"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier"

By 1915, Americans began debating the need for military and economic preparations for war. Strong opposition to “preparedness” came from isolationists, socialists, pacifists, many Protestant ministers, German Americans, and Irish Americans (who were hostile to Britain). One of the hit songs of 1915, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier,” by lyricist Alfred Bryan and composer Al Piantadosi, captured widespread American skepticism about joining in the European war. Meanwhile, interventionists and militarists like former president Theodore Roosevelt beat the drums for preparedness. Roosevelt’s retort to the popularity of the antiwar song was that it should be accompanied by the tune “I Didn’t Raise My Girl to Be a Mother.” He suggested that the place for women who opposed war was “in China—or by preference in a harem—and not in the United States.”

Source | Alfred Bryan and Al Piantadosi, "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier," lyrics and song, (Washington, DC: The Library of Congress, Edison Collection), 1915, available from History Matters, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4942
Composer | Al Piantadosi
Lyricist | Alfred Bryan
Item Type | Music/Song
Cite This document | “"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 24, 2014, http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/841.