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Band of Brothers in History and Literature

Hail Columbia

Joseph Hopkinson was a judge, author and earstwhile poet in the late 1700's and early 1800's. He loved America and wrote an anthem that rang through the nation. Though it was not officially adopted, it was often sung and played on state occasions.

HAIL, Columbia! happy land!
Hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band!
Who fought and bled in Freedom’s cause,
Who fought and bled in Freedom’s cause,
And when the storm of war was gone,
Enjoyed the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.

Firm, united, let us be,
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Immortal patriots! rise once more:
Defend your rights, defend your shore:
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood the well-earned prize.
While offering peace sincere and just,
In Heaven we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.

Firm, united, etc.

Sound, sound, the trump of Fame!
Let WASHINGTON’S great name
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Ring through the world with loud applause;
Let every clime to Freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear.
With equal skill, and godlike power,
He governed in the fearful hour
Of horrid war; or guides, with ease,
The happier times of honest peace.

Firm, united, etc.

Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country, stands—
The rock on which the storm will beat,
The rock on which the storm will beat;
But, armed in virtue firm and true,
His hopes are fixed on Heaven and you.
When hope was sinking in dismay,
And glooms obscured Columbia’s day,
His steady mind, from changes free,
Resolved on death or liberty.

Firm, united, let us be,
Rallying round our Liberty;
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Early America found a way to to bring the isolationist tendencies of many of its leaders in line with the martial air that was so admired at the time. We can see this especially in "Hail Columbia's" lauding of Washington, who was, of course, "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

The "Band of Brothers" theme redounds in the refrain. It is a circle the wagons kind of brotherhood. But the "band of brothers" ideal would progress in America from the founding down to World War II where we would see a universal body of men from a polyglot of nationalities band together to fight the greatest evil the world had ever known.

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