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copy of John Henry Schmidt's "Sonata for beginners," 1796, in which
our air was "turned into a fashionable rondo," nor a copy of " Yankee
Doodle, an original American air, arranged with variations for the
pianoforte," as printed by J. Carr, Baltimore, in 1796. Presumably
in June, 1798, "Yankee Doodle" was "Published by G. Willig,
Market street No. 185, Philadelphia," together with "The President's
March. A new Federal Song." ("Hail Columbia." For facsimile
of both, see Pis. IX and X hi Appendix.) A copy of this extremely


Y a nkee Doodle .

rare piece is preserved in a miscellaneous volume of "Marches and
Battles" at the Ridgway branch of the Library Company of Phila-
delphia. The melody, sung to the words "Columbians all the present
hour," has this form:



r c

This version was composed or rather arranged by James Hewitt,
since he advertised, probably between 1800 and 1802, the "New
Yankee Doodle" beginning "Columbians all the present hour as
Brothers should unite us," as "composed and published at his Musical
Repository No. 59, Maidenlane, New York." A copy of this song is
preserved at Harvard University. Some years later, Gottlieb Graup-
ner, one of Boston's most important musicians, "printed and sold"
at his "Musical Academy No. 6, Franklin Street, Franklin Place,"
"General Washington's March" together with "Yankee Doodle" in a
simple arrangement for the pianoforte. Mr. Elson's "History of
American Music" contains a facsimile, and from this the following
version of the melody is quoted:

Different again is an earlier form of the tune in the "Compleat
tutor for the fife," Philadelphia, George Willig [1805]. On page 28
of this curiously American reprint of a rare English publication, we
find among the interpolations "Yankee Doodle:"


Ya nkee Doodle.


Another early form appears on page 8 of Raynor Taylor's "Martial
music of Camp Dupont," Philadelphia, G. E. Blake [ca. 1818]:



Alexander Wheelock Thayer, the Beethoven biographer, commu-
nicated to the first edition of Grove ' ' the following version as it was
sung sixty years since, and as it has been handed down by tradition
in his family from Revolutionary times:"





Yan - kee doo - die, keep it up,

Yan - kee doo - die dan - dy,


Mind the mu - sic and the step, and with the girls be nan - dy.

These early versions of the melody will be sufficient to demonstrate
that "Yankee Doodle," whatever its original form might have been,
passed through many hands before it became fixed in the popular
mind in its present form. The semiofficial form now used in the
United States is contained in John Philipp Sousa's "National Patri-
otic and Typical Airs of all Lands," Philadelphia, 1890:

This process of elimination and substitution of notes, and even bars
is characteristic of many folk songs, and the "Folk" unconsciously
adopts the same attitude of mind as does a composer who polishes
and changes his melodic ideas until he feels satisfied with the result.
But this process also explains, how imperfect rendition and local usage


Y a nkee Doodle.

can produce such abortive and almost incredible versions as the one
in James Hulbert's "Variety of Marches" (1803, p. 8) and in his
"Complete Fifers' Museum" (Greenfield, Mass. [18-], p. 12):

- l _ -""""


i r-H-

T p r

=*= F

' i

or the one in Alvan Robinson's "Massachusetts Collection of Martial
Musick" (2d. ed., Exeter, 1820, p. 58):

In addition to these early versions in print a few in manuscript
are extant. For instance, the facsimile on Plate XVIII shows the
form of "Yankey doodle" as it appears in "Whittier Perkins' Book
1790" of "A Collection of Dancing Tunes, Marches, & Song Tunes"
now in possession of Mrs. Austin Holden, Boston, Mass. This is an
exceedingly interesting collection of more than one hundred tunes,
and its importance is increased by the fact that it was written by
a person with a very neat hand not only, but a musical hand. Parts
of a Boston newspaper of 1788 have been used for the inside of the
leather binding, but this, of course, though original, may have been
added any time after 1788. The earliest possible date of compila-
tion is 1778, since in that year Francis Hopkinson wrote his "Battle
of the Kegs," which figures in the collection. It furthermore looks
as if the collection was complete before Whittier Perkins claimed
it as his property in 1790. We are perfectly safe in dating this
version of "Yankee Doodle" as it appears on the first page of the
unpaged collection as "about 1790:"

lA r r r r^g
iflr fin i r i f


Y a nkee Doodle .




