THE MUSIC OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S TIME
by John Tasker Howard
expanded and updated for the web.
THE MUSICAL BACKGROUND Musical Conditions in Early America
To understand the music of George Washington's time, it is necessary to know musical conditions in America from the days of the first settlers to the end of the eighteenth century. Although there was little music here in the years immediately following the first coming of the white men, it is not correct to assume that there was no considerable musical life in the Colonies by the time our nation asserted and won its independence. True, our ancestors were largely dependent on musical importations from abroad; yet concerts, ballad operas, and musical evenings in the home were frequent in the principal cities from 1750 on.
There were several attitudes toward music in America's infancy. In New England the muse of song had a difficult road to travel. She was viewed suspiciously by the Puritans, who at first would allow no musical instruments, and would tolerate singing only as an aid to divine worship, and then only after bitter arguments as to the propriety of singing Psalms in church.
In New York, Pennsylvania and the South, music and secular diversions were more welcome than in New England, although the Quakers in Pennsylvania considered plays, games, lotteries, music and dancing alike, and advised all their members to have nothing to do with them.
To our present knowledge, there were no native-born composers of music until the time of Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791), signer of the Declaration of Independence, treasurer of loans during the Revolution, judge of the Admiralty of Pennsylvania, and a great cultural influence in eighteenth century Philadelphia. Hopkinson, a friend of George Washington, is credited with being the first American composer, and we shall hear later of his songs, which were charming and reflective of the musical style and taste of the period, even though they may have lacked individuality.
The manuscript book containing Hopkinson's first song bears the date 1759, one hundred and fifty years after the Jamestown colony was first established. The next composer to appear was James Lyon, (1735-1794), a clergyman who wrote a number of hymns, anthems and psalm tunes. In 1770, the year Beethoven was born, William Billings of Boston (1746-1800) published a book called the New England Psalm Singer, in which he included a number of his own compositions, among them some "fuguing pieces", as he called them, crude attempts at the fugues of the masters. Billings had little training as a musician, but he was important for his desire to be original, and for the undoubted vitality he put into his own music, and that of his colleagues.
Soon after the appearance of Hopkinson, Billings and Lyon, other native composers appeared, and while none of them achieved anything that could be considered great, they planted the seeds of a native musical product which has developed to our own day. One of these musicians, Oliver Holden, published in 1793 a hymn-tune that has had continued life, and is known throughout the world - Coronation, sung to the words, "All hail the power of Jesus' name".
Throughout the eighteenth century there had of course been foreign musicians in America, who had come from abroad, and because of their superior training had exerted a strong influence on our musical life. In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Moravian colony which was settled in 1741 enjoyed music that was unknown elsewhere in America. Intense music lovers, these Germans brought their instruments and their voices with them, and their orchestras and choruses performed the works of the masters in a manner worthy of the music. When Washington visited Bethlehem in 1782, he was serenaded by the trombone choir. Yet these Moravians were sufficient unto themselves, and mingled little with their neighbors. Their culture had but slight influence on the rest of America.
After the Revolution more foreign musicians came to our shores and by the time of the French Revolution they immigrated in wholesale quantities. Better trained than the native Americans, they naturally took our musical life into their own hands, and their works soon took the place of American compositions on concert programs. Of course, most of the foreigners eventually became Americans themselves, and their descendants today can boast a long line of American ancestors; but for the time being they stifled much of our native effort in music. Many of these artists were English, some of them French, a few were Germans, although the great influx of German musicians belongs to the next century - in 1848, at the time of the revolutions in Central Europe.
The first public concert in America, of which we have record, was held in Boston. This was in 1731, at a time when the New England ban against secular music was gradually being lowered. The affair, "a Concert of Music on sundry Instruments", was held in "the great room" at Mr. Pelham's, an engraver, dancing master, instructor in reading and writing, painting upon glass, and a dealer in the "best Virginia tobacco". A few years later the selectmen of Boston allowed Fanueil Hall to be used for "Concerts of Musick", and by 1754 there was a concert hall at the corner of Hanover and Court Streets, where concerts of "Vocal and instrumental Musick to consist of Select Pieces by the Masters" were given. After Boston, the next American city to enjoy a concert was Charleston, South Carolina. Then came New York, where in 1736 there was advertised a "Consort of Musick, Vocal and Instrumental, for the benefit of Mr. Pachelbel, the Harpsichord Part performed by Himself. The Songs, Violins and German Flutes by Private Hands."
If contemporary records are to be trusted, Philadelphia heard its first advertised concert in 1757, when John Palma offered an affair "at the Assembly Room in Lodge Alley", January 25th. Yet it seems altogether likely that there were concerts in the Pennsylvania city before this time, for Philadelphians were cultured, and, except for the Quakers, fond of amusement. There was a dancing master in the city in 1710, and dancing was taught in its boarding schools as early as 1728.
Except for the interval of the Revolution, when the Continental Congress passed a resolution "to discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation . . . exhibition of shows, plays and other expensive diversions and amusements" (1774), concerts were offered regularly in the principal cities during the last half of the century. Their programs contained many works that are forgotten today, yet there were a number of standard pieces which are still being played on concert programs. Handel, Haydn, and, in the closing years of the century, Mozart, were well represented, and the overtures of the London Bach - Johann Christian (son of Johann Sebastian) - were played often.
Typical programs of the period show a variety of compositions. In 1769 an Italian resident of Philadelphia, John (Giovanni) Gualdo offered this characteristic list:
ACT I. Overture composed by the Earl of Kelly.
'Vain is beauty, gaudy flower' [sung] by Miss Hallam.
Trio composed by Mr. Gualdo, first violin by Master Billy Crumpto.
'The Spinning Wheel', by Miss Storer.
A German flute concert, with Solos, composed by Mr. Gualdo.
A new symphony after the present taste, composed by Mr. Gualdo.
ACT II. A new Violin concerto with solos, composed by Mr. Gualdo.
A Song by Mr. Wools.
A Sonata upon the Harpsichord, by Mr. Curtz.
Solo upon the Clarinet, by Mr. Hoffman, junior.
Solo upon the Mandolino, by Mr. Gualdo.
Overture, composed by the Earl of Kelly.
Palma followed this with another concert March 25th. In Washington's ledger, March 17th, the following entry appears - "By Mr. Palma's Tickets 52s 6."
Many of the concert programs offered names and works that are still standard musical fare. Here is a typical example from a subscription series advertised in Philadelphia in 1792, while Washington was president, and the Pennsylvania city the national capital:
ACT I. Grand Overture of Haydn, called la Reine de France
[The first movements of symphonies were sometimes offered as "overtures." This was no doubt the first movement of Haydn's Paris Symphony No. 4, "La Reine", composed in 1786.]
Song Mrs. Hodgkinson
Quartetto composed by Mr. Gehot
Concerto Violoncello (composed by the celebrated Duport)
Sinfonia Bach [Johann Christian Bach]
ACT II. Quartetto Messrs. Reinagle, Gehot, Moller,and Capron
[While the name of the composer was not given, this may have been a Quartetto by Pleyel, presented again at a later concert of the series by the same performers.]
Song Mrs. Hodgkinson
Sonata Piano Forte Mr. Moller
Double Concerto, Clarinet and Bassoon Messrs. Wolf and Youngblut
Other concerts of the series offered standard works as well as original compositions by the performers. Such names as Stamitz, Gretry, Vanhall, Boccherini, Pleyel, Martini and Handel are encountered recently.
Haydn was represented by symphonies, piano sonatas, an occasional trio, and numerous "overtures" and "finales", probably first and last movements, respectively, of symphonies. Mozart's name does not appear as often as that of Haydn, but there are references to his piano sonatas and other works. Handel was performed frequently; the Messiah was first presented in New York in 1770. Many concerts in America offered selections from the Messiah, and often when a chorus was available, the "Hallelujah" Chorus would be sung, sometimes "with an accompaniment of kettledrums". The overtures to Handel's oratorios were favorites - such works as Samson, and the opera, Otho. The march from Judas Maccabeus was often performed.
Washington, known to be a frequent concert-goer, must have been familiar with much of the music performed in his day. O. G. Sonneck, in his essay on "The Musical Side of Our First President", has noted a number of concerts which Washington is known to have attended, and has described their programs. Still another program is particularly interesting, for it was offered in Philadelphia in the Spring of 1787, four days after the Constitutional Convention had assembled (May 25.) Under the date of May 29th Washington noted in his diary that he "accompanied Mrs. Morris to the benefit concert of a Mr. Juhan". The Pennsylvania Packet printed the program of Mr. Juhan's concert:
ACT 1st. Grand Overture Martini
Solo Violin (newly composed) Juhan
ACT 2nd. Overture to the Deserter [a ballad opera, by Monsigny]
Concerto Flute Brown
Sonato Piano Forte Reinagle
Concerto Violoncello Capron
ACT 3rd. Concert Violin Cramer
Sonata Guittar Capron
(By desire) the Overture to Rosina [ballad opera, by Shield]
The works of Reinagle on this program are of especial interest, for Reinagle was one of the most important musicians who came to America from Europe in the latter eighteenth century. Several of his works have recently been reprinted in modern editions, and it is evident that while he was no great genius, he was nevertheless a well equipped musician, possessed of taste and imagination. Before coming to America in 1786 he had been an intimate friend of Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach. It is generally supposed that he was engaged as the music teacher of Washington's step-grand-daughter, Nelly Custis, whom Washington adopted legally when her father died.
Reinagle was important also as a theatrical manager, for in 1793, in association with Thomas Wignell, he built and managed the Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, which presented brilliant seasons at the nation's capital during Washington's second administration. Washington was always a lover of the theatre, and attended it frequently from his early manhood in Virginia, where plays were given at Fredericksburg and Williamsburg.
The theatre and music were inseparably associated in eighteenth century America, for many of the theatrical performances were ballad-operas - plays interspersed with music, somewhat like our present day musical comedies. Often, too, the actors would sing popular songs between the acts of the drama.
The Beggar's Opera, by Gay and Pepusch; Rosina, by Shield; The Mountaineers, by Arnold; Love in a Village, by Arne and others; No Song, No Supper, by Storace, were among the favorites. The songs from these plays were also the popular songs of the day, and many of them were traditional ballads.
Popular Songs in the Eighteenth Century
It is not possible even to estimate the age of any of the so-called American folk-songs, although it is probable that a number were in existence before 1800. On the other hand, the popular music of the eighteenth century is well known. The literature of peoples songs consisted largely of English ballads and songs, some of them introduced in the ballad-operas. Many of these songs are still current, and it is not difficult to re-enact the singing of Washington's time.
