|An American Song|
|Yankee Doodle is a well loved American
song. However, it wasn't always that way.
Early in the Revolutionary War, the British attacked the Americans held up in a fort along the Hudson River. The Americans fought bravely but were so outnumbered that they were forced to surrender.
British General demanded that the Americans lay down their arms and walk
down a road lined on both sides by British soldiers.
The British taunted and hurled insults at the dejected American
volunteers as they passed through this barrier of their enemies.
the British general called out to his band to play “Yankee Doodle
Dandy” for the American boys. (“Yankee Doodle Dandy” was an old
British drinking song designed to humiliate the American Colonist.)
Note the words: They
were not gentlemen; they were pretenders to the gentile
didn’t ride horses, they rode “ponies”.
They didn’t wear the great curled, plumes, shaped like macaroni
in their hats that the English nobility wore; they wore feathers and
called them macaroni. This
was purely a song meant to demean the Americans.)
American general was forced to surrender his sword to the English
General. During this time,
there was no greater insult then to surrender ones sword.
was indeed a very low point for the Americans in the war.
years later when Washington captured the British forces under Cornwallis
at Yorktown in Virginia and compelled him to surrender, thus ending the
revolution, Washington demanded the same of the British General that
they lay down their weapons and pass through the ranks of Americans that
lined the road.
was so embarrassed by his defeat that he refused to meet Washington and
surrender his sword. Therefore,
he sent his second in command, the very same General who had accepted
the American surrender years before and who had imposed such humiliation
upon the American forces. This
general refused to surrender his sword to Washington and instead
presented it to the French commander that was present at the surrender.
The Frenchman refused to accept it and pointed to Washington
indicating that it was he who should receive the sword for it was he,
Washington, who had defeated the English.
The Englishman with great scorn approached Washington who
immediately turned his head away and pointed to the American General who
was forced to surrender at the fort years before.
(The American who surrendered his sword was now about to receive
the sword from the general he was forced to surrender to.
as the British Officer was about to hand the sword to the American,
Washington suddenly stopped him. “Wait”,
he called out. Then turned
to the American Band and said “play Yankee Doodle for this gentlemen.
He seems to like it so.”
the British soldiers passed through the ranks of the victorious American
Army, the band played Yankee Doodle over and over and every American
soldier in line laughed and sang along with the tune.
British officer asked his companion “who do they think they are?”
“A new breed of men” was his fellow’s answer.
“A breed that bows to no king.”
This is the origin of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and how it became important to America.