Tune of the Day: Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
This song was very popular during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the Civil War era. It functioned as an unofficial national anthem in competition with “Hail, Columbia” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” until the latter's formal adoption as the national anthem of the United States in 1931.
Historical sources generally agree that in the autumn of 1843 an actor named David T. Shaw wanted a new patriotic song to sing at a benefit performance. He gained the assistance of a fellow performer, Thomas à Becket, who wrote the lyrics and melody for him. Shaw published the song under his own name, but Becket was able to prove his authorship by means of his original handwritten composition. There remains some disagreement as to whether other versions of the song predated Becket's composition or followed it.
Thanks to Steve for suggesting this tune!