Every American school child
learns the tune of Yankee
Doodle before they leave
elementary school, but few
people know the origins of the
song. Some of the words are:
Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a Pony
Stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni
A British Army surgeon
named Richard Shuckburg
first penned the verses during
the French and Indian
War to make fun of colonial
soldiers. He used a traditional
British tune which has been
attached to many other lyrics -
but in modern times, Yankee
Doodle has become the most
"Yankee" was a derogatory term attached to New Englanders - and in those days,
macaroni wasn't a noodle, but a foppish or effeminate hair style. In the tune, Shuckburg
was basically calling the colonists unmanly and stupid. Yet, the colonists loved the song
so much that they adopted it as one of their most patriotic songs, and would make
captured British prisoners dance to it at the end of the Revolutionary War.
The unofficial anthem of the American cause, William Billings' Chester was immensely
popular during the American War for Independence. It encouraged the Patriots to be
strong, because God was standing on their side against the British tyrants.
Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And Slav'ry clank her galling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God,
New England's God forever reigns.
This tune commemorates the Sir Henry Clinton's, Commander of the British forces,
storming of Stony Point in 1779. General George Washington managed to outsmart
Clinton, and staged to a maneuver to retake Stony Point with the help of General
Anthony Wayne, which was eventually successful.
The Liberty Song
The Liberty Song is an early American ballad composed by John Dickinson, and is often
attributed as the origin of the phrase: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."
Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;
In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed,
For heaven approves of each generous deed.
Joseph Warren, an active member of the Sons of Liberty, wrote Free America(y) to the
tune of "The British Grenadiers."
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License 3.0
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