Back to top

Nebraska -- A Poem, Personal and Political (XHTML)


An epic poem on slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854; published anonymously but attributable to journalist-poet George Washington Bungay (Boston: John P. Jewett and Co., 1854). Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

[blank page left]

[title page]






This electronic edition has been prepared for the Antislavery Literature Project, Arizona State University, a public education project working in cooperation with the EServer, Iowa State University.  Acknowledgements to the Library Company of Philadelphia for the original text.  Digitization and annotation by Joe Lockard.  All rights reserved by the Antislavery Literature Project.  Permission for non-commercial educational use is granted.


[unnumbered page 2]

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of


[page 3]




The granite giant, whose imperial brow

Shone like the moon amid his night of hair,

And whose magnetic eyes pierced through the veil

Which hides the future from the vulgar gaze,

Sleeps on the borders of the broad, deep sea,             5

Where winds and waves his requiem sing for aye!

O that the deep unto the cheep could call

In tones of startling thunder, and awake

The mighty man who slumbers softly there,

That he might rise, and in the nation's car                 10

Unsav the words in which his heart beat not,  --

Words stereotyped to yokes upon the necks

Of slaves beneath the flag of stripes and stars, --

And then, with his surpassing power of speech,

Rebuke ambitious traitors, who would sell                 15

Their country as they sell their countrymen!

If that herculean arm could rend the shroud,

And shake the temple of our Capitol,

Where base conspirators betray our rights,


[page 4]

Then Freedom would not there be stultified.                20

We need a Daniel to translate the fire 2

Which burns upon the walls at Washington,

Where proud Belshazzar, steeped in wine, reads not

The fearful fate which threatens to destroy

The mad assassins of our liberty.                    25

Could we but roll the stone from Calhoun's grave, 3

And find a shade or spirit sitting there,

No one would dare to drive the rusty nails

Through Freedom's shrinking sinews on the cross.

Nor put upon her head the crown of thorns,                30

Nor shroud her in the mocking robe of scorn,

Nor pierce her broken heart with cruel speech.

He would have cursed the leprous lips that dared

Betray fair Freedom with a Judas' kiss;

His fiery glance would shrivel up the hand                35

Reached forth to break the seal of compromise;

He would have scorned to own a slave so mean

As sneaking senators who strive to sell,

For silver pieces, pottage, place, or power,

The birthright of a nation like our own;                40

His burning logic, winged with words of fire,

Would scathe the demagogues like light from heaven.

We weep between the altar and the porch

To think a man who led so pure a life,

A life so constant and so free from cant,                 45

Made merchandise of men, and owned a troop

Of slaves; but why shed tears upon his grave?

O, let us rather weep because no man

In Carolina South has yet been found

With ample shoulders broad enough to wear                 50

The mighty mantle he has left behind.

The gallant sage of Ashland 4 died too soon


[page 5]

To save the senate from disgrace and shame.

We miss his manly form and magic voice,

And sorely need his thrilling eloquence.                55

Although the parent of a "Compromise"

Which might have made a northern doughface 5 blush,

He would not sacrifice his plighted faith;

Although he oft defended slavery,

He'd tie no curse to territories free.                     60

Unlike the chivalrous Kentuckian,

The "little giants" 6 who come after him

Would smooth the way and open wide the gate

For servitude to curse the soil that's free.

Behold them braiding scourges for the backs             65

Of unborn millions of the human race;

Their bunkum speeches are drowned in the din

Of galling fetters, which they forge for men.

There is Nebraska, fair as Eden was

Before the Arnold of the fiends below                70

Made Eve and Adam break their compromise.

Now let us climb Nebraska's loftiest mount,

And from its summit view the scenes below.

The morn comes like an angel down from heaven;

Its radiant face is the unclouded sun;                75

Its outspread wings the overarching sky;

Its voice the charming minstrels of the air;

Its breath the fragrance of the bright, wild flowers.

O blesséd day! rich gift of God to man;

Brimful of beauty to delight the eye,                80

And thrilling music to enchant the ear;

It lights me to the unreturning past --

A dreary waste, where other days have fled

With the dear souls they pioneered to heaven.

The past is night, in which these souls are stars!            85


[page 6]


   Like flocks of migratory birds awing,

The by-gone days sweep o'er the sea of time.

On, on to the eternal shore they speed:

One is baptized with sad and bitter tears,

And bears an arrow 'neath its bleeding wing;                90

One, crimsoned o'er with battle's bloody stain,

Utters a nation's agonizing shriek;

One, scarred and battered by the winds and waves.

Sobs out the grief of shipwrecked mariners.

Ay, life would fail to name disastrous days,                95

Days red and reeking with the foulest deeds,

Days the bright stars mistook for blackest night.

But lo, amid the flying flock I see,

Like doves with rooks, fair golden days like this,

Filled to the sunset with the song of larks,                 100

And wreathed with roses to the morning's rim,

Blue with bland sky and crowned with glorious light

And starred all over with the noblest deeds.    

'Tis God who lifts the window and sends forth

The raven, night, on its eternal course,            105

And the fair dove of day with leaves of peace

From his celestial Ararat 7 on high.

'Tis but a step on such a morn as this

From hill sod to the condescending sky.

O glorious world, afloat in golden air!                110

Behold the prairie, broad, and wild, and free;

Ocean of emerald grass and golden flowers;

'Tis God's own garden, unprofaned by man;

There the meek grass with its green finger points

To Him who feeds it, with his hand in clouds;            115

'Tis there the rainbow-tinted flowers send up

Their offerings rich of purest, sweetest balm;

The yellow bee hums out his drowsy song


[page 7]

Upon the bosom of the wild white rose;                

There, striped with green and gold, the serpent glides,         120

With deadly venom 'neath his tongue of fire,

Dangerous as malice hid in compliments;

And showers of insects, fluttering in the air

On gauzy wings, so various dyed they seem

The happy offspring of the gorgeous flowers.            125

   Gay birds, like winged blossoms filled with song,

Pour forth their roundelays from morn till eve.

The robin, bard of birds, whose ardent hymn

Swells out upon his radiant breast of flame,

Builds here his neat round nest and rears his brood.             130

That jewel of the air, the oriole,

Bright drops of sky and sunshine turned to song,

Hangs his moss cradle on the lonely tree;

And there God rocks it with his mighty hand,

And watches it with all the stars of heaven.                 135

The prairie lark, perched on some towering stem

That lifts its crimson bells above the grass

As a tall steeple rises in the town,

Is prairie sexton, ringing up the sun.

   Swift o'er this sea of fragrant beauty skims             140

The twittering swallow in pursuit of food,

Plunging no deeper than the critics dip

In th' unappreciated page they cut.

There chants the blackbird in his sable plumes,

A bit of last night tangled in the bush.                 145

The thrush, the jay, the linnet, and the wren

Are prima donnas holding concerts there;

While, like a speck between the earth and sky,

The soaring eagle, royal king of birds,

Poised on his wings, calmly surveys the scene.            150

   Yonder behold the monarchs of the wood;


[page 8]

For ages have they battled with the storm

The envious clouds have pelted them with hail,

The lightning pierced them with its quivering lance,

And the fierce whirlwind wrenched them in its wrath.            155

As mortals, chastened by affliction's rod,

Grow firmer and grow faster in the faith,

So these tall Titans of the forest glade

Are stronger for their struggle with the storm.

When at their feet their predecessors fell                160

Spring covered their remains with mourning moss,

And wrote their epitaph in pale wood flowers,

And gave sweet berries to the gentle birds

To stay and sing their sad, sweet requiem.

These trees are throned upon their fathers' graves,            165

And the same sun that cheered th' ancestral stems

Bathes all the sylvan wood in golden light.

I love to gaze up at the grand old trees,

And hear the rustling talk of whispering leaves,

As mortals softly speak the tenderest vows                 170

With lip to lip and arm encircling arm.

