Yankee Doodling by ProQuest


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       Yankee Doodling                                                        BY JOHN THORN

       In the years before the Revolution made it            Although earlier clues abound, we need            hat and called it macaroni,” that jibe may well
       America’s patriotic anthem, “Yankee Doo-            look back no farther than 1775, when after the      have originated about the time of the Macaroni
       dle” was a song of derision that the British        battle of Bunker Hill, the Continental army,        Club, established in London in the 1760s by men
       heaped upon ignorant colonists hoping to            under General Washington’s command, was             of polymorphous sexuality. By 1772 the maca-
       attain foppish stature by aping English gentle-     encamped in the vicinity of Boston. The Tories      roni was a national infatuation, even spawning
       men. The first verse and refrain, as generally      were then singing to the old tune of “Lucy          the Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine. According
       sung by children today, run thus:                   Locket” these lines:                                to contemporary Thomas Wright:
         Yankee Doodle went to town,                         Yankee Doodle came to town                          The macaronis were distinguished espe-
         A-riding on a pony.                                 For to buy a firelock;                              cially by an immense knot of artificial hair
         He stuck a feather in his hat                       We will tar and feather him,                        behind, by a very small cock-hat, by an
         And called it macaroni.                             And so we will John Hancock.                        enormous walking-stick, with long tassels,
         Yankee Doodle, keep it up,                                                                              and by jacket, waistcoat, and breeches of
         Yankee Doodle dandy.                              Thomas Ditson, of Billerica, Massachusetts,           very close cut. . . . Macaronis were the
         Yankee Doodle round the world,                    was the one actually tarred and feathered for         most attractive objects in the ball, or at the
         As sweet as sugar candy.                          attempting to buy a musket in Boston in March         theatre. Macaronis abounded everywhere.
                                                           1775. The Battle of Bunker Hill in June turned
       This seems a mild enough if not fully fath-                                                             Named for the vermicelli-based pasta enjoyed
                                                           the tables, however, as “Yankee Doodle” came
       omable jest—hardly a slander. How then to                                                               by cultivated young Englishmen of the 1760s
                                                           to be sung by the patriots. The complete Amer-
       account for the eponymous hero’s enduring                                                               on their tours of Italy—thought by the Eng-
                                                           icanization of the song ensued as Harvard
       power as a figure of fun? What precisely was                                                            lish to be a particular den of perversion, even
                                                           student Edward Bangs penned the following
       a Yankee, or a Doodle, or most intriguingly, a                                                          more so than France or Spain—the macaroni
                                                           during George Washington’s presence at the
       macaroni?                                                                                               embodied the consumption of continental
                                                           provincial camp in Cambridge in 1775:
          Some savants trace the history of “Yan-                                                              fare in intellectual and moral spheres, as well.
       kee Doodle” back to a harvesting song of              Father and I went down to camp,                   Old-fashioned Englishmen came to identify
       fifteenth-century Holland, “Yanker dudel              Along with Captain Gooding,
                                                                                                               macaroni culture with all that was outlandish
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