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The History of the United States of America


(The Early Years)

Script transcribed and edited by David Sudmeier


Scene One: Columbus Meets With Queen Isabella ( and the King)
Narrator: Fourteen-ninety-two, Madrid. The queen of Spain grants an audience to an obscure Italian sailor. There in her chambers plans are made destined to change the course of history.

Columbus: Alright, we'll go over it once again. First you hock the jewels, you give me the money and I buy the ships. Then I discover the “New World,” you dump the king, and I'll send for you.

Isabella: You say you'll send for me, darling, but will you?

Columbus: Oh, look! We've been all through this before!

Isabella: I know, but really, you're such a dreamer! You'll go out there and you'll sail right off the edge of the world.

Columbus: I will not!

Isabella: Wait! You're such a charming boy, darling. Why don't you forget all this? I'll set you up with a nice little Fiat agency over in West Barcelona.

Columbus: I don't want a Fiat agency.

Isabella: Well, why don't you go to art school like your friend da Vinci? I'll put you through. 

Columbus: Look, if Lenny wants to starve to death, that's up to Lenny. Me, I want to discover the New World; carry out my dream . . 


Heralder: His majesty, King Ferdinand!

Isabella: (gasp) The king!

Columbus: Oh, sure, “He'll be at the Inquisition all afternoon,” eh?

Isabella: The time just slipped away. Quickly, take the jewels and go, over the balcony. 

(sound of door opening and footsteps)

Columbus: Too late.

Isabella: Good afternoon, dear. How was the Inquisition, amusing?

Ferdinand: Dullsville, same old . . . Hey, who's that?

Isabella: Oh, you remember Christopher Columbus.

Ferdinand: Oh, you mean old "Round, Round World?" You and your Bohemian friends.

Isabella: He's not Bohemian. He's Italian.

Ferdinand: Italian, Bohemian, look at him in that hat! Is that a crazy sailor?

Isabella: Crazy? I'll tell you how crazy! He's a man with a dream, a vision, a vision of a new world, whose alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears, with purple mountain majesties above the two cents plain . . .

Ferdinand and Columbus: Fruited.

Isabella: Fruited. He holds these dreams to be self-evident, this round, round world, with Indians and justice for all. Let us then go forward, together, towards Miami Beach, that the dream of this crazy Italian boy, indivisible, should not perish from the map!

Ferdinand and Columbus: (clapping) Bravo! Bravo!

Columbus: Was that moving? Was that a great bit?

Ferdinand: Listen, I always said this girl had a lot . . . wait a minute! I ask a simple question, I get a pageant. Why should Spain sponsor you? Why don't you go to Portugal?

Columbus: I did. They bought “The Price is Right.”

Ferdinand: Oh.

Columbus: Then I have your permission to sail?

Ferdinand: Have you had your shots?

Columbus: I have.

Ferdinand: Permission granted.

Columbus: Gracias, arivaderci.

Ferdinand: Hasta la vista.

Isabella: Adios.

Ferdinand and Columbus: Adios muchachos companeros . . .

Ferdinand: Will you get out of here? (sound of running)

Ferdinand: Strange, he left by the balcony.

Isabella: Force of habit, I guess. 

Ferdinand: Yeah . . . Er, how's that again?

Isabella: Nothing!

Ferdinand: Isabella, when are you going to quit fooling around with these nuts?

Scene Two: Columbus' First Voyage

First Mate: Admiral Columbus, sir, the men are weary. On the point of madness.

Columbus: That’s the trouble with labor today. Don’t they realize we’re going to discover the New World?

King: You’ve been saying that for the last 57 days.

Columbus: Well, nobody forced you to come along, Your Majesty.

King: My doctor told me I should go to Florida for the winter.

Columbus: Mm hmm. 

King: I still can’t see what you needed three ships for!

Columbus: I got a better deal on the fleet rate.

King: I’ll accept that. But you better sight land soon. There’s rumblings of mutiny!

Columbus: Really? 

King: Come over here and listen.

Columbus: Alright.

Crew: Rumble, rumble, rumble. Mutiny, mutiny, mutiny.

Columbus: I see what you mean. I’ll jump up here on the rigging and speak to ‘em.

King: You mean on top of everything else, this ship is rigged?

(Bosun’s whistle)

Columbus: Now hear this, this is the Admiral speaking! I know the going has been rough, but if we can just hold out a while longer-

Crew: Rumble.

Columbus: Stop that rumbling down there!

Crew: Rumble.

King: Who can blame ‘em? The whole thing is madness! I don’t like the way the crew is acting!

Columbus: Well, you’re overplaying a bit yourself, there.

King: I tell you the world is flat, and that’s that!

Columbus: It’s round as your hat.

King: It’s flat as your head.

Columbus: It’s round!

King: It’s flat!

Song: It's A Round, Round World

It's a round, round world,
It's a round, round world!
I contend it's round
And it's gonna be found
(When all the results are in)
It's a round world now and it's always been!

Flat, flat world!
It's a flat, flat world!
I insist it's flat
As a lovely mat
And he’s sailing off the edge-
How about our crazy Italian...

Friend, get hip!
Would I climb aboard this ship
If I didn't have odds 
That the earth is highly spherical?

It's a miracle if it is-

Square, square king,
You're a square, square king!
If you don't believe 
You're gonna receive
The shock of your royal life
When the ship pulls in at Miami-

Yo ho ho
And a dramamine,
We are loyal subjects of the king and queen!
But what kind of nut
Would you have to be
To borrow a ship and put out to sea
When you don't know what's on the other side?

 Round, round world 
                      All week long on a hardtack bun 
 It's a round, round world 
                      Brother, who said getting there is 
 I contend it's round 
                      Half the fun (breath) 
 And it's gonna be found 
                      Give up my throne for one Navy Bean 
 When all the results are in 
                      No wonder I'm turning three shades of green 
 It's a round world now 
                      How could I go on such a loony 
 And it's always 

 Trip get hip, would I climb 
                          Crazy kind of scheme 
 Aboard this ship 
                          It's a cockamamy dream 
 If I didn't have odds 
                          If we don't sight land we're 
 The earth was highly spherical 
                          gonna scream 

It's a miracle if it is 

 Square, square crew 
                         Yo, ho, ho through the wind and rain 
 You're a square, square crew 
                         There's a typhoon coming up 
 If you don't believe 
                         But where's John Wayne? 