I've seen them clad in Autumn's golden pomp,

When blushing leaves were red as flakes of fire,

And the deserted nest in silence swayed

Like a sad heart beneath a royal scarf.                175

And when their crowns of emerald and gold

Shivered, and, scattered by assaulting winds

Had left them in their leafless poverty,

I've seen their trembling branches, bare and brown,

Lifted like stricken arms in humble prayer.                 180

The trees have taught me unforgotten lore

In winter, when the hills were wrapped in snow

And looked like giants slumbering in their shrouds,

Each tree a crystal chandelier ablaze;


[page 9]

The towering pine, with its tall plume of green,            185

Without a sear leaf, smiled upon the wood

As Hope smiles in the winter of despair.

So have I seen a lofty nature rise,

His feet on earth, his head beyond the clouds,

When a dumb nation, to the vitals froze,                 190

Shining and shivering, stood in clanking chains

He was the mainmast of our country's ship.

To me the branches of the wildwood trees

Are ladder rounds, such as the patriarch saw

In holy dreams, reaching from earth to heaven,             195

And filled with angel messengers of light.

From the green woods uprise spontaneous songs,

Which fill the gaping space with grateful joy;

Blossoms like blazing censers fill the air

With sweetest fragrance, and the balmy sky                200

Seems an inverted flower of blue and gold.

Meanwhile, yon river, like a constant heart,

Pours forth a hymn as copious as its flood,

Unchecked by flowers coquetting on its banks.

That stream reflects the glory of the day,                205

A silver thread, strung with sun, moon, and stars,

And wound about the landscape's verdant waist.

Glide on, sweet river, with enchanting song,

And teach thy lesson to the earth and sea,

Progressive, yet confined within the path                210

Traced by the hand that poured it from the hills,

Save when a shower gift fills its breast with joy,

As blessings falling like the rain from heaven

O'erflow the purest hearts with gratitude,

Harmless when unobstructed in its course,                215

But terrible when hindered on its way,

Foaming and roaring with a host of waves!


[page 10]

Winter may bind him fast with crystal chains;    

In spring he’ll strew the banks with icy gyves, 8

Then rush forth, shouting, to the ocean’s arms,            220

Exchanging snow wreaths for a crown of shells.

I love to stand upon the grassy brink

Of the meandering stream, and in its depths

Behold the fishes flash in green and gold,

As though they were the flood’s imbodied thought.            225

Fair land of silver streams and mountains green,

Of boundless prairies and pellucid lakes,

Of rocks, and hills, and plains, and woodlands wild,

Shall Slavery clank her galling fetters here?

Or Freedom wave her starry flag for aye,                230

And make these forests blossom like the rose,

And build great cities on these fertile plains,

And launch her floating fabrics on these waves,

While streams are serfs to turn the busy mills

Which soon must wall the waters of the west?            235

Yes; here let towering domes and tapering spires

Ascend above the tree tops’ dizzy height;

Here let the hum of honest industry

Be heard in busy hives where freemen toil;

While schools are filled with troops of rosy youth,            240

And peace and plenty smile at every door.

May Temperance, like the watchful angel armed

With sword of flame at Eden’s guarded gate,

Protect this pleasant garden of the West;

May meek Religion, pure and undefiled,                245

Lead the young nations born and cradled here

In Wisdom’s straight and narrow path of peace.

The day is near when towers and towns will rise

Like magic in this new and vast domain,

And iron threads, thick strung with villages,                250


[page 11]

Will stretch from boundary to border line;

While ships, like shuttles, fly from shore to shore,

Weaving the eastern warp with western woof.

Methinks I see the forest bow before

The sharp axe swinging in the settler’s hand;                255

The Indian corn springs up with silken plume,

And fills his ample barn with golden ears;

White wagons trundle through the winding lanes.

Soon horn responds to horn, and farm joins farm;

Rude huts, like birdless nests, are tenantless;                260

While mansions fair are zoned with fruit and bloom,

And filled with good Nebraskians, who are free!

The horse with lungs of fire and ribs of steel,

Ad mane of smoke and nerves of shining wire,

Goes thundering past in haste on burning wheels,            265

Like an express from Erebus 9 to earth.

    With heart of fire and joints of steel,

    With sighing valve and groaning wheel,

    With startling scream and sweeping stroke,

    The iron steed the train is bringing;                270

    So look out while the bell is ringing!

    A sheet of fire illumes the track

    When Night reigns in her tent of black;

    And so the progress of reform

    Sweeps on through cloud, and sun, and storm.        275

    ‘Tis Freedom’s song the masses are singing;

    So look out while the bell is ringing!

    The slave will doff his yoke and chain;

    The drunkard will not drink again;


[page 12]

The soldier flings his sword away;            280

We see the dawn of that glad day!

Good news the harnessed lightning's bringing;

So look out while the bell is ringing!



As Satan came to paradise arrayed

In serpent's skin of green and starry gold             285

To mar the beauty of that fair domain,

So Douglas, in false colors robed, appeared,

And pointed to the fruit on Freedom's tree,

Inviting Eve (the south) to taste the fruit,

And Adam, too, (the north,) to eat and live;             290

When lo, the people spake the voice of God,

And said to all the world, in thunder words,

"The day ye eat thereof ye surely die."

The chosen champion of this wicked work,

Without the stature of a full-grown man             295

Or mind of more than common calibre,

Is falsely called the "Giant of the West!"

And yet this Tom Thumb 10 Titan is not seen

Save when he climbs upon a negro's back,

Or struts and spouts upon an auction block --            300

A platform where, in all the gilded pomp

Of pigmy grandeur, little giants stand.

 If Douglas be the western Brobdignag, 11

What little Liliputians are we all!

The torch of genius shines not in his eyes;            305


[page 13]

The gods have set no seal upon his brow;

His speeches have no spirit in their words

Mere mobs of syllables devoid of souls!

Thoughts are to words what souls to bodies are;

But Douglas is ambitious, and aspires                310

To highest honors, though deserving none.

He sacrificed the freedom of his state,

Made it the byword of a mocking world,

The most inhospitable spot on earth,

The black sheep in the bleating flock of states,             315

That he might gain the presidential chair!

He purchased a plantation tilled by slaves, 12

And fattened on the negro's blood and sweat.

Gold was his gospel, and the lash his law,

Office his heaven, and power and pelf his wish,            320

His farm the only empire that he ruled,

And ragged slaves the subjects he oppressed.

He was the emperor of a gang of blacks;

His driver his prime minister of state,

Who left his mark upon the rising race.                325

This great king of a Mississippi swamp

Divorced sad husbands from their weeping wives;

Snatched screaming infants from their mothers' arms;

Scourged white-haired dames and venerable men;

Erased God's image from the face divine;                330

Extinguished hope within the human breast;

Trod on the necks of  most obsequious slaves,

And crushed their hearts beneath a tyrant's heel!

He counterfeited the autograph of God

Upon the charter of our sacred rights.                335

And signs deeds for the priceless soul of man.

Now he, who forges the Almighty’s name,

Would make Nebraska like his own domain –


[page 14]

A vast plantation filled with suffering slaves!

Shall the free winds that sweep her grassy vales            340

Be burdened with the groan of sad despair?

Shall the free waves that wash her fertile shores

Blush with the blood that runs from furrowed backs?

Shall her tall mountains crowned with sparkling snow

Become red altars for the slaughtered slave?                345

Shall her green valleys be the early grave

Of Freedom, or the cradle of the free?

Shall her broad rivers, rolling to the deep,

Shout Liberty's inspiring song for aye,

Or slink to the old Ocean's arms to hide                 350

Their stains behind his ample cloak of waves?

Shall her vast plains and prairies, filled with flowers

As glorious night is filled with gleaming stars,

Be cleared, and ploughed, and hoed, and reaped by

slaves?                            355

Let pulpit, press, platform, and people speak!

