Sunday, July 04, 2010

American Taxation

Whenever I need to research a historical time period, I try my best to read about it from the period's contemporary authors--those who actually lived during that time.

I found this poem, which does a good job of explaining why we celebrate Independence Day:


by Peter St. John, 1765

WHILE 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 right 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 searched the gloomy regions
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
Subdue without resistance
This North America.

Old Satan the arch traitor,
Who rules the burning lake,
Where his chief navigator,
Resolved a voyage to take;
For the Britannic ocean
He launches far away,
To land he had no notion
In North America,

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
A diabolic way,
For to complete the ruin
Of North America.

He tried the art of magic
To bring his schemes about,
At length the gloomy project
He artfully found out;
The plan was long indulged
In a clandestine way,
But lately was divulged
In North America.

These subtle arch-combiners
Addressed the British court,
All three were undersigners
Of this obscure 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 gilly,
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 golden treasure,
They have no debts to pay,
They spend their time in pleasure
In North America.

On turkeys, fowls 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 their 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 rightful sovereign,
They truly must obey,
You have a right to govern
This North America.

O King, you've heard the sequel
Of what we now subscribe,
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 a 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
For North America.

Go on, my hearty soldiers,
You need not fear of ill
There's Hutchinson and Rogers, 2
Their functions will fulfil -
They tell such ample stories,
Believe them sure we may,
One half of them are tories
In North America.

My gallant ships are ready
To waft you oer the flood,
And in my cause be steady,
Which is supremely good;
Go ravage, steal and plunder,
And you shall have 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'll rule the mighty sway,
I'll take away the charter
From North America.

O George! you are distracted,
You'll by 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 trace the desert regions
Of North America.

Heaven was their sole protector
While on the roaring 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 nettled,
With fear they fled away,
So peaceably they settled
In North America.

We are their bold descendants,
For liberty we'll fight, 3
The claim to independence
We challenge as our right;
'Tis what kind Heaven gave us,
Who can it take away.
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,
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 are landed
Upon our continent;
We'll take our swords and muskets,
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,
The 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 stately troop of horsemen
Train'd in a martial way,
For to augment our forces
In North America.

Proud George, you are engagèd
All in a dirty cause,
A cruel war have wagèd
Repugnant to all laws,
Go tell the savage nations
You're crueler than they,
To fight your own relations
In North America.

Ten millions you've expended,
And twice ten millions 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 awhile;
We've forced your bold Sir Peter
From Sullivan's fair isle.
At Monmouth, too, we gainèd
The honors of the day
The victory we obtainèd
For North America.

Surely we were your betters
Hard by the Brandywine;
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,
In North America.

Confusion to the tories,
That black infernal name
In which Great Britain glories,
For ever to her shame;
We'll send each foul revolter
To smutty Africa,
Or noose him in a halter,
In North America.

A health to our brave footmen,
Who handle sword and gun,
To Greene and Gates and Putnam
And conquering Washington;
Their names be wrote in letters
Which never will decay,
While sun and moon do glitter
On North America.

Success unto our allies
In Holland, France and Spain,
Who man their ships and galleys,
Our freedom to maintain;
May they subdue the rangers
Of proud Britannia,
And drive them from their anchors
In North America.

Success unto the Congress
Of these United States,
Who glory in the conquests
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 this vast dominion
Of North America.

May God bless America . . . and may our President and Congress learn how to "rule with a gentle hand."



Kay Dew Shostak said...

Thank You - Amazing poem.

Mocha with Linda said...

Wow. That's great. Happy 4th of July, Angie!

Anonymous said...

Not sure how I missed this when first posted, but thanks for sharing. It is indeed an amazing poem! Clyde