 You're gonna receive 
                         I feel like a red witch 
 The shock of your salty lives 
                         Having a wake 
 When I take command in the 
                         How much of the ocean 
 name of 
                         bit do you think I can take ?
                         Claim that land in the name of

 Isabella and Ferdinand  - 

(That's Ferdinand and Isabella)
Both:  New rulers of this round, round world ! 

                     Crazy kind of scheme 
                      It's a cockamamy dream 
                      But we hope it's a round, round 

King: Well, for all our sakes, I hope-

Lookout: Land, ho!

King: What was that?

Columbus: French horns.

King: No,  before that.

Columbus: It was the lookout. He sighted land!

Crew: Hooray!

Columbus: Quickly, hand me the glass. (sound of equipment)

Columbus: No, no, the other one!

King: Oh… Oh! (sound of champagne poured into a glass)

Columbus: To the New World!

King: Likewise!

Scene Three: Columbus Is Discovered!

King: Alright, go ahead, give the kid top billing.

Columbus: Ah, it was just a thought.

King: No, go ahead.

Columbus: Alright-(clears throat) I claim this land in the name of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain!

Native: How!

Columbus: Well, first I stick the flag in the sand, and then I-

King: Watch yourself, Admiral. Natives-they may be hostile.

Columbus: Well, we’re all a little hostile now and then; some of us can sublimate, others can’t adjust. You know how it is…

King: I know, but you better try and talk to ‘em!

Columbus: Alright, alright. Hello there, hello there. We white men--other side of ocean. My name Christopher Columbus.

Native: Oh? You over here on a Fulbright?

Columbus: Huh? Uh, no,no, I’m over here on an Isabella, as a matter of fact. Which reminds me, I want to take a few of you guys back on the boat with me to prove I discovered you.

Native: What you mean, you discover us? We discover you.

Columbus: You discovered us?

Native: Certainly. We discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.

Columbus: Yeah, I never thought of that. At any rate, my men and I were wondering if you could spare a little food?

Native: What kind num-nums you want?

Columbus: Well, what is that strange plant you’re holding there, with yellow kernels?

Native: You mean this? (brass fanfare)

Columbus: Yes. What is that?

Native: French horns.

Columbus: No, what you’re holding in your hand.

Native: Oh-corn.

Columbus: That’s what I thought it was. What else you got to eat around here?

Native: Oh, Berries, herbs, naturally grown fruits, and organically grown vegetables.

Columbus: That’s what I suspected. What kind of a diet is that? That’s why I’ve come here. To fulfill my dream.

Native: You have a dream?

Columbus: Yes, I do.

Native: Would you like to talk about it?

Columbus: I certainly would. My dream is to open the first Italian restaurant in your country. Give me some real food: starches, spaghetti, cholesterol-all the better things. That’s called progress, you see?

Native: Hmmmm.

Columbus: Now right here would be a good location for the restaurant. Ocean view and all that. Is there room for a parking lot?

Native: You kidding? Whole country is parking lot.

Columbus: I s’pose. Well, I’d like to put a little deposit down on the property here.

Native: Okay.

Columbus: I only have a few dubloons on me, so if you’ll direct me to the nearest bank, I’ll get a check cashed.

Native: You out of luck today. Banks closed.

Columbus: Oh? Why?

Native: Columbus Day.

Columbus: Oh, yeah…We going out on that joke?

Native: No, we do reprise of song, that help.

Native and Columbus: But not much, no…..

Song: It's A Round, Round World (Reprise)

 Round, round world 
                          Yo, ho, ho and a buckskin sleeve 
 It's a newfound world 
                          Now the white man's here I guess 
 And the land looks good 
                          It's time to leave 
 Like a continent should 
                          But why go to war and fight like 
 Complete with a flag unfurled 
                          a jerk 
                          Perhaps we can pick up some kind of work 
                          In an Indian extravaganza 
                          Wyatt Earp or Bonanza - 

Columbus: Please don't call us, we'll call you - 

Ferdinand: Step aside pal, meet the new  - 

Both: Big cheeses of this round, round world !

Scene Four: The Puritans and the Indians
Narrator: November, 1621-By now the white man has arrived in great numbers, not only at Miami, but at Jamestown, Plymouth, and Salem, Massachusetts.

The Puritans have established a thriving colony, enjoying the social and cultural refinements of a modern society.

Puritan 1: Hiya, Harv’, who ya takin’ to the witch burning Saturday night?

Puritan 2: Prudence Adams. Who ya takin’ to the Rotary Club luncheon?

Puritan 1: I haven’t got a date yet, but I hear it’s gonna be quite a spread…

Political Advisor: Well, Mayor Pennypacker, how’s it look for re-election?

Mayor: Great, great, great; never looked better.

Political Advisor: Yeah, what about the Indian vote?

Mayor: Waddya mean by that?

Political Advisor: Well, you’re not too popular with the Indians. They could lose you the election.

Mayor: That’s possible?

Political Advisor: Well, they outnumber us. 

Mayor: That’s the trouble-you give ‘em an inch, and they take over.

Political Advisor: But Mayor, they were here before we were-we moved in on them.

Mayor: So we did. Well, there’s just something about ‘em. They wear funny shoes, don’t even have buckles on ‘em.

Political Advisor: Be that as it may, election is Friday. You better make some gesture this week. 

Mayor: Like what?

Political Advisor: Well, what if you make a concession and pick an Indian as a running mate? You’d be sure to carry the Indian bloc.

Mayor: What? If anything happened to me, you’d have a mayor that wasn’t a Puritan. Probably take orders directly from Chief Powhatan.

Political Advisor: Yeah.

Mayor: Say, I got it. The luncheon tomorrow, the one under the trees?

Political Advisor: What about it?

Mayor: We’ll ask an Indian! That’ll  impress the rest of ‘em.