The famous tune of Green Sleeves is very old, some authorities date it from 1580, so it must have been known in America during Washington's boyhood. The Vicar of Bray appeared in ballad-operas from 1728:
Girls and Boys Come Out to Play appeared in the ballad-opera Polly, a sequel to the Beggar's Opera, in 1729:
Old King Cole announced his appearance in Gay's Achilles in 1733 with this tune:
Rule Brittania was highly popular in the colonies before the Revolution. Dr. Arne composed the music in 1740, and it was well-known in America within a few years after this date. Sally in Our Alley has had an honorable career in America as well as in England. The words have been sung to two tunes, the first dating from 1719, and composed by Henry Carey:
About 1760, however, Carey's tune seems to have been discarded, and since that time the verses have been sung to a tune known earlier as The Country Lass:
The Girl I Left Behind Me has always been popular with fife and drum corps. Authorities differ as to its age; some think it originated about 1758, while others date its English origin as late as 1778. The stirring tune of The British Grenadiers was also popular in America. The age of this air is unknown, although there is reason to believe that it originated in England in the Elizabethan period. There are frequent references to it on American concert programs from as early as 1769.
Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, as a poem, is very old, for its author, Ben Jonson, lived from 1573 to 1637. No doubt it has been known as a song for several centuries, but the present tune cannot safely be dated before 1780. It was frequently sung in America after 1790.
O, Dear, What Can the Matter Be started its American vogue in the closing years of the eighteenth century. Different authorities date its English origin from 1780 to 1792, and American references to the song date from its publication in Shaw's Gentleman's Amusement in 1795.
This is but a brief list of some of the English songs popular in Washington's time which are still known today. Doubtless he was familiar with them, for he went to concerts and the theatre, and also enjoyed the playing of music in his own home. While he probably played no instruments nor sang himself, he nevertheless provided instruments and a musical education to his stepchildren and step-grand-children. At Mount Vernon there are still preserved several music books which belonged to the Washington household; two of them were owned by Martha Parke Custis, the daughter of Martha Washington, who died in 1773. One of these bears the signature of Martha Custis, and the date 1769. It is entitled:
"Harpsichord or spinnet - Miscellany, being a Graduation of Proper Lessons from the Beginner to the tollerable Performer. Chiefly intended to save Masters the trouble of writing for their Pupils. To which are prefixed some Rules for Time. By Robert Bremner".
Included in the contents are a Lesson by Lully, a Gavotte (in F) by Corelli, and a few popular airs of the period - such tunes as Maggy Lauder and God Save the King.
The other book belonging to Martha Custis was entitled New and Complete Instructions for the Guitar. It contained a number of dances of the period, minuets, cotillions, and such country dances as The Hay-Makers Dance, and many popular airs; among them Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen, I winna marry ony mon, and others.
Three of the music books at Mount Vernon belonged to Eleanor Parke (Nelly) Custis, and among their contents are six sonatas by Nicolai (Nos. I to VI inclusive), Overture de Blaise et Babet by Dezede, adapted for the Piano Forte, the score of Goldsmith's The Hermit, set to music by James Hook, and three piano sonatas by G. Maurer.
The Dances of Washington's Time
Dancing was a popular diversion in eighteenth century America, and Washington himself was particularly fond of it. In early manhood, during the Revolution, and in the years of his presidency he attended many "assemblies". He enjoyed such affairs to his last days, and it was only in 1799 that he was compelled to write to the managers of the Alexandria Assembly:
"Mrs. Washington and myself have been honored with your polite invitation to the assemblies of Alexandria this winter, and thank you for this mark of your attention. But, alas! our dancing days are no more. We wish, however, all those who have a relish for so agreeable and innocent an amusement all the pleasure the season will afford them."
The minuet and the gavotte were the formal dances of Washington's time. European composers were of course using these forms for movements of their suites and their sonatas, notably Haydn and Mozart. Martini and Boccherini supplied many such dances, and the latter's charming Minuet in A is still a favorite. (This was composed in 1771, and first published abroad in 1775.)
Composers in America, too, wrote prolifically for dancing. In 1770 Gualdo, in Philadelphia, advertised his Six New Minuets, with Proper Cadences for Dancing. The Library of Congress has an autograph collection of dance tunes by Pierre Landrin Duport, a dancing master of the day who was also an excellent musician. Among these pieces are a Fancy Menuit, "danced before Genl. Washington, 1792", and a Fancy Menuit with Figure Dance, performed "by two young ladies in the presence of Mrs. Washington in 1792. Philada." Alexander Reinagle was among the composers who wrote minuets and gavottes.
There are frequent references also to the sarabande and the allemande, although strictly these belong to an earlier period. The waltz was probably not current in America until the close of the century, for it did not make its appearance in Central Europe until 1780, and was not used in England and France much earlier than 1791 or 1792. One of the earliest American references to the waltz was the publication of a Dance for Waltzing, issued by George Willig of Philadelphia, somewhere between 1795 and 1797.
Reels and country dances were equally, if not more popular than the more formal minuet and gavotte. There are dozens of contemporary references to reels, jigs, country dances, and the contre-dance, or quadrille. One of Washington's favorite dance tunes was Successful Campaign, which was also one of the popular marches of the period.
The Hay-Makers Dance was a favorite tune:
By Washington's time a variety of musical instruments was used in America. As early as 1761 Washington ordered a spinet from abroad. The harpsichord, and later the piano-forte, were found in many homes, and were used at concerts. Violins and cellos were well-known, and the so-called German flute was as necessary to a perfect eighteenth century gentleman's outfit as his wig or powdered hair.
The concert programs of the day give an idea of the instruments that were most used, for many of them announce the instrumentation of the orchestras that performed, as well as the instruments used by soloists. We have already learned that Gualdo's concert in 1769 offered solos on the violin, the German flute, the clarinet, the harpsichord, and the mandolino. Earlier than this, however, is an account of the music played in the church at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Christmas Day, 1743. The instruments used included the violin, the viola da braccio, the viola da gamba, flutes, and French horns. One of the earliest references to trombones comes from Bethlehem, when in 1754 a number of them were brought from Europe. It is recorded that one night in 1755 a number of trombonists at Bethlehem warded off an Indian attack by playing chorales. Trumpets, too, were known in America at an early date in the eighteenth century.
It has sometimes been stated that wood-wind instruments, the oboe and the bassoon especially, were not used to any extent until the latter part of the century, but this is not accurate, for there are early references to such instruments. In 1757 the Pennsylvania Gazette announced that Mr. Charles Love, an actor, was wanted in Virginia for running away from a gentleman of that state with a "small white horse", and "a very good bassoon".
In 1786 the proprietor of the Pennsylvania Coffee House in Philadelphia announced:
that by desire of several gentlemen, he has proposed for the summer season to open a Concert of Harmonial Music, which will consist of the following instruments, viz.
Two French horns
Another item from a later date indicated the standard type of orchestra used at concerts. At an affair at Oeller's Hotel, Philadelphia, 1796, a supplementary orchestra of amateurs was used to augment the concertino, or small band of soloists which was constituted thus:
First violin and leader of the band Mr. Gillingham
Principal violoncellos Mr. Menel
Double Bass Mr. Demarque
Principal Hautboy [Oboe] Mr. Shaw
Tenor [Viola] Mr. Berenger
Bassoon and trumpet Mr. Priest
Horns Messrs. Gray and Homman
Violins Messrs. Daugel, Bouchony, Stewart and Schetky
Pianos were manufactured in America from 1774. Sometimes large orchestras were assembled for festivals, one of them particularly is worthy of comment - a charity concert in 1786 promoted by an English musician in Philadelphia, Andrew Adgate, performed by a chorus of 230 and an orchestra of 50.
There are several instruments at Mount Vernon which belonged to the Washington family - a flute, a citra or guitar, and the harpsichord which Washington bought for Nelly Custis. These were the instruments most often found in homes, and on which young people as well as adults were taught to play. Several passages from two letters of a young New England girl of twelve years, who was studying at the school in Bethlehem, told her parents of her musical education. They were written in 1787:
"There are about thirty little girls of my age. Here I am taught music both vocal and instrumental. I play the guitar twice a day; am taught the spinet and forte-piano, and sometimes I play the organ."
She also told of the music at the Bethlehem church services:
"They sing enchantingly, in which they are joined with the bassviols, violins and an organ. To call the people into chapel four French horns are blown, with which you would be delighted. . . . After we are in bed, one of the ladies, with her guitar and voice, serenades us to sleep."
She described the Moravian Christmas celebration:
"We began with music. There were four violins, two flutes, and two horns, with the organ; which altogether sounded delightfully. The children sang one German and eight English verses . . . . Many of the neighboring inhabitants came to visit us . . . . We entertained them with music."
Military Bands of the Revolution
There are many contemporary references to the military bands of the day, and there has been much discussion as to what they consisted of. It is probable that they were not the brass bands of our generation, but were rather fife and drum corps. John C. Fitzpatrick, in his book, The Spirit of the Revolution, presents a number of arguments to support this theory, and he also describes the function of fifes and drums in the Continental Army. Instead of the bugle, the drum was used for military orders, with such signals as the Reveille, the General, the Assembly, the Retreat, and the Taptoo which became Taps, Many of the flute books of the period are filled with marches, scored for two flutes, which would seem to indicate that flutes, and in the case of army bands, fifes, were used in two-part arrangements.
There are only a few references to contradict the belief that fifes and drums were the sole instrumentation of American bands in the eighteenth century, especially during the period of the Revolution. Among these is an account of a concert conducted by Josiah Flagg of Boston, with a program of "vocal and instrumental musick accompanied by French horns, hautboys [oboes], etc., by the band of the 64th Regiment". This was in 1771, and of course the 64th Regiment was a British organization, not American. It is known that Flagg organized a band himself, but there is no account of the instruments it contained.
The printed version of a Federal March, played in Philadelphia in 1788, contained directions for "trumpets". This, however, was several years after the Revolution.
An interesting item is found in an edition of Kotzwara's sonata, The Battle of Prague, "adapted for a full band" by J. G. C. S[c]hetky, published in Philadelphia in 1793. The word "band", however, is misleading, for the edition has parts for basso, violino, and cannon ("to be played on a drum".) The piano score has directions for horn call and trumpet.
No doubt hautboys were sometimes used with the fifes, although the 1756 account of
"The Philadelphia Regiment consisting of upwards of 1000 able bodied effective men [who] after being review'd and perform, ing the manual Exercise [marched] thro' the town in Three Grand Divisions . . . with Hautboys and Fifes in Ranks. . . . [and] Drums between the third and fourth Ranks,"
referred to an English rather than an American regiment.
Yet the music of the fife and drum, if these were indeed the only instruments used in Continental bands, was often stirring, and inspired soldiers to action. The old English tunes, The Girl I Left Behind Me, The British Grenadiers, as well as Yankee Doodle and the marches of the day were widely played by the fifers. The drum major and tile fife major were persons of distinction in the army.
MUSIC ASSOCIATED WITH HISTORIC EVENTS The Music of Pre-Revolutionary Episodes
A chronological account of the music that originated in Washington's time forms something of a history of his career, and of American events generally. During his boyhood and early manhood, Washington heard chiefly English music. Of English patriotic airs, God Save the King was probably composed in England in 1740, and was no doubt known in the colonies soon after that time. Yankee Doodle originated either in America or in England while Washington was a young man, for the common tradition regarding Dr. Schuckburg, who composed verses to the tune, and played a joke on the Yankee troops at Albany, dates from 1758, during the French-Indian Wars.