Thank Heaven, New England’s pulpit speaks at last!

Her trumpet tones are heard throughout the land,

And sordid tyrants tremble when they hear

The echo of the revolution's voice!                    360

From the Green Mountains and the Granite Hills, 13

From velvet valleys and from seagirt isles,

Where steeples point like fingers out to the sky,

The heralds of the cross speak out men.

For others’ weal these good men labor,            365

   And not for fame or paltry pelf; 14

They mind the maxim, “Love thy neighbor

   As much as thou dost love thyself.”

Yes, they would make this dark world better

   Than ‘twas the day it gave them birth,            370


[page 15]

By breaking every yoke and fetter,

   And spreading light and truth on earth.

And should their feeble brothers stumble,

   And often fall upon the road,

Though poor, despised, and black, and humble,        375

They'll raise them up and point to God.

They heal the heart that's almost broken;

They light up hope and banish fear;

With gentle accents, kindly spoken,

   They heal the wound and dry the tear.            380

Such are our best and bravest, wisest men,

Who in the name of the great God they serve

Sent their remonstrance to our senate room –

Men of vast learning, talent, taste, and skill,

Whose thrilling eloquence has charmed the church;             385

Whose classic works have won immortal fame;

Whose noble deeds are known in earth and heaven;

Whose influence, like the light, inwraps the world.

They stand where Emmons 15 and where Channing 16 stood,

In Boston, Charlestown, Concord, Lexington,             390

Where our brave fathers' loftiest landmarks stand

But their petition was received with scorn!

    Douglas, with bar-room slang and Billingsgate, 17

  Bespattered them in most insulting speech,

  Until the atmosphere of Washington                 395

  Was fetid as the air when nameless beasts

 Befoul it with inodorous defence:

 When lo, a polished, ministerial man, 18

 Once the Apollo of the sacred desk,

 With pleasant face and most polite address,                400

 Arose, and then with gracious smiles and speech


[page 16]

Showered honeyed compliments on all around.

His mouth was sweet as Hybla's ancient hive; 19

His words as musical as golden bees.

He hoped the "giant" would not strike him back --            405

He humbly begged his pardon in advance,

And then apologized with crimson cheeks

For the remonstrants and their reckless course!

Hoped Douglas would forgive both them and him.

But Houston 20 bared his bosom to the storm;             410

The gallant Texan stood before the world

The champion of New England clergymen!

And Douglas staggered 'neath his ponderous blows,

While Everett, 21 shivering, showed his lack of " GRIT ."

   Who ever saw such times as these?                415

Stripes on our slaves, stripes on our flags;

   Our blacks wear gyves, our whites wear gags;

And half the nation on its knees

Implores the other half, that scorns

Freedom betrayed and crowned with thorns.                420

   Dust of our fathers, rise in deeds!

For these are times that try the soul,

While parties plan and cliques control,

And men bow down like broken reeds,

And demagogues reforge the chains                 425

Our fathers broke on Concord plains!

Is Massachusetts so bereft?

The spirit of our sires has tied,

And nothing of the noble dead

   Save their "dumb ashes" here is left:                430


[page 17]

And when we see the Charlestown stone                435

Must we reflect that freedom's gone?

No, we have brave and honest men

On whom the Pilgrims' mantles fell;

True heirs of freedom, fit to dwell

Where never clanks the hateful chain;                 440

Unlike the men, with hearts of rock,

Whose platform is an auction block!

There is a voice from Bunker's Hill,

A thunder shout from Faneuil Hall, 22

Where patriots' portraits light the wall,                445

And the church steeples are not still;

And words of warning cross the sea,

While Europe struggles to be free!

The Press -- the Press -- the free, untrammelled Press

Spoke out the bold reformers' earnest prayer;             450

Thus anti-slavery sentiment was born!

The mob, a monster without head or heart,

Assailed our Wilberforce 23 with sticks and stones

Instead of arguments and stubborn facts;

With Cromwell's courage and with Luther's zeal            455

He wrote, and heart pulsations moved his pen

And starred his paragraphs with gems of thought

His style and sentiment were pure and strong

In prose and verse, at home, abroad, he wrote;

His words fell like a rain of quenchless fire                460

Upon our nation, slumbering in its sins;

And when it woke it pelted him with scorn!

Around him stood a fearless, faithful band,

Who coveted the rude and ruffian blows


[page 18]

Aimed at their gallant leader's heart and head.            465

One, with soft, golden hair, and brow of Jove, 24

And eyes magnetic as the evening star,

With silver voice poured forth the sweetest strains.

One, cradled on the lap of luxury,

Whose honored name shines through our history's             470


Heedless of caste , or fame, or Fortune's smile,

Stood by our hero's side and shared his fate.

"Fair women and brave men" of every rank

Flocked round the waving standard of the free.             475

Then came a tall, pale man, with eyes of flame

A broad brim flung its shadow o'er his face;

A suit of sober hue inwrapped his form

A quiet Quaker he, the prince of song,

Whose harp notes cheered and charmed the bold and            480


Reformers harnessed for the moral war.

Thus, step by step, the holy cause moved on,

Pavilioned with God's sheltering clouds by day

And led by fiery pillars in the night.                    485

The red sea has been crossed, and we have reached

The shore where only little Anaks 25 stand

Between true heroes and the promised land.

In this broad land the giant mountains rise

With base on earth and summit in the skies;                 490

And here the rivers roll their waves along,

And here Niagara shouts her ceaseless song.

Here woodland, prairie, lake, and rock, and isle,

With birds, and brooks, and flowers responsive smile;

And Nature speaks from sky, and earth, and sea,             495

God made these hills, and vales, and waters free!

O glorious land! beneath a golden sky

Where banners wave and Freedom's eagles fly,


[page 19]

Gay be thy flowers and green thy vales and hills,

And fruitful be the soil free labor tills!                500

But, hark! a voice falls on the aching ear --

Cain beats and binds his brother even here!

The blood of bondmen stains both soil and sea,

And men are fettered where the beasts are free.



WHENCE this insatiable thirst for fame?                505

Fame is a sea which will not seek the spray

Lost on the shore that flings its billows back;

Fame is a sun which will not leave its sphere

To seek the gnat that sported in its beam;

Fame will not seek us in our sodded home                 510

When the red sea of life has ceased to dash

Against its trembling shore of flesh and bones,

And when the sun of life, unclouded now,

Sinks out of sight behind the churchyard mound.

But vile ambition, that would sacrifice                515

The rights of unborn nations for a toy,

Deserves from all unmitigated scorn.

  I knew a man whose merits did not raise 26

  Him to the lofty seat he could not fill

  He was a buzzard in an eagle's nest;                520

He wavered like a feather in the wind,

Yet soared so high he showed his nakedness.

Ambitious man! if fickle Fame should press

A golden trumpet to her lips of air,



[page 20]

And sound his name throughout the wondering world            525

Until it filled the earth, as yonder moon    

Fills all the space ‘twixt clod and cloud with light,

And mothers called their children by his name,

And sculptors in Carrara 27 carved his bust,

While poets praised him in immortal verse,                530

And nations named their capitols from him,

Until his broad-mouthed appetite was gorged,

Would fell Disease respect his laurelled brow?  

Could scowling Death be bribed to spare his life?

Would bannered angels with their golden harps                535

Echo the brazen-throated fame of earth?

The ocean swallows streams, then puts its lips

Of sand against the river’s mouth for more,

Clasping the green banks in its ardent arms,

Until at last the jealous moon comes forth                540

From her white chamber in the lofty sky,

And with her wand drives back the wanton waves.

Fame is the restless ocean in his breast,

To which all other passions flow like streams,

Which no pale planet in the sky can guide.                545

He was a dizzy, mediocre man,

Whose friends wore custom collars on their necks:

This man betrayed Nebraska with a kiss!

