A mother’s lament that perfectly encapsulated American anti-war sentiment.

You’re on the Sound Beat.

The Peerless Quartette recorded I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier in January of 1915. Alfred Bryan wrote the lyrics, and they drew a sharp line between those who supported the US entering the Great War and those who opposed. The opposition: pacifists and isolationists, natch, but also Protestant ministers, German Americans, and Irish Americans, who weren’t eager to support the British. Then there was the other side. Harry Truman, National Guard Captain at the time, didn’t love the tune; the place for women who opposed war, he said, was “in China—or by preference in a harem—and not in the United States.”

The sheet music sold to the tune of 700,000 copies in the first 6 months, making it one of the biggest hits of that year.

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Sound Beat is produced at the Belfer Audio Archive, Syracuse University Libraries.

I’m Brett Barry.

Image: “British soldiers moving forward during the Battle of Broodseinde”, Photo by Ernest Brooks. It is in the public domain, as it was created by the United Kingdom Government and taken prior to 1 June 1957.