The Presidents of the United States of America (Volume 1)

by Electric Needle Room

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about

By day, Matt Beat is a high school history teacher. By night, the multi-instrumentalist writes and records songs about dead Presidents. Actual dead Presidents. Not the rap duo. He is recording them chronologically, and these are the first 15. Didn’t know anything about Martin Van Buren? Now you do. These songs are educational and catchy.

credits

released 21 February 2011

All songs by Matt Beat
Produced by Matt Beat
Artwork by Matt Beat
Photos by Shannon Beat and Matt H. Wade

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about

Electric Needle Room Overland Park, Kansas

Electric Needle Room are an indie pop band currently based in Kansas City but formed in Lawrence, Kansas in 2004. It is mostly a solo project for Matt Beat, but his brother, Steven Beat, also helps with percussion. Emcee DL and Bryan Poole helped the band with live performances in Omaha, Nebraska, from 2007 to 2009. The band has released seven full-length albums and two EPs since its inception. ... more

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Track Name: George Washington
George Washington
The First President
Revolutionary Hero
Father of the country
The continental army
You held the new country
Together
He made his mark in the militia in the Seven Years War
He lived an aristocratic lifestyle, like many British before
But when the British acted up, he became commander in chief
In the war he proved to everyone that he was born to lead
Despite some major setbacks in Brandywine and Valley Forge
He always reminded his troops what they were fighting for
He never liked politics, never liked to play that game
But the new country needed a President, so they just forced him in
He remains the only President to receive 100% of the electoral votes
George Washington
The First President
Revolutionary Hero
Founder of the state
You are known as great
You set precedent
For everyone
He didn't belong to a political party, he hoped that no one would
He warned about foreign influence, said it was no good
He listened to dissenters, he gave every voice a chance
But if it clashed with the Constitution, he would have to pass
He helped design Jay's Treaty, stopped the Whiskey Rebellion
He warned against permanent alliances with any of the foreign world
We named our capital after him and a whole state
He never wanted to be President, but I guess that was his fate
He was unable to have biological children because of contracting smallpox when he was younger
Track Name: John Adams
Who helped write the Declaration of Independence?
Who negotiated a peace treaty with Britain?
Who spent 8 years behind Washington to learn the ropes?
Who would someday get his own HBO TV show?
John Adams
Who led the Revolution out of Massachusetts?
Who wrote the important pamphlet "Thoughts on Government?"
Who kept his country out of the British and French War?
Who used diplomacy to end the Quasi War?
John Adams
The Alien and Sedition Act was his only great mistake
Ultimately it determined his re-election fate
Who built up the military for the strong defense?
Along with Jefferson he passed away on the Day of Independence
Track Name: Thomas Jefferson
Democratic Republican
He won the election thanks to slaves
He was a big idealist
At the same time a big realist
He was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson
He was Virginia's governor
Built a mansion called Monticello
He was a Renaissance man
There wasn't much he could not do
His vice Aaron Burr was crazy
and shot Alexander Hamilton
He repealed federal taxes
and fiercely opposed a central bank

You were ahead of your time
You were ahead of your time

He bought Louisiana
Which doubled the size of the state
It was a really good deal, but
maybe not constitutional
He sent Lewis and Clark to
explore the vast territory
He never vetoed a single bill
Rarely spoke out in public
Thought we should be agrarian
And our rights inalienable
Had faith in democracy
and had faith in morality

He favored states' rights over
a strong federal government
But he ignored the rights of
slaves and Native Americans
He was a hypocrite
Talked the talk but didn't walk the walk
He had a slave mistress
Pushed for Indian removal
Yes he ended the slavery trade
But failed with the Embargo Act
He was a hypocrite
Talked the talk, but didn't walk the walk
Track Name: James Madison
He was a small, shy man from Virginia
Ended up writing most of the Constitution
Wrote the Federalist Papers to convince the rest
We need this Constitution! It's for the best!
He was later Jefferson's Secretary of State
Rode his coattails to President in 1808
He wanted small government and no central bank
But with the War of 1812 he needed that bank
When Britain was a bully, he pushed for this war
But many debated it on the House floor
Both sides lost the war, the White House burned down
That's ok the country's now truly independent