;-^=i=p^ _g


This last version is probably a few years earlier. It appears written
in a collection of psalm and popular tunes attached to an incomplete
copy of Thomas Walter's "Grounds and rules of musick/' Boston,
edition of 1760, as preserved under number of il G. 38. 23" at the
Boston Public Library. As a matter of fact, the manuscript music
forms two collections in two different hands. The psalm tunes are
paged 26-46 in continuation of the engraved psalm tunes, and on
page 42 we read "Wm. Cummingham, Esqr. 1765." These psalm
tunes are followed by seventeen pages of such popular airs as "The
Hero," "Lovely Nancy," "A trip to Halifax," "God save the King,"
"Prince Eugene's March," "Bellisle March," "Wild Irishman,"
"British Grenadiers," and "Yankee Doodle." The presence of so
many marches and of a "Hessian Minuet" permits us to conjecture
that the collection was written after 1765, either during the war or
immediately after. It is therefore perhaps not unsafe to date this
version of "Yankee Doodle" as "about 1780." It will be observed
and the fact is noted here without an attempt to solve the puzzle,
how strikingly these two early American manuscript versions differ
from the early printed versions and how much more similarity exists
between them and the printed New England versions of 1803 and
1820. Indeed the assumption is not at all far fetched that Yankee
Doodle in its modern form is a composite tune, formed out of at least
two different tunes of different age. Finally a version may here be
recorded which Mr. Frank Kidson found in a manuscript book in
his possession, the first date in which is 1790 and the last 1792:

"Yankee Doodle" has gradually become a national march, a
national air. That its text is now more or less obsolete, is so evident
as not to require proof. The only words current are with slight
variations :

Yankee Doodle came to town

Riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his hat

And called it Macaroni.

126 Yankee Doodle.

These or similar words Admiral Preble, 1816-1885 in his childhood
heard repeatedly (see p. 104) from his father, Capt. Enoch Preble,
1763-1842. As far as I can see, this is the only evidence we have
that the words were known in America as early as about 1820. They
may have originated much earlier. How much earlier, depends on
the circumstancial evidence offered by the words "Yankee Doodle"
and "Macaroni." The combination of "Yankee" and "Doodle"
was, so Andrew Barton's "The Disappointment" proves, fairly cur-
rent in 1767, at least in Philadelphia. Since no earlier reference to
a tune " Yankee Doodle " has come to light, and since it is entirely
possible that the tune under this title had rushed into popularity in
the very year of publication of "The Disappointment," no earlier
date for the use of the words "Yankee Doodle" would be safe than
"at least as early as 1767." After that, the use of these two words
in combination became, as we know, fairly frequent, at any rate in
America, Doodle retaining its old meaning and "Yankee" becoming
preferably a nickname for New Englanders. In England the combi-
nation "Yankee Doodle" probably was not used until about or
after 1770.

As Mr. William Barclay Squire informed me, the British Museum
[G. 310. (163)] preserves a single-sheet song, called "Yankee Doodle,
or, the Negroes Farewell to America. The words and music by
T. L." The sheet bears the initials C. & S., i. e., Charles and Samuel
Thompson, who published music at London from 1764 to 1776 or
1778. (The music bears no relation to our "Yankee Doodle" tune.
This is mentioned here because somebody in the ecstasy of discovery
may claim that T. L. wrote and composed our "Yankee Doodle.")
The publishers may have printed this sheet song as early as 1764 or
as late as 1778. Consequently, it does not help us positively to
trace the earliest known use of the words "Yankee Doodle" in

Attention had been drawn to this song in Notes and Queries as early
as 1852, and by Doctor Rimbault in Notes and Queries December 1,
1860, and in the Historical Magazine, 1861, where he stated that the
British Museum gave the song the conjectural date of 1775. Rim-
bault added the titles of two other "Yankee Doodle" songs printed
in England and preserved at the British Museum, which are of inter-
est in this connection:

(1 ) D'Estaing eclipsed, or Yankee Doodle's defeat. By T. Poynton.

(2) "Yankee Doodle, or (as now christened by the saints of New
England), the Lexington March."

Rimbault further stated that Poynton's song has its own melody,
whereas the second song has the familiar "Yankee Doodle" music, a
statement since verified by Mr. William Barclay Squire, Mr. Matthews,
and others. Of the text of this particular "Yankee Doodle" song
more will be said later on. Here it is sufficient to remark that Mr.

