Yankees, Doodles, Fops, and Cuckolds: Compromised Manhood and Provincialism in the Revolutionary Period, 1740–1781
- Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 16, Number 3, Summer 2018
- pp. 514-544
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This paper employs a broadside not consulted hitherto by scholars of the song “Yankee Doodle” and a more concerted analysis of the song’s carnivalesque references to gender and class to offer new revelations about the origins and role of the famous ditty. “Yankee Doodle” stood at the center of a contested cultural conflict over manhood and class status in the North American British colonies leading up to and during the American Revolution. Although both sides over these years of colonial struggle between American insurgents and the British reveled in the song as they hurled rhetorical shafts at their foes, its references to compromised manhood proved more potent in the hands of Patriot rebels than in the hands of British troops and Loyalists. Emerging by the end of the war as the anthem of the Revolution, “Yankee Doodle” also helped shape the intellectual starting points for the new republic in favor of American commoners, and it undermined more elitist constructions of manhood that had become associated with the effeminate tropes of the fop and the cuckold.