As the U.S.A. reopens a Havana embassy, and Puerto Rico struggles with financial problems, perhaps it’s time to look back at a century of history — and the news media’s sometimes multimedia role in setting agendas that people might, in this case literally, march to.
I found a copy of this song in an antique shop’s paper ephemera bin long ago and for years toyed with the idea of searching the archives of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal to see just how extensive the newspaper’s “musical supplement”-publishing endeavor was, and whether it was confined to cheerleading America into war with Spain. I assume this sheet music was bundled in with the other Sunday color supplements, although I suppose it might have been sold separately.
Now, having decided I’m better suited to retirement than to university-funded academic research, I’ll just toss the idea out here for others to consider. The New York Journal‘s “morgue” files of clippings and photos are — go figure — at the University of Texas, as I discovered just in time for a freeze on my then-university’s travel funds. Oh well.
- Of course the New York Public Library, Library of Congress and other institutions may have relevant material too.
The University of North Carolina, fortunately, has already scanned its copy of the song, so I’m including its images here. The scanners appear to have neglected the back page with the chorus, so I will look for my old copy and see if I can add it here later. Otherwise, I leave it to your imagination. The first line is probably an echo of the title, “There’s room for one more star…”
Note the publication date, April 17, 1898, two months after the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. President McKinley asked Congress for war against Spain April 11 and set up a blockade; Congress declared Cuba independent April 19 (despite the annexation theme of the song), and finally declared war April 25. (Timeline at http://www.spanamwar.com/timeline.htm)
Look up, Cuba, why are you weeping? Why are you grieving day after day?
Justice must seem so silently sleeping and turn a deaf ear unto you when you pray.
Cuba, cheer up! And look forward with pleasure, soon will your sorrows vanish afar,
For in Old Glory’s starry gemmed azure, There’s room for one more star.
Long have you tried vainly to sunder cold cruel links of slavery’s chain
Binding you tightly, a poor captive, under the merciless rule of your harsh master of Spain.
Heroes who loved you, who fought bled and perished, striving to free you day after day.
Soon will their dreams, through weary years cherished, come true and your chains fall away.
Nobly you fight, ever resisting, taskmaster Spain who spares not to slay.
Led by a hero ever persisting and striving for freedom ’til he passed away.
Our motto is fair play and tho’ Spain may raid you, You’ll share the freedom we now enjoy.
And, with the help of the Journal, we’ll aid you, dear Cuba, Spain’s rule to destroy.