was no radical. He had made it clear that he considered slavery morally indefensible and expected it to strangle itself if it were not allowed to expand. But his support by so many avowed abolitionists who saw him as their best alternative in the overheated atmosphere of 1860 only fanned the flames of Southern fear over a Lincoln presidency and what it would mean to the South’s “peculiar institution.” The second song in the show, it accompanies an account of Lincoln’s meteoric rise from fringe candidate to surprise Republican nominee to new President-elect, as seen through the eyes of his young secretary-to-be.

The lyrics contain a couple of slang terms that are unfamiliar to us today:

  • “Suckers” is an old nickname for Illinois residents
  • “Hoosierdom” refers to Indiana, the home of the “Hoosiers”

There are plenty of theories, but today no one seems to agree on what either of these nicknames originally meant. But “the son of Kentucky,” “hero of Hoosierdom,” and “pride of the Suckers” all reinforce Lincoln’s image as a rugged man from the untamed West. And it was in the West that everyone expected the escalating conflict over slavery would come to a head one day.


Come all you true friends of the nation,
Attend to humanity’s call–
Come aid in the slave’s liberation
And roll on the Liberty Ball!
And roll on the Liberty Ball,
And roll on the Liberty Ball!
Come aid in the slave’s liberation,
And roll on the Liberty Ball!

Hurrah for the choice of the nation,
Our chieftain so brave and so true!
We’ll go for the great reformation,
For Lincoln and liberty, too!

We’ll go for the son of Kentucky,
The hero of Hoosierdom through;
The pride of the “suckers” so lucky,
For Lincoln and liberty, too!