Happy Birthday “Yankee Doodle”

Posted by Mike Merritt in Independence Week on

Just in time for the end of Independence Week, Yankee Doodle turns 250 years young today.  Well, maybe.

According to Happy News, three dates are likely for the song’s creation, but nobody is quite sure which one is true:

The original lyrics to one of America’s best-known songs, one associated with the American Revolution, were actually written a couple decades earlier during the French and Indian War, although an exact date has eluded historians. Some peg the year as 1755, when the war’s first major battles were fought, or 1756.

The other year often cited is 1758. Now, a state archaeologist believes he has narrowed down the date to sometime in June of that year, when a large British-led army was mustering at Albany for an expedition against the French.

So, happy 250th, 252nd, or 253rd birthday, Yankee Doodle.  I’ll sing it in my head to commemorate your creation and association with freedom in this country, while happily ignoring that you were originally written to mock the militia of my state:

Dr. Richard Shuckburgh, a British army physician, is credited with penning the ”Yankee Doodle” lyrics to mock the ragtag New England militia serving alongside the redcoats. As the story goes, Shuckburgh wrote ”Yankee Doodle” while at Fort Crailo, across the Hudson River from Albany, after witnessing the sloppy drill and appearance of Connecticut troops.

The lyrics attributed to Shuckburgh, an upper-crust wag known for his conviviality, mocked the Connecticut fools — ”Yankee doodles” — who arrived wearing hats decorated with feathers. An old English nursery rhyme provided the tune, which was also used in a musical play popular in the British colonies in the mid-1700s.

Two decades later the song was used by the Continental army in pride!  Happy Birthday, Yankee Doodle!  And with that sentiment, I declare an end to Independence Week 2008.  It was really heartening to do a whole week of positive news here at Dymersion.  Don’t worry about my sanity, though!  I had a whole week of posting about politics over at Poligazette!

Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

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