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W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

10 Jun 00 - 09:09 AM (#240761)
Subject: Woody Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Fedele

Can anyone help me understanding Woody Guthrie's song "Deportees" (also performed by Dubliners)? No problems with English language. But I think it is about a specific episode, and I don't know much about the Mexican immigration in Woody's times. So why and where peaches were rotting? Weren't there enough workers to pick them up? But I thought there were too many workers and too few peaches to pick in California! (But is the song about California?) Well, you got it, I didn't understand almost anything...

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10 Jun 00 - 10:27 AM (#240779)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: rpm

' Morning Fedele, Its an awesome song and one that raises thehairs on my arm every time I hearit. I don't have the answers but some ideas. The harvest is over. The windfalls are left on the ground, the unripe are left on the tree, but mor4e importantly we're done with the migrants for one more season. Obviously(?), Woody recognized the injustice in using up, wearing out and throwing away the people who allowed us to enjoy our standard of living. -Bob

10 Jun 00 - 10:58 AM (#240787)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Mike Regenstreif

The song is Woody Guthrie's account of a plane crash that happened in Los Gatos Canyon in California in 1948. The passengers were migrant workers being flown back to Mexico.

Apparently, the news reports dehumanized the crash victims ("The radio says they were just deportees"). Woody's intent was to counteract that ("Goodybe to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita/Adios mes amigos Jesus y Maria).

BTW, this was one of Woody's last songs and he didn't have a real tune for it. The melody we know was composed, circa 1958, by Martin Hoffman.

Mike Regenstreif

10 Jun 00 - 11:17 AM (#240790)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Roger in Baltimore

As an added note, this was a songwriting exercise for Woody. He tried to write a song without rhyme. If my memory serves me well the "Goodbye to my Juan..." lines above are the only rhyme in the song. When I first heard this, I was amazed. I had sung the song many times and had never even thought about the lack of a rhyme scheme. The information about the melody is very interesting given the above information. It isn't really a song until the music arrives and the tune for "Deportees" is so very appropriate for they lyrics. Gee, I haven't been on the 'Cat for a month and the first thread I hit I learn something new and get to add a bit. I really miss coming here on a regular basis.

Roger in Baltimore

10 Jun 00 - 11:30 AM (#240795)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

To add just a bit.......Woody wrote a lot of songs humanizing people that were passed of by the powers that be as just so many cyphers. "I Ain't Got No Home" would be another example.

The Mexican workers were fine for providing even cheaper labor than displaced midwesterners and as long as the growers needed their crops picked, the authorities, often in the payola of growers, shed a blind eye on them. When the "crops were all in" there was no need to keep them around "cluttering up" the towns and cities. It was a simpler problem to solve than the one of the Joad type families. Typically also, Juan and Rosalita were pitted against the Joads with both groups having animosity toward the other, when the real problem was poverty and the big money types who controlled them


10 Jun 00 - 11:37 AM (#240796)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Greg F.

Just like it is today- shows how far we've come in 50 years with exploitation of workers in the U.S .... and now, with globalization, American corporations can exploit workers all over the globe!

To quote Phil Ochs:
"Why sing the songsand forget about the aim?
He wrote 'em for a reason, why not sing 'em for the same?

Best, Greg

10 Jun 00 - 11:48 AM (#240797)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

Added verse to "I Ain't got No Home:"

Woody wrote this song, over sixty years ago.
The homeless are still on the streets,
They got no place to go.
In this land of milk and honey,
Lord how can we do such wrong?
The social truth's still plain to see,
In a sixty year old song.


10 Jun 00 - 12:07 PM (#240798)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Sandy Paton

Someone, can't remember who, once told me that there was no "passenger list" on that plane that went down in Los Gatos Canyon. They had no list of the names of the people being deported; just herded them like cattle onto the plane. Imagine the families back in Mexico wondering why Juan and Rosalita never came home, or why they never wrote another letter.

