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Come Buy Hot Corn! Music, Sentiment, and Morality in 1850s New York


In the 1850s, the residents of, and visitors to, New York City experienced a world of rapid and sometimes chaotic change. Various reform movements—including Temperance, Abolition, and Women's Rights—became stronger and more widely known through various media. In 1853 a simple story published in the pages of the New York Tribune took the city by storm. “Hot Corn,” the story of Little Katy, a child peddler, is ostensibly a temperance tale, but something made the story resonate among the public. Soon minstrel songs, sheet music, lectures, novels, and melodramas followed, purporting to herald a new moral crusade against drunkenness, poverty, and child abuse, paralleling Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Abolition movement. Within eighteen months, however, the “Hot Corn” phenomenon had faded almost as quickly as it had begun.

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“The Dying Words of Little Katy or Will He Come. In the story of Hot Corn, a new song. Written by Solon Robinson, author of the story Hot Corn, published in the New York Tribune, Aug. 1853. Music by Horace Waters, arranged for the piano forte by Thomas Baker, leader of Julean's Band.” New York: Horace Waters, 1853.
“Hot Corn Girl, as sung in the Moral Drama of Little Katy, the Hot Corn Girl. Music arranged with the original Hot Corn Cry by Proff. [sic] Van Der Weyde.” New York: Horace Waters, 1854.
“Katy's Cry: Come and Buy my Hot Corn. Song and chorus as sung by Wood's Minstrels. [Words] by James Such, Music by I. B. Woodbury.” New York: Horace Waters, 1853.
“Little Katy, or Hot Corn. Song and Chorus sung by Wood's Minstrels. Words by James Simmonds, Music by Quos [A. Sedgwick].” New York: Horace Waters, 1853.
“Little Katy's Voice as Sung by Little Cordelia Howard in the Drama of Little Katy the Hot Corn Girl. Words and Music Written Expressly for her by her father, C.C. Howard.” New York: Horace Waters, 1854.
“O Come and Buy my Hot Corn, song and chorus. Words and Music by George F. Root, for the Musical Review.” New York Musical Review 5/2 (19 January 1854): 19.
“Poor Uncle Tom. Song and Chorus as sung by Wood's Minstrels at Minstrel Hall, N.Y., the words by Henry Wood, Esq., the music composed by A. Sedgwick.” New York: Wm. Vanderbeck, 1852.
“Uncle Tom's Lament for Eva. Written and composed by I. B. Woodbury.” Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1852.
“Come Buy Hot Corn, as sung by Miss Melville in the drama Hot Corn now performing at the National Theatre, Boston. Words by a gentleman of this city, arranged from the Prima Donna Waltzes by John Holloway.” Boston: George P. Reed, 1854.
“The Dying Words of Little Katy arranged for guitar by Charles De Janon.” New York: Horace Waters, 1854.
“Hot Corn, Hot Corn, or Katy's Song. Written and composed by E. H. L. Kurtz, author of the Crystal Palace Song.” New York: E. H. L. Kurtz, 1853. [Earlier variant: “Caty's Song”]
“Hot Corn Polka. Arranged from Jullien's Prima Donna Waltz for piano by Joseph W. Turner.” Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1854.
“The Little Katy Hot Corn Quickstep as played by the New York Bands. Composed by A. Sedgwick.” New York: Horace Waters, 1853.
“My Heart is like a Faded Flower as sung by Mr. J. B. Howe in the Moral Drama of Katy or the Hot Corn Girl Produced at the National Theatre, New York. Symphonies and Accompaniments newly arranged by Anthony Reiff, Jun., Leader of the National Theatre Orchestra.” New York: Horace Waters, 1854.
“Sorrowful Katy or the Little Hot Corn Girl by the author of The Three Bells.” Philadelphia: D. B. Williamson, 1854.
“Sweet Alice, Ballad. Written and sung by J.B. Howe at the National Theatre in the Moral Drama of ‘Hot Corn.’ Music by G. Ormagn.” New York: Horace Waters, 1854.
“Will He Come! Oh Will He Come. Little Katy's Dying Bed Song and Chorus. Sung by Wood's Minstrels. Words and music written and arranged for piano by W. J. Wetmore, M.D.” New York: T. S. Berry, 1853.
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Journal of the Society for American Music
  • ISSN: 1752-1963
  • EISSN: 1752-1971
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