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A glance at the boston tea party

Songs, like diaries, journals, letters, and other primary sources provide a way to take a closer look at the emotions felt by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Relatively little music was published in the American colonies.

However, as political unrest in the colonies grew, new "songs" would appear in colonial newspapers. Basically, these compositions were new lyrics, written by amateur American poets, set to familiar English melodies. British songs such as God Save the King and Rule Britannia were transformed into songs meant to ignite the colonists' passions for the cause of liberty.

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How widely these songs were used is subject to debate. Some historians feel that they were largely propaganda tools and rarely sung. However, evidence of the singing of liberty songs in Virginia is available in the journal of Philip Vickers Fithian, tutor to the children of Robert Carter, a wealthy Tidewater plantation owner.

Fithian's entry dated January 18, 1774 describes a ball he attended at a neighboring plantation: Richard Peters, secretary to the Board of War, felt strongly that patriotic songs had an important influence on the attitudes and performance of the Continental forces during times of hardship. I send it to you that you may give it to some of your singing sergeants or to be introduced into the army, under the protection of at least a non-commissioned officer.

It goes to the tune of an Irish lilt, which I have often heard the fifers play.

A Historical Glance at Public Relations

I am a great friend to ballads, and believe that more can be achieved, by a few occasional simple songs, than by an hundred recommendations of Congress, especially considering how few attend to or read them. I wish often to see ballads dispersed among the soldiery, which, inspiring in them a thirst for glory, patience under their hardships, a love of their General, and submission to their officers, would animate them to a cheerful discharge of their duty, and prompt them to undergo their hardships with a soldierly patience and pleasure.

It was written by an anonymous Philadelphian and first printed in the Pennsylvania Packet on January 3, 1774. The words to this American song describe the events on that fateful night of December 16, 1773, and inspired other colonists to unite with the Bostonians in their eventual decision to boycott British goods.

Click on the title below to play the song. Following the lyrics are a Song Analysis Worksheet PDF filenotes and questions that can be used for an in-depth examination and discussion of the lyrics, as well as some tips for using songs as primary sources in the classroom.

  1. Public relations tactics presented through social media drastically changed the election process.
  2. Why would the writers of this song include Hampden, Sydney, and Liberty as angels overseeing the actions of the Sons of Liberty?
  3. Public relations is an important part of politics and the government. Why was it important that the Sons of Liberty did not harm anyone during the Tea Party?

Click on the title to play the song. Virginia Gazette Purdie and DixonJanuary 20, 1774. Why would the flag not have been flying?

Who were the Sons of Freedom? By what name are they more often called? Why were the men "armed" with "hammer, axe, and chisel" instead of guns? John Hampden and Algernon Sydney sometimes spelled Sidney were 17th-century British politicians who symbolized to Americans the pursuit of representative government and civil and religious freedom.

Why would the writers of this song include Hampden, Sydney, and Liberty as angels overseeing the actions of the Sons of Liberty? This verse says that before the sun sets, the "deathless deed" will be completed. Why was it important that the Sons of Liberty did not harm anyone during the Tea Party?

Why would the "crash" of hammers and axes be "glorious" to the colonists?

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Were the colonists being overly optimistic to think that their "Fears were ended? Who is referred to as "brave" in this verse?

  1. Photo by Kayla Anthony.
  2. However, evidence of the singing of liberty songs in Virginia is available in the journal of Philip Vickers Fithian, tutor to the children of Robert Carter, a wealthy Tidewater plantation owner. I am a great friend to ballads, and believe that more can be achieved, by a few occasional simple songs, than by an hundred recommendations of Congress, especially considering how few attend to or read them.
  3. Photo by Kayla Anthony. In the 1953, President Dwight D.
  4. Slave spirituals, war protest songs, songs from the Civil Rights Movement, etc.

Slave spirituals, war protest songs, songs from the Civil Rights Movement, etc.