The Negroes Farewell To America

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   The American Revolutionary War (should it succeed) promised freedom to all Americans. But the phrase "all Americans" did not include most of the black slaves who had been brought to America from Africa. There were a number of free blacks ~ those who had gained their freedom, and resided mostly in the northern colonies ~ and some of them were celebrated for their service in the Patriot Cause. For example, Crispus Attucks was known to have been one of the men killed by British troops in the Boston Massacre. But there were more slaves of African descent who were not automatically granted their freedom on July 4th 1776 than there were those who were freed by their masters.

   Rumors spread through the colonies that black slaves would be given their freedom if they escaped and made their way to ships headed to England. Although the rumors were unfounded in truth, many slaves made their way to Loyalist and British held cities and regions, such as New York City, and from there were given passage to Nova Scotia, Ontario and other British colonies which had not declared their independence.

   This song, set to the tune of Yankee Doodle, spoke of the black slaves' experience.

“Now farewell, my Massa, my Missey, adieu! More blows or more stripes will me e’er take from you,
Or will me come hither or thither me go, No help make you rich by de sweat of my brow.
“Farewell all de yams, and farewell de salt fish, De bran and spruce beer, at you all me cry, Pish!
Me feed upon pudding, roast beef, and strong beer, In Englan’, old Englan’, when me do get dere.
“Farewell de musketo, farewell de black fly, And rattle-snake too, who may sting me to dye;
Den Negroe go ‘ome to his friends in Guinee, Before dat old Englan’ he ‘ave a seen’e.
“Farewell de cold winter, de frost and de snow, Which cover high hills and de valleys so low,
And dangling and canting, swearing and drinking, Taring and feath’ring for ser’ously thinking.
“Den hey! for old Englan’ where Liberty reigns, Where Negroe no beaten or loaded with chains;
And if Negroe return, O! may he be bang’d, Chain’d, tortur’d, and drowned,—or let him be hang’d!


   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: