What was America’s first popular patriotic song — and who penned it?
July 18, 1768 — The Liberty Song, was published today in the Boston Gazette. Written by Founding Father John Dickinson, he coined the phrase, “united we stand, divided we fall.” After its initial publication, word of the song spread throughout the colonies.
Who was John Dickinson? A solicitor and politician from Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, Dickinson (1732–1808) was known as the “Penman of the Revolution” for the dozen “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” published between 1767 and 1768. The 12 letters were widely read and reprinted throughout the colonies; they proved to be important in uniting the colonists against the Townshend Acts. The success of his letters earned Dickinson considerable fame.
As a member of the First Continental Congress, where he was a signee to the Continental Association, Dickinson drafted most of the 1774 Petition to the King, and then as a member of the Second Continental Congress wrote the 1775 Olive Branch Petition, two attempts to negotiate with King George III of Great Britain.
When these failed, he reworked Thomas Jefferson’s language and wrote the final draft of the 1775 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. When Congress then decided to seek independence, Dickinson served on the committee that wrote the Model Treaty, and then wrote the first draft of the 1776–1777 Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
Words of Wisdom
In Freedom we're born and in Freedom we'll live.
Our purses are ready. Steady, friends, steady;
Not as slaves, but as Freemen our money we'll give.
Our worthy forefathers, let's give them a cheer,
To climates unknown did courageously steer;
Thro' oceans to deserts for Freedom they came,
And dying, bequeath'd us their freedom and fame.