PRIMARY DOCUMENT

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

ORIGINAL IMAGES
The Recorder; or
SUMMARY

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.

FULL TEXT
The Recorder; or

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!

 

MAP
TIMELINE
September 1, 1802
The poem "Our massa Jefferson he say," author unknown, first appears on July 10, 1802, in the Port Folio, a Federalist literary paper published in Philadelphia, and on September 1, 1802, in the Richmond Recorder, alongside Callender's article accusing Jefferson of fathering children by his slave Sally.
FURTHER READING

Will and Codicil of John Wayles (1760, 1772–1773) Letter from Elizabeth Wayles Eppes to Thomas Jefferson (October 13, 1784) Letter from James Currie to Thomas Jefferson (November 20, 1784) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes (August 30, 1785) Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 26, 1787) Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 27, 1787) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Nicholas Lewis (April 12, 1792) “The President, Again” by James Thomson Callender (September 1, 1802) Editorial from the Frederick-Town Herald (December 8, 1802) Will and Codicil of Thomas Jefferson (1826) Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph (April 18, 1834) “Life of Isaac Jefferson of Petersburg, Virginia, Blacksmith” by Isaac Jefferson (1847) Letter from Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Joseph Coolidge (October 24, 1858) “Mr. Jefferson’s Blooded Stock”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) “Mr. Jefferson’s Personal Appearance and Habits”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) “Mr. Jefferson’s Servants”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) Letter from Henry S. Randall to James Parton (June 1, 1868) “Life Among the Lowly, No. 1” by Madison Hemings (March 13, 1873) Editorial in the Waverly Watchman (March 18, 1873) “Life Among the Lowly, No. 3” by Israel Jefferson (December 25, 1873) Letter from Thomas Jefferson Randolph to the Pike County Republican (ca. 1874) Hemings-Jefferson DNA; an excerpt from “Jefferson Fathered Slave’s Last Child” by Eugene A. Foster, et al. (November 5, 1998)

CITE THIS ENTRY
APA Citation:
Anonymous. “Our massa Jefferson he say” by Anonymous (September 1, 1802). (2021, January 29). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/our-massa-jefferson-he-say-by-anonymous-september-1-1802.
MLA Citation:
Anonymous. "“Our massa Jefferson he say” by Anonymous (September 1, 1802)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (29 Jan. 2021). Web. 02 Mar. 2021
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