I knew one old, and oleaginous,

A fat wick in a lamp, large and opaque,                550

Whose flame was like the ignius fatuus’ light, 28 --

A flash, a lantern, or a mimic star, --

Which lures the patriot in the path of doom.

Nature had dowered him with her choicest gifts;

The nation crowned him with her fairest wreaths.            555

He was the Democratic oracle,

And canonized in all our calendars,

And when he s poke the country bowed its ear;


[page 21]

But when this mastodon of modern men                560

Stood on the line between the north and south,

Just like a starving ass between the stacks,

The million monster, with its Argus eyes,

Saw through the motives of the famous chief.

It was not that he loved Nebraska less,                 565

But that he loved the presidency more:

He gave his voice and vote for tyranny.

Our sister state, the maiden Michigan,

Blushed like a crimson sunset for his shame. 29

Now, when he dies, his monument must be                 570

A bale of cotton and a broken sword;

A letter which he wrote, his epitaph.

But there are men, without the mark of Cain,

Who'd rather suffer wrong than "wrong pursue" --

The well-born heroes of the human race.                575

Behold that tall and senatorial form,

 A noble soldier harnessed for the war!

 Old age has crowned his venerable head

 With snow, but left his manly heart unchilled.

 As sun and moon stood still while Joshua fought,             580

 So will our northern lights illume the path

 Of this brave chieftain of the broad, free west.

 Among the "foremost men" in all this land

 The great MISSOURIAN stands preëminent 30

 A man whom gold can neither buy nor bribe,                 585

 Nor smoothfaced flattery with soft tongue seduce,

 Nor threats from bullies can intimidate,

 Nor domineering clans and cliques control.

 He stamps upon the platforms of the age,

 And shivers into splinters every plank;                 590

 He snaps asunder party rules and ties

 As Samson did the cords which bound his limbs;

 He scorns the caucus gatherings, and derides


[page 22]

The noisy demagogues who nominate

The few who fatten at the public crib.                595

And he would run the river of reform

Through all the Augean stables of the state.

Where is the man, with brass and brains, to face

This scarred and battered statesman in debate?

Who has the skill to tilt a lance with him?                600

A statesman, scholar, hero, gentleman;

In council wise, in battle always brave;

Chivalrous, courteous, generous, and frank

No little giant on a negro’s back;

No pigmy up for sale upon the block;                605

No swaggering braggart schooled in Billingsgate;

No northern doughface with a cotton heart.

He is the southern Nestor of the race; 31

The king of statesmen, since the trio died. 32

"Old Bullion" is no disrespectful name;                 610

His words are gold, coined in the mint of mind,

Like a stout oak, amid the blasting storm,

Which looks through buds into the time to come,

When forests folded in its acorn cups

Shall be the glory of the hills and plains.                 615

He stands, while prostrate monarchs strew the vale

    And trembling Titans lean upon his boughs;

And with the prophet's vision he foresees

His hopes upgrown to stern realities.

As a bold promontory on the coast                    620

Of a tumultuous sea looms up and flings

Its shadow like a wing upon the waves

And bares its bosom to assaulting storms,

Unshaken by the elemental strife,

So stands the "Greatheart"* of our "holy war"            625

* Gerrit Smith 33 .


[page 23]

Calm and serene amid the raging fight.

His soul shines in his firmament of eye,

As the bright sun shines in yon azure arch --

A model man, with frame of perfect mould,

And heart so large, that, if his form were less,            630

'Twould batter down its walls of flesh and blood,

And let an angel pass its crimson gates.

Contrast him with dissembling demagogues

Who bend their supple knees to lick the hand

Which holds the "starvelling office or the vote;"            635

Who weep and laugh, and swear and pray, by turns,

To suit the changing temper of the times --

Amphibious animals, who chiefly live

On office, rum, and vile tobacco juice!

Compare him with the patronizing snob                 640

Who bows before the golden calf of wealth;

Who recognizes gilded vice with smiles;

Walks through the crowded streets with splendid sin,

But turns his head when met by honest worth.




THE blushing sun hid its indignant face                645

Behind the free hills of the blooming west.

It seemed red with the human blood absorbed

From lands soaked with the sweat and tears of slaves,

Where canes grow for the toiler's aching back

And sugar sweetens the proud tyrant's cup;                 650

Where the white cotton blooms like mimic snow,


[page 24]

Not for the naked negro's bleeding loins,

But for the lily lords who will not toil

Nor spin, though Solomon was not arrayed

Like them in all his glory and his pomp.                655

And when the waves of light had ebbed away

The tide of night flowed in and filled the land,

And covered up the fresh and bleeding wounds

That plead like piteous lips for liberty.

God heard the blood that shrieked to Heaven for help,         660

And held the flaming north star in his hand,

And sent an angel down to tell the slave

To follow where the torch of Freedom led.

The negro from his humble cabin crept

While echo slumbered and the dogs were dumb;            665

The north star crowned the lofty hills he climbed

And watched his weary footsteps o’er the plain.

Day broke and found him in the forest shade,

Where the low bushes fed him with their fruit

And the soft moss invited him to rest,                670

While cheerful birds sang songs to Liberty.

Pale pirates scoured the land for miles about.

   The panting fugitive had reached the shores

Of a free state and dreamed that he was free.

But he, alas, was seized by human hounds,                675

And, like a felon, dragged before the judge,  

Charged with the crime of seeking liberty,

(Unpardonable sin in this free land!)

He and the judge were brothers in the church,

Sang the same songs , indorsed the same belief,            680

At the same altar bowed, and hoped to end

Life's dreary march in the same heaven at last.

Power to heal his Wounds and wipe


[page 25]

The tears which ploughed deep channels in his cheeks;

But he betrayed his brother for a vote,                 685

And scorned the holy charter God had signed,

Sealed, and delivered to the race of man.

He might have made the young West blush with pride,

And twined a laurel round her lovely brow;

He might have thrilled a nation's heart with joy,            690

And with brave Ingraham 34 shared the honest fame

Bestowed by an appreciating world.

But he, a timid and timeserving man,

Feared the proud south more than he loved his God.

He rent the stripes from Freedom's starry flag,             695

And scourged his brother in the courts of law.

With his white hands that morning clasped in prayer

He locked the clanking chains upon the slave;

With knees that bowed before the throne of Heaven

He knelt upon a Christian's heaving breast                 700

Until his broken heart oozed out in tears;

With lips that asked a blessing on his meal

He doomed the black to hopeless servitude.

Yes; he would send all Afric's sable sons

Back into bondage were they brought to him;             705

And all her dusky daughters, were they pure

As his own children fair, he would return

To the slave driver's harem at the south.

Out of such facts Nebraska's chains were forged:

May God ordain that they shall not be worn!             710

Old Massachusetts proudly said, the slave

Will find asylums in the Old Bay State.

This was her loudest boast; just hear her song: --

Shall the poor bondman, from oppression flying,

Be hunted here with bloodhounds on his track,             715


[page 26]

O’er valleys where our fathers bones are lying,

                                      Because he’s black?

Shall priest and statesman climb the tapering steeple

   At Concord to behold the wondrous chase,

To see black Kossuth 35 and our own white people    720

                                       Running a race?

And when the slave is bleeding in their clutches,

   Shall we light bonfires for the men so brave,

And crown with laurel they who did as much as

                                        Catch a poor slave?    725

God bless old Massachusetts!  She will never

   Hunt panting Negroes o’er her classic plains;

She’s true to Freedom, and she will forever

                                         Spurn bribes and chains.

Her free-born sires, brave sons, and angel daughters    730

   Speak from the rocky hill and rolling wave,

In tones loud as Niag’ra’s stormy waters,

                                          God speed the slave!

Here man’s more sacred than the constitution;

   Tyrants and traitors now are blanched with fear    735

Because the spirit of the revolution

                                            Still lingers here.

