“The Campaign of 1856”


"Old Benton had a daughter, Fair Jessie was her name, The Rocky Mountain ranger A-courting her he came." "Buck and Breck, neck and neck, A yoke of oxen true, Pulling to the Kansas log -- Gee, whoa, haw!"


Belden has no actual proof that this piece (pieces?) connects to the Campaign of 1856, let alone that it is a campaign song, but there is little doubt that it comes from that era. "Buck and Breck" are James Buchanan and his Vice President, John C. Breckinridge. The "Kansas Log" is the problem of "bleeding Kansas," a burning issue that neither president Pierce nor president Buchanan ever solved.

The first verse quoted by Belden is another matter. It might be unrelated to the 1856 campaign, although it clearly describes John C. Fremont (1813-1890), the Republican candidate of 1856 (the first Republican presidential candidate, in fact).

Fremont made his reputation as a western explorer; hence his common title "The Pathfinder" and the reference in the song to the "Rocky Mountain Ranger." Fremont married Jessie Benton (1824-1902), the daughter of Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858).

Benton and Fremont had an interesting relationship: Benton didn't like the younger man sniffing after his daughter, so he managed to have Fremont explore the Des Moines river. But John and Jessie Fremont married secretly after his return in 1841. Benton then became a strong supporter of Fremont and helped arrange for other expeditions. - RBW


  1. Belden, p. 341, "The Campaign of 1856" (1 text of two stanzas, perhaps not from the same song)
  2. Roud #7838
  3. BI, Beld341


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1905 (Belden)
Keywords: courting political
Found in: US(So)