Political Advisor: We could even announce you’re gonna put one in your cabinet.

Mayor: No need to go that far, just have one to lunch.

Political Advisor: It’ll be great press!

Mayor: Mayor Pennypacker Comes Out for Equality-Justice-Votes! 

Song: Take an Indian to Lunch

What a slogan:
Take an Indian to lunch (this week)
Show him we're a regular bunch (this week)
Show him we're as liberal as can be!
Let him know he's almost as good as we

Make a feathered friend feel fed (this week)
Overlook the fact he's red (this week)
Let him share our Quaker Oats
’Cause he's useful when he votes
Take an Indian to lunch!

Who do we tolerate?
Indians, Indians, rah, rah, rah!

Take an Indian to lunch (this week)
Let him sit right down and munch (this week)
Let's give in and all do the brotherhood bit--
Just make sure we don't make a habit of it!

Take an Indian to dine (this week)
Show him we don't draw the line (this week)
We know everyone can't be
As “American“ as we--
(After all, we came over on the Mayflower!)
Take an Indian,
Not a wooden Indian,
But a real, live Indian
To lunch!

Scene Five: The Thanksgiving Story

Narrator: Needless to say, the luncheon there under the trees was a great success, and a good time was had by Puritan and Indian alike. Everything came of beautifully with the exception of one minor catastrophe.

Mayor: What do you mean you cooked the turkey, Charlie?

Charlie: Well, I cooked the turkey, that's all.

Mayor: You put our national bird in the oven. Is that correct?

Charlie: Yeah, well I, uh . . .

Mayor: And all of us had our mouths set for roast eagle with all the trimmings.

Charlie: Yeah, well I, uh . . .

Mayor: You did a thing like that?

Charlie: Well, the two birds were lying there side by side.

Mayor: The turkey was for the centerpiece, Charlie, I mean . . .

Charlie: Well, they looked so much alike that I, uh . . .

Mayor: Well, we blew it now. They're all sitting down at the tables out there.

Charlie: Yeah, yeah.

Mayor: . . . starting on their little nut cups already. Just have to switch the birds, that's all.

Charlie: Yeah, well . . .

Mayor: Serve them turkey instead of eagle. But it's kinda scrawny-lookin', isn't it?

Charlie: Yeah, well I thought I'd stuff some old bread in it and make it look a little fatter.

Mayor: You do that, OK?

Charlie: OK.

Scene Six: The Sale of Manhattan

Narrator: As the white man’s foothold increases, the red man’s land diminishes. Seldom has history recorded such a phenomenal land transaction as that which took place on a little island in the Hudson River in 1626. There a voice cries out in the wilderness, and a city is born….

Dark Cloud: Too many moons we live here, White Cloud. Time to unload this crummy island.

White Cloud: Hmm.

Dark Cloud: Why we not live in Massachusetts like your brother? He get invited to lunch!

White Cloud: Big deal.

Dark Cloud: This place too hot in summer, too cold in winter. No place for papoose to grow up. No chance for culture.

White Cloud: Well, we could run down to Carnegie Wigwam on Sunday afternoons, hear Flying Birdstein explain the ceremonial dances…

Dark Cloud: You listen to me: sell Manhattan to white man. Get me plenty junk jewelry, alright?

White Cloud: Alright. I list with real estate agent. He find live one, okay?

Dark Cloud: Okay.

(Scene changes to real estate office)

Salesman: Okay, chief, I think I got a live one for you, a Dutchman. When he gets here, let me do all the talking, alright?

White Cloud: Mmmm.

(Knock at the door.)

Salesman: Hey, here he his now. Come in!

Hey, that’s a pretty hard buffalo hide you got here on this teepee-I’d like to bust my knuckles!

Salesman: Just so he doesn’t bust his pockets, eh, chief? Heh, heh, heh!

White Cloud: Mmmm.

Tishman’s my name-Peter Tishman. 

Salesman: This here is Chief White Cloud. What can we do for you, sir?

Tishman: Well, I seen your listing in the paper here:
 For Sale: Island! Ideal for summer festival. Gorgeous vu (spelled v-u), running water…

Salesman: Oh, whoa---wait a minute. What is that “running water” bit?

White Cloud: That my wife’s brother. He go with island. 
Salesman: Oh, yeah.

Tishman: …spacious trees, wall to wall grass, room for pool. What’s pool?

Salesman: Uh, it’s like snooker.

Tishman: Oh.

Salesman: Well, that’s it! Now, if you’re in the market for an island, friend, you couldn’t go wrong, believe me.

Tishman: What’s the asking price?

White Cloud: Ah, you give us…

Salesman: Lemme handle this, will ya, chief? Now a beautiful piece of property like this couldn’t go for a nickel less than 32 dollars worth of junk jewelry.

Tishman: What? 32 dollars for a crummy piece of undeveloped property like this? I’m gonna see you around.

Salesman: Make it $29.50.

Tishman: Go away!

Salesman: Lookit-I don’t like to haggle, Pete. Make it $28 and a quarter.

Tishman: Come on.

Salesman: Wait a minute! (Uh, chief, when I give you the signal, bring on the Indians.) Now look, Pete, baby, can’t you see the possiblilities? Step outside here, look around you. Sure, it’s a barren piece of wasteland now, sure it don’t look like much-but someday, this little footpath is gonna echo with the sound of dancing feet. Why, they’re gonna hang a sign over there, and it’s gonna say Broadway, yeah!

Song: Top Hat, White Feather and Tails

This way, Mr. First Nighter!

Put on your top hat 
White feather and tails 
Paint up your faces 
You reds and you pales 
Put on your beaded goods 
We're gonna do the woods 
Tap-dance up the hills and down the dales 
(à la Harry Richman) 
Remember thum day 
This all will be mirth (yeth thir!) 
Right here on Broadway 
Corner fifty firth (yeth thir!) 
You'll be a vital part 
Of all the terribly smart set 
In your top hat, white feather, and tails 
Dance up to your penthouse 
And look at the view 
Mix with the show folk 
On Park Avenue (yeth thir!) 
So gay and so aloof 
Name-dropping on the rooftop 
Drinking champagne by the pails... 
In your top hat, white feather, and tails! 

