Yankee Doodle went to town
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 randy.
Yankee Doodle Dandy is sung with pride and patriotism today in the United States. It is part and parcel of America and its history.
It was not always so.
Yankee Doodle was born during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The British and colonials were fighting the French and Indians. British officers were a gentlemanly sort. High society. Well mannered and cultured. The colonists they fought with disheveled and disorganized. Ill mannered. Without culture. Classless.
The colonists were known as Yankees. Of Dutch derivation. Jancke in Dutch. Pronounced Yankee. Even within the colonial body, there was discrimination. The Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam used Yankee as a dismissive word to describe New England’s English residents.
Dr. Richard Shuckburg was a British Army surgeon during the French and Indian War. A bit of a wit. He authored the original words to Yankee Doodle Dandy. The tune itself comes from an earlier nursery rhyme, Lucy Locket.
The song was one of insult and contempt for the colonials. British soldiers sang it mockingly in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. New verses were added. All intended to put the uncouth colonials in their place.
The words obliviously have meaning. Their etymology interesting.
Yankee has already been described as a dismissive term.
Doodle is of German origin. Dudeltopf or dudelop. Means fool or simpleton.
Macaroni the worst of insults.
A men’s club existed in London known as the Macaroni Club. Its members fashionable in the extreme. Young men. They wore wigs. Unique. Described as foppishness by non-Macaronis. Attire extravagant. Striped silks and feathers in their hats.
They considered themselves the height of fashion. Especially the feather in the hat.
The members adopted feminine mannerisms. They were considered effeminate.
The group used Italian phrases to emphasize their culture. The name Macaroni derived the reform.
By comparing the colonists to Macaroni members, the British were insinuating the colonists were womanish, not very masculine.
Forget taxation without representation. The preceding was reason enough to have precipitated the Revolutionary War.
Then came Lexington and Concord. While marching from Boston to Lexington and Concord, the British fife and drum played the tune and the soldiers sang merrily along.
After the British had been defeated later in the day, Yankee Doodle could be heard again. However, this time played and sung by the colonists. An up yours sort of thing.
Colonists claimed Yankee Doodle as their own. It was especially aggravating to the British to hear when they surrendered at Saratoga and Yorktown.
From then to now, Yankee Doodle has been America’s song. The new country’s first national song.
Some things come back to bite a person in the ass. Yankee Doodle did.