This old hammer killed John Henry,
But it can't kill me.
Take this hammer, take it to the Captain,
Tell him I'm gone, babe, tell him I'm gone.
For almost a hundred years after the abolition of slavery, convicts, mostly African American, were leased to work as forced labor in the mines, railroad camps, brickyards, turpentine farms, and then on road gangs of the American South, where work songs like this were common. Statue of John Henry outside the town of Talcott in Summers County, West Virginia