The year 1759 saw the composition of the first known song by a native American composer, for that is the date marked on the manuscript book containing Francis Hopkinson's My Days Have Been so Wondrous Free. It is altogether fitting that this charming amateur should have been the first American composer of music, for, as we have already learned, he was a man active in political and cultural affairs.
The events of the French-Indian War were commemorated with music. A Thanksgiving Anthem, by William Tuckey, an English musician resident in New York, was performed December 8, 1760, in Trinity Church, "before his Excellency General Amherst, on his return to New York from the conquest of Canada". The Peace of Paris, by which France ceded to England all of Canada and, with the exception of New Orleans, all of her region east of the Mississippi, was accomplished February 10, 1763. In the same year we find a number of musical celebrations to mark the event. On May 17th, at the College of Philadelphia, there was performed an Exercise, Containing a Dialogue and Ode, "on occasion of the peace", written by "Paul Jackson, A.M.", for solo voice and chorus. On September 28th, the senior class of Nassau Hall delivered an original Dialogue on Peace, "interspersed with music", at its anniversary commencement. A number of years later, in the Pennsylvania Magazine of March 1775, a song was printed to commemorate the Death of General Wolfe, who fell during the taking of Quebec in 1759.
The music of this period shows the loyalty of the colonists. Even at a time when there were tremors of discord with England, poets and composers publicly paid homage to the sovereign and to the mother country. At the commencement of the College of Philadelphia, May 23, 1761, the students performed An Exercise Containing a Dialogue and Ode, written and set to music by Francis Hopkinson, "sacred to the memory of his late gracious Majesty, George II." The next year Hopkinson wrote another Ode and Dialogue for the commencement, "on the accession of his gracious Majesty, George III." Little did Hopkinson know that more stringent enforcement of the obnoxious Navigation Acts would be ordered in 1764, or that in 1765 the Stamp Act Congress would find it necessary to publish a "declaration of rights and grievances".
There were other musical testimonials to the greatness of Britain. The Ode on the Late Glorious Successes of His Majesty's Arms and Present Greatness of the English Nation, published by William Dunlap in Philadelphia in 1762, may have called for music, and it is highly probable that James Lyon composed the music for The Military Glory of Great Britain, "an entertainment given by the late candidates for bachelor's degree, held in Nassau Hall, N. J., September 29, 1762".
Songs Showing Early Resentment of England's Attitude on Taxation
In 1765 we begin to find references to the colonies' resentment of their treatment by England. One of the earliest was a ballad called American Taxation, written soon after the ship Edward arrived in New York bearing news of the passage of the Stamp Act.
There are many references in Revolutionary history to the tune The World Turned Upside Down, and we shall learn later that Cornwallis' troops are supposed to have surrendered to its strains. There is, however, considerable confusion as to what tune was played on various occasions. In 1767, the year of the Townshend Acts, which laid duties on important commodities for the support of a British army in America, and of the law suspending the New York Assembly, an anonymous poet contributed to the Gentleman's Magazine a poem entitled The World Turned Upside Down, or The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, intended as "an humble attempt to reconcile the parent and her children, made by a peace-maker to Great Britain and her Colonies," an entirely different poem than the English verses with the same title. Later, when the words were printed on a music sheet, they were adapted to the English tune, Derry Down. Chappell, in Popular Music of the Olden Time, gives this tune in the following version:
With the exception of the refrain, which was omitted, the peacemaking verses could be easily sung to this melody:
Goody Bull and her daughter together fell out,
Both squabbled and wrangled, and made a - rout,
But the cause of the quarrel remains to be told,
Then lend both your ears, and a tale I'll unfold.
The old lady, it seems, took a freak in her head,
That her daughter, grown woman, might earn her own bread;
Self-applauding her scheme, she was ready to dance;
But we're often too sanguine in what we advance.
In vain did the matron hold forth in the cause,
That the young one was able; her duty, the laws;
Ingratitude vile, disobedience far worse;
But she might e'en as well sung psalms to a horse.
Young, froward, and sullen, and vain of her beauty,
She tartly replied, that she knew well her duty,
That other folks' children were kept by their friends,
And that some folks loved people but for their own ends.
Alas! cries the old woman, and must I comply?
But I'd rather submit than the huzzy should die;
Pooh, prithee be quiet, be friends and agree,
You must surely be right, if you're guided by me.
Unwillingly awkward, the mother knelt down,
While her absolute farmer went on with a frown,
Come, kiss the poor child, here come, kiss and be friends!
There, kiss your poor daughter and make her amends.
Dickinson's "Liberty Song", and its Parodies
John Dickinson of Delaware is generally credited with being the author of the first patriotic song composed in America. Dickinson was an ardent patriot, even though he did at first oppose the Declaration of Independence, because he doubted the policy of Congress "without some percursory trials of our strength". He had long been active in public affairs - a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1764, and of the Congress of 1765. It was in 1768 that he contributed his Liberty Song to the Boston Gazette. Here are a few of its verses:
Come join hand in hand, brave Americans all.
And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call;
No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just claim,
Or stain with dishonor America's name.
Refrain:- In Freedom we're born, and in freedom we'll live.
Our purses are ready,
Steady, friends, steady,
Not as slaves, but as freemen our money we'll give.
Our worthy forefathers - let's give them a cheer.
To climates unknown did courageously steer;
Thro' oceans to deserts, for freedom they came,
And, Dying, bequeath'd us their freedom and fame.
Refrain:- In Freedom we're born, etc. All ages shall speak with amaze and applause,
Of the courage we'll show in support of our laws;
To die we can bear, - but to serve we disdain,
For shame is to freedom more dreadful than pain.
Refrain:- In Freedom we're born, etc.
The final stanza shows that at this early date there was no thought of disloyalty to Britain:
This bumper I crown for our sovereign's health,
And this for Brittania's glory and wealth;
That wealth, and that glory immortal may be,
If she is but just, and we are but free.
Refrain:- In Freedom we're born, etc.
Dickinson's song was set to an English tune, Hearts of Oak, which was composed by Dr. William Boyce, and made its first appearance in a ballad opera in 1759:
Soon after the Liberty Song was printed, a parody appeared in the Boston Gazette:
Come shake your dull noddles, ye pumpkins, and bawl,
And own you are mad at fair Liberty's call
No scandalous conduct can add to your shame,
Condemned to dishonor, inherit the same.
Refrain:- In folly you're born, and in folly you'll live,
To madness still ready,
And stupidly steady,
Not as men, but as monkeys, the tokens you give.
The patriots were ready with a rejoinder to this tory taunt, and The Parody Parodised, or the Massachusetts Liberty Song, was published not only in America, but appeared in the St. James Chronicle, London, in November, 1768:
Come swallow your bumpers, ye tories, and roar,
That the sons of fair Freedom are hamper'd once more;
But know that no cut-throats our spirits can tame,
Nor a host of oppressors shall smother the flame.
Refrain:- In freedom we're born, and, like sons of the brave,
We'll never surrender,
But swear to defend her,
And scorn to survive, if unable to save.
Let tyrants and minions presume to despise,
Encroach on our rights, and make freedom their prize:
The fruits of their rapine they never shall keep:
Tho' vengeance may nod, yet how short is her sleep!
Refrain:- In freedom we're born, etc. Not the glitter of arms, nor the dread of a fray,
Could make us submit to their chains for a day;
Withheld by affection, on Britons we call,
Prevent the fierce conflict which threatens your fall!
Refrain:- In freedom we're born, etc.
In these years various overt acts were gradually leading the Colonies and England to the inevitable struggle. March 5th, 1770, saw the Boston Massacre, and soon afterwards an anonymous British sympathizer circulated this song on a broadside, adapted to the Derry Down tune:
You simple Bostonians, I'd have you beware,
Of your Liberty Tree, I would have you take care,
For if that we chance to return to the town,
Your houses and stores will come tumbling down.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Our fleet and our army, they soon will arrive,
Then to a bleak island, you shall not us drive.
In every house you shall have three or four,
And if that will not please you, you shall have half a score.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
The Boston Tea Party occurred in December, 1773, and soon a number of songs were devoted to the subject of tea - The Taxed Tea, Virginia Banishing Tea, and The Blasted Herb.
Early in 1775 the British Parliament rejected the petition of the Colonies, and declared that a state of rebellion existed in America. The Continental Congress appointed Washington head of the American army on June 15th. As yet there was officially no thought of independence from England, but a number of the song poets made no attempt to hide such possibilities. Here is a song to the Derry Down tune written in 1775:
What a court hath old England, of folly and sin,
Spite of Chatham and Camden, Barre, Burke, Wilkes and Glynn!
Not content with the game act, they tax fish and sea,
And America drench with hot water and tea.
Derry down, down, hey derry down. There's no knowing where this oppression will stop;
Some say-there's no cure but a capital chop;
And that I believe's each American's wish,
Since you've drench'd them with tea, and depriv'd 'em of fish.
Derry down, down, hey derry down. Three Generals* these mandates have borne 'cross the sea,
To deprive 'em of fish and to make 'em drink tea;
In turn, sure, these freemen will boldly agree,
To give 'em a dance upon Liberty Tree.
[*Burgoyne, Clinton, Howe] Derry down, down, hey derry down. Then freedom's the word, both at home and abroad,
And _______ every scabbard that hides a good sword!
Our forefathers gave us this freedom in hand,
And we'll die in defence of the rights of the land.
Derry down, down, hey derry down. Yankee Doodle Becomes an American Song
The battles of Lexington and Concord resulted in at least one important capture by the Colonial troops, for it was at this time that Yankee Doodle became an American song. Since the days of theFrench-Indian War the song had been used by the British to makefun of the colonials, "in their ragged regimentals". The term "Yankee" was indeed an insulting epithet when Captain Preston hurled it at the crowd during the Boston Massacre. One of the favorite pastimes of the British troops had been to gather in front of the New England churches and sing Yankee Doodle while the church-goers were singing their Psalms. Then, in 1775, when Lord Percy led the reinforcements out of Boston on the 18th of April, bound for Lexington to help those who had gone before them to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams, they kept step to the strains of Yankee Doodle. When the British retreated from Lexington and Concord, affairs were in a complete turn-about, for the Yankees appropriated the song for themselves, and sang it back at the British as they fled. Since then it has been an American song.
It is difficult to determine what words to Yankee Doodle may have been sung on various occasions, for there are so many different sets of verses. The stanza that is best known today:
Yankee Doodle came to town
Riding on a pony
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni
may have originated as early as 1764, for the word macaroni probably refers to the fop or dandy who was a member of an affected class of Englishmen about 1760.
Possibly the British marched to Lexington singing the following words, for they refer to their specific errand:
Yankee Doodle. came to town
For to buy a firelock:
We will tar and feather him
And so we will John Hancock.
