If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
And cats were chased into holes by the mouse . . .
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.
There is some dispute as to whether the British actually played "The World
Turned Upside Down" as they surrendered at Yorktown. Tradition says yes, but
at least one scholar has claimed that the earliest mention of the song being
played as arms were laid down didn't occur until 1828, almost fifty years after
Contemporary accounts are certain, however, of the importance "Yankee Doodle"
had in the ceremony. Henry Knox, Washington's chief of artillery, says that the
British band was specifically not allowed to play the song. The Marquis
de Lafayette writes that the French army played the song to "discomfort" the
British as they marched from the fort between the French and Americans.
"Yankee Doodle" was born as a jest at American soldiers. The song first
appeared during the French and Indian War, sung by British troops to poke fun
at the bumpkin nature of their American cousins. Americans were called
Jonathan's by the British. The word yankee was probably derived from the Dutch
word jankee, or little John.
Early in the day, at the battles of Lexington and Concord, British troops
played "Yankee Doodle" to poke fun at the Americans as they marched through the
countryside. This was before they faced the withering fire of the New England
militia on their way back to Boston at the end of the day.
The British again played the song to deride the colonists at Bunker Hill, but
by this time, the "Jonathan's" had claimed the tune as their own.