James Madison

He constantly defended his Constitution
When a growing number of people seemed to attack it
But everybody seemed to love his wife Dolley
They even loved him after kicking butt in the war
Yes a pragmatist he changed his mind on some things like a central bank and less taxes on industries
After he left office he still fought for states' rights
He was the last Founding Father to survive
Track Name: James Monroe
It's the era, era of good feelings
That mark the Presidency
of James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe

The Federalists are all gone
The War of 1812 is over
He just went with the flow
Tried to make everyone happy
Uh-oh the Panic of 1819
And the Missouri Compromise
Better enjoy this while it lasts
Because the country will divide
but until then, it's the

Era of good feelings, that mark the Presidency of James Monroe

He said that Europe should not interfere
With any of the Americas
And if they do
The U.S. will kick their butt
He forced the Seminoles out of Florida
Ran for re-election unopposed
Made balanced Cabinet choices
Also died on July 4th
One of our most popular Presidents
(in the)

Era of good feelings, that mark the Presidency of James Monroe
Track Name: John Quincy Adams
Here's a little bit about John Quincy Adams
Was a smart man, oldest song of John Adams
Career politician, he loved to debate
Diplomat, Senator, Secretary of State
And 17 years as Representative
Oh yeah! Did I mention that he was President?

Drafted whole portions of the Monroe Doctrine
Swam naked everyday in the Potomac
Pushed for new technology in infrastructure
The Erie Canal and the Cumberland Road
He was a strong voice against slavery
He sent troops to protect the Cherokee

He was a fierce fighter
Track Name: Andrew Jackson
His nickname was "Old Hickory"
Spent most his time in Tennessee
Grew up poor out on the frontier
Became a prominent lawyer
Had role of spokesman for the West
As Congressman and Senator
Knew how to kick butt in a fight
Killed a man who insulted his wife

A military hero of the War of 1812
Defied the odds in the Battle of New Orleans
Invaded Spanish Florida, captured Pensacola
Was the first "common man" to win the Presidency

But he supported slavery (Yes he did, Yes he did)
And he supported Indian removal (The Trail of Tears)

Got rid of the national debt
The only one to accomplish this
Helped get rid of the central bank
Then gave the money to the states
Believed in true democracy
Which really did not exist
Forced Indians to Oklahoma
Said it was in their best interest

Had a bullet stuck next to his heart for most of his life
Wanted to abolish the electoral college
Used his power to veto unlike Presidents before
Was not aristocratic unlike Presidents before

But he supported slavery (Yes he did, Yes he did)
And he supported Indian removal (The Trail of Tears)

Andrew Jackson
Track Name: Martin Van Buren
He was the first President
born an American citizen
His ancestors came from the
Netherlands

Martin Van Buren

He took the traditional
path to some fame and power
in law and politics
in New York

Started the Democratic
and Free Soil parties
When the Whigs took over they
kicked him out

The Fox of Kinderhook
Played things by the book
Opportunities he took
And yes he had the look

Became President easily
Thanks to Jackson's popularity
Inherited the Panic of 1837

Held middle ground on slavery
Refused to annex Texas
Did his best to avoid war
Not for long

The Fox of Kinderhook
Played things by the book
Opportunities he took
And yes he had the look
Track Name: William Henry Harrison
Here's Old Tippecanoe
Had friends in high places
Became leader of Northwest Territory
Was responsible for buying millions of acres of land from the Native Americans

William Henry Harrison

The Shawnee chief Tecumseh
led an uprising
in Indiana
but Harrison stopped him
He served in Congress then he took a long break but the Whigs brought him back to run for President
and he did

Was 68 when he was
elected but soon
caught a cold which would turn
into pneumonia
The first President
to die in office did so
32 days in was the shortest tenure
Sad to say it was his legacy
Sad to say it was his legacy
Track Name: John Tyler
Another one from Virginia
with connections
In charge when Harrison died
It's Tyler too
Always defended states' rights
and slavery
After making the Whigs mad
lost his party

