On November 25, 1783, the British Army evacuated New York in stages as American troops, led by General George Washington and New York Governor George Clinton, moved into Manhattan and brought restored American authority over the city. I wrote a detailed history of New York’s Evacuation Day and subsequent commemorations. In this post, I re-print a short Evacuation Day song that was prepared in advance of November 25, 1783, and sung on the occasion.
The song comes courtesy of Poems of American History, which was edited by Burton Egbert Stevenson and is available to read and download for free on Project Gutenberg.
Stevenson wrote the following preface to the song in Poems of American History:
Burton Egbert Stevenson
November 25 was fixed upon as the date for the evacuation of New York. Early on that day, Carleton got his troops on shipboard, and by the middle of the afternoon the city was in the hands of the Americans. The song which is given below was composed for and sung upon this occasion.
Note that Carleton refers to the British commander in charge at New York, Sir Guy Carleton.
EVACUATION OF NEW YORK BY THE BRITISH [November 25, 1783] They come!—they come!—the heroes come With sounding fife, with thundering drum; Their ranks advance in bright array,— The heroes of America! He comes!—'tis mighty Washington (Words fail to tell all he has done), Our hero, guardian, father, friend! His fame can never, never end. He comes!—he comes!—our Clinton comes! Justice her ancient seat resumes: From shore to shore let shouts resound, For Justice comes, with Freedom crown'd. She comes!—the angelic virgin—Peace, And bids stern War his horrors cease; Oh! blooming virgin, with us stay, And bless, oh! bless America. Since Freedom has our efforts crown'd, Let flowing bumpers pass around: The toast is, "Freedom's favorite son, Health, peace, and joy to Washington!"
As I noted in my own intro, “our Clinton” refers to New York Governor George Clinton. The rest of the song is straightforward and charming in its unabashed patriotism and optimism. Readers may also be interested in two other Washington poems that I re-printed.