American Taxation

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   This song was written by Peter St. John of Norwalk, Connecticutt, and set to the tune of British Grenadiers.

   The song was originally written prior to the War, but was revised by St. John to the present form in 1779.

   Four additional verses are presented for this song by Oscar Brand, in his book, Songs of '76. Mr. Brand also changed the word: 'America' to 'Americay' so that it would more easily rhyme with the previous line.

Whilst I relate my story, Americans give ear;
Of Britain's fading glory, You presently shall hear.
I'll give a true relation, Attend to what I say,
Concerning the taxation Of North America.
The cruel Lords of Britain, Who glory in their shame,
The project they have hit on, They joyfully proclaim;
'Tis what they're striving after Our rights to take away,
And rob us of our charter In North America.
There are two mighty speakers Who rule in Parliament,
Who ever have been seeking Some mischief to invent;
'Twas North, and Bute, his father, The horrid plan did lay,
A mighty tax to gather In North America.
They search'd the gloomy regions of the infernal pit,
To find amongst those legions one who excell'd in wit,
To ask of him assistance to tell them how they may
Subdue without resistance this North America.
Old Satan - the arch traitor - resolv'd a voyage to make,
Who rules sole navigator on the infernal lake,
For the Britannic ocean he launches fast away,
To land he had no notion in North America.
He takes his seat in Britain, it was his sole intent
Great George's throne to sit on and rule the parliament;
His comrades were pursuing a diabolic way,
For to complete the ruin of North America.
They try'd the arts of magic to bring their schemes about
At length this gloomy project was artfully found out,
The plan was long indulg'd in a clandestine way,
But lately was divulg'd in North America.
These subtle arch-combiners addressed the British court,
All three were undersigners of this obscene report.
There is a pleasant landscape that lieth far away,
Beyond the wide Atlantic in North America.
There is a wealthy people who sojourn in that land,
Their churches all with steeples most delicately stand,
Their houses like the tulip are painted red and gay,
They flourish like the lily in North America.
Their land with milk and honey continually doth flow,
The want of food or money they seldom ever know;
They heap up gold and treasure, they have no debts to pay,
They spend their time in pleasure in North America.
On turkey, fowl and fishes most frequently they dine,
With gold and silver dishes their tables always shine,
They crown their feasts with butter, they eat and rise to play,
In silks the ladies flutter in North America.
With gold and silver laces they do themselves adorn,
The rubies deck their faces refulgent as the morn;
Wine sparkles in their glasses, they spend each happy day
In merriment and dances in North America.
Let not our suit affront you when we address your throne,
O king, this wealthy country and subjects are your own,
And you their lawful sovereign they surely must obey,
You have a right to govern this North America.
O King, conceive the sequel from what we here prescribe,
Is it not just and equal to tax this wealthy tribe?
The question being asked, his Majesty did say,
My subjects shall be taxed in North America.
Invested with my warrant my publicans shall go,
The tenth of all their current they surely shall bestow;
If they indulge rebellion or from my precepts stray,
I'll send my war battalion to North America.
I'll rally all my forces by water and by land,
My light dragoons and horses shall go at my command;
I'll burn both town and city, with smoke becloud the day,
I'll show no human pity in North America.
Go on, my hardy soldiers, you need not fear of ill,
There's Hutchinson and Rogers their function will fulfil,
They tell such ample stories, believe them sure we may,
That one half will turn Tories in North America.
My gallant ships are ready to waft you o'er the flood,
Then in my cause be steady, it is supremely good!
Go, ravage, steal and plunder, and yours shall be the prey,
They quickly will knock under in North America.
The laws I have enacted I never will revoke,
Although they are neglected, my fury to provoke;
I will forbear to flatter, I rule with mighty sway;
I'll take away the charter from North America.
O George! you are distracted, by sad experience find
The laws you have enacted are of the blackest kind;
I'll make a short digression, and tell you by the way,
We fear not your oppression in North America.
Our fathers were distressed while in their native land,
By tyrants were oppressed, as we do understand;
For freedom and religion they were resolved to stray,
And try the desert regions of North America.
Heaven was their sole protector while on the raging tide,
Kind fortune their director, and Providence their guide;
If I am not mistaken, about the first of May,
This voyage was undertaken for North America.
If rightly I remember, this country to explore,
They landed in November on Plymouth's desert shore;
The savages were frighten'd, with fear they fled away,
In peace our fathers settled this North America.
We are their bold descendants, for liberty we'll fight,
The claim to independence we challenge as our right,
'Tis what kind Heaven gave us, who then shall take away:
Kind Heaven soon will save us in North America.
We never will knock under, O George, we do not fear
The rattling of your thunder, nor lightning of your spear;
Though rebels you declare us, we're strangers to dismay,
Therefore you cannot scare us in North America.
To what you have commanded we never will consent,
Although your troops have landed upon our continent;
We'll take our swords and muskets and march in bright array,
And drive the British red coats from North America.
We have a bold commander that fears not sword nor gun,
A second Alexander, his name is Washington;
His men are all collected and ready for the fray,
To fight they are directed for North America.
We've Greene, and Gates, and Putnam to manage in the field,
A gallant train of footmen, who'd rather die than yield;
A noble troop of horsemen, train'd in the martial way,
For to augment our forces in North America.
Proud George, you are engaged all in a dirty cause,
A cruel war you've waged repugnant to the laws;
Go tell the savage nations you're crueler than they,
To fight your own relations in North America.
Ten millions you've demanded, and twice ten million more,
Our riches you intended should pay the mighty score;
Who now will stand your sponsor your charges to defray,
For sure you cannot conquer this North America.
I'll tell you, George, in metre, if you'll attend a while,
We forced your Sir Peter from Sullivan's fair isle;
At Monmouth town we gained the honors of the day,
The victory obtained for North America.
We truly were your betters hard by the Brandywine,
We led him fast in fetters whose name was John Burgoyne,
We made your Howe to tremble with terror and dismay,
True heroes we resemble in North America.
Confusion to the Tories, that black infernal name,
In whom Great Britain glories, forever to their shame;
We'll send each foul revolter to smutty Africa,
Or noose him with a halter in North America.
Here's health to all our footmen that handle sword and gun,
To Warren, Gates and Putnam, and conq'ring Washington,
Their names are wrote in letters which never shall decay,
Whilst sun and moon shall glitter in North America.
Success unto our allies, in Holland, France and Spain,
Who arm'd their ships and gallies our freedom to maintain,
May they subdue the rancor of proud Britannia,
And drive them from their anchors in North America.
Success unto the Congress of these United States,
Who triumph in the conquest of Washington and Gates,
To all both land and seamen who glory in the day,
When we shall all be freemen in North America.
Success to legislation that rules with gentle hand,
To trade and navigation by water and by land;
May all with one opinion our wholesome laws obey,
Throughout the vast dominion of North America.


   Note: The midi file that is linked to this page was sequenced by Barry Taylor, and included in his website, Taylor's Traditional Tunebook. When Mr. Taylor could no longer maintain the website, Lesley Nelson-Burns offered to maintain the midi files created by Taylor on her own website, located at: