SMITH, Samuel Francis (1808-1895)
Autograph manuscript signed, the complete four stanzas of America
31 October 1892. 2pp., written on the same side of folded sheet of ruled paper, measuring 8 x 9 7/8 inches overall. Titled at the head of the first page, signed "S.F. Smith" and dated below the final verse.
[With:] Cabinet card portrait photograph, signed by Smith on recto and additionally signed on verso and inscribed with the first stanza of America and dated 4 October 1892. [And with:] An unsigned portrait photograph. Matted.
My country, 'tis of thee, / Sweet land of liberty, / of thee I sing; / Land where my father's died, / Land of the Pilgrim's pride, / From every mountain side / Let freedom ring...
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in 1831, while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in a German school songbook or to write new lyrics. A melody in Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3 caught his attention. Rather than translating the lyrics from German, Smith wrote his own American patriotic hymn to the melody, completing the lyrics in thirty minutes. Smith gave Mason the lyrics he had written and the song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston and was first published the following year.