"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" (or "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore") is an African-American spiritual. It was first noted during the American Civil War at St. Helena Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
It was sung by former slaves whose owners had abandoned the island before the Union navy would arrive to enforce a blockade. Charles Pickard Ware, an abolitionist and Harvard graduate who had come to supervise the plantations on St. Helena Island from 1862 to 1865, wrote the song down in music notation as he heard the freedmen sing it. Ware's cousin, William Francis Allen reported in 1863 that while he rode in a boat across Station Creek, the former slaves sang the song as they rowed.
The song was first published in Slave Songs of the United States, by Allen, Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison, in 1867.
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