An armless hand is waiting on the plaster;

   Belshazzar, drunken, cannot read the sign.

Meanwhile the sable slave outwits his master,    740

                                             Who’s steeped in wine.


 [page 27]

We have a Daniel to translate the letters

Which burn like lightning on the southern wall

While their false prophets now are forging fetters

                                           For those who fall.            745

The footsore slave, sad, battered and heartbroken,

   Finds freedom and a safe asylum here,

And gentle words from pleasant faces spoken,

And friends sincere.

Such was her song; but when the Negro came 36             750

They hunted him through Boston's classic streets

Until the stones beneath his feet cried "Shame!"

Descendants of white slaves* like dogs pursued

The fugitive and harnessed him with steel;

He asked for freedom, and they gave him chains.            755

That was a dark day in our history;

The sun of Freedom was in black eclipse;

But then, thank God, the brightest stars shone out,

And scared Conservatism's bats and owls!

O that the constant ticking clock of Time                760

Could be turned back, or that sad day be struck

Forever from the records of the past!

Why, drizzling Friday at a hanging time,

Or even starless Night, alive with ghosts,

Would be fair weather and fine scenery                765

Contrasted with that ill-born imp of Time!

Two dozen guilty hours skulked slowly by;

Each one was sixty wicked minutes long;

Each moment was a traitor and a thief.

* In the early settlement of Boston numbers of white persons were sold for debt, and some of their descendants were the most efficient enemies of the slave.

[page 28]

That day fair Liberty was cloven down                770

Beneath the shadow of old Fanueil Hall!

The Court House, even, wore a zone of chains,

While jailer, jurymen, and learned judge

Bowed down and crawled like cravens under it.

That was the chain which held the Union fast –             775

Let Curtis 37 wear it as his coat of arms.

Its links are brightened for Nebraska's use

Methinks the bust of Adams 38 in the hall

Cried "Shame!" until the very plaster cracked,

Thus opening mouths for other tongues to shout.             780

Methinks the portraits shook their gilded frames,

And pointed at the hateful scene with scorn.

Who did not hear their withering rebuke?

I will repeat it in unpolished rhyme: --

   Have ye been rocked in Fanueil Hall,                785

      The famous "cradle" of the free?

       And will ye hear your brother call

           For help, and never heed his plea?

   Ye heap the granite to the skies

      O'er heroes' graves on Bunker's Hill;                790

   But if the sleepers there could rise,

      While men are slaves, would they be still?

   They would again renew their vows

      To wipe away a nation's stain;

   And Warren's 39 thrilling voice would rouse                795

      The iron will of mighty men;

   They would relight their beacon fires

      On old Wachusett's 40 naked brow,
  And clang the bells in all their spires,

      While trumpets bray and torches glow!                800


[page 29]

   Where are the sons of sires who cast

   The taxéd tea chests in the sea?

Where is the spirit of the past

   Which moved the deep of sympathy?

Would not oppression have been driven                805

      Away, as sunshine drives the dew,

    If, when your fathers went to heaven,

       Their falling mantles fell on you?

   Descendants of the Pilgrim stock,

   By all the free blood in your veins,                810

 By all the prayers at Plymouth Rock,

   Strike off the bondman's galling chains!

    By all the blood your fathers shed,

   By all the laurels they have won,

Stand up for freedom as they did                    815

       At Concord and at Lexington!

    Freedom invites her armies forth,

       And waves a flag of spotless white
   Up, freemen! from your couch of sloth,

   And forthwith harness for the fight!                 820

By every stripe and every star

   Our banner shows on land or sea,

Let every man list in the war,

       And fight till all mankind are free!

What cared officials for the warning voice?                825

Their creed was this: First worship gold, then God;

Make sure of wealth, then turn your thoughts to


Heed not the "higher law," but men in power;

Rise, though you stand upon your brother's neck --            830


[page 30]

The constitution now, and conscience nest;

Souls cannot shine through skins of ebon hue,

So slavery is only abstract sin.

Such is the cruel creed of selfish men.

The errors and the vices of mankind                835

Are thieves which steal away their happiness.

Behold the miser worshipping his gold!

His stingy skin can scarcely hide his bones;

His little eyes begrudge the light he needs;

His toothless gums his hungry stomach starve;            840

He knows, he fears, he loves no god but gold --

The mighty dollar is his deity!

His sacred Bible is the bank-note list!

The banker and the broker are his priests;

The mint a model of his paradise;                    845

If air cost cash he would refuse to breathe;

He values heaven because the streets are gold;

And, like a grovelling grub, he dies at last

Smothered and starved beneath his yellow dust!

Behold the idiotic, slavering sot!                    850

His parched mouth like a fiery oven burns;

His veins are vipers plunging fevered fangs

Into his blood, which flows like liquid fire;

Day is a demon scourging him with light,

Night a black ghost which scares him with her stars,            855

Life a dark ocean lashed with angry storms,

Death a deep gulf which terminates in hell!

But the base miser's and the drunkard's sins

Whiten to innocence compared with those

The God-forsaken demagogues commit                 860

They'd drench a state in rum to gain their end,

Kidnap a negro or betray a friend,

Profess religion or profane the church,


[page 31]

And veto God's commandments for a vote.

I've seen them flock around our Capitol                865

As thick as Egypt's lice, and frogs, and flies,

Crawling in crowds along the public street,

Buzzing in house and hall, hotel and mart,

Croaking in secret conclave with their clan,

Flying from post to post in search of game;                870

Heads of departments itched, and scratched them off,

But those which were not crushed crawled on again.

They lit on every officer of state,

And buzzed petitions at their aching ears.

These frogs from bread troughs and from ovens            875


Pierce 41 found them in his chamber night and day;

Not even Caleb 42 could have "crushed" them out.

God speed the time when plagues like these shall pass

Away, and ne'er return to plague us more!                 880

These men for place or pay would now enslave

Nebraska, Kansas, and New England, too!



THE sun, wrapped in a shroud of golden mist,

Dropped out of sight, and left the widowed sky

In sable robes, without a single star                     885

To light the dark and lonely solitude,

When from within a cave of murky clouds

The ruffian wind stole out, on mischief bent.

At midnight, while reposing on my couch,


[page 32]

The robber wind came banging at my door,                890

And shook my lattice till the ringing glass

Pealed out like bells held in the fairy hand

Which wrote the flourishes in frostwork there.

Boreas, 43 like a blustering burglar, came,

Thrusting his arm through every open pane,                895

Rattling the blinds and scaring sleep away,

Unhinging swinging gates and creaking signs,

Lifting the chimney to his lips of air,

And blowing trumpet blasts in every tube.

He woke a rose-lipped maiden from her dreams;             900

Then from the mast he shook her sailor boy

Into the watery grave he scooped for him;

Returning then on wings invisible,

Shrieked in her ears the story of his death.

This wanton wind snatched from our flag the stars,             905

Leaving the stripes upon the trembling staff.

He bowled the billows o'er the sandy beach,

And made the mountain shake beneath the shock.

Winter had made a pauper of the earth,

And the wind tore its brown and tattered dress;             910

So that the patches white of driven snow

Looked like a wretched beggar's under robe

Seen through the ragged mantle which he wears.

Blow till ye "split yer lungs" and "crack yer

cheeks;"                            915

Pluck down the wood kings by their long, green hair;

Strew all the coast with mast, and spar, and sail;

Unroof the humble dwellings of the poor;

Disrobe the fugitive on th' unsheltered plain,

And blow his torch and soul out with thy breath.             920

For all these sins thy punishment is sure;

Nor day, nor night, nor on the land nor sea


[page 33]

Shall thy tired wings find peaceful rest for aye.

And thou shalt be a slave for all that live,

Grinding the corn and carrying the pack;                925

While flower, and herb, and tree will toss their heads

In scorn and hiss thee on thy restless way.