Washington's arrival at the Provincial Camp near Cambridge, July 2, 1775, may account for a reference in one of the most widely current sets of Yankee Doodle verses. O. G. Sonneck believed that the famous "Father and I Went Down to Camp" words were composed by a Harvard student, Edward Bangs, at the camp either in 1775 or 1776:
Father and I went down to camp,
Along with Captin [sic] Gooding:
There we see the men and boys
As thick as hasty-pudding.
Chorus Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy;
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
And there we see a swamping gun,
Large as a log of maple,
Upon a duced little cart,
A load for father's cattle.
And every time they shoot it off,
It takes a horn of powder,
It makes a noise like father's gun,
Only a nation louder.
And there was Captain Washington,
And gentlefolks about him;
They say he's grown so tarnal proud,
He will not ride without 'em.
He got him on his meeting clothes,
Upon a slapping stallion;
He set the world along in rows,
In hundreds and in millions.
There were other verses in similar vein. Many have supposed that because this doggerel derided the Americans, it must have been written by an Englishman, or at least by a British sympathizer. Sonneck took an opposite view: "[The text] is so full of American provincialisms, slang expressions of the time, allusions to American habits, customs, that no Englishman could have penned these verses.... To be a British satire on the unmilitary appearance of provincial American troops . . . the verses would have to be derisively satirical, which they are not. They breathe good-natured humor and they deal not at all with the uncouth appearance of American soldiery, but with the experience of a Yankee greenhorn in matters military who went down to a military camp and upon his return narrates in his own naïve style the impressions made on him by all the sights of military pomp and circumstance.
Yankee Doodle became the battle song of the Revolution. It was sung by the troops and played as a march by their bands of fifes and drums. Throughout the war it faithfully lived up to one of the stanzas sung to its strains:
Yankee Doodle is the tune,
That we all delight in;
It suits for feasts, it suits for fun,
And just as well for fightin'.
Adaptations of "God Save the King"
Until 1776 God Save the King was the national anthem of the British Colonies, as well as of England. The complete break with the mother country came with the Declaration of Independence, and of course her national hymn ceased to be ours. But the tune was current throughout America, and it was but natural that it should be adapted to new words by American patriots. One of these sets of verses may possibly be dated as early as 1776. It refers to Washington's command, and to the death of Montgomery, who fell in the 1775 campaign against Quebec:
God save America
Free from despotic sway
'Till time shall end
Hushed be the din of arms,
And to fierce war's alarms;
Show in all its charms
Heaven born peace.
God save great Washington,
Fair freedom's warlike son
Long to command.
May every enemy,
Far from his presence flee,
And many grim tyrant
Fall by his hand.
Thy name Montgomery,
Still in each heart shall be
Prais'd in each breast.
Tho' on the fatal plain
Thou most untimely slain,
Yet shall thy virtue's gain
Rescue from death.
The last verse of the version from which this copy was taken (in a manuscript book dated 1796) must have been written after 1778 when the French alliance was completed:
Last in our song shall be
Guardian of liberty
Louis the king,
Terrible god of war
Plac'd in victorious carr [sic]
Of fame and of Navarre,
God save the King.
In 1779 the following song appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet written "by a Dutch lady at the Hague, for the sailors of the five American vessels at Amsterdam":
God save the Thirteen States!
Long rule th' United States!
God save our States!
Make us victorious;
Happy and glorious;
No tyrants over us;
God save our States!
To our fam'd Washington,
Brave Stark at Bennington,
Glory is due.
Peace to Montgomery's shade,
Who as he fought and bled,
Drew honors round his head,
Numrous as true. etc., etc.
In 1776, while the British were occupying Boston, her neighbor. Connecticut, expressed her encouragement with this song, published in the Connecticut Gazette:
Smile, Massachusetts, smile,
Thy virtue still outbraves
The frowns of Britain's isle,
And rage of home-born slaves.
Thy free-born sons disdain their ease,
When purchased by their liberties.
On March 17th Washington compelled Howe to evacuate Boston, and the field of military operations moved from New England. The soldiers of the New England army sang their congratulations:
Sons of valor, taste the glories
Of celestial liberty.
Sing a triumph o'er the tories,
Let the pulse of joy beat high.
One of the many verses, probably added later, referred to the Hessian troops:
Let them rove to climes far distant,
Situate under Arctic skies,
Call on Hessian troops assistant,
And the savages to rise.
The lyrics and ballads of these years refer constantly to stirring events. The Battle of Trenton, Burgoyne's proclamation on June 20th, 1777, and his defeat at Saratoga in the same year, provided plenty of material for the poets of the day. In 1778 Francis Hopkinson wrote his famous poem, The Battle of the Kegs, satirizing the alarm of the British as they destroyed the powder kegs the Americans had floated down the Delaware to annoy British shipping. This, presumably, was sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle.
It was in 1778 also that Hopkinson wrote the words and music of his Toast to Washington. The words appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of April 8th and the music was recently found in a manuscript book in Hopkinson's handwriting. The Toast, with its music, was printed in 1799, for Benjamin Carr of Philadelphia published it in that year together with Brother Soldiers, All Hail, "a favorite new patriotic song in favor of Washington". The music of this latter song was the Washington March No. 1.
William Billings' Chester has been termed the "Over There" of the Revolution, and while Yankee Doodle was no doubt the most used marching song, Chester was certainly sung by the troops throughout the Continental Army. Billings had originally written the melody as a hymn-tune, but when his second book, The Singing Master's Assistant, appeared in 1778, it contained Chester as a war song, with new words:
Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,
With Prescott and Cornwallis join'd,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal league combin'd.
When God inspired us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forc'd,
Their Ships were Shelter'd in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our Coast.
The Foe comes on with haughty Stride,
Our troops advance with martial noise,
Their Vet'rans flee before our Youth,
And Gen'rals yield to beardless boys.
What grateful Off'ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Hallelujahs let us Sing,
And praise his name on ev'ry Chord.
Between 1911 and 1931, some 40-odd bills and resolutions were introduced in Congress toward the end of establishing a national anthem, and Chester, along with Yankee Doodle, God Bless America, and America the Beautiful were among the front runners. The proponents of Chester were quick to point out that the words and lyrics were wholly American, unlike others, such as the Star-spangled Banner, the music of which was British. Its detractors pointed out that its lyrics were obviously dated, and the reference to "New England's God" rankled sectionalists in other parts of the country.
The unsuccessful attempt to capture Rhode Island by Count D'Estaing of the French forces and the American General Sullivan, in August 1778, led the British, or their sympathizers, to attempt the recapture of Yankee Doodle, with these verses derisive of the Americans:
From Lewis, Monsieur Gerard* came,
To Congress in this town, sir,
They bow'd to him and he to them,
And then they all sat down, sir.
[Gerard was the minister from France; the first minister from any nation to the United States.] Begar, said Monsieur, one grand coup,
You shall bientot behold, sir;
This was believ'd as gospel true,
And Jonathan felt bold, sir.
So Yankee Doodle did forget
The sound of British drum, sir,
How oft it made him quake and sweat,
In spite of Yankee rum, sir.
He took his wallet on his back,
His rifle on his shoulder,
And vow'd Rhode Island to attack,
Before he was much older.
In dread array their tatter'd crew,
Advanc'd with colors spread, sir,
Their fifes played Yankee doodle, doo,
King Hancock at their head, sir.
As Jonathan so much desird
To shine in martial story,
D'Estaing with politesse retir'd,
To leave him all the glory.
He left him what was better yet,
At least it was more use, sir,
He left him for a quick retreat,
A very good excuse, sir.
The Music of Yorktown
The battle of Yorktown, and the final surrender of Cornwallis, October 19, 1781, was duly commemorated in song. Yankee Doodle was inevitably one of the tunes that were used. One of the songs was playful:
Cornwallis led a country dance,
The like was never seen, sir,
Much retrograde and much advance,
And all with General Greene, sir.
Greene, in the South, then danc'd a set,
And got a mighty name, sir,
Cornwallis jigg'd with young Fayette,
But suffer'd in his fame, sir.
Quoth he, my guards are weary grown
With footing country dances,
They never at St. James's shone,
At capers, kicks or dances.
His music soon forgets to play
His feet can no more move, sir,
And all his bands now curse the day,
They jigged to our shore, sir.
Now tories all, what can ye say?
Come - is this not a griper,
That while your hopes are danc'd away,
'Tis you must pay the piper.
The Scotch tune, Maggie Lauder, supplied the music for Cornwallis Burgoyned:
But Washington, her glorious son.
Of British hosts the terror,
Soon, by repeated overthrows,
Convinc'd them of their error;
Let Princeton, and let Trenton tell,
What gallant deeds he's done, sir,
And Monmouth's plains where hundreds fell,
And thousands more have run, sir.
Cornwallis, too, when he approach'd
Virginia's old dominion,
Thought he would soon her conqu'ror be;
And so was North's opinion.
From State to State with rapid stride,
His troops had march'd before, sir,
'Till quite elate with martial pride,
He thought all danger's o' er, sir.
But our allies, to his surprise,
The Chesapeake had enter'd;
And now too late, he curs'd his fate,
And wish'd he ne'er had ventur'd,
For Washington no sooner knew
The visit he had paid her,
Then to his parent State he flew,
To crush the bold invader.
When he sat down before the town,
His Lordship soon surrender'd,
His martial pride he laid aside,
And cas'd the British standard.
Gods! how this stroke will North provoke,
And all his thoughts confuse, sir!
And how the Peers will hang their ears,
When first they hear the news, air.
Be peace, the glorious end of war,
By this event effected;
And be the name of Washington,
To latest times respected;
Then let us toast America,
And France in union with her;
And may Great Britain rue the day
Her hostile bands came hither.
Reference has already been made to the music played on the occasion of Cornwallis' surrender. John Fiske, the eminent historian, presents an interesting account of the scene ("The American Revolution, by John Fiske, Vol. II, pp. 282-3: Boston; Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)
"The British army became prisoners of war, subject to the ordinary rules of exchange. The only delicate question related to the American loyalists in the army, whom Cornwallis felt it wrong to leave in the lurch. This point was neatly disposed of by allowing him to send a ship to Sir Henry Clinton, with news of the catastrophe, and to embark in it such troops as he might think it proper to send to New York, and no questions asked. On a little matter of etiquette the Americans were more exacting. The practice of playing the enemy's tunes had always been cherished as an inalienable prerogative of British soldiery; and at the surrender of Charleston, in token of humiliation, General Lincoln's army had been expressly forbidden to play any but an American tune. Colonel Laurens, who now conducted the negotiations, directed that Lord Cornwallis's sword should be received by General Lincoln, and that the army on marching out to lay down its arms, should play a British or a German air. There was no help for it; and on the 19th of October, Cornwallis's army, 7,247 in number, with 840 seamen, marched out with colours furled and cased, while the band played a quaint old English melody, of which the significant title was "The World Turned Upside Down"!
