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

  • ROBERT R. GRIMES
Abstract

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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Journal of the Society for American Music
  • ISSN: 1752-1963
  • EISSN: 1752-1971
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