Monday, July 4, 2016

Samuel Francis Smith, and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"

This is an old postcard, which I purchased on ebay. Though the precise age of the card is not known, the ebay seller noted that it was "pre-1920."  It pictures a house in the city where I grew up (Newton Centre, Mass.).

I passed by the house routinely, as a child (in the 1960s). It was located just after the last store on the main street of the Newton Centre business district, and was set back from the street.  It seemed mysterious, and, as I recall, a bit scary.  I'm fairly sure it was unoccupied, during those years, and I walked up to it a number of times, to look at it--though I don't remember when, in childhood, I became aware that it had been the home of Samuel Francis Smith, who wrote the words to "America" (a/k/a  "My Country, 'Tis of Thee").  As the link below notes, the house burned down in 1969, but I don't remember this happening (I was thirteen, at the time).

Here is the Wikipedia entry about the song:,_%27Tis_of_Thee

Here, too, is a brief video, from YouTube, of a performance of the song by Marian Anderson; it took place in 1939, during her famous appearance at the Lincoln Memorial.

Happy July 4th!