Unique Jacksoniana: Poetry from a Short Man Who Fell Off a Tall Roof

Earlier blog posts have promoted a soon-to-debut online resource that will feature highlights from the William C. Cook Jacksonian Era Collection. Here’s another of those one-of-a-kind items. Today we feature an unrecorded elegy written after the death of Jackson by a poet previously unknown to the literary world (perhaps for good reason).

The Sept. 13, 1845, Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics article as found in America’s Historical Newspapers (Readex).

Ode, Elegy, &c. on the Late Lamented Gen. Andrew Jackson was acquired in 2016 with partial funding from William C. Cook as part of his commitment to support ongoing additions to the Jacksonian Era Collection that bears his name. The caption title of this piece modestly ascribes authorship only to “E.N.A.,” but imagine our joy when we were able to find a reference to this previously unknown publication and its author while searching in AAS’s digitized newspaper collections. An article in the September 13, 1845, Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics reveals the author’s last name at least: Adamson. Mr. E. N. Adamson is described as “a short man who has to perch himself upon a bench to be seen.” The article goes on to explain how Mr. E.N. Adamson had recently broken a limb after falling twenty feet from the top of a building while he was helping the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, clean up after a fire. The article’s author urges the public to support this man, who had helped the city, by purchasing his poetry pamphlet. He does admit, though, that the quality of Adamson’s verse may be as unsteady as his feet were on the roof. “The first verse is truly grand – it is the poet when he is above on the ladder. The next verse, however, is rather like the poet when he unfortunately slipped a twenty feet from the ground.” The sample of “grand” verse including in the article concludes: “Ye cannon mouths, with thunder crowned, / Shake the earth with woe!” The sample of not-so-grand verse concludes: “Ducks, curlews, gulls, in startled squads, / Your clamours scream!”

As far as we can tell no other copy of this Ode, Elegy, &c. exists, and since it’s relatively short, we have provided a digitized copy of the whole pamphlet for you here so you can judge the quality of the poetry for yourself. Enjoy!

(N.B.: All the volumes in the William C. Cook Jacksonian Era Collection are available to researchers now in person at AAS and can be identified using the collection name when searching the general catalog.)

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