One day, when I was burrowing through the Brock Collection at the Huntington Library (and not getting ready to go surfing, I swear), I found this poem. It was scribbled on the obverse of a letter written on this date, 2 July, in 1776, from Charles Hansford at the Halfway House, a tavern at the midpoint between Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia, to the Rev. Mr. Samuel Shield in Caroline County. Clearly, it was hastily composed and might well be a copy of a more well known piece that I have yet to find. It struck me for several reasons, not least with its relatively early lionization of Congress, Washington, and the local committees, and its simple definition of what it takes to be a patriot: Deny the King.
“I love & ever will obey
What Congress either does or say
Where George the 3d his sway maintains
There’s nothing but Tyranny & Chains
If yonder Washington commands
May he be crushed with endless woe
Who to the Congress is a Foe
What George the 3d by Law commands
To Ruin upon once happy Lands
Fair Freedom sits & waites around
Where active Committees abound
A band of motley Paltroons waits
Who does his King but once deny
With him I live, with him, I die.”
SOURCE: Huntington Library mss, BR Box 258 (29).