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The President's Ball

Ballroom Dancers
Another music hall number. This one skewers everyone in sight. Lannigan's Ball was a well known tune of the time in which a party gets a good deal out of hand. The unknown author of this lyric refers to the ructions as he describes an evening's entertainment at the White House. Among the guests taking a satirical hit are Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the treasury, William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Henry Beecher, a nationally known clergyman, P.T. Barnum, Senator Sumner, Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and sundry generals, sutlers, the British ambassador, and an Irish poet. The only sympathy expressed is for the lowly private that is not allowed in to the Ball. The "Tom King and Heenin" were two prize fighters of the period who fought a bout that was the talk of both Britain and America.

13. The President's Ball


Tune: Lannigan's Ball

No doubt you’ve all heard of the hop of Tim Lannigan
’Twas nothing to what I will tell you about.
At a spree I once had in great Washington City,
To see which I got all my new clothes out of spout.
One evening a ticket I got for the White House.
All dressed in my best on old Abe I did call.
Be jabbers, the fun it will ne’er be forgotten
The night I did dance at the president’s ball.

A servant, he stood at the door for to take me to
Where Abraham and his lady did stand.
So nervous I felt that a trifle would shake me
Til the lady herself took me gently in hand.
But when they struck up with a hundred wee fiddles,
And Billy O’Seward the dances did call,
There was me and old Chase and his wife and his daughters
Danced Father Jack Walsh at the president’s ball.

There was Henry Beecher and Barnum’s “What-is-it”
And the mayor of Squedunck with an Albany gal,
With ten thousand sutlers and army contractors
And brigadier generals no figures could tell.
There was Fernandy Wood and a host of place seekers
But soon a loud shout did ascend through the hall.
’Twas the people applauding brave Grant and McClellan,
The pride and the joy of the president’s ball.

A soldier, he came and he tried for to enter
With medals for battles all over his breast.
But being a private nobody durst venture
To let him come in there of shoddy the best.
The British ambassador when ready to leave,
And he managed to steal Mrs. Cunningham’s shawl.
And Miles O’Reiley, the prince of all poets,
He pinched all the spoons at the president’s ball.

When daylight broke, they stopped all the dancing,
And then there commenced such a hullabaloo.
For senator Sumner, he drank to Jeff Davis
And Stanton, he swore he would quick put them through.
Then at it they went like Tom King and Heenin
The police rushed in as the ladies did squall.
They carried Abe Lincoln home drunk on a stretcher
And that put an end to the president’s ball.