It is well known that the American bands responded with Yankee Doodle, the tune that had been hurled at them in derision up to the time of Lexington and Concord. But the identity of The World Turned Upside Down is not so easily established. We have already read of the verses that were adapted to Derry Down, and the following is the version of a tune that appears in Chappell's Popular Music of the Old Times, under the title When the King Enjoys his own Again:
A number of titles were used for this tune, and The World Turned Upside Down was among them. It is, however, not established that this is the tune that was played at Yorktown, although it was known to be popular in Revolutionary times.
A scholarly look at whether it was, in fact, even played at Yorktown may be found at http://www.americanrevolution.org/upside.html
Shortly after Yorktown, in November, there occurred in Philadelphia the performance of a work that may logically be considered as the first American opera. This was an "oratorical entertainment", an allegorical-political opera or dramatic cantata, consisting of an overture, arias, ensembles and choruses in praise of the American alliance with France - the work of the eminent Francis Hopkinson. Although the music is not extant today, the libretto was printed in the Freeman's journal December 19, 1781, with the explanation that it had been performed "by a company of gentlemen and ladies in the hotel of the minister of France in the presence of his Excellency General Washington and his lady". Sonneck, in Francis Hopkinson and James Lyon, calls attention to the fact that while the libretto was printed anonymously in the Freeman's Journal, it was signed "H" when it was reprinted years later in the Columbia Magazine. This fact, added to Sonneck's discovery of a fragment of a manuscript in a copy of the second volume of Hopkinson's collected poems and prose, seems to establish his authorship of The Temple of Minerva beyond reasonable doubt.
Music to Celebrate Peace with England
The peace which was finally concluded September 3, 1783, following the separate preliminary treaty with England of November, 1782, was celebrated in many ways, and inevitably in song. In 1784 Abraham Wood of Worcester, Mass., advertised An Anthem on Peace, his own composition, as "published and sold by him at his house in Northborough, and at the Printing Office in Worcester". As late as 1785 (July 29), a performance was advertised for the theatre in Philadelphia of Peace and Liberty, "a grand serenata . . . consisting of recitation, recitative, airs, and choruses. The parts . . . selected from the works of Thompson, Sterne, etc. etc. The music, vocal and instrumental, composed by Handel, Arne, Tenducci, Fischer, Valentino, etc.
Nor were those who had fallen in battle forgotten. Successive issues of the Pennsylvania journal of December 1784, advertised a performance of "Lectures (Being a mixed entertainment of representation and harmony)", in which the opening number would be a Monody to the memory of the chiefs who have fallen in the cause of American liberty (the music of which is entirely new) adapted to the distinct periods of the recital. The entertainment was to conclude with a Rondelay, "celebrating the Independence of America. Music, Scenery and other Decorations".
The Washington Marches
The year 1784 is important because it is the earliest to which any of the historical Washington's Marches has been traced. It is highly probable that at least one of these marches was of Revolutionary origin, and was played by the army fife and drum corps. For many years Sonneck was inclined to the belief that they originated at a later date, and in his most extended analysis of their probable origins, he was extremely doubtful of their association with the Revolution.' Since writing this account (1905) he discovered in the Massachusetts Spy (Worcester), issue of May 27, 1784, mention of a Washington's March that was played at a concert in Philadelphia on May 8th of the same year. This makes the Revolutionary origin of one of the marches not only possible, but probable. It is not, however, an easy matter to determine which of the several pieces was played.
The march which is to-day generally referred to as Washington's March runs as follows:
A second march is commonly designated as Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton.
The numbers, 1 and 2, by which these marches are designated in these pages, are purely arbitrary, for our own purposes of examina tion; they do not assume that one or the other is necessarily the older.
It is of course unsafe to base any conclusions upon the evidence of prints and manuscripts extant today, for some item that comes to light tomorrow may upset theories based on circumstantial evidence. Yet the early prints that are available, and the many manuscript col lections in libraries and private collections are tempting to those who enjoy the unravelling of mysteries.
G. Sonneck: Francis Hopkinson and James Lyon-pp. 96-104.
It has generally been assumed that March No. 1, as we have termed it, is the older of the two, largely because later editions of March No. 2 give it the title of the President's New March. This is not a tenable theory, for both of the marches have been termed the President's New March or the New President's March on occasion. No printings of either march have been found which may safely be dated earlier than 1794. An undated volume of miscelleanous Marches and Battles in the Ridgeway Branch of the 'Library Com pany of Philadelphia, contains March No. 1 as Washington's March [As part of America and Brittania, Peace. "A New March composed by R. Taylor (and so arranged as to Harmonize perfectly with Washington's March played both together.)" Taylor came to America in 1792, 16 publication must be dated after that time],
and No. 2 as Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton. Sonneck ventured 1794 as a possible date for this collection of marches. In 1794 or 1795 March No. I was printed "at G. Willig's Musical Magazine" in Philadelphia, "as performed at the New Theatre".
While there may have been discovered no prints of March No. 2 earlier than this issue of March No. 1 by Willig, two manuscript items in the Library of Congress are of extreme interest, and possibly of importance. One of these is Henry Beck's Flute Book, a manuscript volume of marches and popular airs scored for flute solo and sometimes for two flutes. On the first page of this volume is a pencil date, 1786. If this date is plausible it would probably indicate the. year in which the copying was begun, and the fact that some of the later tunes are known to have originated after 1790 would show that the work of transcribing covered a number of years.
In the early part of the book, on page 50, is a piece called General Wayne's March, which is none other than our March No. 2, commonly called Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton. This may prove nothing, or it may prove a great deal, but it does tend to weaken the belief that March No. 1 is the older. General Wayne, of course, was the Mad-Anthony Wayne who added to his reputa tion by storming Stony Point in 1779. The question whether this march was originally written to commemorate Wayne, and later adapted to honoring Washington, provides material for interesting speculation.
What ever the origin, and whatever the precedence, these two marches were played, published, and reprinted for years. Often they were both included on the same sheet of music. The following table shows the parallel appearances of the two marches well into the nineteenth century:
March No. 1 March No. 2 1786 (?) General Wayne's March
(in Beck's Flute Book.)
1791 (?) Genl. Washington's March
(in a Mss. Book in the Library of Congress.)
1794 (?) Washington's March (in undated collection of Marches and Battles; see text above.) Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton (in undated collection of Marches and Battles; see text above.) 1794-5
Washington's March, as performed at the New Theatre, Phila. (G. Willig's Musical Magazine.)
1797 Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton, as part of James Hewitt's Battle of Trenton Sonata 1798 (?) The New President's March, (New York; J. Paff's Music Store.) Washington's March (New York; J. Paff's Music Store.) 1798-1801 Washington's March (N. Y., Geo. Gilfert, 177 Broadway.) After 1798 General Washington's March (Boston, G. Graupner, 6 Franklin Place.) 1799 Brother Soldiers, All Hail ("a new patriotic song in favor of Washington", to the tune of Washington's March: Phila., Beni. Carr.) Washington's March (in Bellamy's Band Book, Mss. Library of Congress, scored on two treble clefs and one bass clef.) 1799-1800 The New President's March (N. Y., J. Hewitt, 23 Maiden Lane.) Washington's March (N. Y., J. Hewitt, 23 Maiden Lane.) 1802 Washington's March (in the Flute Preceptor, or Columbian Instructor, improv'd by R. Shaw, Philadelphia.) President's New March (in the Flute Preceptor, etc.) Ca. 1805 Washington's March (in the Compleat Tutor for the Fife, Phila., Geo. Willig.) Washington's March (in a Collection of Favorite Marches, arranged for the flute, and violin. N. Y., J. Hewitt's Musical Repository, 59 Maiden Lane.) After 1805 Washington's March (in Willig's Instruction for the German Flute. Phila., G. Willig's Musical Magazine, 171 Chestnut Street.) 1808 General Washington's March (in the Village Fifer, No. 1, arranged for two fifes. Exeter, N. H.) 1814-16 Washington's Grand March (Phila., A. Bacon & Co., 11 So. 4th Street.) 1815-18 Washington's March (scored for 2 flutes and piano, in The Martial Music of Camp Dupont, arranged by Raynor
Taylor, Phila., Geo. E. Blake, 13 So. 5th Street.)
1818 Washington's March (in Amerikanische National-Marsche fur das Piano-Forte.**
Leipzig, C. F. Peters.)
After 1819 March at the Battle of Trenton, (Phila., Geo. Willig, 171 Chestnut Street.) Before 1820 Washington's March (Phila., G. E. Blake.) Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton (Phila., G. E. Blake.) After 1820 Washington's March (N. Y., N. Thurston.) 182 (?) Washington's March (Baltimore, G. Willig.) Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton (Baltimore, G. Willig.) Ca. 1830 Washington's March (Mss. arrangement for brass band by Chas. Zeuner, Library of Congress.) After 1832 Washington's Grand March (N. Y., Firth & Hall, 1 Franklin Sq.) Washington's March (N. Y., Firth & Hall, 1 Franklin Sq.) Before 1833 Washington's March (Boston, C. Bradlee, Washington St.) 1834-9 Washington's March (N. Y. Atwill's, 201 Broadway.) Before 1836 Washington's Grand March (Arr. for the Spanish Guitar by J. B. L'Hulier, Phila., Geo. Willig, 171 Chestnut St.) 184(?) Washington's March (Boston, G. P. Reed, 17 Tremont Road.) 1842 Washington's Grand March (and the National Melody Yankee Doodle, with variations, for the Spanish Guitar,Phila., Geo. Willig.) After 1843 Washington's March (Boston, C. H. Keith, 67-69 Court Street.) 1844-57 Washington's March (Boston, Oliver Ditson.) 1846-7 Washington's March (arr. as a duett for the Pianoforte by M. Hall, N. Y., Firth Hall & Pond, 239 Broadway.) 1847-51 Washington's March (Phila., E. Ferrett & Co., 40 So. 8th Street.) Ca. 1852 Washington's March (N. Y., Firth, Pond & Co., 1 Franklin Square.) 1854 Washington's March (with brilliant variations, Ch. Grobe, Phila., Lee & Walker, 722 Chestnut St.) 1858 Washington's March (arrangement for orchestra in J. W. Moore's Star collection, Boston, Oliver Ditson.) 1861 Washington's March (in American Medley, Ch. Grobe, Boston, Oliver Ditson.) 1863-1877 Washington's Grand March (N. Y., Wm. Pond & Co., 547 Broadway.) Washington's March (N. Y., Wm. Pond & Co., 547 Broadway.) Before 1864 Battle of Trenton March (N. Y., S. T. Gordon, 538 Broadway.) 1864-9 Washington's March (N. Y., S. T. Gordon, 706 Broadway.) Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton (N. Y., S. T. Gordon, 706 Broadway.) 1876 Washington's Grand March (arr. by Septimus Winner, Boston, Oliver Ditson Co.)
**Following the publication abroad of these American marches, the following review appeared in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (Leipzig), Septem ber 13, 1820: "These may well be the first musical compositions from North America to reach the Old World! As is well known, there is little demand there for artists (mechanical artists excepted), and of late they have even been expressly warned against immigration. It is therefore not surprising that these marches should not rank very high as musical compositions per se. Nor is it any more surprising that these pieces, having arisen and grown popular in that country, where utility is of course considered the principal, if not the sole requirement, should be most practically devised for the purpose at hand - as marches, for marching, in all sorts of march-time; and that in answering the broader requirements, the stimulation of courage and the war, like disposition in general, more attention should have been paid to the outward character of the music (fanfares and trumpet movements) than to the inward. In all these respects (if not in others) the reviewer finds the present work really interesting and believes that others will find it so too. . . ."
