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Like the rushing of mighty waters, waters, waters,
On it will go,
And its course will clear the way
For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

 

Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too

Orson Eli Woodbury (1827-1904), who penned the first verses to “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” at age 13, is buried in Madison’s Forest Hill Cemetery.

Upset that his hero, William Henry Harrison, was being belittled by President Martin Van Buren because of his log cabin-coon skin-hard cider background, Orson put words to the tune The Little Pig’s Tail during the 1840 presidential election. His uncle Levi Woodbury (later a member of the Cabinet and a U. S. Supreme Court justice) had the song performed at a local Whig convention. It caught fire, and numerous verses were added as the song passed from state to state.

Woodbury came to Wisconsin with his parents in 1840 and settled at Whitewater. In 1854 he and two others called a county convention on June 17 after Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which wiped out the arbitrary line between slave and free territory that had been established by Henry Clay’s Missouri Compromise of 1820. The convention drew up a strong anti-slavery platform; a similar platform was adopted later by the group that founded the Republican party. Shortly thereafter Woodbury moved to northern Wisconsin and immersed himself in native languages. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was living in St. Louis; he was warned to leave town because of his anti-slavery views. He settled in Madison, where he was a machinist for 37 years. He lived at 719 West Johnson Street.

What has caused this great commotion, motion,
Our country through?
It is the ball rolling on.

For Tippecanoe and Tyler too –
Tippecanoe and Tyler too,
And with them we’ll beat little Van;
Van, Van, Van is a used up man,
And with them we’ll beat little Van.

Like the rushing of mighty waters, waters, waters,
On it will go,
And its course will clear the way
For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.

Mark Gajewski