Foster, Stephen Collins. (1828–1864)

"My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night. Foster's Plantation Melodies No. 20 as sung by Christy's Minstrels"

New York: Firth, Pond & Co.. 1853. First. Upright folio.  Engraved.  [PN] 1892.  Title; 2–5 pp.; blank.  Light foxing throughout, pages separated, toning along right edge, else in fine condition.  10.5 x 13.5 inches (26.7 x 34.3 cm.).  Fuld p. 384–385.

"My Old Kentucky Home, Good–Night" was an instant hit upon publication in 1853, and remains popular in its namesake state, where it was selected as the official state song in 1928.  Throughout that time, there has been controversy and popular misunderstanding related to the meaning of the lyrics.  While commonly regarded today as "a celebration of the Antebellum South," sung every year at the Kentucky Derby and many other public gatherings, the song reflected a turning point in the work of its author.  "Inspired by the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, [Foster] penned a lament by a slave in Kentucky who's been sold down the river to the Deep South by his master. The slave is both saying goodbye to his old Kentucky home and preparing to meet his imminent death from overwork and brutal mistreatment in the 'land where the sugar canes grow.'" (Jim O'Grady, "The Hidden Racial History of 'My Old Kentucky Home,' WNYC, May 2, 2014.)  Frederick Douglass praised the song in his autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom, saying songs like "My Old Kentucky Home, Good–Night" "are heart songs, and the finest feelings of human nature are expressed in them. [They] can make the heart sad as well as merry, and can call forth a tear as well as a smile. They awaken the sympathies for the slave in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish." (18477)

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