This parallel list shows a number of things, principally the enormous and continued popularity of both marches, evidenced by the many editions extending to the latter part of the nineteenth century. Also, according to the number of printings tabulated and examined, March No. 2 was issued more often than No. 1. Another apparent fact is interesting - March No. 2 has been named Washington's March far more often than it has been called Washington's March at the Battle of Trenton.
While these two marches seem to have had the widest distribution, there were of course other Washington marches, quick-steps, Washington Guard quicksteps, etc. One of these further marches is worthy of comment:
This piece may be of little importance, for few prints of it are extant. It was included in the Complete Fifer's Museum (printed in Northampton, Mass., 1807) and in 1825 it was issued in sheet music form by J. T. Siegling of Charleston. Yet there is at least one fact that renders it worthy of consideration. While Genl. Wayne's March (identical with our March No. 2) appears on Page 50 of Beck's Flute Book, this third march is found on page 12 of the same collection, with the title General Washington's March. March No. 3 may therefore have a claim to an early Revolutionary origin, even though it dropped from view far sooner than the others.
The authorship of none of these Washington Marches has been established, although there have been many claims in behalf of Francis Hopkinson as the composer of one of them. The following item appeared in the January, 1859, issue of the Historical Magazine:
"... I have ... reason to believe that the "Washington March" generally known by that title ... was composed by the Hon. Francis Hopkinson, senior, having seen it in a manuscript book of his own handwriting among others of his known compositions.
"J. C." may have been Joseph Carr, a music publisher, well qualified to make such a statement, but unfortunately none of the Hopkinson manuscript books now extant, even the recently discovered book containing the Toast to Washington, contain any trace of a Washington's March. Hopkinson's authorship must rest upon tradition until further evidence is available.
Miscellaneous Songs in Honor of Washington
The songs of the years following the Revolution show to what a great extent Washington was idolized. A "New Song" which appeared in the Philadelphia Continental Journal of April 7, 1786, was adapted to the tune of God Save the King:
God save great Washington
His worth from ev'ry tongue
Ye tuneful powers combine,
And each true Whig now join
Whose heart did ne'er resign
The glorious cause.
On the occasion of the general's birthday in 1786, the "adopted Sons" performed a work especially written for the event - an Ode on the Birthday of his Excellency George Washington; "celebrated by the Adopted Sons at the Pennsylvania Coffee House in Philadelphia, composed by a member of that society". The words, which were printed in the Pennsylvania Packet two days later, hailed Washington as a patron of music:
"Parent of soothing airs and lofty strains-"
In the same year William Selby, an English musician of Boston, composed an Ode in Honour of General Washington, performed at a concert in that city, April 27th.
The "Federal March" to Celebrate the Ratification of the Constitution
From May 25th to September 17th, 1787, the Constitutional Convention held its stormy sessions in Philadelphia. By June 6, 1788, ten of the States had ratified the document and "come under the Federal roof". July 4th of that year was a gala day in Philadelphia, duly commemorated in music, for Alexander Reinagle contributed the Federal March which was "performed in the grand procession", "composed in honor of the ratification of the Federal Constitution by Ten of the States"."
In 1898 the Federal March was revived, when it was played in Philadelphia, October 27, during a military parade before President McKinley.
In the Fall of 1788 another work was advertised, celebrating the same subject - the New Constitutional March and Federal Minuet, "composed by Mr. Sicard, adapted to the pianoforte, violin and German flute".
Francis Hopkinson Dedicates Eight Songs to Washington
In the same year Francis Hopkinson published the eight songs that he dedicated to George Washington. The father of our country wrote many charming letters, but few were more gracious than that addressed to Hopkinson, accepting the dedication:
". . . . But, my dear Sir, if you had any doubts about the reception which your work would meet with - or had the smallest reason to think that you should meet with any assistance to defend it - you have not acted with your usual good judgment in the choice of a coadjutator, for . . . what alas! can I do to support it? I can neither sing one of the songs, nor raise a note on any instrument to convince the unbelieving. But I have, however, one argument which will prevail with persons of true estate (at least in America) - I can tell them that it is the production of Mr. Hopkinson."
While there were actually eight songs in the collection, the volume was entitled Seven Songs, and contained under the last number a footnote explaining that the author had decided to include it after the title page had been engraved. The titles of the songs, as well as their poetic and musical content, show the influence of the contemporary English style: "Come, fair Rosina, come away; My love is gone to sea; Beneath a weeping willow's shade; Enraptur'd I gaze; when my Delia is by; See, down Maria's blushing cheek; O'er the hills far away, at the birth of the morn; My gen'rous heart disdains, the slave of love to be; and The trav'ler benighted and lost, o'er the mountains pursues, his lone way."
Hopkinson sent a copy of the collection to Washington, and another to his friend Thomas Jefferson, who was then in Paris. In his letter to Jefferson the composer said he thought that the last song, "if played very slow, and sung with Expression", was "forcibly pathetic - at least in my fancy". Jefferson thought so, too, for he replied: "I will not tell you how much they have pleased us, nor how well the last of them merits praise for its pathos, but relate a fact only, which is that while my elder daughter was playing it on a harpsichord, I happened to look toward the fire & saw the younger one all in tears. I asked her if she was sick? She said "no; but the tune was so mournful".
And that, we may be sure, was indeed a compliment!
Music of the Inaugural Tour
On February 4, 1789, the electoral college chose Washington as the first president of the United States. On April 14 he received official notification at Mount Vernon, and immediately started his memorable journey to New York, where he was inaugurated April 30.
The music of these times shows his travels and his triumphs. As he passed beneath the Triumphal Arch erected on the bridge at Trenton (April 21st) he was greeted by a Chorus, "sung by a number of young girls, dressed in white, decked in wreaths and chaplets, holding baskets of flowers in their hands." The words, by Richard Howell, were a welcome and a tribute:
Welcome mighty chief! once more
Welcome to this grateful shore:
Now no mercenary Foe
Aims again the fatal blow.
Aims at thee the fatal blow.
Virgins fair and Matrons grave,
Those thy conquering Arms did save,
Build for thee Triumphal Bowers
Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers,
Strew your Hero's way with flowers.
"As they sung these lines", the contemporary account continues, "they strewed the flowers before the General, who halted until the Chorus was finished. The astonishing contrast between his former and actual situation on the same spot - the elegant state with which the Triumphal Arch was adorned at the time, and the innocent appearance of the white-robed Choir, who met him with his gratulatory Song, made a lively and strong Impression on his mind."
C. E. Godfrey, in an article in the Trenton Sunday Advetriser, December 29, 1912, proved conclusively that these verses were sung at Trenton to the music of Handel's See the Conquering Hero Comes, from Judas Maccabeus. In connection with this article Godfrey printed Howell's words with the Handel music, thus showing that it was entirely possible to sing them to this composition. The use of several notes for a single syllable was thoroughly characteristic of the period.
A few months later (September 22nd) the program of the New York Subscription Concert offered a number which was advertised as: "a chorus to the words which were sung as Gen. Washington passed the bridge at Trenton - The music now composed by Mr. Reinagle". This setting is probably identical with the published Chorus Sung before General Washington, "as he passed under the triumphal arch raised at the bridge at Trenton, April 21st, 1789. Set to music and dedicated by permission to Mrs. Washington by A. Reinagle. Price 1/2 dollar. Philadelphia. Printed for the author, and sold by H. Rice, Market Street." Yet it is clear that Reinagle's was a later setting; not the music used at Trenton.
The President's March
It is not known what music, if any, was played at Washington's inauguration ceremony, when be delivered his famous inaugural address in Federal Hall, New York. It may have been at this time, however, that the famous President's March, later used by Joseph Hopkinson as the music for Hail Columbia, came into being, although it is generally assumed that the piece was not composed until after 1790.
For years a controversy has been waged on the authorship of the President's March, and claims have been advanced for Francis Hopkinson, Philip Roth, and Philip Phile. Hopkinson's authorship has never been seriously considered by authorities, and Roth's is impossible to verify. Sonneck believed that Phile's claim was established beyond reasonable doubt by the appearance, a number of years ago, of an unnumbered page in the collection of former Governor Pennypacker of Philadelphia. This page had evidently been torn from an engraved music collection, and it bore two marches. One of them was the President's March by Pheil, the other a March by Moller. The latter piece indicates that the sheet belonged to one of the publications issued by the firm of Moller and Capron in Philadelphia in 1793.
Whoever wrote it, and whenever it first appeared, the President's March was the most popular piece of the early days of the United States. It was played on all occasions, by bands and orchestras. Leaders of the music in the theatres could not avoid playing it, for often their rendering of classics was interrupted by cat-calls and demands from the gallery for the President's March.
The 4th of July in 1789 was doubly celebrated, for not only was it the annual observance of the Declaration of Independence, it was the country's first Fourth as a nation, This was indicated by an Ode for American Independence, printed in the Massachusetts Magazine of July 1789 - the words by Daniel George, the music by Horatio Garnet. The first verse refers to the Declaration of Independence, and its signing by Massachusetts' son, John Hancock:
The next three verses recount the history of the Revolution, from Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga, to the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. The sixth verse deals with the present situation:
Now from Mount Vernon's peaceful shades again,
The Hero comes, with thousands in his train:
'Tis Washington, the Great
Must fill the chair of state, Columbia cries:
Each tongue the glorious name re-echoes to the skies.
Refrain: Fly, swift, wing'd fame, etc.
The final stanza hails Washington and peace:
Now shall the useful arts of peace prevail,
And commerce flourish, flavor'd by each gale;
Discord, forever cease,
Let Liberty and Peace,
And justice reign;
For Washington protects the scientific train.
Refrain: Fly, swift, wing'd fame, etc. Music Performed During the New England Tour of 1789
From October 15th to November 13th Washington was occupied with his famous tour of New England. When he arrived in Boston, October 24th, he was greeted at the Triumphal Arch by the singing of an Ode to Columbia's Favourite Son, performed by the Independent Musical Society:
There view Columbia's Favourite Son,
Her Father, Saviour, Friend and Guide!
There see th' Immortal Washington!
His Country's Glory, Boast and Pride!
In the Christian Advocate of February 22nd, 1900, a piece of music was printed which was called Holden's Ode to Washington. Oliver Holden was the composer of Coronation, the famous hymn tune. This Ode is of particular interest because of the explanatory note, signed by Benjamin B. Davis of Brookline, which prefaced the printing of the piece in the Advocate:
"Desirous of perpetuating the memory of Washington, I wrote this music from memory, of an Ode sung October 24, 1789, on the occasion of President Washington's arrival at the Old State House, Boston. Having learned it from my Father in 1805 when ten years of age, he being one of the Chorus singers."
