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Rise of Industrial America
Rural Life in the Late 19th Century
Don't Leave the Farm Boys

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885 contains many songs about farms and the joys of farm life. In the 1870s, nearly three times as many Americans lived on farms or in small towns as in larger cities. Cities were beginning to grow, however. The lyrics below, written by Miss Clara F. Berry in 1871, urge "Boys" to stay on the farm. What reasons does Miss Berry give for staying on the farm? What are some of the temptations to leave the farm? Do you think a song such as this one might actually persuade young men of the era to stay on the farm? Why or why not?

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Come boys, I have something to tell you,
Come near, I would whisper it low,
You're thinking of leaving the homestead,
Don't be in a hurry to go.
The city has many attractions,
But think of the vices and sins,
When once in the vortex of fashion,
How soon the course downward begins.

. . .

You talk of the mines of Australia,
They're wealthy in gold without doubt,
But sh! There is gold on the farm, boys,
If only you'd shovel it out.
The mercantile trade is a hazard,
The goods are first high and then low,
Best risk the old farm a while longer,
Don't be in a hurry to go.

. . .

The great busy west has inducements,
And so has the business mart,
But wealth is not made in a day, boys,
Don't be in a hurry to start.
The bankers and brokers are wealthy,
They take in their thousand or so,
And think of the frauds and deceptions,
Don't be in a hurry to go.

. . .

The farm is the safest and surest,
The orchards are loaded today,
You're free as the air of the mountains,
And monarch of all you survey.
Best stay on the farm a while longer,
Though profits come in rather slow,
Remember you've nothing to risk boy,
Don't be in a hurry to go.
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View the sheet music of "Don't Leave the Farm Boys" from Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.