J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Freedom We May Expect From Politics Profound

Here’s a verse copied from the Essex Gazette for 25 Oct 1774. At the time, Gen. Thomas Gage and his troops had pulled out of Essex County into Boston, leaving this Salem-based newspaper more free than most Boston papers to criticize the royal government.

Salem was also the host of the first Massachusetts Provincial Congress, which the song seems to allude to in saying “The delegates have met”—though that could also mean the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Tune—Smile Britannia.

Ye sons of freedom, smile!
America unites;
And friends in Britain’s isle
Will vindicate our rights;
In spite of Ga—s hostile train,
We will our liberties maintain.

Boston, be not dismayed,
Tho’ tyrants now oppress;
Tho’ fleets and troops invade,
You soon will have redress:
The resolutions of the brave
Will injured Massachusetts save.

The delegates have met;
For wisdom all renowned;
Freedom we may expect
From politics profound.
Illustrious Congress, may each name
Be crowned with immortal fame!

Tho’ troops upon our ground
Have strong entrenchments made,
Tho’ ships the town surround,
With all their guns displayed,
’Twill not the free-born spirit tame,
Or force us to renounce our claim.

Our Charter-Rights we claim,
Granted in ancient times,
Since our Forefathers came
First to these western climes:
Nor will their sons degenerate,
They freedom love — oppression hate.

If Ga–e should strike the blow,
We must for Freedom fight,
Undaunted courage show,
While we defend our right;
In spite of the oppressive band
Maintain the freedom of the Land.
AmericanRevolution.org offers different lyrics to the same tune, referring to Lord North, George Washington, and Common Sense. Those words from two years later argue for a break with the king. Back in October 1774, however, no one was ready to go that far: Massachusetts wanted only “Our Charter-Rights” back.

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