Sourapple tree

The students whom Bloom remembers protesting Joe Chamberlain in 1899 chanted a snippet from America's infectious Civil War marching song, John Brown's Body, a.k.a. the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Bloom recalls the words, "We'll hang Joe Chamberlain on a sourapple tree." The students' revolutionary zeal, and Bloom's skeptical reaction to it, mirror the ambivalence that Americans felt toward John Brown.

JH 2020

Ca. 1856 daguerreotype of John Brown. Source:

Pete Seeger version of John Brown's Body from vol. 3 of American Favorite Ballads, recorded from 1957 to 1962. Source:

2004 recording of John Brown's Body by Gloria Jane. Source:

Sheet music of John Brown's Body, date unknown, held in the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Library of Congress, Washington, with Jeff Davis lyrics in the penultimate stanza. Source:

Ole Peter Hansen Balling's 1872 oil on canvas portrait of John Brown, held in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington. Source: Wikimedia Commons.