Tishman: Say, that was a nice number! You kids get a pretty good sound out of them moccasins!

Salesman: Yes, sir-considering they were tap dancing on dirt, too. 

Tishman: I’m gonna see you around.

Salesman: Now wait aminute! Make it $25 even, we’ll toss in the Bronx.

Tishman: Couldn’t possibly see my way clear.

White Cloud: We’ll throw in Staten Island.

Salesman: You hear that? Is that a generous Indian? You’ll have Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too! (phone rings) Hello? Yeah, Dick-we use any more, we’ll have to pay a royalty, huh? Okay, sweetie, we’ll knock it off. Right. Okay, yeah, okay…

Tishman: I’ll give you 24 dollars.

Salesman: Sold! But none of that cash stuff. The chief’s wife wants strictly junk jewelry.

White Cloud: Mmm. Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads…

Salesman: Yeah, hold it, willya, baby? You’re laying yourself wide open for another phone call.

Tishman: Okay, it’s a deal. Here you go. (sound of jewelry) You’re lucky the price wasn’t no higher-I never carry more than 24 dollars in junk jewelry.

White Cloud: Mmm. Nice quality. Wife flip.

Salesman: Alright, men-pack up those trees and let’s get out of here.

Tishman: What?

Salesman: Strike the forest!

Tishman: Wait a second-where are you going with my trees?

Salesman: What do you think, you bought a furnished island?

Tishman: You mean all of those trees was in parts?

White Cloud: Heh, heh. Laugh on you-whole island solid concrete. Heh, heh. Nothing grow except in little square place in middle of island. 

Tishman: But how am I gonna get people to live on a solid concrete island?

White Cloud: Who would want to? Nice place to visit, but…

All together: ….you wouldn’t want to live here.

Salesman: Nah.

Tishman: I guess you’re right.

Scene Seven: The Boston Tea Party

Narrator: 150 eventful years have passed. A new spirit of restlessness grips the 13 English colonies. Smarting at what seems to them injustice at the hands of King George the 3rd, the colonists yearn for liberty. 

Boston Harbor, 1774: two figures huddle on the deck of a cargo ship there in the darkness…

(Loud splash)

Charlie: Whoops!

Union Steward: Geeez, Charlie, ya knocked that whole load of tea in the water there!

Charlie: Well, I miscalculated with the block and tackle, that’s all.

Union Steward: Yeah, well, I mean you blew it-you missed the whole deck there!

Charlie: Yeah, well, maybe nobody’ll notice.

Union Steward: Whaddya mean? There’s tea floating all over the place. How can I go and demand an hourly increase for you guys with fringe---

Charlie: Yeah, yeah, well-

Union Steward: --No, no, with fringe benefits and all that if my men keep knocking stuff overboard?

Charlie: Well, well, I’m-uh-sorry.

Union Steward: Sorry doesn’t do-uh-any good, Charlie. Now I’ll cover for you this time, Charlie, but let’s get our story straight.

Charlie: Good, good, good, good…

Union Steward: Now a bunch of those patriot guys came sneaking around dressed in, uh-

Charlie: How about in Indian suits?

Union Steward: That’s good, in Indian suits. They were a little loaded, and they shoved the tea over ‘cause they were sore about the tea tax.

Charlie: Uh, okay…You think anybody’ll swallow that?

Union Steward: Well, it’s just wild enough, Charlie.

Charlie: Gee, look at it swirling around down there. I wonder where we could find a fortune teller that reads harbors?

Scene Eight: Ben Franklin Signs the Declaration of Independence

Narrator: The trouble continued to brew. It was a time for action, and a time for words. On a hot July night in 1776, Benjamin Franklin was aroused from his work by the call of destiny….

(Knock at the door)

Jefferson: Ben, Ben! Ya in there Ben?

Franklin: Who’s that, Sylvia?

Sylvia: It’s the “call of destiny.”

Franklin: Come on, take a look through the curtains, there.

Sylvia: It’s Tom Jefferson!

Franklin: What, again? Well, it’s no good, I’ll have to let him in…I’m coming, I’m coming!

Jefferson: Hi, Ben!

Franklin: Tom.

Jefferson: You got a minute?

Franklin: Well, to tell you the truth, I was just going out of town for the weekend. 

Jefferson: But it’s only Wednesday.

Franklin: Yeah. Well, you know, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Jefferson: What does that got to do with anything, Franklin?

Franklin: I don’t know. It was the first thing that came into my head. I was just making conversation. An idle brain is the Devil’s playground, you know!

Jefferson: Say, you’re pretty good at that, aren’t you?

Franklin: Yes, they’re just some new “wise sayings” I just made up.

Jefferson: Wise sayings?

Franklin: Yeah, I call ‘em “wise sayings.”

Jefferson: Uh-huh.

Franklin: Well, what can I do for you?

Jefferson: Well, I’ve got this petition here I’ve been circulating around the neighborhood. Kind of thought you’d like to sign it. It’s called the Declaration of Independence.

Franklin: Yeah, I heard about that. Sounds a little suspect if you ask me.
Jefferson: What do you mean, suspect?

Franklin: Well, you’re advocating the overthrow of the British government by force and violence, aren’t you?

Jefferson: Yeah, yeah, but we’ve had it with that royal jazz.

Franklin: Who’s we?

Jefferson: Well, all the guys.

Franklin: Who’s all the guys?

Jefferson: Oh, George, Jim Madison, Alex Hamilton, Johnny Adams-you know, all the guys.

Franklin: Hah! The lunatic fringe.

Jefferson: Oh, they are not.

Franklin: Two wild eyed radicals, professional liberals-don’t kid me.

Jefferson: You call Washington a wild-eyed radical?

Franklin: Washington? I don’t see his name on it.

Jefferson: No, but he promised to sign it.

Franklin: Oh, yeah, that’s George for you! Talks up a storm with them wooden teeth-can’t shut ‘em off! But when it comes time to put the old name on the parchment-o-roonie, try and find him.

