Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1765–1787
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1765–1787
 
Taxation of America
Revolutionary Songs and Ballads
 
[Written by Peter St. John, of Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1765.]

WHILE I relate my story,
  Americans give ear;
Of Britain’s fading glory
  You presently shall hear;
I’ll give a true relation,        5
  Attend to what I say
Concerning the taxation
  Of North America.
 
The cruel lords of Britain,
  Who glory in their shame,        10
The project they have hit on
  They joyfully proclaim;
’Tis what they’re striving after
  Our right to take away,
And rob us of our charter        15
  In North America.
 
There are two mighty speakers,
  Who rule in Parliament,
Who ever have been seeking
  Some mischief to invent;        20
’Twas North, and Bute his father,
  The horrid plan did lay
A mighty tax to gather
  In North America.
 
They searched the gloomy regions        25
  Of the infernal pit,
To find among their legions
  One who excelled in wit;
To ask of him assistance,
  Or tell them how they may        30
Subdue without resistance
  This North America.
 
Old Satan the arch-traitor,
  Who rules the burning lake,
Where his chief navigator,        35
  Resolved a voyage to take;
For the Britannic ocean
  He launches far away,
To land he had no notion
  In North America.        40
 
He takes his seat in Britain,
  It was his soul’s intent
Great George’s throne to sit on,
  And rule the Parliament;
His comrades were pursuing        45
  A diabolic way,
For to complete the ruin
  Of North America.
 
He tried the art of magic
  To bring his schemes about,        50
At length the gloomy project
  He artfully found out;
The plan was long indulged
  In a clandestine way,
But lately was divulged        55
  In North America.
 
These subtle arch-combiners
  Addressed the British court,
All three were undersigners
  Of this obscure report—        60
There is a pleasant landscape
  That lieth far away
Beyond the wide Atlantic,
  In North America.
 
There is a wealthy people,        65
  Who sojourn in that land,
Their churches all with steeples
  Most delicately stand;
Their houses like the gilly,
  Are painted red and gay:        70
They flourish like the lily
  In North America.
 
Their land with milk and honey
  Continually doth flow,
The want of food or money        75
  They seldom ever know:
They heap up golden treasure,
  They have no debts to pay,
They spend their time in pleasure
  In North America.        80
 
On turkeys, fowls and fishes,
  Most frequently they dine,
With gold and silver dishes
  Their tables always shine.
They crown their feasts with butter,        85
  They eat, and rise to play;
In silks their ladies flutter,
  In North America.
 
With gold and silver laces
  They do themselves adorn,        90
The rubies deck their faces,
  Refulgent as the morn!
Wine sparkles in their glasses,
  They spend each happy day
In merriment and dances        95
  In North America.
 
Let not our suit affront you,
  When we address your throne;
O King, this wealthy country
  And subjects are your own,        100
And you, their rightful sovereign,
  They truly must obey,
You have a right to govern
  This North America.
 
O King, you’ve heard the sequel        105
  Of what we now subscribe:
Is it not just and equal
  To tax this wealthy tribe?
The question being askèd,
  His majesty did say,        110
My subjects shall be taxèd
  In North America.
 
Invested with a warrant,
  My publicans shall go,
The tenth of all their current        115
  They surely shall bestow;
If they indulge rebellion,
  Or from my precepts stray,
I’ll send my war battalion
  To North America.        120
 
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,        125
  With smoke becloud the day,
I’ll show no human pity
  For North America.
 
Go on, my hearty soldiers,
  You need not fear of ill—        130
There’s Hutchinson and Rogers,
  Their functions will fulfil—
They tell such ample stories,
  Believe them sure we may,
One-half of them are tories        135
  In North America.
 
My gallant ships are ready
  To waft you o’er the flood,
And in my cause be steady,
  Which is supremely good;        140
Go ravage, steal and plunder,
  And you shall have the prey;
They quickly will knock under
  In North America.
 