Hope some of you saw the Chavez documentary on television (was it the Sundance channel?) a week or so ago, about the Farm Workers organization struggle, the grape boycott, etc. Caroline and I were singing at a rally for him once, when he arrived a little late. As he walked into the church and down the aisle, we were singing "Don't You Let Nobody Turn You 'Round!" For the last verse, he stood in front of us, clapping and singing along. A moment we'll never forget!


10 Jun 00 - 12:23 PM (#240801)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

What a great moment Sandy....sometimes the timing "makes" an event even more special. I heard that same story too. My guess would be its probably true, but I'm such a pinko, left wing, Commie bastard, that I'm willing to believe anything along those lines.

Also, back sometime in the early 70's, Arlo's performance of this song was cut from a "Midnight Special" program. During the Chavez period he used lettuce instead of peaches. I think it was one of his favorite stories to embellish "Arlo Style" for awhile afterwards.


10 Jun 00 - 12:53 PM (#240809)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Mark Clark

Fedele, There were plenty of workers but the growers would destroy crops or leave them to rot rather than pay a decent wage or provide decent accomodation for workers.


10 Jun 00 - 01:43 PM (#240825)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny

I've been singing Deportee for years and I've always wondered, why were they on an airplane instead of a (cheap) bus? I would think the INS would be using the cheapest transportation, as they do today. - Puzzled

10 Jun 00 - 02:47 PM (#240845)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Mark Clark

I don't have the news clipping or the specifics of the incident at hand but in 1948 a DC-3 was a very fancy airplane. I don't think the Constellation had come along yet. You're probably talking about a small used-up WWII cargo plane with people cramed into the bay like cattle. We're not talking flight attendents and seatbelts here. Also, in 1948 the trip was probably too long and the roads too poor for busses of the day.

      - Mark

10 Jun 00 - 03:13 PM (#240853)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Big Mick

I met Cesar Chavez once when he came here to W. Michigan. I think I shall never forget his common dignity, which created such a presence. Sandy & Caroline, it is so easy to conjure up in my minds eye that moment you described. I would have given anything to have been there. The world could well use Cesar now.

Another observation on this song. The first Irish singer to sing it was Paddy Reilly. And it has been recorded and performed by many Irish balladeers since. It is not at all uncommon to hear it performed in Irish pubs today. The reason? Because the Mexican migrants are experiencing what the Irish historically suffered through. There is a real sense of empathy on the part of our people. As Paddy told me, "the Mexican migrants are the Irish of this century."

Big Mick

10 Jun 00 - 03:44 PM (#240872)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Bev and Jerry

The New York Times of January 29, 1948 reported the wreck of a "charter plane carrying 28 Mexican farm workers from Oakland to the El Centro, CA, Deportation Center...The crash occurred 20 miles west of Coalinga, 75 miles from Fresno..."

During World War II there was a shortage of farm workers in California so the federal government set up the bracero program which allowed Mexican immigrants to legally come to California and relieve the shortage. After the war, the California growers liked the cheap labor so much that they encouraged (bribed) congress to keep it in place. It wasn't ended until 1964. However, Mexican farm workers, both legal and illegal, are still used in great numbers. Many of them commute between Mexico and California annualy as work comes and goes.

The use of foreign (cheap) labor in California dates from 1869 when the trans-continental railroad was completed. This event greatly enlarged the market for California fruits and vegetables and, at the same time, produced a huge surplus of Chinese workers formerly employed in building the railroad. This surplus abruptly ended in 1882 with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. After that, workers were imported from Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, the Caribbean and other places. During the Great Depression workers from Arkansas, Oklahoma and other states were used (and we do mean used). Then, with the start of the war it became Mexicans.

This material will be on the exam!

Bev and Jerry

10 Jun 00 - 05:26 PM (#240903)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Fedele

Thank you all very much. We share the things we love by making a bit of "philology" on one song. Great!

10 Jun 00 - 06:32 PM (#240920)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: bseed(charleskratz)

I haven't been around in a while--it's great to come back to such a terrific thread, one of the best since Spancil Hill (counting only pure music threads, of course--ww wouldn't want to count threads like Hokey Pokey and the Druids or the Blake Madison tales, now, would we?).


10 Jun 00 - 08:23 PM (#240935)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

Hi Seed...nice to see you back around!!!

