Just in time for 4th of July Week, we found an 1831 salute to Old Glory, a single leaf printing the music and words to “Our Flag is Here! An American Patriotic Song”, removed from a disbound portion of the August, 1831 edition of ‘Atkinson’s Casket’. We do not normally go around slicing pages, but this edition was already mutilated, and it seemed that the song would be of interest to American flag enthusiasts of all stripes. The note at the top of the page states-
"The Music and Words of the following Song, were, we understand, composed by a sailor, on board the Java frigate. They have never before, we believe, been published. The feelings of an American tar, are truly expressed in these words, and many a landsman will cordially join in the Chorus. The Song has, we judge, only to be known to become very popular.”
The “Java frigate” referred to was an American 44-gun vessel, named for the famous War of 1812 naval battle between the USS Constitution and the British frigate Java. The American frigate was laid down in Baltimore in 1814, and made her maiden voyage from Baltimore under the command of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry on August 5, 1815. After fitting out she was ordered to the Mediterranean in 1816, still under Perry’s flag, and while there Perry went ashore in Algiers and “persuaded” the Dey of Algiers that it would be better to stop harrassing American interests, as he had promised in a treay signed the previous summer, than to ignore it as he had been doing before the American fleet showed up. Before returning home Perry and Java also sailed, in company with the Constellation, Ontario, and Erie to show the flag off Tripoli. In 1827 Java returned to the Mediterranean under Captain William M. Crane, and was the flagship of Commodore James Biddle for a time. She returned to America in 1831, was based at Norfolk for several years, and was broken up in 1842.
As for the song's immortality, a Google search for the title only brings up one possible match, a transcription of verse by the same title in the Civil War journal of a young woman. The words, while not quite as memorable as those of the Battle Hymn of the Republic or as moving as those of America the Beautiful, have a certain ring to them-
“Our flag is here! Our flag is here!
We hail it with three loud huzzas!
Our flag is here! Our flag is here!
Behold its’ glorious stripes and stars.
That flag is known in every sphere,
The standard of a gallant band,
Alike unstain’d in peace or war,
It floats o’er freedom’s happy land.
Stout hearts have fought for that bright flag,
Strong hands maintain’d it mast-head high;
And oh! To see how proud it waves,
Brings tears of joy in ev’ry eye.
Our flag is here, &c.
That flag has stood in battle’s war,
‘Mid foemen strong and foemen brave,
Strong hands have tried that flag to low’r,
And found a speedy, wat’ry grave.
Our flag is here, &c.
We have put the sheet up on Ebay in an auction starting July 6th. "Foggygates" will be on vacation mode for the week, and will return late next week.