From the American Antiquarian Society, earliest score sheet
Father and I went down to camp,|
Along with Captain Gooding,
There we see the men and boys,
As thick as hasty pudding.
Yankee doodle, keep it up,
Yankee doodle, dandy;
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
2. And there we see a thousand men,
3. The lasses they eat every day,
4. And there we see a swamping gun,
5. And every time they shoot it off,
6. I went as nigh to one myself,
7. Cousin Simon grew so bold,
8. And Captain Davis had a gun,|
He kind of clap'd his on't,
And struck a crooked stabbing iron
Upon the little end on't.
9. And there I see a pumpkin shell
10. I see a little barrel too,
11. And there was Captain Washington,
12. He got him on his meeting clothes,
13. The flaming ribbons in their hats,
14. I see another snarl of men
15. It scar'd me so, I hook'd it off,
When the Revolutionary War began, the colonists had no national song. We are told that during the French and Indian War Dr. Richard Shackburg, in a spirit of derision, gave to the poorly clad and awkward colonial soldiers the words and music of Yankee Doodle, telling them it was a fine martial tune. When they played it the British were greatly amused. Twenty years after these same militiamen marched to victory at Lexington to this much derided tune, while their British teachers skulked behind fences or sought refuge in retreat. Five years later Cornwallis marched to the same tune at Yorktown to surrender his sword and his army to General Washington.
Little is known of the history of the tune. No doubt it is several hundred years old, but authorities disagree as to its origin. One says it was commonly used by the Spaniards. Another claims the song was sung by Germans who worked in Holland and sang a harvest song to this well known air. Another tells us that the Puritans of Cromwell's time were ridiculed as "Naukeys" in a stanza adapted to this same tune.
The word "Yankee" is sometimes given as an Indian corruption of the word English. Or, as has been said, it was a contemptuous term applied to the Puritans. Others claim it to be a cant word, expressing excellence, which originated in New England, but which finally came to be applied to the people of that region as a derisive epithet. "Doodle", according to the dictionaries, means a trifling or simple fellow.
The words which were once sung to this tune by the colonists were little more than meaningless doggerel, and are little known now. It is not the lofty sentiment of the words, but the catchy, rollicking tune and the sacred associations, which give this song its place among our national treasures. - From the Golden Book of Favorite Songs, 1915.
| Song Index | Home Page |