Primary Resource

"Our massa Jefferson he say" by Anonymous (September 1, 1802)

The following poem first appeared on July 10, 1802, in the Port Folio, a Federalist literary paper published in Philadelphia. The version below was reprinted in the Richmond Recorder on September 1, 1802, on the same page as James Thomson Callender's article accusing Thomas Jefferson of having children by his slave Sally (presumably Sally Hemings). Although this version is unsigned, the original was attributed to Asmodio, possibly referring to the biblical king known in the Talmud as "the genius of matrimonial unhappiness" and who fell in love with Sara, killing seven of her husbands in turn. According to the Jefferson biographer Fawn M. Brodie, "The choice of pseudonym is a curiosity, since 'Sally' is the nickname for 'Sara,' and the intent of the ballad maker was clearly the destruction of Sara's 'husband.' It suggests that the author was a man of considerable erudition." Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

  • Our massa Jefferson he say,
  • Dat all mans free alike are born;
  • Den tell me, why should Quashee stay,
  • To tend de cow and hoe de corn?
  • Huzza for massa Jefferson;
  • And if all [mans?] alike be free
  • Why [?]
  • Hab house and corn! for poor Quashee
  • No hab de one, no habe de oder.
  • Huzza, &c.
  • And why should one hab de white wife,
  • And me hab only Quangeroo?
  • Me no see reason for me life!
  • No! Quashee hab de white wife too,
  • Huzza, &c.
  • For make all like, let blackee hab
  • De white womans … dat be de track!
  • Den Quashee de white wife will hab,
  • And massa Jefferson shall hab de black.
  • Why should a judge, (him alway white,)
  • 'Pon pickaninny put him paw,
  • Cause he steal little! dat no rite!
  • No! Quashee say he'll hab no law,
  • Huzza, &c.
  • Who care, me wonder, for de judge?
  • Quashee no care … no not a feder;
  • Our party soon we make him trudge,
  • We all be democrat togeder.
  • Huzza, &c.
  • For where de harm to cut de troat
  • Of him no like! or rob a little?
  • To take him hat, or shoe, or coat,
  • Or wife, or horse, or drink, or vittle?
  • Huzza, &c.
  • Huzza for us den! we de boys
  • To rob, and steal, and burn, and kill;
  • Huzza! me say, and make de noise!
  • Huzza for Quashee? Quashee will
  • Huzza for massa Jefferson!