Jefferson: What are you so surly for today?

Franklin: Surly to bed and surly to rise makes a man…

Jefferson: Alright, alright. Let’s knock off the one-line jokes and sign the petition, huh, fellah?

Franklin: Well, lemme look at it here…When in the course of human events-so and so and so and so, so and so and so and so…that among these are life, liberty, and the purfuit of happineff?

Jefferson: That’s pursuit of happiness. 

Franklin: Well, all your s’s look like f’s.

Jefferson: It’s stylish. It’s in, it’s very in.

Franklin: Oh, well, if it’s in. We therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, so and so and so and so…solemnly publish and declare, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm… that they are absolved from all allegiance to-uh-the British Crown….and so on. Uh, a little overboard, isn’t it?

Jefferson: Well…

Franklin: You write this?

Jefferson: Yeah, yeah, I knocked it out. It’s just a first draft, you know.

Franklin: Well, I’ll tell you, why don’t you leave it with me, and I’ll mail it in, huh?

Jefferson: Oh, come on.

Franklin: No, I’ll tell you, Tom, let me say this-I’m with you in spirit, I’m sure you’ll understand that. But, you know, I’ve got play it conservative. I’m a businessman.

Jefferson: Yeah.

Franklin: I got the printing business going pretty good, the almanac made “Book of the Month,” and then I’ve got the inventions, you know. I’ve got pretty good distribution on the stoves now. And of course every Saturday evening I bring out the “mag.”

Jefferson: The what?

Franklin: Magazine.

Jefferson: Oh. Oh, That reminds me. That artist I sent by, did you look at his stuff?

Franklin: You mean the Rockwell boy? Skinny kid with the pipe?

Jefferson: Yeah, that’s the kid.

Franklin: Yeah, I glanced at it. He’s too far out for me. 

Jefferson: Oh, yeah. Well, I know, you’ve got to play it safe.

Franklin: Yeah.

Jefferson: But getting back to the signing of the petition-how about it?

Franklin: Well, I-

Jefferson: It’s a harmless paper.

Franklin: Oh, sure, harmless. I know how these things happen. You go to a couple of harmless parties, sign a harmless petition, and forget all about it. Ten years later, you get hauled up before a committee. No, thank you, I’m not going to spend the rest of my life writing in Europe.

Jefferson: Ah, come on.

Franklin: Come on and what?

Song: A Man Can't Be Too Careful What He Signs These Days

(Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin)

Come on and put your name on the dotted line

  I got to be particular what I sign

It's just a piece of paper

  Just a piece of paper, that's what you say

Come on and put your signature on the list

  It looks to have a very subversive twist

How silly to assume it; won't you “nom de plume” it today?
You're so skittish--who possibly could care if you do?

  The Un-British Activities Committee, that's who!

Let's have a little drinko and fill the quill

  It sounds a little ”pinko” to me, but still...

Knock off the timid manner if you want a banner to raise! (banner to raise)

You must take (I must take)

A stand (A stand)

For this brave (for this brave)

New land (new land)

For who wants (who wants)

To live (to live)

So conser- (so conser-)

-vative? (-vative?)

I don't dis- (He don't dis-)

-agree (agree)


Franklin: Well, if I sign it, will you renew your subscription?

Jefferson: Yeah, if you promise not to keep throwing it on the roof. If it’s not on the roof, it’s in the rosebushes or in the mud.

Franklin: My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Besides, it’s hard to hit the porch from a horse.

Jefferson: Ah, come on, all we want to do is to hold a few truths to be self-evident.

Franklin: You’re sure it’s not gonna start a revolution or anything.

Jefferson: Trust me.

Franklin: Okay, give it to me. You got a quill on you?

Jefferson: Yeah, here you are.

Franklin: Hah! Look at that showoff Hancock, willya! Pretty flamboyant signature for an insurance man.

Jefferson: Ah, you did a good thing, Ben. You won’t be sorry, heh, heh. Now if I can just get another three or four guys, we’ll be all set. 

Franklin: Well, I’ll tell you one thing.

Jefferson: What’s that?

Franklin: You better get ‘em to sign it in the next couple of days, before they all take off for the Fourth of July weekend.

Scene Nine: Betsy Ross and the Flag

Narrator: As the seeds of turmoil flowered and grew, the hastily assembled American army craved a banner they could call their own. To a certain Philadelphia seamstress came General George Washington one day in the icy winter of 1777.

George Washington: Betsy? You in there, Betsy?

Betsy Ross: Who is it?

George Washington: It’s me, George.

Betsy Ross: Oh, boy. Come on in!…Hey!

George Washington: How’s that?

Betsy Ross: You’re tracking snow all over my early American rug.

George Washington: Oh, yeah. Sorry. Alright, let’s see the flag.

Betsy Ross: Just a minute. Let me bite the thread off here.

George Washington: Well, snap it up. Spread it out on your lap there and we’ll…heh, heh. You, uh, having a little fun at your country’s expense, here?

Betsy Ross: How’s that?

George Washington: Are you kidding with these colors? Red, white and blue?

Betsy Ross: Well, those are the only remnants I had around the…

George Washington: Wait a minute! Stars? I deliberately said polka-dots.

Betsy Ross: Huh?

George Washington: Stars with stripes? How does that work together, design-wise?

Betsy Ross: Alright, you want to be the big man and put on the thimble, huh?

George Washington: No, it’s just…

Betsy Ross: Then how’s about you let me run the flag department and you run the army like a nice father of our country, okay?

George Washington: I know, but-

Song: Everyone Wants to Be An Art Director

Sung by: Betsy Ross and George Washington

Look at the colors you chose!
The best you could do, I suppose--
A peppermint stripe on royal blue,
The same as the British colors, too,
Now how will we tell whose side is who?
Look at the colors you chose!

Why couldn't it have been puce?
Lavender over chartreuse?
Or possibly some exotic shade--
Delicate orange, mauve or jade
Instead of the choice that has been made?
Why couldn't it have been possibly cinnamon?