Thy moan shall move no heart to pity thee;

Thy shriek awake no sign of sympathy.

Art thou the conscience of this wicked world,             930

Or evil spirit from some star above,

Or unimprisoned fiend from flames below?

Whate'er then art, we fear thee not, ill wind;

God holds thee in the hollow of his hand,

And he can chain thee in thy cave of clouds,                935

Or make thee harp upon the towering pines,

Or from thy pinions scatter sweetest balm.

   Amid the pipings of the storm

       I heard a woman's fearful cry;
  A lightning flash revealed her form                940

    "O God!" she cried, "where shall I fly?''

She passed my window when the light

   Streamed o'er the sky from cast to west;

   Her face was wet with tears of fright;

       She held an infant at her breast.                    945

    Then shouting thunder shook the arch

     Where often glowed the evening lamp,

 As though the battle gods did march

        Above that floor with Titan tramp;
   And spouting fire broke from the clouds                950

        That sailed before the wailing air,
   Like helmless ships with sable shrouds,

        On cloudy billows heaving there.


[page 34]

   The moaning wind and rain that came

      Came knocking at my cottage door;                955

   The thunder spoke with tongue of flame,

      "In Christ's name help the hunted poor!"

    I gave that mother and her child

    A welcome to my home and hearth;

 The dusky babe looked up and smiled                960

       On me, the happiest man on earth!

    I dressed the raw and reeking wounds,

       That seemed their own sad tale to state,

    Torn by the teeth of broad-mouthed hounds,

   Then baying at my garden gate.                 965

I would not let the hunter come,

   With whip, and gun, and gag, and chain,

To desecrate my humble home,

        But left him to the winds and rain.

    The tempest fled on fiery wing;                    970

       The dark night slowly passed away;
   The song birds made the woodlands ring

   With anthems to the new-born day.

The thunder shaft had left no scars

   Upon the blue and boundless sky;                 975

And I unfurled the flag of stars,

        And gave the praise to God on high.

There is a railroad running under ground,

A subterranean route to royal lands,

Which God lights up with rows of shining stars.             980

Its cars are filled with freedom-seeking slaves,

Who run the gantlet of rapacious mouths,

Amid the booming storm of leaden rain,


[page 35]

To reach a monarchy in search of rights

Denied them by pseudo republicans.                985

The negro loves the lion and unicorn 44

Because they guard his promised paradise,

And hails with shouts of joy the Union Jack,

Which waves like a delivering angel's wing,

And welcomes him to the fair Queen's domain,            990

Where color is no crime, crisped hair no sin;

Where impious men won't dare to criticize

  The wisdom and the taste which God displayed

  In making of one blood the blacks and whites.

  For him our flag has stripes without the stars;             995

  Our eagle is a vulture at his breast;

  Our pole a cross where he is crucified;

  And our free soil a northern hunting ground,

  Where vile officials scent the Afric smell,

  And, with suspicious noses on the ground,                 1000

  Pursue the game with barkings of delight!

  I've seen pack after pack of hungry dogs,

With collars on their necks, and names thereon!

When Fillmore 45 puckered up his mouth, they pricked

Their ears before he got the whistle out;                1005

And when at length the shrill, sharp sound was heard,

Their savage yelpings made the welkin 46 ring.

Why, I could fill this waiting page with names

Of mastiffs, curs, and most illustrious clogs

COTTON , a fat, sleek spaniel, that could bark                1010

With voice so musical it charmed the ear;

He was too fat or too polite to run,

Therefore he gently jogged along behind.

UNION , a mastiff with ferocious mouth,

Whose angry bark awoke the slumbering hills,            1015

Was always first and foremost in the chase;


[page 36]

His flabby jaw s were red with human blood.

COMMERCE , a most sagacious dog, who barked

With so much dignity one would have thought

He knew enough to speak, perhaps to vote!                1020

STATESMAN , a cunning dog, most like a fox;

He never led, but followed in the pack,

And barked just like the echo of the rest,

And bit the victim with the whitest teeth.

LAW , an unfeeling and relentless cur,                1025

Whose fevered fangs were cooled in human blood.

TASTE , a white lapdog from a lady's knee,

Whose piping voice amused both mice and men.

SMELL , with a small pug nose and great long ears,

Sneezed often when he should have barked aloud.             1030

SIGHT , a seared puppy, howling in the dark;

And minor dogs too numerous to name.

But all these watchful dogs could not prevent

Th' escape of hunted freemen to the north.

   A poor down-trodden slave one night                1035

 Resolved that, ere the morrow's light

 Should beam on him, he'd take his flight,

     Whatever might betide him

  He bade his weeping wife good by,

  Then dashed a soft tear from his eye,                 1040

  Looked at the star up in the sky,

     And said that star should guide him!

  And then beneath the silver gleam

  He climbed the hill and swam the stream

  To realize a golden dream                    1045

     Of happiness and freedom

  When negro night brought forth pale day


[page 37]

  The fugitive stopped on his way,

         And where the footsore traveller lay

            There were no friends to heed him.            1050

  He slept beneath the broad, blue sky

  The sun blazed in the heavens on high;

  The wood bird sang his lullaby

He dreamed of chains he'd riven;

  But when he woke in that lonesome place             1055

  Gaunt hunger stared him in the face;

  And yet he still pursued the race,

       Led by that light in heaven!

   He scared the wild beast from his lair;

   And daylight found him resting where             1060

   No knotted scourge his flesh could tear,

      Nor bugle blast could rout him

   Bark, buds, and berries were his food,

   Sharp briers and brambles paved his road,

   While slimy snake and rusty toad                1065

      Hissed and crawled about him!

   Bloodhounds are baying on his track;

   Red grow the scars which seam his back:

   God speed the poor hound-hunted black,

      That he may fly the faster!                1070

   He springs into the leaky skiff;

   And though his limbs are sore and stiff

   He.hoists the sail; winds fill the reef

      And bear him from his master!

No sight on all this earth is more sublime            1075
Than deep Niagara shouting to the slave,


[page 38]

Baptizing him in Freedom's silver spray

And folding him in robes of golden mist,

Arching his passage to the promised land

With rainbows such as emperor's never saw            1080

In their triumphal marches through the world.

Who can translate the thunder of the wave

Unwinding like a river from the rock?

Who read the radiant autograph of God

Written in beauty on its wrinkled brow?             1085

"The sound of many waters" who can still

As Jesus stilled the billows of the sea?

I stand and tremble on its awful brink,

Shuddering at shadows of my nothingness.

My thoughts are flighty as the birds which sweep         1090

And scream in circles round my dizzy head.

These rocky walls are God's own mason work,

Where he has chronicled the epochs past;

That cloud which hovers like an angel's wing

Is the great, spotless flag of Peace unfurled             1095

Betwixt the mightiest nations of the earth.

Just like a burnished sickle in the sun,

The river reaps the fetters from the slave --

His fiery pillar is the bright north star;

His guide by day Niagara's sheltering cloud.             1100

From lake to lake these wondrous waters flow,

As human love from heart to heart should run,

Uniting them with ties as bright and true

As those which bind in peace the pure in heart.

O that I were a flower, to bloom and breathe         1105

My little life away upon its banks!

Would that I were a bird, to soar and sing

In this sunlighted shower of gleaming pearls!

Here beauty and sublimity are wed.


[page 39]

As Moses dropped his sandals from his feet, 47                 1110

So here must yokes and gyves be cast aside --

For God is here, and this is holy ground!



Is it fit labor for the life of man

To eat, and drink, and sleep, and nothing more?

Were head, and hands, and brains, and bones designed            1115

Merely to pack our mouths and pockets full?

Who has not seen a man, of six-feet height, 48

Whose father's purse was fat with current coin,

Move like a scourging pestilence about?