I've always felt that the pitting against each other of folks who should be united has caused more grief for us than all the other problems combined. An awful lot of Woody's songs reflected that too, not just from an "organize" or "union" standpoint although there are a lot of those because he spoke to those times and those people. Makes me wonder what he would have written in the 60's.


10 Jun 00 - 10:03 PM (#240950)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny

Quoting Mark Clark -- You're probably talking about a small used-up WWII cargo plane with people crammed into the bay like cattle..... Good point, Mark, I bet that's the answer, Thanks!

11 Jun 00 - 02:18 AM (#241006)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: canoer

Adding to Mark Clark's point about the growers would leave the crop to rot, that is, they would leave to rot that surplus which, if marketed, would lower prices.

One way they made sure that no one would "steal" the "surplus", (especially the people who had just picked it and were hungry), was to pile it all up and cover it in something totally inedible.

"The oranges piled in their creosote dumps."

11 Jun 00 - 02:29 AM (#241008)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

And this is in many ways subsidized today by the government. I'm not thinking of small farmers here, but the situation of the large growing corporations has gotten better for them and been given a legitimate face by the government. Billie Sol Estes proved in the 60's how far the government will go to promote the corruption it has propulgated, if not instigated.


11 Jun 00 - 07:54 AM (#241048)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Fedele

Well, I like this song also because, maybe you know, my Italy is having a lot of new arrivals of immigrants in these years. Not really a lot: much much much less than any other European country. But press, TV, and fucking borgeouises regard this as an "emergency", and racism is growing. It's such a shame: you know, my country had a lot of people looking for work in foreign countries in the XIX and XX century (some of you will probably have an Italian surname), but no one seems to remind how we were treated and how life was difficult. I won't speak much about the problems of immigrants: you all know, since probably all your countries have, or have had, a lot. But listen to this: there was an engineer, he came from Romania. He worked as a bricklayer here in Italy, obviously badly paid and illegal. He had to share a small flat with 7 fellow workers, paying a high rent to.... his own boss! He went complaining to the boss one day. The boss answered by wetting him with petrol and lightning him. You know, burns seldom kill instantly. He died after several days of conscious agony. But no one really cares. Many bricklayers, immigrants or not, work in illegal conditions. Immigrants can't vote. Racist Italians can. "Lefty" politicians are still chatting about making a CENTRELEFT coalition or CENTRE-LEFT coalition (I'm not joking. They're debating about writing CENTRE-LEFT or CENTRELEFT).

And a thing doesn't seem to work very well in economy: there are starving people and food to be left to rot.

And we still divide between immigrants and local workers instead of kicking the boss' asses together. Well, uniting and fighting together is a simple thing, but it seems hard to do.

(sorry for bad English).

11 Jun 00 - 08:40 AM (#241057)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Big Mick

Fedele, you are my kind of guy. Your message came through loud and clear.

Big Mick

11 Jun 00 - 11:12 AM (#241093)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: canoer

Thanks Fedele! You remind us that basically things are the same all over!

And so, the struggle to change it is the same all over, no?

Greetings from Detroit. --Larry C.

11 Jun 00 - 11:50 AM (#241098)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: catspaw49

Fedele, when you started this thread, you may not have known how Woody came to write this, but I think you had the real meaning down perfectly. Glad to have you around.


11 Jun 00 - 07:32 PM (#241204)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Dani

It blows me away that in this day and age we need to still be talking about this. But North Carolina has a HUGE migrant farmworker population, with all these VERY familiar problems, echoes of California. But this part of the country is almost inconceivably anti-union. I just recently read a photoessay about workers at a sweet potato operation east of here. Part of their contract stipulates that they will recieve no visitors while employed, which stipulation the journalist somehow evaded. The photos of the workers and their living conditions (some of them without shoes in the fields, because they had been worn and could not be replaced) were really hard to swallow.


11 Jun 00 - 09:17 PM (#241229)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Abe L.

The stock market's up
And the Yuppies are thriving.
So what if the migrants
All still live in dumps?
"Smirk" Bush & Republicans
Say we're all flourishing.
So all you nay-sayers
Just gotta be chumps!