The laws I have enacted        145
  I never will revoke,
Although they are neglected,
  My fury to provoke.
I will forbear to flatter,
  I’ll rule the mighty sway,        150
I’ll take away the charter
  From North America.
 
O George! you are distracted,
  You’ll by experience find
The laws you have enacted        155
  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.        160
 
Our fathers were distressèd,
  While in their native land;
By tyrants were oppressèd
  As we do understand;
For freedom and religion        165
  They were resolved to stray,
And trace the desert regions
  Of North America.
 
Heaven was their sole protector
  While on the roaring tide,        170
Kind fortune their director,
  And Providence their guide.
If I am not mistaken,
  About the first of May,
This voyage was undertaken        175
  For North America.
 
If rightly I remember,
  This country to explore,
They landed in November
  On Plymouth’s desert shore.        180
The savages were nettled,
  With fear they fled away,
So peaceably they settled
  In North America.
 
We are their bold descendants,        185
  For liberty we’ll fight,
The claim to independence
  We challenge as our right;
’Tis what kind Heaven gave us,
  Who can take it away?        190
O, Heaven sure will save us
  In North America.
 
We never will knock under,
  O, George! we do not fear
The rattling of your thunder,        195
  Nor lightning of your spear:
Though rebels you declare us,
  We’re strangers to dismay;
Therefore you cannot scare us
  In North America.        200
 
To what you have commanded
  We never will consent.
Although your troops are landed
  Upon our continent;
We’ll take our swords and muskets,        205
  And march in dread array,
And drive the British red-coats
  From North America.
 
We have a bold commander,
  Who fears not sword or gun,        210
The second Alexander,
  His name is Washington.
His men are all collected,
  And ready for the fray,
To fight they are directed        215
  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;        220
A stately troop of horsemen
  Trained in a martial way,
For to augment our forces
  In North America.
 
Proud George, you are engagèd        225
  All in a dirty cause,
A cruel war have wagèd
  Repugnant to all laws.
Go tell the savage nations
  You’re crueler than they,        230
To fight your own relations
  In North America.
 
Ten millions you’ve expended,
  And twice ten millions more;
Our riches, you intended        235
  Should pay the mighty score.
Who now will stand your sponsor,
  Your charges to defray?
For sure you cannot conquer
  This North America.        240
 
I’ll tell you, George, in metre,
  If you’ll attend awhile;
We’ve forced your bold Sir Peter
  From Sullivan’s fair isle.
At Monmouth, too, we gainèd        245
  The honors of the day—
The victory we obtainèd
  For North America.
 
Surely we were your betters
  Hard by the Brandywine;        250
We laid him fast in fetters
  Whose name was John Burgoyne;
We made your Howe to tremble
  With terror and dismay;
True heroes we resemble,        255
  In North America.
 
Confusion to the tories,
  That black infernal name
In which Great Britain glories,
  Forever to her shame;        260
We’ll send each foul revolter
  To smutty Africa,
Or noose him in a halter
  In North America.
 
A health to our brave footmen,        265
  Who handle sword and gun,
To Greene and Gates and Putnam
  And conquering Washington;
Their names be wrote in letters
  Which never will decay,        270
While sun and moon do glitter
  On North America.
 
Success unto our allies
  In Holland, France and Spain,
Who man their ships and galleys,        275
  Our freedom to maintain;
May they subdue the rangers
  Of proud Britannia,
And drive them from their anchors
  In North America.        280
 
Success unto the Congress
  Of these United States,
Who glory in the conquests
  Of Washington and Gates;
To all, both land and seamen,        285
  Who glory in the day
When we shall all be freemen
  In North America.
 
Success to legislation,
  That rules with gentle hand,        290
To trade and navigation
  By water and by land.
May all with one opinion
  Our wholesome laws obey,
Throughout this vast dominion        295
  Of North America.
 
 
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