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Yankee Doodle


"YANKEE DOODLE" was a popular march in its day—easy to remember, adaptable to fife and drum, and appealing to the sense of humor. The origin of the tune, like that of the words, is uncertain; it probably was derived from an old English or Dutch folk song and was likely introduced to the American colonies by an English fife major of the Grenadier Guards about 1750. It was played in a Philadelphia ballad opera in 1767 and by English bands in America as early as 1768. It appeared in print first in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1782 and was published in the United States in 1794. The words assumed their present form about 1775. From the sarcastic tone, the author was surely a Tory or a Briton:

Yankee Doodle came to town,
Riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called him [or "it"] Macaroni.

Early versions of the song included numerous verses. The origin of these may have been a satirical ballad, "The Yankee's Return From Camp," printed between 1810 and 1813. The verses were obviously written by Americans. In the twentieth century, "Yankee Doodle" became something of a patriotic cliché. Variations of its melody and lyrics could be heard in numerous popular tunes, musical theatre scores, and movie sound tracks.


Fedor, Ferenz. The Birth of Yankee Doodle. New York: Vantage Press, 1976.

Wilbur C.Abbott/a. r.

See alsoCampaign Songs ; Literature, Children's ; Music: Early American ; Tall Stories .

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