With the exception of minor variations, this Ode, written from memory by Mr. Davis, is identical with the Ode to Columbia's Favourite Son "sung by the Independent Musical Society", and printed anonymously in the October 1789 issue of the Massachusetts Magazine. This seems to establish Holden's authorship.
At the Stone (King's) Chapel, three days after the welcome at the State House, another Ode was performed "before the President of the United States of America", the words "by Mr. Brown of Boston":
Recitative Behold the man! whom virtues raise
The highest of the patriot throng!
To him the muse her homage pays,
And tunes the gratulory song.
Air Illustrious Visitant! design'd
By heaven's invincible decree
T'enoble and exalt the mind,
And teach a nation to be free;
Welcome, thrice welcome to the spot;
Where once thy conq'ring banners wav'd,
O never be thy praise forgot,
By those thy matchless vaIour sav'd.
Other works were issued at the time of Washington's Boston visit, one of them an Ode to the President of the United States, "By a Lady. The musick set by Mr. Hans Gram". Gram was a German musician who had come to Boston to live, and the Ode was printed in the Massachusetts Magazine of October 1789, on the page immediately following the Ode to Columbia's Favourite Son.
In the following years there were many tributes to Washington in music and song. Samuel Holyoke, a New England psalmodist and compiler of hymn collections, published in 1790 a song, Washington, which praised the hero's part in the struggle for liberty. Washington's Counsel Forever Huzza! was the title of a song "written, composed and to be sung by Mr. Clifford", in the comic opera, The Farmer, at the Charleston Theatre on January 22, 1794. Washington, a song written by Mrs. Pownall, a favorite actress and songwriter of the period, was advertised as part of a concert given in Boston, August 1st, 1794. A Song on General Washington, by Alexander Juhan, printed with a set of six songs in 1794, commenced with the allegorical line:
"On the white cliffs of Albion, reclining sat fame - "
Mrs. Pownall wrote and sang another song in tribute to Washington in 1796 - Washington and Liberty. It was performed after the play at the City Theatre in Charleston on the President's birthday.
Songs in Honor of Other Revolutionary Characters
Other historical characters of the day were commemorated. When Lafayette returned to America in 1824 and 1825 many songs and instrumental pieces were written in his honor, but some were composed in the latter eighteenth century too. Young's Vocal and Instrumental Miscellany, published in Philadelphia in 1794, contained Lafayette, "a new song". When John Hancock died in 1793, there was published a Sonnet, "for the fourteenth of October, 1793. When were entombed the remains of his Excellency John Hancock, Esq., late Governor and Commander in Chief of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The music taken from an oratorio by the famous Groun of Berlin. The lines written and adapted by Hans Gram, Organist of Brattle Street Church, in Boston."
A number of songs were devoted to Major André - Major André's Complaint, printed at Carr & Co.'s Musical Repository in 1794; Major André, a song which appeared in the American Musical Miscellany, (1789), and several others.
In the final decade of the century much music was written which harked back to the Revolution. Descriptive "sonatas", and "overtures" were very popular in those days, and composers tried to write music which would be descriptive of events and scenes, much in the fashion of modern writers of so-called "program" music. One of these pieces achieved considerable vogue in America, The Battle of Trenton, a sonata for pianoforte dedicated to General Washington, and first published in 1797. The composition was the work of James Hewitt, an English musician who came to America in 1792 and became active in the musical life of New York and Boston. The various sections of this piece were elaborate in their descriptiveness:
Introduction-The Army in motion-General Orders - Acclamation of the Americans - Drums beat to Arms.
Attack - cannons - bomb. Defeat of the Hessians - Flight of the Hessians - Begging Quarter - The Fight Renewed - General Confusion - The Hessians surrender themselves prisoners of War - Articles of Capitulation Signed - Grief of Americans for the loss of their companions killed in the engagement.
Yankee Doodle - Drums and Fifes - Quick Step for the Band - Trumpets of Victory - General Rejoicing.
Much music of a general patriotic nature was written and published in these years. Benjamin Carr's Federal Overture, first played at the Cedar Street Theatre, Philadelphia, September 1794, was important because its published version (1795) is the earliest known printing of Yankee Doodle in America. Several popular airs were included in the Overture - Marseilles hymn; Ça Ira; O dear, what can the matter be?; Rose tree; Carmagnole; President's March, and Yankee Doodle.
Reinagle's America, Commerce and Freedom was frequently sung. It praised the life of the sailor, and toasted American shipping. This song was published in 1794, and was advertised as "sung by Mr. Dailey, junior, in the Ballet Pantomime of The Sailor's Landlady."
There were other "Federal Overtures". In Providence, Rhode Island, the New Federal Overture "composed by Mons. Leaumont" was advertised for performance at the New Theatre (1795). P. A. Van Hagen, in Boston, composed a Federal Overture which was played at the Haymarket Theatre in October, 1797.
One of the most elaborate works was the setting by James Hewitt of some verses by a Mr. Millns, The Federal Constitution and the President Forever, "adapted to the joint tunes of Washington's March and Yankee Doodle." This was published in 1798. A few of the stanzas suffice to show the author's good intentions, if not his skill as a poet:
Poets may sing of their Helicon streams,
Their Gods and their Heroes are fabulous dreams;
They ne'er sang a line
Half so grand, so divine,
As the glorious toast,
We Columbians boast,
The Federal Constitution boys, and Liberty forever.
Montgomery, Warren still live in our songs,
Like them our young heroes shall spurn at our wrongs -
The world shall admire
The zeal and the fire
Which blaze in the toast
We Columbians boast
The Federal Constitution and its advocates forever.
Fame's trumpet shall swell in Washington's praise
And time grant a furlough to lengthen his days;
May health weave the thread
Of delight round his head -
No nation can boast
Such a name - such a toast -
The Federal Constitution boys, and Washington forever.
The Stormy 1790's
The years after 1790 were trying for the young American republic. The French Revolution started in 1789. In 1793 France was at war with Prussia, Austria and England. On April 22nd of that year Washington made his famous proclamation of neutrality, but there was a strong element in this country who thought we should go to war with England on the side of France, to repay the French for their aid in our struggle for independence. In the same year "Citizen Genet" arrived in Charleston and proceeded thence to Philadelphia as Minister from France. He did all he could to undermine Washington's attitude of neutrality, and his recall was demanded.
England began to seize the American ships in French trade, and the Jay treaty of 1794 effected merely a compromise with Great Britain on neutral trade. After John Adams began his presidency, France commenced raids on American shipping in reprisal for the Jay Treaty and other actions contrary to the old alliance. The French Directory seemed determined to take as overbearing an attitude towards America as she was taking against the small states of Europe. In the notorious "X.Y.Z." affair of 1797, our ministers to France were so insulted and humiliated that Adams declared: "I will never send another minister to France without assurances that he will be received, respected and honored as the representative of a free, powerful and independent nation."
Preparations were made for hostilities, and during the next few years an actual state of war existed with France, although it was never formally declared. There were a few minor naval engagements. On July 4th, 1798, Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the military forces of the nation.
It is necessary to know these events if we are to understand the many references to contemporary affairs in the music of the closing years of the century, for the songs of the day were closely associated with the history of the times. In the early 1790's a number of songs appeared pertaining to the French Revolution. One of them was by the English composer, Storace, entitled Captivity, "a ballad supposed to be sung by Marie Antoinette during her confinement". The American edition of this song was published by Carr in Philadelphia, in 1793. Another of Carr's publications in the same year was "a favorite sonato by Elfort", The Bastile. Then, too, there were American printings of the Marseillaise, La Carmagnole and Ça Ira, stirring songs of the French Revolution.
Nearly all of the patriotic music of 1798 and 1799 related to our break with France. Hail Columbia is the most important song of this time, because it has lived to our own day, and until the Spanish-American War it shared honors with the Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem. The music of Hail Columbia is the President's March, and the words were written by Joseph Hopkinson, son of Francis Hopkinson. Hopkinson later told how he came to write Hail Columbia:
"'Hail Columbia' was written in the summer of 1798, when war with France was thought to be inevitable. Congress was then in session in Philadelphia, debating upon that important subject, and acts of hostility had actually taken place. The contest between England and France was still raging, and the people of the United States were divided into parties for the one side or the other, some thinking that policy and duty required us to espouse the cause of "republican France", as she was called, while others were for connecting ourselves with England, under the belief that she was the great preservative power of good principles and safe government. The violation of our rights by both belligerents was forcing us from the wise and just policy of President Washington, which was to do equal justice to both but to part with neither, and to preserve an honest and strict neutrality between them. The prospect of a rupture with France was exceedingly offensive to the portion of the people who espoused her cause, and the violence of the spirit of party had never risen higher, I think, not so high, in our country, as it did at that time upon that question.
The theatre was then open in our city [Philadelphia]. A young man belonging to it [Gilbert Fox], whose talent was high as a singer, was about to take a benefit, I had known him when he was at school. On this acquaintance he called on me one Saturday afternoon, his benefit being announced for the following Monday. His prospects were very disheartening; but he said that if he could get a patriotic song adapted to the "President's March" he did not doubt a full house: that the poets of the theatrical corps had been trying to accomplish it, but had not succeeded. I told him I would try what I could do for him. He came the next afternoon, and the song, such as it is, was ready for him. The object of the author was to get up an American spirit which should be independent of, and above the interests, passions and policy of both belligerents, and look and feel exclusively for our honor and rights. No allusion is made to France or England, or the quarrel between them, or to the question of which was most in fault in their treatment of us. Of course, the song found favor with both parties, for both were American, at least neither could disown the sentiments and feelings it indicated. Such is the history of this song, which has endured infinitely beyond the expectation of the author, as it is beyond any merit it can boast of except that of being truly and exclusively patriotic in its sentiment and spirit."
"Adams and Liberty"
Another song, Adams and Liberty, was important for several reasons. It was one of the songs of the 1798 trouble with France, it showed the temper of the time, and it used for its music the English tune, To Anacreon in Heaven, now the melody of the Star Spangled Banner. This music has been attributed to Samuel Arnold, an Englishman who was composer to His Majesty's Chapel and the compiler of many ballad operas, but it is more probable that it was composed by John Stafford Smith, Arnold's successor at the Chapel Royal, about 1775. The song became known in America soon after it was written, and as a drinking song it became the official lyric of the several Anacreontic societies in this country. From 1797 the tune appeared in many versions, generally adapted to patriotic words.
In June, 1798, the Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society, at its banquet in Boston, sang a song it had commissioned Robert Treat Paine to write for the occasion. This was Adams and Liberty, and tradition has it that Paine received $750 for his copyright. The author's name was originally Thomas, but not wishing to be confused with the freethinker of that name, he petitioned Congress to allow him to assume the name of his father, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Robert Treat Paine.
