If you'll listen awhile I'II sing you a song
About this glorious land of the free,
And the difference I'll show twixt the rich and the poor
In a trial by jury, you see.
If you've plenty ot "stamps" you can hold up your head
And walk out from your own prison door.
But they'll hang you up high if you've no friends or gold,
Let the "rich" go but hang up the poor.
In the trials for murder we've had now-a-days
The rich ones get off swift and sure.
While they've thousands to pay to the jury and judge,
You can bet they'll go back on the poor.
Let me speak of a man who's now dead in his grave,
A good man as ever was born.
Jim Fisk he was called and his money he gave
To the outcast, the poor and forlorn.
We all know he loved both women and wine,
But his heart it was right, I am sure.
Though he lived like a "prince" in a palace so fine,
Yet he never went back on the poor.
If a man was in trouble, Fisk helped him along
To drive the "grim wolf" from the door.
He strove to do right, though he may have done wrong,
But he never went back on the poor.
Jim Fisk was a man who wore "his heart on his sleeve."
No matter what people would say,
And he did all his deeds, (both the good and the bad)
In the broad open light of the day.
With his grand six-in-hand on the beach at Long Branch
He cut a "big dash," to be sure.
But "Chicago's great fire" showed the world that Jim Fisk
With his "wealth" still remembered the poor.
When the telegram came that the homeless that night
Were starving to death, slow but sure,
His "Lightning Express" manned by noble Jim Fisk
Flew to feed all her hungry and poor.
Now what do you think of this trial of Stokes,
Who murdered this friend of the poor?
When such men get free, is there anyone safe
If they step from outside their own door?
Is there one law for the poor and one for the rich?
It seems so ---at least so I say---
If they hang up the poor, why ---damn it--- the rich
Ought to hang up the very same way.
Don't show any favor to friend or to foe,
The beggar or prince at his door.
The big millionaire you must hang up also
But never go back on the poor.
Oh! Shame on this "land of the free and the brave"
When such sights as this meet our eye!
The poor in their prisons are treated like slaves
While the rich in their cells they live high.
A poor devil "crazy with drink" they will hang
For a murder he didn't intend,
But a wealthy assassin with "political friends"
Gets off, for he's money to spend.
But if things go on this way we'll stand it no more.
The people will rise up in bands.
A vigilance committee we'll raise on our shores
And take the law in our own hands.
From Folk Songs out of Wisconsin, Peters
Collected George Hankins, Gordon, WI 1923