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Ma, Ma Where’s My Pa?

In response to:

Dreams from Obama from the March 6, 2008 issue

To the Editors:

The jingle cited in Darryl Pinckney’s piece on Barack Obama [“Dreams from Obama,” NYR, March 6] may have originated in the 1870s but it is familiar to students of American history as a feature of the 1884 presidential contest between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine. The verse insinuated, correctly, that Cleveland was the father of an illegitimate child—“which he admitted, to the consternation of his supporters” (Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, 5th Edition, Vol. 2). So far as I am aware, the rumors regarding Warren Harding’s ancestry were bruited, in print, only after his death and have never been confirmed.

Edwin M. Yoder Jr.

Alexandria, Virginia

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