A history of America as reflected in its slogans, songs and other utterances--primarily political--that gives a sense of popular contemporary judgments rather than an understanding of the events themselves or the interpretations of modern researchers. Here are catchwords and phrases from Plymouth Rock to Watergate: campaign jingles, Weems' moralistic apocrypha, epithets and newspaper characterizations that suggest the conflicts and trivialities of their day. There are poetic interpretations (""the shot heard round the world""), stated policies (Manifest Destiny), informal rhymes and modern wordplay--""To err is Truman"" or Agnew as ""The Mouth That Roared."" Until the Sixties Bailey concentrates on the government arena as the main source of his material; thereafter he includes political issues and adds related areas as well--women's lib, the Vietnam War, birth control, pollution problems, minority voices. Not the last word but a people's choice for folklorists and button collectors.