For King Or Congress

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Hark, Hark the trumpet sounds,
O’er seas and solid grounds,
Who for king George do stand,
Their ruin is at hand,
The Acts of Parliament,
I hate their curst intent,
Who non-resistance hold,
May they for slaves be sold,
The Tories of the day,
They soon shall sneak away,
The Congress of the States,
Blessings upon them waits,
To General Washington,
May numbers daily run,
On Mansfield, North and Bute,
Confusion and dispute,
To North, that British Lord,
I wish a block or cord,
The din of war alarms,
Do call us all to arms.
Their honors soon will shine
Who with the Congress join.
In them I much delight,
Who for the Congress fight.
They have my hand and heart,
Who act a wiggish part.
They are my daily toast,
Who independence boast.
I hate with all my heart,
Whoe’er takes Britain’s part.
Confusion and dishonor,
To Britain’s royal banner.
May daily blessings pour,
On Congress evermore.
May honors still be done,
To General Washington.

The American Revolution was going full tilt when, one day in 1779, there was a commotion in the New York legislature at Albany. Samuel Dodge, member for Dutchess County, was its cause. He had written the poem above, and a copy had gotten, by plan, into other hands. A member leapt to his feet to read the verses aloud and prove the “d—nd Tory principles” of the author. Naturally the reader had read from left to right, a full line at a time, and the House groaned and hissed. The members demanded to know whether Dodge avowed such treasonable views. Read the poem again, he asked, but this time read it differently —not straight across but in couplets, first from the left column, then the right. On hearing the same words again, the legislators now cheered loudly. “Thus,” dryly concluded a long-ago witness, “the instability of the hearers was soon perceivable.”

Contributed by John Lowell Pratt, great-great-great-grandson of Samuel Dodge