Yankee Doodle. 127

Albert Matthews discovered a copy of it in possession of Mr. John
Ritchie, jr., of Boston. It bears the imprint of Thomas Skillern,
London, and he is known, according to Mr. Frank Kidson's "British
Music Publishers," to have printed music under his own name at 17
St. Martin's lane between 1777-78 and 1799. Therefore, this partic-
ular publication by Skillern can not have contributed to the circula-
tion of the words "Yankee Doodle" in England before 1777.

With reference to "D'Estaing eclipsed, or Yankee Doodle's defeat,"
this quotation from the Gentleman's Magazine, 1783, by Petersfield
in the Magazine of American History (1877, Vol. I, p. 452), will be of
service :

Your readers and the public must remember an object of compassion who used
to sing ballads, about the streets and went by the vulgar appellation of Yankee
Doodle, alluding to a song he sang about London, at the Commencement of the
American War; his real name was Thomas Poynton.

Apparently he was identical with the author and composer of
"D'Estaing eclipsed." In that case, he most probably sang his own
"Yankee Doodle" words and tune about the streets and not our
"Yankee Doodle." However, since D'Estaing was "eclipsed" in
1778 and 1779, T. Poynton can not have contributed to the circula-
tion of the words "Yankee Doodle" in England until after 1778.

These data render it very improbable that lines containing the two
words "Yankee Doodle" in this combination can have originated in
England before 1764. This allows the widest possible margin (the
beginning of C. and S. Thompson's activity as music publishers),
whereas the probabilities are that the two words were not current
in England until considerably after 1770.

Turning to the word "Macaroni" in our doggerel quatrain

Yankee Doodle came to town

Riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his hat

And called it Macaroni,

it may have been used as mere nonsense, the fun consisting in the in
itself burlesque association of "feather in his hat" and "Macaroni"
without any hidden meaning. In this case the word "Macaroni"
would afford no tangible clue for tracing the earliest possible date of
the verses. It is different if the prevailing and almost obviously
correct impression be accepted that we have here an allusion to the
London Macaronis imitated by a New England doodle with the aspi-
rations of a dandy and a fop.

According to Doctor Murray's Oxford English Dictionary the \vord
"Macaroni" as applied to a certain kind of burlesque poetry, dates
back to 1638 and flourished between 1727 and 1741. In the sense of
fop, dandy, it was the exquisite of a class which arose in England
about 1 760 and consisted of young men who had traveled and affected
the taste and fashions prevalent in continental society. Again, ac-
cording to Doctor Murray, this use seems to be from the name of the


Y a nkee Doodle .

"Macaroni Club," a designation probably adopted to indicate the
preferences of the members for foreign cookery, macaroni still being at
that time little eaten, though the dish was known in England as early
as Ben Jonson's time (1599). Horace Walpole, on February 6, 1764,
speaks of "the Macaroni Club, which is composed of all the traveled
young men, who wear long curls and spying glasses." A few months
later, on May 27, 1764, he writes: "Lady Falkener's daughter is to be
married to a young rich Mr. Crewe, a Macarone, and of our Loo."
Mr. Henry B. Wheatley in "London Past and Present" (1891, Vol. II,
p. 453) states that the Macaroni Club was "instituted in 1764." As
Mr. Wheatley does not allude to any authority for this definite date,
I agree with Mr. Matthews that he ought rather to have stated ' ' about
1764." Moreover, Mr. Matthews unearthed an important account
of the origin of the word as applied to fops under the title "Macaroni
explained" in the Scots Magazine for November, 1772:

Macaroni is, in the Italian language, a word made use of to express a compound
dish made of vermicelli and other pastes . . . This dish was far from being
universally known in this country till the commencement of the last peace:
when, like many other foreign fashions, it was imported by our connoscenti in
eating, as an improvement to the subscription-table at Almack's. In time, the
subscribers to those dinners became to be distinguished by the title of Macaroni;
and as the meeting was composed of the younger and gayer part of our nobility
and gentry, who, at the same time that they gave in to the luxuries of eating,
went equally into the extravagances of dress, the word Macaroni changed its
meaning to that of a person who exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion, and
is now justly used as a term of reproach to all ranks of people, indifferently, who
fall into this absurdity.

