Jump Jim Crow

Jump Jim Crow is a song and dance from 1828 that was done in blackface by white comedian Thomas Dartmouth (T.D.) "Daddy" Rice. The first song sheet edition appeared in the early 1830s, published by E. Riley. The number was supposedly inspired by the song and dance of a crippled African in Cincinnati called Jim Cuff or Jim Crow. The song became a great 19th century hit and Rice performed all over the country as Daddy Jim Crow.

Jump Jim Crow was a key initial step in a tradition of popular music in the United States that was based on the mockery of African-Americans. A couple of decades would see the mockery genre explode in popularity with the rise of the minstrel show. It was also the initial step in the still extant tradition in popular music of incorporating African styles and subject matter.

The tune became very well known not only in the United States but internationally; in 1841 the USA ambassador to Central America, John Lloyd Stephens, wrote that upon his arrival in Mérida, Yucatán, the local brass band played "Jump Jim Crow" under the mistaken impression that it was the USA's national anthem.

With time Jim Crow became a term often used to refer to African-Americans, and from this the laws of racial segregation became known as Jim Crow laws.

The expression to jump Jim Crow came to mean "to act like a stereotyped stage caricature of a black person". See Uncle Tom.


Original (Eye Dialect) Form

Come, listen, all you gals and boys, I'm just from Tuckyhoe;
I'm gwine to sing a little song, My name's Jim Crow.

Chorus: Wheel about, an' turn about, an' do jis so;
Eb'ry time I wheel about, I jump Jim Crow.

I went down to de river, I didn't mean to stay,
But there I see so many gals, I couldn't get away.

I'm rorer on de fiddle, an' down in ole Virginny,
Dey say I play de skientific, like massa Paganini.

I cut so many munky shines, I dance de galloppade;
An' w'en I done, I res' my head, on shubble, hoe or spade.

I met Miss Dina Scrub one day, I gib her sich a buss;
An' den she turn an' slap my face, an' make a mighty fuss.

De udder gals dey 'gin to fight, I tel'd dem wait a bit;
I'd hab dem all, jis one by one, as I tourt fit.

I wip de lion ob de west, I eat de alligator;
I put more water in my mouf, den boil ten load ob 'tator.

De way dey bake de hoe cake, Virginny nebber tire;
Dey put de doe upon de foot, an' stick 'em in de fire.

Standard English Form

Come, listen, all you girls and boys, I'm just from Tuckahoe;
I'm going to sing a little song, My name's Jim Crow.

Chorus: Wheel about, and turn about, and do just so;
   Every time I wheel about, I jump Jim Crow.

I went down to the river, I didn't mean to stay,
But there I saw so many girls, I couldn't get away.

I'm roaring on the fiddle, and down in old Virginia,
They say I play the scientific, like master Paganini,

I cut so many monkey shines, I dance the galoppade;
And when I'm done, I rest my head, on shovel, hoe or spade.

I met Miss Dina Scrub one day, I give her such a buss [kiss];
And then she turn and slap my face, and make a mighty fuss.

The other gals are going to fight, I told them wait a bit;
I'd have them all, just one by one, as I thought fit.

I whip the lion of the west, I eat the alligator;
I put more water in my mouth, then boil ten loads of potatoes.

The way they bake the hoe cake, Virginia never tire;
They put the dough upon the foot, and stick them in the fire.


Rice routinely wrote additional verses for "Jump Jim Crow". Published versions from the period run as long as 66 verses, ranging from more boastful doggerel like the original version, to an endorsement of President Andrew Jackson (known as "Old Hickory"; his Whig opponent in the 1832 election was Henry Clay:

Old hick'ry never mind de boys
But hold up your head;
For people never turn to clay
'Till arter dey be dead.

Other verses, also from 1832, demonstrate anti-slavery sentiments and cross-racial solidarity that were rarely found in in later blackface minstrelsy:

Should dey get to fighting,
Perhaps de blacks will rise,
For deir wish for freedon,
Is shining in deir eyes.

And if de blacks should get free,
I guess dey'll see some bigger,
An I shall consider it,
A bold stroke for de nigger.

I'm for freedom,
An for Union altogether,
Although I'm a black man,
De white is call'd my broder.



See also

External Resources

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