Tough luck to you,Juan
Go starve, Rosalita.
We've "reformed" our welfare,
Made unions illegal
Now Corporate welfare's
A whole different matter!
It's enough to make you
Ashamed of the Eagle!

11 Jun 00 - 10:41 PM (#241268)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: winniemih

Tish Hinojosa is a contemporary singer/songwriter who has done a song entitled "Something in the Rain", in which she uses the point of view of a ten year old boy in a farmworker family. This song brought tears to my eyes the first (and subsequent) time I heard her do it. She's an excellent artist who is carrying on the folksinger's tradition in a wonderful direction. Lots of her music is bilingual Span/Eng. (Look in the Tejano or "Tex/ Mex" music section).

12 Jun 00 - 11:00 PM (#241789)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Hotspur

Part of the problem is that the small farmers who treat their seasonal workers like family are being crushed by taxes, labor laws, bad weather, the end of subsidies, etc,etc, while the big, industrial farms have both thenmoney and the clout to ignore their workers' demands for basic human rights and necessities.

15 Jun 00 - 10:09 PM (#243186)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Art Thieme

Again, this thread is, from where I sit, what Mudcat IS all about. Another one that I just save whole hog for future perusal.

Art Thieme -- Peru(sal), IL

19 Jun 00 - 04:35 AM (#244321)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Fedele (from university)

Thank you for treating me so kindly. I seem to have met here all the American leftists around (don' think you are more than a few tens...).

Ok. Who of you is the CIA agent? ;-)

See you all again and glad to have met you all.

19 Jun 00 - 12:35 PM (#244483)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

Hi Fedele,

Glad to have you among us. The only reason that there seems to be so few of us lefties is because of an almost total media blackout on our activities and thoughts. Our best progressive thinkers like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn are almost never heard on the publicly owned airwaves. Recent events in Seatle and Washington against the IMF and the World Bank were supported by millions of Americans.

19 Jun 00 - 12:54 PM (#244492)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

Set a man on fire and go unpunished? Immigrant or no, aren't there laws against murder? Just recovering from the shock of Fedele's story. I can't (or won't) understand how a man arrives at a point in his life when he is capable of something like this.

Not too long ago, Public Television ran an hour long program on Migrant Workers and how their living conditions have improved or not since the 40s. One of the recurrent themes was that some migrant families were raising their children to this life style. Wandering and working was a choice for some not the result of poverty or lack of education. So much so that they resented laws requiring education for their children.

Somewhere in this there has to be a happy medium. Fair wages and housing for temporary workers along with health insurance can't be unreasonable. Temporary office workers in NY have these benefits. Are we willing to pay $.10/lb more for oranges to make it happen?

"Is this the best way we can raise our good orchards? Is this the best way we can grow our good crops?"

19 Jun 00 - 09:20 PM (#244703)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow

And things don't get any better.

Main news on the TV tonight in Englkand - was the story of a container lorry opened up in Dover by immigration officials. Inside were 54 dead men and 4 dead women, and two men just alive still, all probably from China. "Oriental" was all the media could definitely say. "Economic refugees"... maybe "Asylum seekers". Noone will probably ever know. What difference does it make?

And the villains? Someone's to blame for this. Oh that's easy - the racketers who organised and botched the smuggling operation to get them into England. But does anyone point another finger of blame at a system of shutting out people whom we could really do with having here? Does anyone say that a major part of the guilt lies with the politicians and the press, and the people who vote for the polticians and buy the papers?

Plane Crash at Los Gattos. Black Hole of Dover. What's the difference? "The radio said they were just Orientals."

19 Jun 00 - 10:53 PM (#244749)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Callie

What a great, meaty, interesting thread. Thanks to all - I've learnt heaps.

Fidele: do you know any songs about what is happening in Italy at the moment? As the daughter of Italian migrants, I would love to learn more about contemporary folk.