Everybody wants to be an art director,
Everybody wants to call the shots.
Everybody wants to be a flag dissector,
Changing all my stars to polka-dots.
Everybody thinks that they're the final word on 
What is strictly "out" and what is "in!"
How would you like a flag that features 
”Fleur-de-lys” on ochre corregated TIN?

George Washington: I’d like it. How soon can you make one up?

Betsy Ross: Come on, there’s your flag. Take it or leave it.

George Washington: Alright. Say, what’s this little ticket here that just fell out, “Inspected by Number 28?”

Betsy Ross: That’s me.

George Washington: Oh, yeah.

Betsy Ross: You want it on a hanger?

George Washington: No, I’ll just run it up the flagpole, see if anybody salutes.

Betsy Ross: Okay.

George Washington: I guess it’s better than “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Betsy Ross: Certainly. Besides, a hundred years from now, what the heck difference will it make?

George Washington: I guess you’re right. (goes out the door) Come on, men!

Scene Ten: Washington Crosses the Delaware

Narrator: December, 1776, on the banks of the Delaware. Cruel winds whistle through the threadbare clothing of the 8,000 man American Army. All too aware of General Howe’s powerful across the icy waters, they await the decision of their leader, General George Washington. For he, and he alone, can make the choice upon which hinges the destiny of their infant nation.

George Washington: Alright, then. How much do you want for the boat that says Popeye on it?

Boatman: A buck-twenty an hour.

George Washington: Uh huh. Well, what about the one that says Donald Duck on it? 

Boatman: Huh?

George Washington: The one with the little striped awning there?

Boatman: Oh, yeah, well…That boat right there?

George Washington: That boat right there.

Boatman: That boat right there.

George Washington: That’s the boat.

Boatman: It’ll run you two bucks an hour.

George Washington: What? That’s an outrage! It’s December-it’s your off season! How many customers can you get this time of year?

Boatman: Look fella, you run the army, and let me run the boat rental, okay?

George Washington: Alright, don’t get smart with me-I’m General Washington.

Boatman: I know who you are. I’ve seen your picture on the money. And I wish you’d make up your mind! The boat rides are closing. 

George Washington: Well, let’s review them once again here. Popeye was a buck-twenty an hour…

Boatman: That’s right, a buck-twenty an hour, that’s right…

George Washington: And the one with the striped awning-

Boatman: Donald Duck…

Lieutenant: Uh, General Washington, sir. 

George Washington: Yes? What is it?

Lieutenant: The men are freezing.

George Washington: So?

Lieutenant: So, we were wondering if you could come to some decision on the boat.

George Washington: Yeah? You think they’ve got problems? I just had my wig set this morning, and this damp air isn’t doing it any good. Look at it-straight as a stick.

Lieutenant: Well, it looks just fine to me, sir.

George Washington: Really?

Lieutenant: Yes, yes.

George Washington: Think it looks alright?

Boatman: Listen! You gonna rent a boat tonight or not? I’d like to freeze my ears off!

George Washington: Alright! Don’t rush me!

Lieutenant: If we could make a decision on the boat, sir-it’ll soon be daylight.

George Washington: Well, let it be daylight. We’re liable to tip over out there at night.

Lieutenant: Yes, well, there was the element of surprise in the whole thing, don’t you see, sir?

George Washington: Oh. Well, alright. You could get the men loaded in the other boats, get that out of the way.

Lieutenant: They are in the other boats, sir. They have been for hours. Now if we could just come to some…

George Washington: Alright, alright! Hold your horses!

Lieutenant: We-we ate the horses yesterday, sir.

George Washington: Oh, yeah. Well, I’ll be with you in….

Boatman: Did you really eat the horses yesterday?

George Washington: I didn’t. They did. Heh, heh. Enlisted men…Now I got it narrowed down to two here. Popeye has these dear little seats in it-

Lieutenant: Yes, yes.

George Washington: That’s a buck-twenty.

Lieutenant: Uh, huh.

George Washington: See? And Donald Duck has the striped awning. 

Lieutenant: I see.

George Washington: It’s two dollars. Now, I’ll leave it up to you, lieutenant, doesn’t that strike you as a little high?

Lieutenant: Well, I don’t know, sir. Perhaps a bit, but it…

George Washington: Alright, see there? Hah! Now what would you say to a buck-seventy five for Donald Duck?

Boatman: Two dollars an hour. Not a penny less!

George Washington: Say, what are you trying to do? Gouge a serviceman?

Boatman: Hah! I might ask what are you army guys trying to do, stifle a small businessman?

George Washington: Ah, that’s ridiculous.

Boatman: It’s not ridiculous.

George Washington: Alright, then, kick the end of Donald Duck around there and let me see it.

Boatman: I can’t! My feet are frozen! Look, mister, why don’t you take the one called Popeye, you’ll be happy with that boat. The price is right-a buck-twenty an hour!

George Washington: Well, Idon’t know. You like it, lieutenant?

Lieutenant: She’s a beaut, sir. Besides, were only renting it for the one night.

George Washington: But you really like it better than the one with the awning?

Lieutenant: You wouldn’t want the one with the awning, sir. Once you got into it, you’d hate it! Honestly, take the other one. 

George Washington: You think it’s really me?

Lieutenant: On my word, sir, it’s you!

George Washington: But I just don’t know about the color.

Lieutenant: The color is fine! Black is a great color-it sets off your wig!

George Washington: Really?

Lieutenant: Yes!

George Washington: Alright. Popeye it is.

Boatman: Whooo, I’ll tell ya, boy, I seen some customers, but this guy’s a loo-loo.

George Washington: Now, we got everything? The flag?

Lieutenant: Right, sir.

George Washington: The ukelele?

Lieutenant: Yes, sir.

George Washington: The-uh-the sandwiches?

Lieutenant: The boatman has some right here, sir.

George Washington: Oh! What kind you got there?

Boatman: Uh, well, I-uh-I got ham and swiss, liverwurst, starra, tuna salad.

George Washington: Well, let me see. Is the tuna salad good today? 

Boatman: It’s you, it’s you! 

George Washington: Alright, how much?

Boatman: Twenty-five cents.