The "last peace" was the Peace of Paris, 1763. This together
with the fact that the statement was made less than a decade from
that peace and that nobody has succeeded in unearthing a reference
to "Macaroni" in the sense of fop earlier than 1764, leads to a very
simple conclusion: If in our "Yankee Doodle" lines the word
"Macaroni" is used in the sense of fop, then the lines almost with
certainty had their origin after 176 '4- It is further significant that
the Macaronis, who affected immense knots of artificial hair, ludi-
crously small cock-hats [!], enormous walking sticks with long tassels
and jackets, waistcoats and breeches of very close cut (see Wright's
Caricature History of the Georges, London [1868], p. 259), reached
the height of their reign as arbiters of advanced fashion from about
1770 to 1775. All this direct and circumstantial evidence on the
words "Yankee Doodle" and "Macaroni" leads to the conclusion
that our doggerel quatrain did not originate until about or after 1764.
Furthermore, it undermines the possibility that the verses were not
written in America and since no reference is made in English sources
to these lines until far into the nineteenth century, it may be taken
for granted that indeed the lines originated in America. The question
would still remain open, by whom were they written? By a city-
bred Colonial, who merely desired to ridicule the rustic New Eng-

Yankee Doodle. 129

landers, or by a Tory or by a Britisher? Had two or three verses,
unmistakably belonging together, been preserved instead of one,
the question would probably have been easy to answer. The stanza

Yankee Doodle came to town
Riding on a pony, etc.

never appears with companion stanzas, and yet it is safe to say that
such existed. Unless an authentic contemporary copy of the whole
"poem" turns up, we, at this late date, can do no more than call
attention to some verses which have survived, and which may have
belonged to the original string of stanzas, or at least may have been
inspired by them. Such verses are the following:

1. From Watson's "Annals of Philadelphia," 1844, contained also
in his letter of February, 1832:

Yankee Doodle came to town

For to buy a firelock:
We will tar and feather him

And so we will John Hancock.

2. Samuel Breck in his "Recollections" (1877, p. 132), writing
about 1830 and speaking of John Hancock, said:

. . . This subject brings to my mind four verses to the tune of "Yankee Doodle"
often sung by the British officers during the Revolution:

Madam Hancock dreamt a dream;

She dreamt she wanted something;
She dreamt she wanted a Yankee King,

To crown him with a pumpkin.

3. George H. Moore's manuscript on "Yankee Doodle" pre-
viously mentioned contains this stanza recorded by an "old gentle-
man who recalled [it] about 1830 as one of a ditty common in his
own school days:"

Yankee Doodle came to town

Put on his strip'd trowse's
And vow'd he could n't see the place (town)

There was so many houses.

This last verse, just as the "Macaroni" verse, deals humorously with
the personal appearance of Yankee Doodle, and while slightly satirical,
might have been written not only by a Britisher, but by any American,
Tory or Rebel, who desired to poke some fun at the New England
country bumpkins. It is different with the first and second verse
just quoted. They obviously can have been penned only by a Tory
or a Britisher, and the question merely is what date of origin their
contents suggest, though they do not seem to have appeared in print
until far into the nineteenth century. A brief reference to the biog-
raphy of so well known a historical figure as John Hancock will
answer the question without much further comment :

Born in 1737 at Quincy, Mass., John Hancock became one of the most active
"Sons of Liberty" (after 1765), a representative of the Massachusetts Legislature,
1766-1772, and he was a member of the Committee to demand of the royal governor
the removal of the British troops from Boston, 1770. The efforts of the governor
to secure his and Samuel Adams's person, led to the Battle of Lexington April 18

8548009 9

130 Yankee Doodle.

and 19, 1775 and caused Gen. Gage to exclude both from the general pardon granted
the rebels. Chosen President of the Provincial Congress in October, 1774, he
became a delegate to the Continental Congress, 1775-1780, and its President from
May, 1775, to October, 1777. He married Dorothy Quincy at Fairfield, Conn.,
August 28, 1775.

The "Madam Hancock" verse, therefore so it may be argued
was not written before August 28, 1775, but a "Madam Hancock"
may have been introduced for reasons of satire into this verse by its
author without the slightest knowledge whether or not John Hancock
was married. Nor do the words "Yankee King" necessarily point
to the year 1775, when Hancock became President of the Continental
Congress, because it appears from "A New Song" in the Boston
Gazette of March 26, 1770 (to which Mr. Matthews called my atten-
tion) that the sobriquet "K g H k" was applied to him as early
as 1770. However, "Madam Hancock" and "Yankee King" taken
together would seem to lend force to the conjecture that this particular
verse originated after August 28, 1775, rather than before. No such
circumstantial evidence attaches to the "tar and feather" verse,
except that from 1768 on the patriots delighted in inflicting this pas-
time on the Tories, and that John Hancock certainly was despised
by Tory and Britisher alike after 1770 more than before.

