of the American Revolution

Reprinted with permission of Christopher New

(sung to the tune: Black Joak)

"Perhaps no song written during the American Revolution better illustrates the loyalist point of view.
These angry, sarcastic lyrics are some of the most emotional left behind by the loyal Americans."

Ye brave honest subjects who dare to be loyal,
And have stood the brunt of every trial,
Of hunting shirts and rifle guns;
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you a song;
I'll show you those Yankees are all in the wrong,
Who, with blustering look and most awkward gait,
'Gainst their lawful sovereign dare for to prate,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.

The arch-rebels, barefooted tatterdemalions,
In baseness exceed all other rebellions,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns:
To rend the empire, the most infamous lies,
Their mock-patriot Congress, do always devise;
Independence, like the first rebels, they claim,
But their plots will be damned in the annals of fame,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.

Forgetting the mercies of Great Britain's King,
Who saved their forefathers' necks from the string,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns,
They renounce all allegiance and take up their arms,
Assemble together like hornets in swarms,
So dirty their backs, and so wretched their show,
That carrion-crow follows wherever they go,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.

With loud peels of laughter, you sides, sirs, would crack,
To see General Convict and Colonel Shoe-Black,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
See cobblers and quacks, rebel priests and the like,
Pettifoggers and barbers, with sword and with pike,
All strutting the standard of Satan beside,
And honest names using, their black deeds to hide,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.

This perjured banditti, now ruin this land,
And o'er its poor people claim lawless command,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Their pasteboard dollars prove a common curse,
They don't chink like silver and gold in our purse,
With nothing their leaders have paid their debts off,
Their honor's, dishonor, and justice they scoff,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.

For one lawful ruler, many tyrants we've got,
Who force young and old to their wars, to be shot,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Our good King, God speed him! never used men so,
We then could speak, act, and like freemen could go,
But committees enslave us, our liberty's gone,
Our trade and church murdered; our country's undone,
By hunting shirts and rifle guns.

Come take up you glasses, each true loyal heart,
And may every rebel meet his due dessert,
With his hunting shirt and rifle gun.
May Congress, Conventions, those damned inquisitions,
Be fed with hot sulphur from Lucifer's kitchens,
May commerce and peace again be restored,
And Americans own their true sovereign lord,
Then oblivion to shirts and rifle guns.

(Originally published in the Pennsylvania Ledger, 1778)
Lyrics: Captain Smyth, Simcoe's Queen's Rangers

for his Majesty's Birthday, 1777
(sung to the tune: When Britain First at Heaven's Command

"The British army had just begun their nine-month occupation of Philadelphia
when this loyalist ditty appeared in the Pennsylvania Ledger."

Again, my social Friends, we meet
To celebrate our annual display
This great, this glorious Natal Day:
'Tis George's Natal Day we sing,
Our firm, our steady Friend and King.

For Britain's Parliament and Laws
He waves his own Imperial Power,
For this (Old England's glorious Cause)
May Heaven on him its blessings shower,
And Colonies, made happy, sing,
Great George, their real Friend and King.

Since Britain first at Heaven's command
Arose from out the Azure Main,
Did ever, o'er this jarring land
A Monarch with more firmness reign?
Then to the Natal Day we'll sing,
Of George, our sacred Friend and King.

To Charlotte fair, our matchless Queen,
To all his blooming heavenly Line,
To all their Family and Friends,
Let us in hearty chorus join,
And George's Natal Day let's sing,
Our gracious Father, Friend, and King.

And may the heavenly Powers combine,
While we with loyal hearts implore
That one of his most sacred Line
May rule these Realms till time's no more.
And we, with cheerful voices sing,
Great George, our steady, natal King.

--Pennsylvania Ledger, October 22, 1777


"Although this isn't a song but rather a poem based on Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' speech,
it depicts the very difficult position of the loyalist when pressured by fellow colonists
to sign an oath of fidelity to the Continental Congress.
As it shows, some became very reluctant 'rebels'."

To sign, or not to sign? That is the question.
Whether 'twere better for an honest man
To sign, and so be safe; or to resolve,
Betide what will, against associations,
And, by retreating, shun them. To fly - I reck
Not where: And, by that flight, t' escape
Feathers and tar, and thousand other ills
That loyalty is heir to: 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To fly -- to want --
To want? Perchance to starve: Ay, there's the rub!
For, in that chance of want, what ills may come
To patriot rage, when I have left my all --
Must give me pause: -- There's the respect
That makes us trim, and bow to men we hate.
For, who would bear th' indignities o' th' times,
Congress decrees, and wild convention plans,
The laws controll'd, and inj'ries unredressed,
The insolence of knaves, and thousand wrongs
Which patient liege men from vile rebels take,
When he, sans doubt, might certain safety find,
Only by flying? Who would bend to fools,
And truckle thus to mad, mob-chosen upstarts,
But that the dread of something after flight
(In that blest country, where, yet, no moneyless
Poor wight can live) puzzles the will,
And makes ten thousands rather sign -- and eat,
Than fly -- to starve on loyalty. --
Thus, dread of want makes rebels of us all:
And thus the native hue of loyalty
Is sicklied o'er with a pale cast of trimming;
And enterprises of great pith and virtue,
But unsupported, turn their streams away,
And never come to action.

Middlesex Journal, January 30, 1776


God save great George our King,
Long live our noble King,
God Save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter his enemies,
And make them fall,
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks!
On him our hearts are fix't,
O save us all.

O grant him long to see
Friendship and unity,
Always increase:
May he his septre sway,
All loyal souls obey,
Join heart and voice, huzzah!
God save the King!

Christopher New gave me permission to borrow a few of his songs. I stole 'The Pausing American Loyalist' from him, but I'm sure he won't mind. All that I had known about the Revolution was taught to me in school, and, in retrospect, was pretty much one-sided with heavy emphasis on the American point of view. This poem, however, stopped me in my tracks as I read it, and I suddenly understood the torture and persecution that my ansestor, Obediah, really went through.

If you wish to read more songs and poems from the Loyalists, many with musical accompaniment, please, visit Christopher at: http://www.erols.com/candidus/music.htm.

Deni's Den Post Office