Yankee Doodle

Most Americans can’t remember the first time they heard Yankee Doodle.  The song, a staple for the Fourth of July, has a rather strange history.  It actually started out as an insult to the colonists in America.

 YANKEE DOODLE INSULT

Legend holds that in 1755 British physician Richard Schuckburg created the lyrics to mock Americans.  He set it to a tune that many Englishmen were familiar with.  In his mind, colonists were crude, rude, and cowardly.   The words portray the colonial fighters as country hicks (doodles) and conceited jerks (dandies). Furthermore, “macaroni” was a term for dressing so fancy that the individual looked foolish.  Yankee was also used as a derogatory term for the residents of the colonies.

By 1775, the British and the colonists were at an impasse.  On April 19, around seven hundred British soldiers in full dress uniform left Boston to seize weapons and ammunition they believed were stashed by locals in the countryside.  Unbeknownst to them, Paul Revere and William Dawes had already spread the word.

The narrative says that to taunt their opponent as they marched through the countryside, the fifers and drummers played Yankee Doodle.

In Lexington, the British soldiers opened fire on the militiamen, killing or injuring eight people.  Then, in Concord, they destroyed a cache of weapons.

 YANKEE DOODLE TURNS THE TABLES

The march back to Boston turned disastrous, however. The colonists swarmed, hiding behind rocks and trees, picking off their red-coated foes.  Eventually, some of the British broke rank and ran.  It was purported that the militiamen sang Yankee Doodle as the soldiers ran for their lives as if to say, what do you think about us Yankee Doodles now?  The song quickly became

the anthem of the Continental Army.  Some even report the melody was played at the surrender of the British in Yorktown in 1781.

YANKEE DOODLE MORPHS AND CHANGES

In its long history, new verses of the ditty have been added, changed, or removed.  The George Washington verse was not included until after he took command of the Continental Army in 1775.

The first verse that most Americans know by heart was not added until 1842:

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

 YANKEE DOODLE–WHO KNEW?

Wishing you a wonderful and safe Fourth of July holiday.

 

 

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YANKEE DOODLE

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

Chorus:

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

Fath’r and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding,
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.

Chorus

And there we saw a thousand men
As rich as Squire David,
And what they wasted every day,
I wish it could be saved.

Chorus

The ‘lasses they eat it every day,
Would keep a house a winter;
They have so much, that I’ll be bound,
They eat it when they’ve mind ter.

Chorus

And there I see a swamping gun
Large as a log of maple,
Upon a deuced little cart,
A load for father’s cattle.

Chorus

And every time they shoot it off,
It takes a horn of powder,
and makes a noise like father’s gun,
Only a nation louder.

Chorus

I went as nigh to one myself
As ‘Siah’s inderpinning;
And father went as nigh again,
I thought the deuce was in him.

Chorus

Cousin Simon grew so bold,
I thought he would have cocked it;
It scared me so I shrinked it off
And hung by father’s pocket.

Chorus

And Cap’n Davis had a gun,
He kind of clapt his hand on’t
And stuck a crooked stabbing iron
Upon the little end on’t

Chorus

And there I see a pumpkin shell
As big as mother’s bason,
And every time they touched it off
They scampered like the nation.

Chorus

I see a little barrel too,
The heads were made of leather;
They knocked on it with little clubs
And called the folks together.

Chorus

And there was Cap’n Washington,
And gentle folks about him;
They say he’s grown so ‘tarnal proud
He will not ride without em’.

Chorus

He got him on his meeting clothes,
Upon a slapping stallion;
He sat the world along in rows,
In hundreds and in millions.

Chorus

The flaming ribbons in his hat,
They looked so tearing fine, ah,
I wanted dreadfully to get
To give to my Jemima.

Chorus

I see another snarl of men
A digging graves they told me,
So ‘tarnal long, so ‘tarnal deep,
They ‘tended they should hold me.

Chorus

It scared me so, I hooked it off,
Nor stopped, as I remember,
Nor turned about till I got home,
Locked up in mother’s chamber.

 

 

 

 

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