“To the tune of the ‘British Grenadier.’
A Song on Liberty
That seat of science, Athens, and earth’s proud mistress, Rome,
Where now are all their glories? We scarce can find their tomb.
Then guard your rights, Americans, nor stoop to lawless sway;
Oppose, oppose, oppose, oppose for North America.
Proud Albion bowed to Caesar, and numerous hosts before,
To Pacts, to Danes, to Normans, and many masters more;
But we can boast Americans have never fallen a prey:
Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza for free America!
We led fair Freedom hither, and lo! the desert smiled;
A paradise of pleasure now opened in the wild:
Your harvest, bold Americans, no power shall snatch away;
Preserve, preserve, preserve your rights in free America.
Torn from a world of tyrants, beneath this western sky
We formed a new dominion, a land of liberty:
The world shall own we’re freemen here, and such will ever be.
Huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza for love and liberty!
God bless this maiden climate, and through her vast domain
May hosts of heroes cluster that scorn to wear a chain,
And blast the venal sycophants who dare our rights betray:
Assert yourselves, yourselves, yourselves for brave America.
Lift up your hearts, my heroes, and swear, with proud disdain,
The wretch that would ensnare you shall spread his net in vain:
Should Europe empty all her force, we’d meet them in array,
And shout huzza! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza for brave America!
The land where Freedom reigns shall still be masters of the main,
In giving laws and freedom to subject France and Spain;
And all the isles o’er ocean spread shall tremble and obey
The prince who rules by Freedom’s laws in North America.”
Source: Massachusetts Spy, May 26, 1774; noted by Richard Frothingham in Life and Times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little Brown & Co., p. 405. Differing lyrics in Duyckinck’s Cyclopedia of American Literature, vol. I 443
Commentary: Duychinck wrote, “[Warren’s] ‘Free America,’ written not long before his lamented death, shows that he possessed facility as a versifier.” More recently Arthur Schrader [Songs to Cultivate the Sensations of Freedom: Music in Colonial Massachusetts. Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1980, p. 130] wrote, “Originally known in other colonies as ‘A New Massachusetts Liberty Song,’ this is more commonly known today as ‘Free America’ and is attributed without documentation to Joseph Warren.”
The song’s appearance in the Massachusetts Spy captures a spirit of Patriot morale bolstering in the weeks following announcement of the Boston Port Bill but preceding crystallization of a specific non-violent resistance agenda. Warren’s agency in Massachusetts politics at this juncture is not in question. The traditional attribution of this liberty song to him is plausible but undocumented.