Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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July 24th
Yankee Doodle
On this day in 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the newly appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army was busy organizing his troops. As he rode through the camps on the hills outside Boston, George Washington surely heard his men singing a ditty they had taken a liking to, with words that started… “Yankee Doodle went to town, / a’riding on a pony . . .”

The origins of the song are obscure, but British soldiers reportedly sang it during the French and Indian War to mock shabby American troops. “Yankee” was a nickname for New Englanders. The term may have come from Yengee, an Indian pronunciation for the word “English.” A “doodle” was a nitwit. According to the song, Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni. “Macaroni” was slang for a dandy young man who liked to dress in style.

Once the Revolutionary War began, Patriot soldiers proudly appropriated the song. At Bunker Hill they sang the verse:

Father and I went down to camp,
along with Captain Good’in,
And there we saw the men and boys
as thick as hasty puddin’.
After George Washington took command of the army, a new verse appeared:

And there was Captain Washington
upon a slapping stallion,
A’giving orders to his men;
I guess there was a million.
The song became a favorite of fife and drum bands, and it is said the Patriots played “Yankee Doodle” when the British surrendered at Yorktown.

American History Parade
1701
Detroit is founded as a French fur-trading post.

1847
Brigham Young leads Mormon pioneers into the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

1911
American explorer Hiram Bingham discovers Machu Picchu, the “lost city” of the Incas in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

1969
The Apollo 11 astronauts splash down in the Pacific.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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