George Washington: What? Twenty-five cents for a tuna salad sandwich?

Boatman: Here! Take it with my blessings!

George Washington: Well, I…

Boatman: Take a liverwurst, too! Enjoy, enjoy!

Narrator: And so the Delaware was crossed. Thus was begun one of the most glorious pages in American history. 

George Washington: Imagine that guy wanting twenty-five cents for a lousy tuna-whoops, watch where you’re rowing! I like that little boat I picked up right here, called Popeye.

Scene Eleven: “Yankee Doodle”
Sound the fifes,
Beat the drums
Be ready for the moment victory comes!
Ever forward, patriots,on!

Narrator: And America has always gone forward to the sound of marching feet to the military beat of drums, drums, drums. Helping to hold the banner high, stirring the hearts of her fighting men, this then is the “Spirit of ’76.”

Officer: What do you mean, you’re walking off the job?

Vix: Like, I’m walking off the job, man. I don’t have to work with that kind of-uh-square drummer…

Officer: Well, I don’t see any reason why we can’t…

Vix: No, when I accepted the gig, I didn’t know I was going to have to play fife with the kind of moldy fig-

Officer: Well, we certainly-

Vix: -drumming like that what’s going on ahead, there, man. C’mon.

Officer: Moldy-uh?

Vix: Now the kid here is on second drums, and the kid is swinging pretty good. But we can’t make it swing with that other cat, dig?

Second Drummer: You tell ‘em, Vix!

Officer: Look here now, we’re engaged in battle! The army’s depending on you.

Vix: Well, too bad, man. Like, you’re back here holding the flag. You don’t have to walk next to him, ya know?

Officer: Well, what exactly is your objection to the man?

Vix: Well, in the first place, anyone with a name like, uh, Yankee…

Officer: Doodle.

Vix: Yeah, well, the name says it, man. Ya know?

Officer: Yes, but what is the main problem?

Vix: Like, it’s a toss up between the drumming and the singing. 

Officer: The singing?

Vix: I got a bandage around my ears, but it doesn’t help much.

Officer: Well, let’s walk back up there and talk to him. See if we can’t straighten it out.

Vix: Yeah, well. You know…

Officer: Alright, Doodle, the fife player and the other drummer want to leave. Now what seems to be the trouble?

Yankee Doodle: They’re out of step with me, that’s what’s the trouble! 

Officer: Is that true?

Vix: Ah, wow…He wants to play yup-bup-bup-bup-bup-bup-bup, and I’d rather go scooby-dooby, dooby doo, bowoo bowoo bowoo-ee-ah ooh ah ooh-schkaboom. (explosion) Man! Like, you didn’t say anything about we were gonna work up near the cannonballs, man. 

Officer: Well, uh…

Vix: I thought we were working like a officer’s club…

Officer: Oh, no, no, no.

Vix: …dance, man.

Yankee Doodle: Let’s get on with the procession, here! Gracious!

Officer: Yes, now let’s make an effort and play it like Doodle wants to. 

Vix: Yeah, well, it’s a drag.

Yankee Doodle: Get on with the marching, here.

Father and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding.
There we saw the men and boys,
As thick as hasty-everybody!

Yankee Doodle, keep it up!
Vix: Keep it up, and we’ll blow the whole war.
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be hand-(wild fife lick)

Yankee Doodle: I heard that!

Yankee Doodle came to town,
A-riding on a pony.
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it Macaroni.

Yankee Doodle: Yessir, I’m the Yankee Doodle!

Sound of drums being dropped.

Vix: That’s all,man. That’s it. 

Second Drummer: I’m hip!

Vix: That’s it.

Yankee Doodle: Come on, pick up your instruments, there!

Vix: No, that’s it.

Officer: What’s the trouble now?

Vix: It’s a bad scene, man. Right?

Second Drummer: Bad scene, Vix!

Yankee Doodle: Come on, you’re holding up the whole parade!

Officer: Let’s stop the bickering in the ranks, here. Do you want the war to end on a note of triumph or disaster?

Vix: Uhh…Like, either way, man. Just so it swings.

Officer: Now, look…

Vix: Scooby-doo!

Officer: Now, let’s reach a compromise here. Play it eight bars your way, and eight bars Doodle’s.

Yankee Doodle: Alright.

Vix: Crazy.

Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Mind the music and the step

Vix: Okay, out of the way, man.

Yankee Doodle: Well, that was pretty rude!

Band plays a big band swing version of Yankee Doodle.

Yankee Doodle: Hold it people, please!

Vix: Hey, yeah! You were swinging pretty good, there, daddy!

Second Drummer: You’ve influenced me a lot, Vix!

Vix: Yeah, well. You know…

Yankee Doodle: Outrageous! You ruined the whole (explosion) selection! Mercy!

Scene Twelve: The Battle of Yorktown
Narrator: Yorktown, 1781. This was the climax. Pitifully short of food and supplies, the tattered American Army was reduced to a mere handful. While destiny held its breath, General George Washington courageously faced the most awesome challenge of his career.

George Washington: Alright, once again now.

Lieutenant: Yes, sir.

George Washington: You think I ought to surrender in the blue blazer or the trenchcoat?

Lieutenant: Well, the trenchcoat is nice, sir, but …(explosion nearby)

George Washington: Let me slip the blue blazer on once again just to give you the idea.

Lieutenant: Sir, that won’t be necessary, I remember what-

George Washington: Well, I’ll just give you the idea.

Lieutenant: You’ve tried it on twelve times, sir! 

George Washington: Ahh, you can’t rush into these things…

Bill Collector: Pardon me, General Washington?

George Washington: Yes. Who are you?

Bill Collector: Schneider’s my name. I’m from American Bell & Bell. I’ve got a statement here that’s two years overdue for that big 5,000 pound job in Philadelphia.

George Washington: What? You expect us to pay for that bell? Hah! Had a crack in it as long as your arm. 

Bill Collector: I don’t know anything about a crack in it. (richocheting bullet sound) All I know is I’m supposed to get something on the account.

George Washington: Look, I’m going down in history at the moment. Could you come back in a little while?

