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With the Independence Day deluge of patriotic music rapidly approaching, let us remember a composer who actually signed the Declaration of Independence. Francis Hopkinson, who represented New Jersey in the Second Continental Congress, was also an accomplished harpsichordist and songwriter. His 1759 song “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free” was probably the first penned by an American-born writer; a set of eight songs published in 1788 were dedicated to George Washington.
“I can neither sing one of the songs, nor raise a single note on any instrument to convince the unbelieving, but I have, however, one argument which will prevail with persons of true taste (at least in America),” Washington replied: “I can tell them that it is the production of Mr. Hopkinson.”