Despite being generally linked in modern times with honoring the American patriot soldiers of the Revolutionary War, the tune "Yankee Doodle" was written in the 1770s by a British doctor to humiliate the American colonists.
During the American Revolutionary War, colonists frequently went around town singing songs that celebrated the American colonies while mocking their British motherland. Yankee Doodle is thought to have originated by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War era as a response to these songs as a way to mock colonists.
However, after the American soldiers led by commander in chief General George Washington caused Great Britain to surrender at the battle of Yorktown in 1781, and effectively end the Revolutionary War, Yankee Doodle quickly became a form of prideful boasting, according to the Library of Congress.
The lyrics to the original version of "Yankee Doodle" have been dramatically abridged throughout time. Here are the lyrics to what journalist George P. Morris thought was the original song, written in the 1770s. Morris discussed the original form in his 1941 book "The Original Yankee Words."
Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
Fath'r and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding,
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.
Meaning & Symbolism
During the French and Indian War in the 18th century, the British used the name "Yankee" to refer to American colonists who served alongside British troops. According to Mitford M Mathews' "A Dictionary of Americanism of Historical Principles," the colonists were viewed as disorganized and hence branded a Yankee. A Doodle was also a term for a "fool" or someone who was easily duped. When Yankee Doodle is said to have "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni," he is referring to a popular men's fashion style at the time known as "a macaroni." For example, the curly white hair seen in pictures of George Washington was actually a macaroni style wig worn by men to denote his high social rank. The song mocks the Yankees for being ignorant and unsophisticated enough to believe that a feather in the hat was a sufficient indicator of a macaroni style.
Order a bag of Mount Rushmore Coffee Company's "Yankee Doodle Blonde Roast" coffee today to celebrate this classic American song that is as old as the country itself!