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A SPIRIT of pleasure and youth's golden gleam!? It takes a magic line such as this of Wordsworth1 to suggest the fascination of the period from 1846 to 1850 which Stephen Collins Foster, aged twenty to twenty-three, spent in Cincinnati. The happiest years of his life, he called them, as his daughter has testified.2 He had the very heaven of being young, of working on his own in a large and stimulating city, and of composing melodies rendered in polite parlors and one lusty song, "Oh! Susanna," roared by the Torty-Niners on their covered-wagon journeys to California and echoed around the world.*
The chronicle of these youthful years of America's Troubadour, as John Tasker Howard3 has happily termed Stephen Foster, deserves to be told in the fullness which recent investigation now makes possible. New facts have been found which reinforce the importance of the three Cincinnati years in the shaping of his genius. In this instance time and place were right for him.4
It was in Cincinnati that Stephen- Foster worked as a bookkeeper for a steamboat commission firm, thus dutifully meeting the wishes of his family.
* The persistent vitality of this tune is illustrated by its use as a party song eighty years later—in the Presidential campaign of 1936.