The three verses beginning " Yankee Doodle came to town," it may
safely be assumed, belong to the same breed of verses, though they
and others may not have been written by one author or on the same
occasion. The "Madam Hancock" verse surely had a source not
very distant from that of the others, and as far as the date of origin
of all four verses is concerned, everything seems to point to a date
later than 1770. For practical purposes, indeed, these verses may
be said to have been written probably about 1775.

On page 105 of this report George H. Moore's unpublished opinion
of Doctor Shuckburgh's share in the fortunes of "Yankee Doodle"
was quoted in part. He there mentions as "The only verses I have
met with which carry any appearance of having been a part of the

There is a man in our town

I pity his condition.
He sold his oxen ana his sheep
To buy him a commission

When his own commission he had got,

He proved a nation coward
He durst not go to Cape Breton

For fear he'd be devoured.

Moore does not say that he got these verses from an "old gentle-
man" remembering them like the "Strip'd trowse's " verse about 1830,
nor does he state who this old gentleman was, nor would a disclosure
of identity help us much. Any attempt to date these two verses must
take its cue from the allusion to Cape Breton : the author of the verses,

Yankee Doodle. 131

clearly belonging together, referred either to the capture of Cape
Breton on June 17, 1745, by the Americans, or by General Amherst on
July 26, 1758 (Louisbourg) .

Here the matter would have to rest, but for the "Yankee Doodle"
song published by Thomas Skillern, of London, between 1777 and 1799,
and preserved at the British Museum. As stated on page 177, Mr.
Matthews discovered another copy at Boston in possession of Mr.
Ritchie, jr., who allowed the Library of Congress to secure a facsimile.
(See Appendix, PL XX.) The title and text read:


(as now christened by the Saints of New England)


N. B. The Words to be Sung throu' the Nose, & in the West
Country drawl & dialect.

[Here the music and first verse follow.]

1. Brother Ephraim sold his Cow

And bought him a Commission,
And then he went to Canada

To fight for the Nation.
But when Ephraim he came home

He prov'd an arrant Coward,
He wou'dn't fight the Frenchmen there,

For fear of being devour'd.

2. Sheep's Head and Vinegar,

ButterMilk and Tansy,
Boston is a Yankee town,

Sing Hey Doodle Dandy.
First we'll take a Pinch of Snuff,

And then a drink of Water,
And then we'll say, How do you do,

And that's a Yanky's Supper.

3. Aminidab is just come Home,

His Eyes all greas'd with Bacon
And all the news that he cou'd tell

Is Cape Breton is taken.
Stand up Jonathan

Figure in by Neighbor,
Nathan stand a little off

And make the Room some wider.

4. Christmas is a coming Boys,

We'll go to Mother Chases,
And there we'll get a Sugar Dram,

Sweeten 'd with Melasses.
Heigh ho for our Cape Cod,

Heigh ho Nantasket,
Do not let the Boston wags

Feel your Oyster Basket.

5. Punk in Pye is very good,

And so is Apple Lantern,
Had you been whipp'd as oft as I

You'd not have been so wanton.
Uncle is a Yankee Man,

I 'faith he pays us all off,
And he has got a Fiddle

As big as Daddy's Hog's Trough.

132 Yankee Doodle.

Stanzas sixth and seventh are too obscene for quotation. The
sixth, however, contains a reference to "Doctor Warren," and if the
famous patriot Joseph Warren is meant, as is probable, then this
stanza must have been written after 1764, when Warren began to
practice medicine at Boston, and most likely before June 17, 1775,
when he was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. If the whole song
were known as a unit, and printed by Skillern in its original and
complete form, then the allusion to Doctor Warren would also settle
the approximately latest date of the text. In the absence of any
such positive information, we are obliged to fall back on the single
stanzas and on the title. Whatever the date of the text in part or
as a whole may be, the title "Yankee Doodle or The Lexington
March" clearly alludes to the momentous battle of Lexington and
Concord April 18 and 19, 1775, and can not have been prefixed to
the text before this date, though, of course, the text could have been
written earlier without this particular title. The second and fifth
stanza do not offer any clew except "Boston is a Yankee town"
and "Uncle is a Yankee Man." The history of the use of the word
as applied to New England, renders it probable that these stanzas
were written after 1760. The third mentions the taking of Cape
Breton as "news," but it is not at all necessary to date the stanza

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19

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