John Tyler

His entire Cabinet quit
except Webster
No joke he had fifteen kids
and remarried
Strengthened presidential powers
Annexed Texas
Resolved the Maine boundary
It wasn't enough

John Tyler

John Tyler
Became an outsider
Number 10 Tyler
Became an outsider
Track Name: James Polk
From Tennessee and a lawyer he smelled just like Jackson
Speaker of the House and Governor he hated taxes
A dark horse candidate his campaign stood for expansion
He wanted Texas, Oregon, California, yeah all of it!
He would push and shove
To get what he wanted

James Polk reduce the tariff
James Polk free the Treasury
James Polk acquire new land
James Polk he got his way!

The U.S.-Mexican War no doubt marked his legacy
Sent troops to land that Mexico claimed was their territory
Easily won the war that he aggressively started
Gained land with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

James Polk reduce the tariff
James Polk free the Treasury
James Polk acquire new land
James Polk he got his way!

Avoided another war with Britain over Oregon
Even tried to purchase Cuba from Spain, they wouldn't let him
He was decisive, didn't care what others said about him
In four years he accomplished more than many did in eight

He had his manifest destiny
He had his manifest destiny

James Polk reduce the tariff
James Polk free the Treasury
James Polk acquire new land
James Polk he got his way!
Track Name: Zachary Taylor
He had no formal education
Spent 40 years in the military

Independent
Mystery man
Independent
Mystery man

Zachary Taylor
Fought so many wars
Gained fame as a general
in the U.S.-Mexican War
A hero after the
Battle of Buena Vista
Never shared his politics
Before he ran for office

Independent
Mystery man
Independent
Mystery man

Old Rough and Ready
joined the Whig party
From the South
The last President
To own slaves
To preserve the Union
he said he would hang rebels
He made southerners mad when
he took a moderate stance

He died his second year in office
Of not poison but stomach flu
He was too non-political
Hey isn't that a good thing?

Independent
Mystery man
Independent
Mystery man
Track Name: Millard Fillmore
Should slavery be in western territories?
This debate raged on
as he took over
after Taylor died
Was the last Whig
later Know-Nothing
Wanted compromise

He'd do anything to save the Union
He thought a civil war, would be, uh, stupid

Self-educated in Finger Lakes country
Was a schoolteacher
later a lawyer
before the politics
In 1848
They would nominate
The moderate would moderate

He'd do anything to save the Union
He thought a civil war, would be, uh, stupid

Millard (Compromise of 1850)
Fillmore (Avoid war over slavery)

Went from rags to riches
His rise was unlikely
In his three years
he took a lot of heat
but he proved competent
Peacefully resolved
many disputes
with so many countries

Millard (Compromise of 1850)
Fillmore (Avoid war over slavery)
Track Name: Franklin Pierce
Mid 1850s the North and South couldn't get along and there he stood
Tried to make everyone happy but instead had the reverse effect
Baby Pierce supported the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Led to Bleeding Kansas, the law proved to be not the best idea

The tragic
life of
a dough face
Franklin Pierce you had promise, but you got no love, even to this day

Only President from New Hampshire a Democrat from the North
Social bug in the spotlight tried to hide his personal struggles at home
Got the Gadsden Purchase but the Ostend Manifesto hurt his reputation
and the Democrats
completely abandoned him
Track Name: James Buchanan
Number 15 James Buchanan was from Pennsylvania
Another dough face only President to never marry
Elected five times to the House of Representatives
Minister to Russia, a decade in the Senate
and Secretary of State
in politics too long
In fact, he did much more but I couldn't fit it in this song
He worried that the country would divide and go to war
And so he did nothing, and it divided more

Don't take action
Keep the status quo

Okay he didn't do nothing, he did something with Kansas
He wanted it a slave state, with the capitol Lecompton
He sent troops to Utah to take over their government
Which maybe wasn't necessary, and there was no conflict
He thought it was ok for people to own slaves
After the Panic of 1857, he was, of course, blamed
He wrote a memoir later on to preserve his legacy
Did it do the job? I don't know. Let's wait and see.

Take little action
Keep the status quo