Gage’s Proclamation | American Revolution War Song

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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.

Thomas Hutchinson was recalled to England early in 1774, and General Gage appointed as his successor in the office of governor of Massachusetts Bay. On his arrival at Boston, in May of that year, Gage immediately issued a proclamation, calling upon the inhabitants to be loyal, and again return to the friendship of an injured sovereign, assuring them at the same time, that the royal authority would be supported at all hazards. This proclamation was versified in many parts of the colonies, and in various instances, published as a ballad. From among a great number we select the following, which first appeared in the Virginia Gazette, as a “friendly warning.”

Gage’s Proclamation

AMERICA ! thou fractious nation,
Attend thy master’s proclamation!
Tremble! for know, I, Thomas Gage,1
Determin’d came the war to wage.

With the united powers sent forth,
Of Bute, of Mansfield, and of North;
To scourge your insolence, my choice,
While England mourns and Scots rejoice !

Bostonia first shall feel my power,
And gasping midst the dreadful shower
Of ministerial rage, shall cry,
Oh, save me, Bute ! I yield ! and die.

Then shall my thundering cannons rattle,
My hardy veterans march to battle,
Against Virginia’s hostile land,
To humble that rebellious band.2

At my approach her trembling swains,
Shall quit well-cultivated plains,
To seek the inhospitable wood;
Or try, like swine of old, the flood.

Rejoice! ye happy Scots rejoice!
Your voice lift up, a mighty voice,
The voice of gladness on each tongue,
The mighty praise of Bute be sung.

The praise of Mansfield, and of North,
Let next your hymns of joy set forth,
Nor shall the rapturous strain assuage,
Till sung’s your own proclaiming Gage.

Whistle ye pipes! ye drones drone on.
Ye bellows blow! Virginia’s won!
Your Gage has won Virginia’s shore,
And Scotia’s sons shall mourn no more.

Hail Middlesex! oh happy county!3
Thou too shalt share thy master’s bounty,
Thy sons obedient, naught shalt fear,
Thy wives and widows drop no tear.

Thrice happy people, ne’er shall feel
The force of unrelenting steel;
What brute would give the ox a stroke
Who bends his neck to meet the yoke?

To Murray bend the humble knee;4
He shall protect you under me;
His generous pen shall not be mute,
But sound your praise thro’ Fox to Bute.

By Scotchmen lov’d, by Scotchmen taught,
By all your country Scotchmen thought;
Fear Bute, fear Mansfield, North and me,
And be as blest as slaves can be.

  1. “Tremble ! for know I, Thomas Gage.” Thomas Gage was the last royal governor of Massachusetts. He was appointed governor of Montreal in 1760, and in 1763 was commissioned commander-in-chief of all the royal forces in North America. In the government of Massachusetts, he inflicted the people of Boston with the most rigorous laws and restrictions, thinking it a duty he owed his king, and his departure for England in the fall of 1775, was hailed, by those people, with unbounded joy. He died in 1787.
  2. “To humble that rebellious band.” The people of Virginia at all times resisted the attempts of Parliament to tax them without their consent. The bold declaration of Patrick Henry, before the House of Burgesses, in 1764, that “Cæsar had his Brutus – Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third may profit by their example,” still rang in the ears of royalty, and the patriots were looked upon as a “rebellious band that must be broken.”
  3. “Hail Middlesex! oh happy county !” An inconsiderable number of the inhabitants of the county of Middlesex, in Virginia, during the early part of 1774, undertook to make some resolves, contradictory to the general sentiment of that colony. That gave occasion to the following production, written by a “Lady of Pennsylvania.”TO manhood be makes a vain pretence,
    Who wants both manly force and sense;
    ‘Tis but the form and not the matter,
    According to the schoolmen’s clatter;
    From such a creature, Heaven defend her !
    Each lady cries, no neuter gender !
    But when a number of such creatures,
    With woman’s hearts and manly features,
    Their country’s generous schemes perplex,
    I own I hate this Middle-sex.
  4. “To Murray bend the humble knee,” John Murray, earl of Dunmore, was governor of Virginia from 1770 till 1775. In the month of April, 1775, he removed the royal stores and ammunition at Williamsburg, Virginia, on board some armed vessels, and afterwards abandoned his office and went into active service for the king. His depredations and cruelties, in the southern colonies, have become matters of history. Dunmore sailed for England in 1776, and never returned to America. He was shortly afterwards appointed governor of Bermuda, but did not remain there long, on account of his unpopularity. He died in England in 1809.

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