Firm Liberty Stands | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

The defeat of General Burgoyne caused great alarm and uneasiness in England. Parliament soon after that event sent commissioners to the Continental Congress, with proposals for a mutual adjustment of the existing difficulties, couched in the most conciliatory and plausible terms, and calculated to occasion disaffection among the people of the colonies, who, in many instances were becoming disheartened and tired of the war. Fearing such an event, Congress immediately published an address, wherein they fully exposed the snare prepared by the royal commissioners; and, at the same time, encouraged the patriots with the brightest prospect of success, in the final establishment of their liberty and independence. This address had the desired effect. The people resolved not to be deceived. The following ballad appeared before the royal commissioners retained to England, in a double-columned sheet, adapted to the tune, “A late worthy old Lion.”

Firm Liberty Stands

WEST Of the old Atlantic, firm Liberty stands !
Hov’ring Fame just alighted, supported by bands
Of natives free born, who loud echoing sing,

“We’ll support our just rights ‘gainst tyrannic kings !”
Caral-laddy – caral-laddy, &c.

George the Third she disowns and his proud lordly cheats,
His murdering legions and half-famish’d fleets;
To the Jerseys sneak’d off, with fear quite dismay’d,
Although they much boasted, that fighting’s their trade.

Our just rights to assert, hath the Congress oft tried, Whose wisdom and strength our opponents deride, And still madly in rage their weak thunders are hurl’d,
To bring us on our knees and to bully the world.

Too haughty to yield, yet too weak to withstand,
They skulk to their ships and leave us the firm land;
In dread lest they share what Jack Burgoyne did feel, And the game be quite lost, as poor Jack had lost deal.

Jack, thinking of cribbage, all fours, or of put,
With a dexterous hand, he did shuffle and cut,
And when likely to lose – like a sharper they say –
Did attempt to renege – I mean, run away.

But watch’d so closely, he could not play booty,
Yet to cheat he fain would, for George – ’twas his duty;
A great bet depending on that single game;
Dominion and honor – destruction and shame.

Examin’d with care his most critical hand,
At a loss, if better to beg or to stand,
His tricks reckon’d up; for all sharpers can jangle;
Then kick’d up a dust, for his favorite wrangle.

‘Twas diamond cut diamond, spades were of no use, But to dig up the way for surrender and truce;
For he dreaded the hand that dealt out such thumps;
As the hearts were run out, and clubs were then trumps.

Thus he met with the rubbers, as the game it turn’d out, Poor Jack, although beat, made a damnable rout, Complain’d he was cheated,1 and pompously talks;
Quit the game with a curse, while he rubb’d out the chalks.

But see a cloud burst, and a seraph appears,
Loud trumpeting peace, while in blood to their ears,
With bulls and with pardons for us on submission;
To bull us, and gull us, by their sham commission.

The haughty great George then to peace is now prone;
A bully when matched soon can alter his tone;
‘Tis the act of a Briton to bluster and threaten;
Hangs his tail like a spaniel, when handsomely beaten.

Charge your glasses lip high, to brave Washington sing,
To the union so glorious the whole world shall ring;
May their councils in wisdom and valor unite,
And the men2 ne’er be wrong, who yet so far are right.

The great Doctor Franklin the next glass must claim,
Whose electrical rod strikes terror and shame;
Like Moses, who caused Pharaoh’s heart-strings to grumble,
Shock’d George on his throne, his magicians made humble.

To Gates and to Arnold, with bumpers we’ll join,
And to all our brave troops who took gambling Burgoyne.
May their luck still increase, as they’ve turn’d up one Jack,
To cut and turn up all the knaves in the pack.3

  1. Complained he was cheated, and pompously talks. “Though articles of convention were fully adjusted, signed and exchanged, by those appointed for the purpose, and the hour stipulated by the parties for Burgoyne to affix his signature, he addressed a note to General Gates, purporting that be should recede from the treaty, on the ground that a part of the American force had been detached from the army during the negotiation; and with a bold effrontery, required, that he might be permitted to send two officers to the American camp to ascertain the fact. This dishonorable conduct raised the ire of General Gates, who sent Lieutenant-colonel Wilkinson to insist that hostilities would recommence if the treaty was not immediately ratified. This produced the desired effect.” – Thacher’s Journal.
  2. And the men. The Continental Congress, in all their acts, were unanimously supported by the patriots.
  3. To cut and turn up all the knaves in the pack. The Earl of Dartmouth asked an American in London, of how many members the Congress consisted ? To which the reply was “fifty-two.” “Why, that is the number of cards in a pack,” said his lordship, “pray how many knaves are there?” “Not one,” returned the republican, “please to recollect that knaves are court cards.”

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