Historical Background


Beginning and End of Unit Activities; Assessment Strategies

"The Liberty Song"
Words by John Dickinson, 1768; tune "Heart of Oak" by William Boyce, 1759
America's first patriotic song composed to protest the Townshend Act taxes

"Free America"
words by Joseph Warren; tune "The British Grenadiers," 1774
A warning to Americans not to bow to tyrants and end up like ancient Greece and Rome

William Billings, 1778
A popular patriotic song by one of America's first professional musicians.

"Rights of a Woman"
words by "A Lady"; tune "God Save the King," 1795
An unusually early statement of women's rights

"The Desponding Negro"
Words by John Collins; music by William Reeve, 1792
An early anti-slavery song, which tries to arouse compassion

"Jefferson and Liberty"
Words by Robert Treat Paine, Jr.; tune "The Gobby-O," 1801
An Irish tune, popular in America, gains new lyrics to mark the end of the Sedition Acts

"As Near Beauteous Boston Lying" or "Ballad of the Tea Party"
Words by Anonymous; tune "Hosier's Ghost," 1774
Ballad of the Boston Tea Party

"Yankee Doodle"
Words by Richard Shuckburg; tune traditional, 1770s
The British made up the song to mock colonial troops, who adopted it with pride

"The Rebels"
Words by Captain Smyth; tune "Black Joke," 1778
A Tory song expressing loyalty to the crown in the face of the "rebels"

"The Old Woman Taught Wisdom" ("The World Turned Upside Down")
Words by Anonymous; tune "Derry Down," 1766
An allegorical plea for America and England to settle their differences

"Rolling Stone"
Words by Eliphalet Mason after a text by Thomas D’Urfey, 1802; music by Henry Purcell, 1695
A "bumpkin" wishes to leave the country and to seek fame and fortune in the big city

"Address to the Ladies"
Anonymous, 1767
A song urging women to conserve and buy "home-grown" American goods

"Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier"
Traditional, based on an Irish tune, 1770s
A woman laments her lover's service in the army

"Michael Row the Boat Ashore"
Traditional, 1700s
A modern folk song with roots in an African American rowing song/spiritual

"Wayfaring Stranger"
Traditional, 1780s
A "white spiritual," a folk hymn expressing a longing for home in the midst of hard times

"The President's March" and "Hail Columbia"
Words by Joseph Hopkinson; music by Philip Phile, 1798
The US’s unofficial national anthem, written to foster unity during John Adams’s presidency

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