Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

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"Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)"
Song by original Broadway cast of Hamilton
from the album Hamilton
Songwriter(s)Lin-Manuel Miranda
"Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" on YouTube

"Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" is the twentieth song from Act 1 of the musical Hamilton, based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, which premiered on Broadway in 2015. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote both the music and lyrics to the song. It recounts the story of the Battle of Yorktown.


The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, an 1820 painting by John Trumbull depicting the surrender of the British to French forces.

The song begins with Alexander Hamilton, having been promoted to a command position in the Continental Army by George Washington, meeting with his friend Marquis de Lafayette and discussing their plans after the impending conclusion of the war. It is revealed that Hamilton's friend Hercules Mulligan was spying on the British forces to give information to the American forces. Hamilton also remarks on his wife and her pregnancy with their first child, and how John Laurens went to South Carolina in an effort to form a black battalion of soldiers.[1] The Continental Forces then proceed to begin fighting, with Hamilton ordering his three battalions to remove the bullets from their firearms before their assault on British Redoubts 9 and 10. The Americans, assisted by the French, succeed in the battle, with their opponents waving a white flag. Hamilton then describes the British retreat, saying that he heard "the drinking song they were singing."[2]


The song takes its title from an English ballad, which according to legend was performed by the British army band on the orders of Lord Cornwallis during their retreat. Whether or not this is historically accurate is not known, as it was incorporated into the story a century after the siege.[3]

Much of the song, particularly towards its beginning, functions as a reprise of "My Shot", as Hamilton remarks on how potential death lies ahead. The song contains a hint of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, as well as a lyrical reference to A Tribe Called Quest's track Jazz (We've Got), one of many callbacks in the musical to hip-hop and rap.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The Young Folks ranked the song 27th best in the musical.[5]

Elizabeth Logan, writing for Huffington Post, stated that the song was a "rollicking remix", while Vibe.com said that the song gave the audience the opportunity to "hear the perseverance of the soldiers in the war".[6]


The original Broadway cast, having been introduced by Barack and Michelle Obama, performed the song, as well as its immediate predecessor, at the 70th Tony Awards prior to winning eleven awards.[7] However, following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, they did not use muskets out of respect.[8]

"Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)"[edit]

"Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)"
Song by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente
from the album The Hamilton Mixtape
GenreHip hop

A rap song inspired by and sampling from "Yorktown" was recorded for The Hamilton Mixtape. The song took inspiration from the line shared between Hamilton and Lafayette—"Immigrants—we get the job done". It was performed by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC (Riz Ahmed) and Residente. Miranda selected those performers as they represent all corners of the world, in line with the song's message.[9] It also incorporates Washington's line from the original—"Not yet", which Miranda said meant that America has yet to achieve full freedom as a society.[9]

Slate.com considered the new take on the song to be the best on the mixtape.[10]

A music video was released in June 2017.[11][12] The song was nominated for "Best Fight Against the System" at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards and shared the win with the other five nominees.[13]

The song peaked at number 22 on the Rap Digital Song Sales chart.[14]


  1. ^ "John Laurens". revolutionary-war.net. Archived from the original on June 26, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "LIBERTY! . Chronicle of the Revolution . Yorktown 1781 - PBS". www.pbs.org. Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "Cornwallis' Surrender". www.visitingyorktown.com. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Logan, Elizabeth (October 1, 2015). "I Have an Opinion on Every Song in "Hamilton"". Huffington Post.
  5. ^ "Every Song from 'Hamilton,' Ranked - The Young Folks". www.theyoungfolks.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  6. ^ Woods, Monesha (October 20, 2015). "Going H.A.M.: A Track-By-Track Review Of The 'Hamilton' Soundtrack". vibe.com. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  7. ^ "Watch the HAMILTON Performance from the 2016 Tonys - Nerdist". nerdist.com. June 13, 2016. Archived from the original on June 14, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  8. ^ Martinelli, Marissa (June 12, 2016). "Watch the Hamilton Cast's Explosive Tonys Performance, With an Introduction by the Obamas". Retrieved May 6, 2017 – via Slate.
  9. ^ a b Ayme, Elizabeth. "Lin-Manuel Miranda Says "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)" Is a Response to Current Events". Genius. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  10. ^ Martinelli, Marissa (December 5, 2016). "All the Songs on The Hamilton Mixtape, Ranked". Retrieved May 6, 2017 – via Slate.
  11. ^ Kreps, Daniel (June 28, 2017). "Lin-Manuel Miranda Releases 'Immigrants' Video From 'Hamilton Mixtape'". Rolling Stone.
  12. ^ Whitmore, Tomás; Warsame, Keinan; Joglar, René; Ahmed, Rizwan; Feliciano, Claudia (June 28, 2017). Whitmore, Tomás; Aquino, Alexander (eds.). The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done). YouTube.
  13. ^ "MTV VMA 2017: See the Complete Winners List". PEOPLE.com. August 28, 2017.
  14. ^ "Rap Digital Song Sales - December 3, 2016". Retrieved November 30, 2019.