20 Jun 00 - 02:23 AM (#244814)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,

Just wanted to toss in on the point of the fruit rotting in the fields. I just taught a unit on the Depression (which one?) to a set of high school kids, and read about the consternation of many when news came that in order to implement the first subsidy programs of the farm recovery acts the Feds bought and slaughtered several thousand pigs and couldn't distribute the meat fast enough so it got plowed under as fertilizer. How many of you out there were in line with me in the eighties for that government cheese?

21 Jun 00 - 08:04 PM (#245645)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Nothing changes And see the new thread "A Dreadful Disaster"

21 Jun 00 - 09:20 PM (#245677)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,goof flameburn

i have been singing deportees for 20years or so in australia i am proud to say it always gets an incredible response

22 Jun 00 - 09:12 AM (#245817)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

My father, who didn't need it was in line for the government cheese and I was furious with him. It was meant for people who needed it to supplement their diets.

Then I visited a friend's dairy farm in upstate NY and found that they were (at government direction) washing milk down drains in order to keep prices high. They were paid the same amount for dumping it as for selling it for processing.

Life isn't fair. But why am I paying for milk to be thrown away and then paying again to subsidize food stamp programs to feed the hungry?

Those Chinese stowaways according to the news came from a province in China with a "middle class" lifestyle. They were not hungry, at least not for food, but craved a better life style. We all want a better life for our children than we had - healthier, happier not necessarily wealthier. I naively believe that these people who were willing to risk their lives would have made first rate productive citizens and good neighbors. So, we know we have a problem, any suggestions for a solution?

22 Jun 00 - 12:44 PM (#245898)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Airto

I don't think there is any short term solution, we should instead accept migration as a fact of life. Virtually all of us are the product of past migration and trying to stop it is pointless and inhuman.

Speaking as an Irish person, I share Fedele's sadness that countries like Ireland and Italy, whose people have migrated all over the world should now be closing their doors on people desperate to improve their circumstances. Half our songs are about emigration and its loneliness, for God's sake.

In the longer run, the better things become at home the less people will want to leave. The rich countries have to start spreading their wealth around.

Arthur O'Malley

22 Jun 00 - 04:10 PM (#246042)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Fedele

Well, that boss obviously went to jail, but public opinion din't care much about that event.

And I was joking: I always thought that there was many American leftists but they were ostracized and censored, you just confirmed my thought.
Alexander Solgenitsin, who won a Nobel Prize just because he told "Oh, Russia is so bad, West is so good, Communists eat children, Capitalism is beautiful [...and how much money they give me just 'cos I say this...]", and is a shitty Czarist nationalist and a reactionary (I'm not Stalinist! I think he should have been free to speak his mind in Russia, but he's a shitty reactionary, not a democratic!), once said:

"In Russia, when they don't like what you say, they make you disappear.
In America, they make no one hear you."

And if HE told it... So, I think, 98% of Americans don't know who Noam Chomsky is; 1% of them know him and appreciate him; 1%, that is the bosses, the brain-dead Republicans, the military hierarchy and all the other crap, shiver as they hear his name, 'cos they know that if the other 98% open their eyes and listen to Noam Chomsky or people like him, they would have a hard hard life.

Well, I thank you all, but I think this thread is going a bit too far, so maybe it's better if we start new ones.
I'd just answer Callie. Well, it's a bit difficult to find "folksinger" in Italy now, or songs about modern immigration, but here's something.
Modena City Ramblers, named after the more famous Dublin City Ramblers, are a rock-folk Italian group, obviously they're from the city of Modena.
They play a lot of folk and workers' songs (have a look at what I said in the last message of the thread about "Bella Ciao" some weeks ago) and they don't shame at all for being lefties. Here's a small song of their own from their last album, well it's not Woody Guthrie, but that's it.


Gira in alto e gira in basso
Tunisino, turco o russo
Prendi bene il ritmo e allunga il passo
Punta più in alto
Anfibio sull'asfalto
Respiro trattenuto quando passi la frontiera
Non farti incastrare
Continua a camminare
Quando c'è la pula taglia l'angolo e scompari
Hai solo una vita
Gioca la tua partita
Prendi il tempo, prendi l'attimo e salta! E salta!

