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Home > Holidays > 4th of July > Poems & Rhymes for Children > Yankee Doodle Dandy

4th of July Poems for Kids - Printable Children's 4th of July PoetryYankee Doodle Dandy

by George P. Morris

Shortly before the War of the Revolution broke out, George III, King of England, claimed the right to tax the people of this country, though he did not permit them to take any part in framing the laws under which they lived.

He placed a light tax on tea, just to teach Americans that they could not escape taxation altogether. But the colonists were fighting for a principle - that of no taxation without representation, and would not buy the tea. In New York and Philadelphia the people would not allow the vessels to land their cargoes.

The women of America held meetings in many towns, and declared they would drink no tea until the hated tax was removed. The ladies had a hard time of it without their consoling cup of tea, but they stood out nobly.

Three shiploads of tea were sent to Boston. On the night of December 16, 1773, a party of young Americans, painted and dressed like Indians, boarded the three vessels lying in the harbor, opened the chests, and emptied all the tea into the water. They then slipped away to their homes, and were never found out by the British. One of the leaders of these daring young men was Paul Revere, whose famous midnight ride has been immortalized by Longfellow.

When the news of the Boston Tea Party was carried across the ocean, the anger of the King was aroused, and he sent a strong force of soldiers to Boston to bring the rebels to terms. This act only increased the spirit of patriotism that burned in the breasts of all Americans.

George P. Morris, the poet, describes this Tea Party, and the origin of the tune "Yankee Doodle," in the following verses:

Once on a time old Johnny Bull flew in a raging fury,
And swore that Jonathan should have no trials, sir, by jury;
That no elections should be held, across the briny waters;
"And now," said he, "I'll tax the tea of all his sons and daughters."
Then down he sate in burly state, and blustered like a grandee,
And in derision made a tune called "Yankee doodle dandy."
"Yankee doodle"-these are facts-"Yankee doodle dandy;"
My son of wax, your tea I'll tax; you Yankee doodle dandy!"

John sent the tea from o'er the sea, with heavy duties rated;
But whether hyson or bohea, I never heard it stated.
Then Jonathan to pout began-he laid a strong embargo-
"I'll drink no tea, by Jove!" so he threw overboard the cargo.
Then Johnny sent a regiment, big words and looks to bandy,
Whose martial band, when near the land, played "Yankee doodle dandy."
"Yankee doodle-keep it up-Yankee doodle dandy-
I'll poison with a tax your cup, you Yankee doodle dandy."

A long war then they had, in which John was at last defeated,
And "Yankee Doodle" was the march to which his troops retreated.
Cute Jonathan, to see them fly, could not restrain his laughter;
"That tune," said he, "suits to a T-I'll sing it ever after!"
Old Johnny's face, to his disgrace, was flushed with beer and brandy,
E'en while he swore to sing no more this Yankee doodle dandy.
Yankee doodle,-ho-ha-he-Yankee doodle dandy,
We kept the tune, but not the tea-Yankee doodle dandy.

I've told you now the origin of this most lively ditty,
Which Johnny Bull dislikes as "dull and stupid"-what a pity!
With "Hail Columbia" it is sung, in chorus full and hearty-
On land and main we breathe the strain John made for his tea party,
No matter how we rhyme the words, the music speaks them handy,
And where's the fair can't sing the air of Yankee doodle dandy?
Yankee doodle, firm and true-Yankee doodle dandy-
Yankee doodle, doodle do, Yankee doodle dandy!

Study Notes:

  • The people of the thirteen original colonies adopted as a principle, "No taxation without representation." What did they mean by this? Name the thirteen original colonies.
  • Are the last syllables of the words principle and principal pronounced alike? Use the two words in sentences of your own.
  • What does "with heavy duties rated" mean?
  • Pronounce distinctly the final consonants in the words colonists, insects, friend, friends, nests, priests, lifts, tempts.
  • Write the plural forms of the following words: solo, echo, negro, cargo, piano, calico, potato, embargo.
  • How should a word be broken or divided when there is not room for all of it at the end of a line? Illustrate by means of examples.
 

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