The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2847915
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
23-Feb-10 - 02:59 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
"Roll the Cotton Down" is a hybrid, probably partly from minstrel shows and partly from work songs heard from river steamboat men and workers in ports from the Carolinas on the East coast to the ports of the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas.
There are many versions of the chanty, one in Hugill mentions New Orleans; Galveston and Beaufort also were important Gulf ports.
Mobile's two syllable name works well in these songs.
Much of the work of baling cotton was done along navigable rivers with steamboat transport, and it was in them that much cotton was "rolled down."
Mobile was just one of the Gulf ports; it just happens to be the one mentioned in the chanty versions heard by Smith. She wondered why it was the port mentioned; perhaps it was because that part of Mobile at sea level was notorious for booze, easy women and lack of control, and because of its ease of use in the chantys.

Smith's attitude towards Blacks was that of most white people of that time; sometime pick up the famous 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and read the entries on Negroes and African blacks.
They are depicted as lower in intelligence, prone to fighting, but some proficiency in music. This attitude was taught in schools as well as being the common belief of the white general public.
One must accept her attitude as that prevalent in her time.