The song, Yankee Doodle Dandy, was an English song. The British Army sang this song in the presence of the Colonial Militia, to chide, deride, denigrate or, look down on their English cousins. The roots of this attitude went back to the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763. Initially, we fought alone against the French intruders and Indian mercenaries. After two years England joined us and was instrumental in successfully winning the war. In the end, we got peace and the British got all of Canada and parts of our mid-west. While we fought on the same side with similar objectives the eventual success of the nine years of war, taught us that we had grown far apart.
The irritants between allies centered on such silly things as uniforms, marching style, and discipline. On the critical level, rank and leadership issues were totally opposite. We elected our regimental leaders. Battle plans were to be understood at all levels. Unfortunately, the British officers were of a certain class and wealth, that seemed to breed arrogance. They expected their decisions to be followed not revised or questioned. “Therein lies the rub”[i]. We would arrive late to the battle, have no idea of the strategy of the moment and fight more like Indians than Europeans.
Back to the song!
Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni
Yankee Doodle, keep it up
Yankee Doodle dandy
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!
Father and I went down to camp
Along with Captain Gooding
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.
And there was Captain Washington
And gentle folks about him
They say he's grown so tarnal proud
He will not ride without them.
A more mature version can be found online.
By the way, if you read 18th Century documents macaroni would be spelled with a y instead of i. In either case, it was a reference to young dainty upper-class English men with European ties that behaved and dressed somewhat effeminate.
The British Army came to town (Boston) on October 1, 1768, landing at Long Wharf, Boston. They were sent to put down a revolution and help customs officials collect taxes. As they disembarked they launched into the many verses of Yankee Doodle Dandy. The song had lost its sting as the Colonial militias from the French and Indian War adopted this tune as their marching song to throw it back in their cousin’s face. The local citizens, especially young adolescents, found it all very peculiar.
In elementary school we learned this giddy song but never quite understood the patriotic fervor entwined in its verse.
[i] Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Great Work! So glad to see other walking guides whose research and use of primary sources is so thorough. DLa xxx (a.k.a. Mistress xxxxxxxxx de la xxx) #ocbground