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Broadside ballad entitled 'The American Stranger'


This ballad begins: 'I am a poor stranger, from America I came, / There's no one does know me, nor can tell me my name; / I am a poor stranger, I'll tarry a while, / I have rambled for my darling for many a long mile.' It was published by Robert McIntosh of 96 King Street, Calton, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.

Unusually, this ballad tells the tale of an American stranger arriving in a foreign country - in this case probably Scotland. A common theme for many of the broadside ballads published in Scotland was that of Scots emigrating to distant shores. This sheet, however, provides the reader with the lesser-known tale of an American arriving in Scotland. It is accompanied by a woodcut illustration of a young man selling wares.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable date published: 1849   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(019)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The American Stranger'
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