Bill Collector: Well, if you could give us a portion of it now, and the balance after you get the country straightened out.

George Washington: Yeah, well, we’ll see. Now I’ll leave it up to you, Mr. Schneider. Do you see me surrendering in a blue blazer with antique military…

Lieutenant: Back to yourself, sir! (explosion)

George Washington:. …buttons-not too idy-

Lieutenant: General Washington, sir!

George Washington: Yes, what is it, Lieutenant?

Lieutenant: I have an idea how we might not have to surrender after all! 

George Washington: What do you mean? I’m all dressed for the occasion!

Lieutenant: But, sir, your country is at stake. Now here’s my idea. You know the Rockwell boy who works on Franklin’s magazine? 

George Washington: You mean the one he just hired?

Lieutenant: Yeah, skinny kid with a pipe.

George Washington: Right.

Lieutenant: I can have him here in fifteen minutes, sir.

George Washington: Mm hm.

Lieutenant: I’ll get him a big piece of canvas, 500 yards long, some brushes, a lot of paint-

George Washington: I see.

Lieutenant: Oh, we’ve got to work fast, sir. Finish by daybreak. Now here’s my plan. While the British are sleeping…

(The following morning in the British camp…a rooster crows)

Bradshaw: Good Morning, Lord Cornwallis.

Lord Cornwallis: Oh, hello, Bradshaw. Fine morning, isn’t it old man? Just the sort of morning to defeat the American rebels, right?

Bradshaw: Right, sir.

Lord Cornwallis: Well, then, shall we mount the attack and muddle through to victory? Hmm? (explosion) What was that?

Bradshaw: English horns.

Lord Cornwallis: No, no, no. Before that.

Bradshaw: Oh, oh! Gunfire! Oh, the Americans, General! Look! They must have brought up twenty thousand fresh troops during the night! 

Lord Cornwallis: Here, let me have the glass. (sound of a water glass) No, no, no,no-the other one. Jove, you’re right. Look at them all out there. How fierce they look! Why, they’re not moving a muscle-seem to be frozen in their tracks. Almost like a painting. Grim visage of war. Ha! My, look at the determination on that fellow, the skinny kid with the pipe.

Bradshaw: Hmm. (explosion)

Lord Cornwallis: Hello! They’ve begun their barrage. 

Bradshaw: Great heavens, Lord Cornwallis! I’m afraid we’ve had it.

Lord Cornwallis: Mmm, yes. Well, time for the better part of valor and all that. Shall we go?

Bradshaw: After you, sir.

Lord Cornwallis: Right-o.

(Back in the American camp…)

George Washington: Do you think it’s working, Lieutenant?

Lieutenant: Well, I don’t…Wait! General Washington-

George Washington: Huh?

Lieutenant: Here come a couple of British officers, waving a white flag! 

Lord Cornwallis: I say, we surrender! We give up! Stop all that dreadful shooting, old man!

George Washington: Alright. Wait a minute, let me kill the sound effects here. (sound of a record player slowly winding down.)Okay, you guys-strike the war set! Roll it up!(flapping of a roller)

Lord Cornwallis: Good heavens-we’ve been diddled!

George Washington: Did I hear you surrender there? Hmm?

Lord Cornwallis: Yes, but-but look here, fellow-it’s not cricket. You’re not playing the game.

George Washington: What’s that?

Lord Cornwallis: We thought you had a whole regiment here. Look, Bradshaw, the whole thing was nothing but a ruddy painting, a-a backdrop.

George Washington: That’s right. Well, a little gimmick I thought up there. Actually, our army was routed yesterday. Nobody here but me, the lieutenant, and the skinny kid with the …where’d he go?

Lieutenant: You, uh, rolled him up in the backdrop, sir.

George Washington: Oh, yes. Well, release him there. (sound of a thud on the ground) You alright, young man?

Rockwell: Mmmmph. Thuuuh’s uh pup….

Lord Cornwallis: Oh, Reg! There’s a pipe jammed in his cheek. Give him a hand, Bradshaw.

Bradshaw: Yes, of course. Hmmm. Ruined a good Kaywoodie, there.

Lord Cornwallis: Mmm. Fortunes of war.

Bradshaw: I say, Lord Cornwallis-this whole thing is-is-is-is-

Lord Cornwallis: No, no, no, no, Bradshaw! Well, you fellows win, I guess!

George Washington: Yes, well, that’s the way it goes, you know…

Lord Cornwallis: Of course, the King’ll be livid.

George Washington: Uh huh. Well, you still have most of the rest of the world. Heh, heh. Mustn’t be piggy.

Lord Cornwallis: Well, quite so, yes.

George Washington: Mind if I try on the sword there?

Lord Cornwallis: Go right ahead, yes.

George Washington: Alright. What do you think? Is it me?

Bradshaw: (whispering loudly) Lord Cornwallis!

George Washington: Is it me? Hmm?

Lord Cornwallis: It’s you, yes. Oh, what is it, Bradshaw?

Bradshaw: Could I speak to you privately?

Lord Cornwallis: Yes, alright. Excuse us, please. Now what…

Bradshaw: Now, if you’ll permit me, sir. There’s only the three of them. Now, one signal from you and-and-and we’ll take them all prisoner!

Lord Cornwallis: (chuckles)My dear fellow, look at it this way: Now that those chaps have won, this makes us foreigners, right?

Bradshaw: Right.

Lord Cornwallis: And we all know how foolishly generous the Americans are.

Bradshaw: You mean…?

Lord Cornwallis: Yes! Tomorrow we apply for foreign aid.

Bradshaw: I say! What a smashing idea.

George Washington: You ready, gentlemen?

Lord Cornwallis: Any time, actually.


Song: So Long, Friend...

So long, friend 
We have come to the end 
Of the battle that we all deplore 
That highly military 
(Script by Dore Schary) 
Revolutionary War. 

(Knock on door.)

Woman: Mr. Freberg?

Freberg: Uh, yes?

Woman: I’m from the Daughters of the American Revo-

Freberg: Later! (door slams shut)

Narrator: The United States of America is a Stan Freberg production.