Allora balla balla sull'etnica danza (gira e sèlta)
Balla balla sull'etnica danza (gira e sèlta, gira e sèlta)

Marocchino, nigeriana
Comunista o musulmana
Albanese o curdo stai in campana
Belle gambe o lingua sciolta
Pugno che scaravolta
Gioca le tue carte, non fartele strappare
Hai solo una vita
Gioca la tua partita
Prendi il tempo, prendi l'attimo e salta! E salta!

That what they say in a note:
A millennium is closing, between cries, shots, migrations, noise of shoes and boats crossing borders that are getting less and less solid. And we salute it with an ethnic dance, a little hymn to the great multiracial melting in which languages, colors, sweaty legs and unrestful souls join.

Rough translation for the song:
Turn up, turn down
From Tunisia, Turk or Russian
Get the rithm well and quicken your step
Aim higher
Boot on the asphalt
Hold your breath when you cross the border
Don't let them cheat you
Keep walking
When there are cops turn round the corner and disappear
You got only a life
Play your game
Catch the rythm, catch the moment and jump! And jump!

So dance dance the ethnic dance (turn and jump)
Dance dance the ethnic dance (turn and jump, turn and jump)

Moroccan, Nigerian
Communist or Muslim
Albanese or Kurd keep your eyes open
Nice legs or fast tongue
Fist that can spin you round
Play your cards, don't let them be teared

Well, that's what I found.
See you all on some other thread, maybe one on immigration. (You'll forgive me for the wounds I gave to English language)
Ciao a tutti

P.S. Let's all wear a Mudcat T-shirt when we go to demonstrations and rallies! So we'll recognize each other, maybe watching TV. I'll do that.

"Workers of all countries, unite!!!"

22 Jun 00 - 05:08 PM (#246067)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

Couldn't help but smile on reading this and thinking that the world probably thought that they better off rid of this lot too. Damn immigrants!

Re: Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett,Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed,rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education.They had security, but they valued liberty more.

Sad that we haven't names for the 58 dead Asians or the one dead Romanian. Just deportees? Anyone have a list? Maybe we can partially right the wrong.

22 Jun 00 - 06:41 PM (#246103)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Callie

Thank you Fidele. My mother comes from near Modena! I'll look out for recordings by Modena City Ramblers. Can't wait to hear them!


11 Nov 02 - 08:38 AM (#823254)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Ana

All of you guys, thanks for existing. Since I just "ran away" from a silly forum, where I was called irrational and idiot for defending that working laws should protect people, it felt good to read your posts. I'll try to come back sometime.
As for immingrants, even Portugal (that's where I am) is receiving immigrants now, so the world out there must be really gone to the dogs. And, of course, our politicians have begun to "warn" everybody about how dangerous the immigrants are. I don't really know how are they expecting to keep the immigrants out, or why, since the portuguese have next to no children and in ten, twenty years, time there'll be no one to work, but then again the politicians never care much for the future beyond the next election, do they?

11 Nov 02 - 12:48 PM (#823460)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Charley Noble

Thanks for refreshing this thread as well!

Charley Noble

11 Nov 02 - 05:55 PM (#823677)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?

You're right Ana, Politicians are so stupid. Over here in The USA they've not yet figured out that human labour is the greatest natural resource there is and a cheap supply of it would be invaluable.

12 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM (#824373)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Brooks



12 Nov 02 - 07:49 PM (#824695)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Susanne (skw)

moose, you're wrong, even if you shout. The song means a lot more than that. Ana has grasped that. Welcome, Ana!

13 Nov 02 - 02:37 AM (#824926)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: michaelr

Ana - welcome to the Mudcat!

When I was a kid, my neighbors were Portuguese immigrants (Ferreira da Silva was their name). They were hard-working, friendly, wonderful people and I hope they did well.

Maybe it's a sign that things are better in Portugal now than they were in the 1960s, because now people want to come to your country to work!

Let's hope that your people will remember to be kind, and fair, to those immigrants.

Sinsull - thanks for posting that info on the FFs!


13 Nov 02 - 08:26 AM (#825061)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Bullfrog Jones

Bom dia, Ana, and thanks from me too. I've enjoyed reading this thread, having always loved 'Deportees' -- most recently in the Nanci Griffiths version. Now I'm going to get round to learning it!