The words were intensely patriotic:
Ye sons of Columbia, who bravely have fought,
For those rights, which unstain'd from your Sires has descended,
May you long taste the blessings your valour has bought
And your sons reap the soil, which your fathers defended,
Mid the reign of mild peace,
May your nation increase,
With the glory of Rome, and the wisdom of Greece;
Refrain: And ne'er may the sons of Columbia be slaves,
While the earth bears a plant, or the sea rolls its waves.
Should the tempest of War overshadow our land,
Its bolts could ne'er rend Freedom's temple asunder;
For unmov'd at its portal, would Washington stand,
And repulse with his breast, the assault of his Thunder!
His sword, from the sleep
Of its scabbard, would leap
And conduct, with its point, every flash to the deep.
Refrain: For ne'er shall the sons, etc. Let Fame to the world sound America's voice;
No Intrigue can her sons from their Government steer;
Her pride is her Adams - his laws are her choice,
And shall flourish till Liberty slumber forever!
Then unite, heart and hand.
Like Leonidas' band,
And swear to the God of the ocean and land.
Refrain: That ne'er shall the sons, etc.
Another song of 1798 linked the two heroes of the day, and referred to Adams at the head of the government, and Washington in command of the military forces. This was Adams and Washington, by P. A. Van Hagen, junior, printed in 1798 at the composer's "Musical Magazine", in Boston, where, we learn from the sheet music, "may also be had the new patriotic songs of Washington & Independence, Hail Patriots All, Our Country is our Ship, the Ladies Patriotic Song". Whatever the poet may have lacked in literary gifts, he made up in enthusiasm:
Columbia's brave friends with alertness advance
Her rights to defend in defiance of France
To volatile fribbles we never will yield,
While John's at the Helm, and George rules the field.
One of the stanzas referred to the tribute demanded of our ministers to France, a tribute that amounted to a bribe:
By paying those vultures large tributes in gold,
I should think our dear country in some measure sold:
Columbia the fair, they can ne'er overwhelm,
While George rules the field, and her John's at the helm.
The naval battles with France, minor engagements though they were, found record in music. The Constellation, companion of the United States, the Constitution and other frigates of our navy, overtook and captured the French boat L'Insurgent. Soon Gilbert Fox, who had been the first to sing Hail Columbia, presented at the theatre in Philadelphia another new song, Huzza for the Constellation. Truxtun, captain of the Constellation, was commemorated with Truxtun's Victory, a song "written by Mrs. Rowson" and published by Van Hagen in Boston in 1799. General Pinckney's March "composed by Mons. Foucard" and played at Charleston in 1799, honored the General Pinckney whom Washington had appointed as one of his chief subordinates when he accepted the post of commander-in-chief.
Pinckney was also the minister whom France had refused to receive, as well as one of the X. Y. Z. commissioners, credited with the "not a cent for tribute" slogan, which some authorities claim he did not say.
Music Composed to Mourn the Death of Washington
Nothing shows more forcibly how greatly Washington was loved by his countrymen during his lifetime than the deep sorrow of the nation when he died, December 14, 1799, and nothing proves this sorrow more effectively than the many dirges and elegies which were composed immediately after his passing away. Twelve days after he died, Benjamin Carr had ready for performance a Dead March and Monody which was performed at the memorial services held in the Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. This music was printed soon after, and it was truly dignified and in keeping with the character of the man it honored. It is interesting to note how much this piece reflects the European music of the period. It is reminiscent of the style of the later Haydn, and it seems to anticipate Beethoven, who at this time was only twenty-nine, and little known in America.
With honor crown'd mature in age
He fell the wonder of mankind
Laden with laurels left the stage
Nor leaves alas! his like behind.
Seated in bliss supreme on high
O spirit dear attend our pray'r.
Our guardian angel still be nigh
Make thy lov'd land thy heav'nly care.
New England paid many musical tributes, among them Hark from the Tombs, etc., and Beneath the Honors, etc., adapted from Dr. Watts and set to music by Samuel Holyoke, A.M. Performed at Newburyport, 2nd of January, 1800. "The day on which the citizens unitedly expressed their unbounded veneration for the memory of our beloved Washington."
Van Hagen composed A Funeral Dirge "on the death of General Washington", and Abraham Wood commenced his Funeral Elegy, "on the death of General George Washington. Adapted to the 22d of February" with the lines:
"Know ye not that a great man hath fall'n today?"
Oliver Holden contributed several works to the memorial services. His anthem, From Vernon's Mount Behold the Hero Rise, was formed as "part of the tributory honors to George Washington" at Old South Meeting House in Boston, January, 1800. He also wrote a Dirge, "or Sepulcral Service memorating the sublime virtues and distinguished talents of George Washington. Composed and set to music at the request of the Mechanic's Association, for performance on Saturday the 22 inst." (February, 1800). Holden is also known to be the composer of a collection of Sacred Dirges, Hymns and Anthems, "commemorative of the death of General George Washington, the guardian of his country and the friend of man. An original composition by a citizen of Massachusetts."
Yet, as we have seen, it was not alone at his death that Washington was extolled by music. His talents, his achievements, and the esteem and gratitude of the whole American people were sung through his whole career.
18th Century Songbook Songs of the Revolutionary War Clio and Euterpe
(another 18th century songbook)
Colonial Music Institute The Music Of The 1770s: A Directory
This site has a list of some of the songs which were popular prior to and during the American Revolutionary War period. The songs are presented in greater detail on the linked pages. Midi files are included for some songs.
Reproductions of 18th & 19th century musical items i.e. fifes, drums, recorders, folk instruments. Also copies of many 18th & 19th c. music books & manuscripts plus C.D.s, tapes & more.
The webmasters personal favorite: CD - Stepping into the 18th Century
produced by Gadsby's Tavern Museum, Alexandria, Virginia
Available through MWebbTaylor@aol.com
Books, CD's and Cassettes
The items listed here may be obtained from the
Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS)
at their website, which you may access by clicking on their name.
George Washington: A Biography in Social Dance
by Kate Van Winkle Keller and Charles Cyril Hendrickson
A collection of country dances, cotillions, and minuets (with instructions), with historical commentary, illustrating Washington's career.144pgs
George Washington: Music for the First President by Kate Van Winkle Keller
Written music and lyrics for the songs and tunes played on David and Ginger Hildebrand's recording of the same name. See also Keller's book George Washington: A Biography in Social Dance. 1999 32pgs
CD - George Washington: Music for the First President. David & Ginger Hildebrand. Songs and instrumental tunes familiar to, or written for, Washington. Played on period instruments. Companion to the book of the same name.1999
Dances from George Washington's Birthday Balls by Leland B. Ticknor. Twenty-seven Early American dances, including 8 cotillions, which have been danced in Williamsburg since the 1976 Bicentennial celebration. With music. 1990 46pgs | Instruction Included. Written Music Included.
Colonial Social Dancing for Children by Charles Cyril Hendrickson
For teaching children popular country dances from Washington's time. With music, graded lesson plans, and historical notes. See also the companion CD of same name. 1995 116pgs Instruction Included. Written Music Included.
CD - Colonial Social Dancing for Children by Frances Hendrickson: Music for the Dances. Sixteen dance-length tunes arranged and played by Hendrickson (using sampled sound) to accompany the dances in the book of the same name. Reissue of the 1995 cassette. 2002.
Social Dances from the American Revolution by Charles Cyril Hendrickson and Kate Van Winkle Keller
Music and instructions for 16 dances collected by Captain George Bush, an officer in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. 1992 48pgs. Instruction Included. Written Music Included.
If the Company Can Do It: Technique in Eighteenth Century American Social Dance by Kate Van Winkle Keller
A paper presented at the 1989 International Early Dance Institute which explores cultural, social, and aesthetic aspects of 18th century life, with emphasis on social dance. 1991 48pgs
Fiddle Tunes from the American Revolution by Kate Van Winkle Keller. Tunes from the notebooks of Captain George Bush, an officer in George Washington's army, including a group apparently copied from a now-lost Philadelphia fife tutor printed in 1776. 1992 32pgs
Country Dances from Colonial New York: James Alexander's Notebook, 1730 by Kate Van Winkle Keller and George A. Fogg. Twenty-four dances interpreted for historical performance with modern recreational alternatives. Features illustrations from original sources, bibliography, written music, and chords. 2000 64pgs. Instruction Included. Written Music Included.
A Choice Selection of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era by Kate Van Winkle Keller and Ralph Sweet
Thirty popular dances of the revolutionary era, collected from hand-written notes in American copy books. 1976 53pgs. Instruction Included. Written Music Included.
Cassette - Sweet Richard by The Playford Consort: Tunes from "A Choice Selection of American Country Dances" Cassette companion to Keller and Sweet's book of late 18th century dances. For arrangements see Barron's Successful Campaign.Dance Length
Successful Campaign & Other Early American Country Dances by Marshall Barron
Three-part arrangements for 11 of the tunes on the Playford Consort's cassette Sweet Richard. For dances see Keller and Sweet's A Choice Selection of American Country Dances of the Revolutionary Era. 1990 20pgs Written Music Included.
CD - John Playford's Secret Ball byBelshazzar's Feast. Commemorating the 350th anniversary of the 1st edition of Playford's The English Dancing Master; dances from the 17th/18th centuries. Performed on oboe, violin, accordion and more. Most cuts suitable for dancing. 2001. Dance Length Recording.
Shaw, Andrew Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance: Interpretations of Late 17th & Early 18th C English Dances. Twelve dances from the early 1700's collections of Nathaniel Kynaston, newly interpreted. 2000 34pgs | Instruction Included.
CD - Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance by Belshazzar's Feast. Twelve dances from the early 1700's collection of Nathaniel Kynaston and more. Performed on oboe, violin, and accordion. A companion to the book of the same title by Andrew Shaw. 2000
The She Favourite by Andrew Shaw: Interpretations of Early 18th C English Country Dances; A second volume of 16 dances from the Kynaston collections and more, edited and interpreted by Shaw. 2002 44pgs
CD - Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance, Vol. 2 by Belshazzar's Feast: The She Favourite; Fourteen more dances from the Mr. K. and other collections, a companion to Shaw's book. Dance Length Recording.
Popular 17th and 18th Century English Country Dances by Marshall Barron 1988 20pgs. Written Music Included. Companion book of three-part arrangements for the tunes on the
Cassette - The Popular English Country Dances of the 17th and 18th Centuries by Claremont Country Dance Band Music for easy and intermediate dances. See Keller and Shimer's book The Playford Ball for dances.Originally released in 1979. 1997. Dance Length Recording.
The Playford Ball, 2nd Ed. by Kate Van Winkle Keller and Genevieve Shimer: 103 Early English Country Dances. Over 100 classic dances of the 17th/18th century, with facsimiles of the original dance and tune and modern notation of both, historical notes for each dance plus a discussion of modern English dance technique. Revised. 1994 120pgs Instruction Included. Written Music Included
Country Dances from Colonial New York: James Alexander's Notebook, 1730; by Kate Van Winkle Keller and George A. Fogg. Twenty-four dances interpreted for historical performance with modern recreational alternatives. Features illustrations from original sources, bibliography, written music, and chords. 2000 64pgs Instruction Included. Written Music Included.