Barbers, instead of books, adorned his head;                    1120

Cooks and confectioners supplied his taste;

And good things went whence good things never came.

He was the haberdasher's dry goods sign;

St. Crispin 49 put the polish on his boots;

His feet reflected, though his head did not;                    1125

The tailor winked, and praised his "perfect form";

No other man his habits could improve.

He drank as though the passage through his throat

Was hollow as his little, hollow heart.

Sometimes such men are sent to Washington.                 1130

Now, paradoxical as it may seem,

They often speak aloud, yet nothing say.

Good game are they for bullying duellists;

For when they fall and die nobody's killed.

Thank God, we have another class of men!                    1135

They rise like lofty mountains from the plains,


[page 40]

Crowned with a diadem of glowing stars;

Plain is their dress and simple is their meal;

Their libraries, not larders, fill their thoughts;

Their words go forth like winged oracles;                1140

Their counsels guide and govern all the state.

Yes; I could gem this little telltale book,

Which fools will spit upon and spurn with hate,

With most illustrious names of noble men.

Chase 50 truly is the giant of the west;                1145

His broad, white forehead is the bank of thought

Which discounts only purest gold of mind;

And his large eyes light up his pleasant face

As stars illuminate the cloudless sky.

Sumner, 51 upon whose ample shoulders fell                 1150

The mantle of a sainted patriot,

Has won green laurels and a golden name.

Seward, 52 wise in council and discreet in war,

Though minimum in person, yet we know

His influence proves him maximum in power.             1155

And Smith 53 has proved himself True-man indeed

In fair Nebraska's sorest time of need.

God bless our Wades, 54 and all the earnest host

Who live in deeds, and not in windy words

But southern men see not with northern eyes:             1160

Chains on a "servant's" fettered hands appear

Handsome as bracelets on a lady's arm;

Yokes, locked upon the negro's "stubborn" neck,

As beautiful as Fashion's silk cravat;

An ebon back, seamed o'er with frightful scars,             1165

A sight as pleasant as a parchment map;

Tears streaming down an Afric's dusky face

Are far too vulgar to excite their grief.

And southern men hear not with northern ears:


[page 41]

The shriek of sad despair from breaking hearts            1170

Would startle them no more than whistling winds.

There are exceptions to this sweeping rule.

The native southron 55 is a nobleman

Contrasted with the turncoat of the north,

Who starves, and whips, and works his slaves to            1175


He has not southern hospitality,

Which covers up a multitude of sins;

He has not southern magnanimity,

Which, like the angel in the sepulchre,                1180

Shines forth whene'er the stone is rolled away

And he has not the southern chivalry,

Which cowards dread and gallant men admire.

I speak not of the bullies who provoke

A challenge with the murderous intent;                1185

  But basswood men, 56 such as Connecticut

  Brands with rebuke and burns in effigy –

  Such as New Hampshire punished at the polls. 57

  They've granite hearts, and souls devoid of grit,

  And on the gibbet of remark should swing                 1190

  As warnings at the cross roads of the world.

  O, what a strange and busy age is this!

  I take my standpoint where I read its fate,

  And see its panorama moving past;

  There where the bloated custom house looms up             1195

  Like an obese and lazy officer,

  Our "gallant" Guthrie cut off Bronson's head. 58

  Since then his pale and bleeding ghost was seen,

  Like a stained shadow from its winding sheet.

  Though doomed by "hands" and damned by all the            1200


 He could not rest within his narrow grave


[page 42]

Until he cursed Nebraska and the "prince."

O favored prince, take warning and be wise!

Lust not for office or emolument;                    2005

Speak up for Freedom and strike off the gyves,

Or else the jolly Duke of York will be

A weasel nailed upon the barn-yard gate.

There stands the trumpeter on Brooklyn's heights,

A sleepless watchman on the Church's high walls,             2010

Whose thunder blasts have shaken all the state,

Until reverberating echoes sound

As though the deep responded to the deep.

Here stands a herald on the Trimount hills, 59

Whose words are echoed round the list'ning world.             2015

Upon a firm and lofty tribune stands

One of the noblest champions of reform,

Whose winged words like grateful manna fall

To feed with mental food the multitude.

There, too, is God's black servant, Uncle Tom,             2020

Who preaches from the press to all the earth.

Never was preacher honored so before

His temple, built by God, holds all the race.

See lords and ladies, dukes and knights, and squires,

Proud emperors, and gilded kings and queens,             2025

With crowns of glittering gold and tossing plumes

Which look like royal heads run up to seed,

Armies and navies in gay uniform,

War buds, which blossom out in smoke and fire,

With parliaments and people, throng to hear                 2030

The thrilling story of a simple slave!

These instruments, and such as these, have changed

The current of our nation's sentiment.

God grant the Pulpit and the Press may guard

Nebraska from the onslaught of her foes!                2035


APPENDIX 1:    Major Works by George Washington Bungay

1837     Acrostics and Miscellaneous Poems . New York: John W. Oliver. [poetry]

1848     A Christmas Hymn . Boston: Excelsior Printing. [broadside written for the Boston Juvenile Temperance Army]

1852     Crayon Sketches and Off-hand Takings of Distinguished American Statesmen, Orators, Divines, Essayists, Editors, Poets, and Philanthropists .  Boston: Stacy and Richardson.

1852     The Maine Law Museum; and Temperance Anecdotes . Boston: Stacy and Richardson.

1854       Off-hand Takings; or, Crayon Sketches of the Noticeable Men of Our Age . New York: De Witt and Davenport.

1854     Know Nothing: A Poem for Natives and Aliens . Boston: J.P. Jewett. [poetry]

1856     A Story of Everyday Life: Old Moses . Utica, NY: James E.N. Backus. [poetry]

1857     Pen and Ink Portraits of the Senators, Assemblymen, and State Officers, of the State of New York .  Albany, NY: J. Munsell.

1860     The Bobolink Minstrel, or, Republican Songster for 1860 . New York: John W. Hutchinson.

1860     De Witt's Common School Vocalist; A Choice Collection of Original and Selected Songs and Tunes . New York: Robert M. DeWitt.

1860s     Total Abstinence Not a Failure .  New York: National Temperance Society and Publishing House.

1860s?     Freemen, or Slaves?  New York: National Temperance Society and Publishing House.

1865     Mustered Out -- Now Look Out . New York: American Temperance Union. [poetry]

1874     Temperance Anecdotes: Original and Selected .  New York: National Temperance Society and Publication House.

1881     Pen Portraits of Illustrious Abstainers .  New York: National Temperance Society and Publishing House.

1882     Traits of Representative Men . New York: Fowler and Wells.

Also see:

1840s?     Home, Sweet Home . John Howard Payne; George W. Bungay.  New York: Hard and Parsons. [gift book]

1862/4     Better Times Are Coming.  Stephen Collins Foster and George W. Bungay.  New York and Boston: Horace Waters, and O. Ditson & Co. [musical score, written and composed by Stephen Foster, with words by George Bungay]

1864     God Save Our Noble Union: Patriotic Song & Chorus . Charles D. H. Martin; George W. Bungay; Patrick M. Stakpole. New York: Horace Waters. [musical score]

1874     The Court of Death by Rembrandt Peale, with Three Descriptive Poems .  New York: American Church Press Co.  Prose and poetry about Peale's painting, ‘Court of Death’. The first two poems are unsigned; the third is by George W. Bungay.  In: American Poetry, 1871-1900 , in the Harris Collection, Brown University Library. Reel no. 170, item no. 13. Cooperative Preservation Microfilming Project, Research Libraries Group.

1870s     Jem and Velvet ,  Julia P. Ballard.  New York: National Temperance Society and Publishing House.  Contains Bungay’s short story, “The Drunkard's Daughter.”  

