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Samuel Hale Parker and “King Andrew”


Samuel Hale Parker (1781–1864) was a publisher, bookseller, and amateur musician in 19th-century Boston, Massachusetts, who published musical scores as well as novels, sermons, and other titles, operated the Boston Circulating Library, and was among the founders of the Handel and Haydn Society.  Parker was born on May 18, 1781, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, to Matthew Stanley Gibson Parker and Ann Rust. He worked as a bookbinder in Boston from 1802 to 1811. In 1811 Parker bought the Boston Book Store from William Blagrove. The store sold books, as one might expect, including several hundred books of vocal and instrumental music, and some sheet music for the piano, pianos and other musical wares, mending glues, concert and theater tickets, new sheet music, and works of fiction.

From around 1809 to 1816 Parker and booksellers Edmund Munroe and David Francis ran a joint publishing firm, Munroe, Francis and Parker. Parker also published titles under his own imprint, utilizing Munroe and Francis as printers.  In 1815 Parker and others founded Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.  In addition to publishing, he ran a library with both circulating and non-circulating collections.  As of 1815, Parker’s reading-room was open from 9 in the morning till 9 at night, and contained all the Boston papers, some of the principal Southern papers and magazines, English reviews, a large collection of music, and some beautiful drawing.

By 1818 Parker’s circulating collection, known as the Boston Union Circulating Library or the Boston Circuldating Library held some 7,000 volumes, the largest of its kind in town. As proprietor of the bookshop and library, Parker benefitted from the efforts of his forebears who had built the enterprise over decades—William Martin, Benjamin Guild, William P. Blake, William Pelham, William Blagrove.  Through the years Parker conducted his business activities from several successive addresses in Boston.  A fire in 1833 caused his move to new premises on School Street.

In 1834, Parker, then at 141 Washington St., published a song ‘King Andrew Glee-Tune Dame Durden,’ in sheet music with original authorship notes reading “n.a.” (i.e., not  available).  The form of composition is ‘strophic with chorus,’ the instrumentation is ‘3-part a cappella voice,’ and the first line reads ‘King Andrew had five trusty Squires, Whome he held his bid to do.’  It is a vigorous anti-Andrew Jackson song. The Whigs called Jackson “King Andrew,” and printed cartoons of him with crown and scepter and royal robes, because he assumed so many powers. The first verse runs:

King Andrew had five trusty squires, whom he held his bid to do,

He also had three pilot fish, to give the sharks their cue.

There was Lou, and Ben, and Lev, and Bill,

And Roger of Tawney hue,

And Blair, the Book, and Kendall, chief cook,

And Isaac surnamed the True.

And Blair pushed Lewis, and Ben touch’d Billy,

And Ike jogged Levi, and Cass touched Amos,

And Roger of Tawney hue,

Now was not this a medley crew

As ever a mortal knew?

The historical references will be obvious. “Lou” is probably Lewis Cass, who held many cabinet posts, including Secretary of War under Jackson from 1831, and eventually became a Democratic presidential nominee (he lost to Zachary Taylor of Santa Anna fame). “Ben” is Benjamin F. Butler, Jackson’s Attorney General after 1833. “Lev(i)” is Levi Woodbury, secretary of the Navy from 1833. “Bill” is postmaster William Taylor Berry. “Roger of Tawney Hue” was Roger B. Taney, he who would later manage the Dred Scott Decision; he was Jackson’s Attorney General from 1831, then took over the Treasury in 1833 (helping Jackson suppress the Bank of the United States), then Chief Justice. “Blair” was newspaper publisher Francis P. Blair, head of a political dynasty that was still influential as late as the Civil War. “Kendall” was Amos Kendall, a journalist who supported the administration. “Isaac” was Senator Isaac Hill, a close Jackson ally.

However, “King Andrew” is not an original song.   The sheet music itself states that the tune is “Dame Durden,” a name for a housewife.  This is a terrifically old traditional English folk melody, with slightly racy words, which Parker apparently adapted to fit the anonymous “King Andrew” text.  Oliver Ditson and Parker established the publishing firm of Parker and Ditson in 1836. The partnership ended in 1842, when Ditson bought Parker’s interest in the firm. Parker belonged to the Trinity Church congregation, where his relative Samuel Parker ministered and also sang in the Trinity Church choir. His son James Cutler Dunn Parker (1828-1916) was a teacher and superintendent of examinations at the New England Conservatory of Music.  S. H.   Parker died on Dec, 25, 1864, at Cambridge, MA.

The following work by Samuel Hale Parker is contained in my collection:

King Andrew (1834).

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