For the Yanks: Happy We?re-Not-British Day

By July 4, 2013

While looking for something else this morning, I came across the lyrics of a composed-by-a-Mormon song  from 1876 about the Fourth of July. Peter McBride wrote ?The Fourth of July Song? while living in Brigham City, a United Order community in what is now Arizona. Since it?s a holiday and I?m lazy, I present the text below without comment. [1]

?The Fourth of July Song?
Peter McBride
My friends I?m going to sing to you about the 4th of July,
And if you?ll listen till I get through, you?ll either laugh or cry;
So now pull out your handkerchiefs and prepare to sniffle and weep,
Or snicker and laugh and hip hurrah, and don?t you go to sleep.
It?s a hundred years ago today since John Bull used to stand
With one foot on the ocean and the other one on dry land;
And bellow and paw and switch his tail and dig the dirt with his horns,
And lick the Frenchmen two to one, before Uncle Sam was born.
When Uncle Sam was a little boy while yet on his mother?s knee,
She taught him not to be scared of cattle, neither by land or sea;
So when John Bull made a snort at him and found he wouldn?t scare,
?Twas then he drew his long horns in for Washington was there.
If there should be any John Bulls beneath the sound of my voice,
Just stick your fingers in your ears or listen: just take your choice;
Or else put on your Wellington hats and vamous [sic: vamoose] out of the crowd,
For I?m going to do some bragging now, I?m going to holler it loud.
It was at the battle of Lexington when the Big Bull fight began,
Old Putnam left his plough in the fields to go and see the fun;
Behind the trees and rocks and hills, in hedges and ditches and stumps,
You could see the Red Coats run for their lives and the Yankees shoot ?em and jump.
John Bull he never forgot the battle of Bunker Hill,
He went into the ring with his sleeves rolled up, he surely went in to kill;
But he couldn?t withstand the American fire, which mowed them down like corn,
So John backed down and had to crawl out of the little end of the horn.
One day in the city of Boston, John Bull made a bad break,
He thought he?d surprise the Yankee boys and take them all in at a rake;
But he ran against a snag in the harbor, a snag about Washington?s size,
And he captured Cornwallis, his army and sword, and it made John open his eyes.
So he could see Washingtons everywhere, on river, on sea and land,
And you know that a square look at Washington is more than John Bull can stand;
He had to encounter Mad Anthony Wayne, and the band that Marion led,
And Old Putnam the man who could ride over rocks where a British couldn?t be led.
Old Hickory Jackson he was a sport that fed the British on beans,
As he stood behind his cottonwood bale fort at the battle of New Orleans;
He taught the Englishman how to fight and showed them a Yankee trick,
He put his saddle on old Packenham and trotted him up the creek.
Now that was the last we?ve heard of John Bull and if he ever bellows again,
We?ll wake up Washington, Jackson, Putnam, Perry, and Warren and Wayne;
They?re always on hand when liberty calls, and they never went back on the flag,
But they held it aloft while bomb shells and balls did rattle like peas in a bag.
Now Uncle Sam is a full-grown man so you better look out Johnnie Bull,
He can swallow you horns, hide, taller and all and not have a belly half full;
So fill your glasses full my boys, while the banner floats on high,
And we?ll drink to the flag and Washington, Uncle Sam and the 4th of July.
Hip, Hip, Hip for the 4th of July has come again and we have come out to meet him Hurrah!  I?m a ree rye row rum rickety mountain bully.  I can out run, out jump, thrown down, out whip, out wallop, out steal, out lie, out drink, out smoke, out chew, out sware, out cuss, out anything, any darned son-of- a-gun of an Englishman that ever drank a cocktail on the 4th of July.  Out squirt tobacco juice on a snowdrift at Christmas time. Hurrah!  Let me hollar or I?ll bust! This is the day that George Washington stuck his hatchet in a stump, on top of Bunker Hill monument and swore that he would never pull it out again as long as there was a cuss of an Englishman this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Bully for George, Three cheers for Washington. Hurrah! Hurrah! George is a Green Mountain Boy: so am I; so is ____; so is ____. Hurrah for the 4th of July. [2]

[1] Text take from Robert Sayers, ?Sing Anything: The Narrative Repertoire of a Mormon Pioneer,? Journal of the Southwest 29.1 (1987 Spring): 45-47 (41-79). Sayers gives a paragraph of context and comment on the song.

[2] I don?t know what?s going on musically or rhythmically in this last section; McBride seems to have left all pretense of line or stanza or scansion or anything behind. Sayers says: ??perhaps the most significant feature of the ?Fourth of July Song? is the alliterative boast that serves as its finale—a peculiarly American convention associated elsewhere with Col. Davy Crockett and other backwoods voices of manifest destiny? (p 48).

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. ‘Murica!

    I’ve always wanted to ask English members of the Church how it makes them feel knowing that Nephi prophesied that we were going to kick their trash.


    Comment by John — July 4, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

  2. Brigham City, Arizona? That’s a real voice from the dust, to read a song from that ghost town.

    Thanks for the link to the article. The name McBride was familiar, probably mostly from the story of Sheriff McBride and the shootout with the Powers Brothers, but I hadn’t known much about Peter McBride. His “Freighting Song” is a real classic.

    Comment by Amy T — July 5, 2013 @ 11:18 am

  3. “cottonwood bale”? Bro. McBride had spent too long in the Arizona heat. I think Gen’l Jackson and his men used cotton bales as breastworks down in New Orleans. Besides, how many cottonwood trees would it take to produce enough “cotton” to make a bale. Or enough bales to shelter an army?

    Comment by Mark B. — July 5, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  4. Thanks for the comments, John, Amy, and Mark.

    Mark: almost 800 words of patriotic hyperbole, and cottonwood is what trips?

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 5, 2013 @ 10:32 pm


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