John Philip Sousa’s America: The Patriot’s Life in Images and Words by John Phillip Sousa, IV

John Philip Sousa's America: The Patriot's Life in Images and WordsSo many photos! And many are of Sousa himself, playbills, audience at his performances. My favorite part of the book is watching fashions change over the decades. I don’t know what his mama would have thought of him meeting up with bathing beauties showing their limbs at the “Atlantic pageant’, later known as the Miss America contest. The newspaper caricatures of Sousa are also great fun. There are also plenty of horse pictures.

Sousa’s world tour raised American prestige – who knew the baby country could play sophisticated music in Europe? French and German newspapers praised him highly. Sousa wrote The Imperial Edward March as a tribute to his good friend King Edward VII.

Sousa’s life was bookended by the Civil War and the Great War – what we call World War I. There is a photo of the Civil War Marine Band in Washington DC, with Sousa holding the trombone. He enlisted for a 5 year term in 1872 – shortly after the Civil War was over. He says, ‘my parents were absolutely opposed to race suicide and had a family of ten children, six of whom are now living, all married and doing well in the family line.’ Well, I don’t think he had to worry about the white race disappearing, they are the only ones who appear in photos. In the park, at the railway, at the concert – Sousa lived a white life. His tunes ‘King Cotton’ and ‘Plantation Songs and Dances’ might have been all white, but ‘Coon Band’ surely wasn’t.

Contrasting family member: ‘Indian love song’ was written by Mrs. John P Sousa for Estelle Libeling to sing. ‘Me and Ma Old Banjo’ was composed by his daughter Jane Sousa and the cover features a black woman playing the piano and reading sheet music.

Great quote: Don’t put finger on the trigger, until ye’re ready t shoot, an’ know what ye’re shootin’ at. Lots of people on this earth git inter trouble by shootin off their mouth before they knows what they’re aimin at.

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