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Remember "Miss Mary Mack"? Turns Out It Has A Far More Slave-Related History Than You Thought

Updated 22 Aug 2019 17.9k views10 items

Many of the games and songs we shared on the playground during childhood have a much more complex background than we realize. The origins of those games were not always benign. In fact, there were many things we did and said as kids that we didn't truly understand (that weird "S" thing is a prime example). One such mystery is hand-clap game "Miss Mary Mack."

So where did the song and game come from? Although there are many theories surrounding its past, the song's history has been more of an oral one than an officially documented one. However, most of the theories floating around today agree on a common thing; "Miss Mary Mack" is composed of references to the emancipation of enslaved people and the Civil War.

Some believe the song is based on a Civil War battle involving a ship called the USS Merrimack, some say the elephants jumping over the fence are Republicans defeating the South. Some say the mother in the song is a representation of the Confederacy. For such a seemingly simple and silly tune, it contains a lot of heavy references for people to unpack over a century later.

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