Pierpont, James, American composer; b. Boston, 1822; d. Winter Haven, Fla., 1893. In 1857 he publ. a ballad entitled One Horse Open Sleigh (composed in 1850), which, in 1859, was publ. under the title Jingle Bells, or The One Horse Open Sleigh (the original music is reprinted in facsimile in R. Jackson’s Popular Songs of 19th- Century America, N.Y., 1976); however, while the original words and the music to the verse are the same as those known today, the original music to the chorus is different. This song did not acquire its wide popularity as a Christmas song until the 20th century; during the 19th century, Pierpont’s most popular works were The Little White Cottage, or Gentle Nettie Moore (1857), We Conquer or Die (1861), and Strike for the South (1863). The last two of these were rallying songs for the Confederacy during the Civil War (his father, in contrast, was a fiery abolitionist minister). He was the uncle of the millionaire financier John Pierpont Morgan.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire