My Old Kentucky Home

“My Old Kentucky Home” was written in 1853 by Stephen Foster.

“My Old Kentucky Home” has been the official state song of Kentucky since 1928.

The song is also known as “Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night!” and “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night !”

Foster’s inspiration to write the song remains open for interpretation.  Some historians claim Foster drew inspiration from a trip to Kentucky; however, this alleged  trip was never concretely documented as were other trips Foster took.  Others believe that Foster was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The original lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home” follow:

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the darkies are gay;
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By 'n' by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

They hunt no more for the possum and the coon,
On meadow, the hill and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.

The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart,
With sorrow, where all was delight,
The time has come when the darkies have to part,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.


The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darky may go;
A few more days, and the trouble all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow;

A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, 'twill never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.


Fredrick Douglas believed this song was sympathetic to slaves but it was not until 1986 the Kentucky General Assembly changed the word “darkie” to “people”.

Lauren Morrow, MT-BC

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