Ralph E. Hoyt

Ralph E. Hoyt was an American involved in the Knights of Labor and the chairman of the Nationalist Club, a Southern California Edward Bellamy club.

“The Knights of Labor declared the education of workers their primary mission and accordingly established schools, lecture programs, and reading rooms. They placed particular emphasis on songs and poems as media for educating workers about important issues; ‘America’ was among the melodies most frequently used for such topical productions. For example, Ralph E. Hoyt published an alternate version of ‘America’ in the Journal of the Knights of Labor on 3 July 1890…. Lamenting America’s shortcomings, Hoyt imagines how it would be to sing in earnestness a ‘cheerful song’ in ‘loud praise’ of the nation that might someday be. Hoyt’s ‘America,’ like those produced by the suffrage, temperance, and antislavery movements, thus ends with a visionary glance toward a future America cleansed of its Gilded Age hypocrisies and compromises.”

—Robert James Branham and Stephen J. Hartnett,

Sweet Freedom’s Song: “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and Democracy in America (2002)