13 Nov 02 - 08:53 AM (#825098)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Catarina

Hi people, and thanks for welcoming me - it is me, Ana, just that Mudcat wouldn't let me be Ana, so I had to use my second name to register.
As for the immigrants that are coming to Portugal... how can I put it? Individually, most people are doing their best to make them feel at home (helping with the language, that is a difficult one to learn, and so on). But on a society level, things are not so nice. Our mostly right wing government is "warning" about how dangerous immigrants are and making rather difficult for them to obtain a legal situation, or to send for their families.
Of course that, since most of immigrants are ilegal, they are victims of organized groups, both in their own countries and in Portugal, and are sometimes terribly exploited. But we also have some organizations who protect immigrants and help them to survive the mountains of paperwork and redtape they have to go through.
Anyway, people are strange, you know? I've heard people I know saying things like: " I have some russians as neighbours, and they are quite nice. I'm helping their kids with the language and schoolwork. Poor people, they aren't even legal yet, it's an injustice the way they are treated at work!" and ten minutes later the same person says: "Most immigrants are drug dealers, you know? Dangerous people, the whole lot, our government should send them all back to where they came from!"

13 Nov 02 - 09:16 AM (#825119)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: 53

I don't know

16 Nov 02 - 12:21 PM (#827780)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Bullfrog Jones

I've always figured that I'd rather live in a country that people are fighting to get into rather than out of.


31 Jan 07 - 07:02 PM (#1954020)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton

Woody Guthrie would have been concerned about the plight of the "boat people". He was by no means a "doctrinaire" person. His idea of politics was subjective and personal and he always identified with those who were less well-off. He actually was "Christian" in his belief system to the extent that he wrote "Jesus Christ" as he saw him, a working-class hero. He identified with segregated black soldiers in the army and when he was in the merchant marines, and Mexican farm workers or Chicano folks in East L.A. He was definitely a leftist-radical but not a Marxist theorist. The meaning of the song is personal. He believed that hard luck folks deserve compassion and a decent shake in life. I think that it was this conviction that motivated his songwriting. He didn't have much tolerance for wealthy indifference. He walked away from show business because it wasn't about money or prestige for him. I believe that he had no particular political axe to grind. He wasn't a soap box orator. These songs were written as a personal statement and not to foster any political concepts other than his own personal convictions.

I have to say this because there is a suggestion by some on the Republican side to think of Woody as a propagandist. I think this is wrong. Woody believed what he wrote.

The meaning is clear. Immigrant Mexican Farm Workers are human beings and should be treated with respect and dignity, something that is being forgotten today as the construction of border walls against them are being contemplated by some who want to scapegoat them. This makes his song more relevant and powerful now.

Frank Hamilton

31 Jan 07 - 07:18 PM (#1954030)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: GUEST,Dani

Amen, brother.

I know this is thread drift, so please feel free to move to a new thread, but I'm wondering if anyone here knows anything about music around the current immigrant situation in our country currently, from the Latino (especially Mexican) point of view?


01 Feb 07 - 04:17 PM (#1954933)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Mudjack

I see the thread dates back to 2000, Thanks for giving it new life. I had forgotten the details and importance of the song.
It rings truth and honesty about the migrants plight of both today and yesteryears.

16 Mar 07 - 03:03 PM (#1998870)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: PoppaGator

It's nice to see this wonderful old thread refreshed . . .

. . . but not so nice that it took a "spam" viagra ad to do it!

I've been away from Mudcat for a while ~ never saw this kind of crap on the threads before; is this becomeing a common phenomenon?
    We've had the problem for quite some time, PoppaGator, maybe a year or so. I think somebody developed a way to automatically Spam our particular type of Internet forum. I think I'm going to have to close this thread. Please post on one of the other threads crosslinked above.
    -Joe Offer-

16 Mar 07 - 05:24 PM (#1999010)
Subject: RE: W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning?
From: Ref

Abe L., thanks for the new verse. that one's going in my song book!