'Impeachment Polka' written in 1868 given new life in Trump era
WASHINGTON -- Profiting off of impeachment politics is an American tradition.
A quick search for “Trump impeachment” on Amazon, for example, reveals dozens of results for impeachment-themed souvenirs, from “Trump and the Giant Impeachment” T-shirts, to peach and mint flavoured “Im-peach-mint” lip balm.
But long before U.S. President Donald Trump took office, or the internet for that matter, people set out to capitalize on the commotion surrounding impeachment trials.
Case and point: the “Impeachment Polka.”
Composed in 1868 by Charles Dupee Blake and recently unearthed by the American Antiquarian Society, the dramatic and upbeat song was published during the first ever impeachment of an American President -- Andrew Johnson.
“It was the hottest ticket in town,” historian Brenda Winapple told CTV News, speaking of the Johnson hearings.
“The journalists who were there were actually covering what people were wearing, whether they were sleeping, whether they were using their opera glasses. Women wore their finest.”
As first reported by the Washington Post, the “Impeachment Polka” was listed for sale at the height of the trial for 30 cents a copy and was in high demand.
“It does capture the mood,” said Winapple, author of “The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation.”
“It captures the anxiety and frantic movement … the sense of the unknown. And what better way to capture it than with music?”
The sheet music, housed in the University of Tennessee’s special collection, has now been given a new life in the Trump impeachment era.
Michael Adcock, a pianist from the Washington Conservatory of Music, describes the song’s campiness factor as a seven on a scale from one to 10.
“The introduction kind of portends… these rising figures that something serious is going to happen and then all of a sudden… there’s this silly kind of tongue and cheek polka,” Adcock explains.
Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
On Friday, the Republican-controlled Senate narrowly rejected the Democrats’ demand to summon witnesses, all but ensuring Trump's acquittal. The vote means that the trial will not hear from Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton, who penned a book that directly links Trump to the charges against him.
Final voting in the trial is scheduled for Wednesday, on the heels of Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night.