1  This poem was published anonymously during national controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.  Based on his acknowledgement of authorship, its author was George Washington Bungay (July 22, 1818 – July 10, 1892).  Born in Walsingham, England, he immigrated with his family to the United States in 1827 at age nine.  Bungay was a poet, journalist, biographer, and antislavery and temperance reformer.  After publishing several books of poetry and prose, in 1855 he established a brief-lived newspaper in Ilion, New York.  His reform politics were reflected in The Independent’s  motto, “Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing.”  Following the newspaper’s financial failure within a year, Bungay joined the editorial staff of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune , the best-known newspaper in the United States of that day.  Bungay continued to publish prolifically in temperance journals for many years.  

    Like the vast majority of antislavery poets, Bungay had minimal literary visibility.  Beyond an 1852 letter of reference from John Greenleaf Whittier for two temperance advocates, sent to Bungay and three others, and one complimentary reference in 1876 by William Cullen Bryant to Bungay’s poetic opinion, there are no other immediately identifiable references to his work among better-known American writers of the mid-19 th  century. See John B. Pickard [ed.], The Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier  (Cambridge: Belknap, 1975) vol. 2, p. 200; William Cullen Bryand II and Thomas G. Voss, The Letters of William Cullen Bryant  (New York: Fordham University Press, 1992) vol. 6, p. 336.  Although Bungay was associated with the New York Tribune  and acquired a reputation as one of its reform writers, Greeley does not mention him in his memoirs, Reflections of a Busy Life  (New York: J.B. Ford, 1868).  At the Tribune , Bungay joined famed writers such as George Ripley, Charles Dana, Fanny Fern, Bayard Taylor, Whitelaw Reid and many others.  See Francis Nicoll Zabriskie, Horace Greeley, the Editor  (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1890), pp. 329ff.  Unlike other journalists of the period, who established literary reputations, Bungay’s reputation remained that of a newspaper writer.

    Appendix 1 provides an extended list of Bungay’s publications.  For brief biography, see W.J. Burke and Will D. Howe, American Authors and Books: 1640 to the Present Day , 3 rd  ed. (Irving Weiss and Anne Weiss), New York: Crown Publishers, 1972, pp. 89.



2  Dan 5.

3   John Caldwell Calhoun  (1782 – 1852).  US senator from South Carolina, Secretary of State, and Vice President.  Throughout his political career, Calhoun sought to protect the institution of slavery.  

4   Henry Clay  (1777 – 1852).  Attorney, Kentucky legislator, US congressman, Speaker of the House, Whig Party presidential candidate, Secretary of State, and US senator.  He supported the Compromise of 1850.  Clay was a lifelong slave-owner who opposed the presence of African Americans in the United States.  He advocated returning freed slaves to Africa and was longtime president of the American Colonization Society, established for that purpose.  ‘Ashland’ was Clay’s family home in Lexington, Kentucky.

5  Slang for Northerners who supported slavery or Northern politicians who had changeable opinions on the issue.  Coined in 1820  by US congressional representative John Randolph.  William B. Craigie and James R. Hulbert [eds.], A Dictionary of American English, on Historical Principles  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940), p. 803.

6   Stephen Arnold Douglas  (1813 – 1861).  US senator from Illinois and Democratic Party presidential candidate in 1860.  Douglas opposed the abolitionist movement, but also opposed the proslavery position that the US Constitution endorsed slavery.  He supported the doctrine of popular sovereignty, which proposed to leave the question of slavery to the white voters of territories such as Nebraska and Kansas.  He assisted passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and its accompanying repeal of the 1820 Missouri Compromise that banned slavery from new western states.  Referred to as the “Little Giant” due to his short stature.  

7  Sacred land or high land.  Gen 8:4; 2 Kings 19:37; Is 37:38; Jer 51:27.

8  Chains or shackles.  See Longfellow’s ‘The Witnesses’: “Within Earth’s wide domains / Are markets for men’s lives; / Their necks are galled with chains, / Their wrists are cramped with gyves.”   The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wordsworth Longfellow  (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1893), p. 22.

9  In Greek mythology, the darkness below the earth ruled by Erebus, god of darkness.

10  Common metaphor for diminutive size.  In 1830, US inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper named the first American-built steam locomotive the Tom Thumb, and in 1842 P.T. Barnum re-named 25-inch tall Charles Sherwood Stratton as Tom Thumb in order to exhibit him.  

11  In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels , giants reside in Brobdinag and dwarves in Lilliput.  See Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World  (London: Benjamin Motte, 1726), parts I and II.

12  Passage refers to the fact that Stephen Douglas was a slave-owner.   He was a slave-owner by inheritance from his first wife and subsequently a partner in a Mississippi plantation.  Although opponents raised the issue, as above, it had little discernable effect on his political career. In general, Douglas believed in an inherent right of whites to decide on government of blacks, though this need not be slavery, and in white racial superiority. For discussion, see Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 299-300 and 337 re plantation; pp. 570-571 re racial beliefs.

13  I.e., from Vermont and New Hampshire.

14  Illicit wealth; lucre.

15   Nathaniel Emmons  (1745 – 1840).  Congregationalist minister and theologian.  Born in East Haddam, Connecticut; graduated Yale in 1763; called to the ministry in Wrentham, Massachusetts in 1772.  Emmons was a leading voice in the New Divinity movement, a radical form of evangelical Calvinism, and an early abolitionist.  

16   William Ellery Channing  (1780 – 1842).  Unitarian minister and author.  Born in Newport, Rhode Island, son of a prominent family; graduated Harvard in 1798; lived in Richmond, Virginia, and became an opponent of slavery; accepted a pulpit at Federal Street Church (current-day Arlington Street Church) in Boston and become the central figure in 19 th -century liberal American Unitarianism; helped establish the Harvard Divinity School in 1816; and developed a substantial intellectual reputation in Europe on the basis of his writings.  After a visit to the West Indies, Channing published a major American antislavery text, Slavery  (1835).  His antislavery writing included Remarks on the Slavery Question  (1839); Emancipation in the British West Indies  (1840); and The Duty of the Free States  (1842). Channing’s antislavery views emphasized slavery’s religious and ethical unacceptability; however, he never joined an abolitionist organization.  Channing was held in high esteem by the Transcendentalist movement for his social integrity in religious practice, rather than for his philosophical contributions.  For a celebratory poem of his work, see Whittier’s ‘Channing,’ in The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier  (Boston: James B. Osgood and Co., 1873) 132-133.

17  Foul language (from name of London’s fish-market).

18   Daniel Webster  (1782 – 1852).  Attorney, New Hampshire legislator, US congressional representative, US senator, Secretary of State.  Born in Salisbury, New Hampshire; graduated from Dartmouth in 1801; entered national politics in 1812, where he became a major figure for four decades.  Webster opposed slavery when supporting the 1820 Missouri Compromise, but embraced popular sovereignty in order to help pass the 1850 Compromise.  He was heavily derided in antislavery newspapers and John Greenleaf Whittier wrote ‘Ichabod,’ a poem of anti-Webster obloquy.   The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier  (Boston: James B. Osgood and Co., 1873), pp. 146-147.

19  Mount Hybla in Sicily, renowned for its honey.  “ But for your words, they rob the Hybla bees, / And leave them honeyless.”  Julius Cæsar v:1 .

20   Sam Houston  (1793 – 1863).  Attorney, US congressional representative, Tennessee governor, President of Republic of Texas, US senator, Texas governor.  A slave-owner but a strong Unionist, Houston suffered great political harm by voting against the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  The Texas state legislature officially condemned his vote.  Opposing secession in 1860, he refused loyalty to the Confederacy and was removed as governor of Texas.

21   Edward Everett  (1794 – 1865).  Minister, classics professor, editor of North American Review , US congressional representative, Massachusetts governor, minister to Great Britain, Secretary of State, US senator, and vice presidential candidate for the Constitutional Union Party in 1860.   A renowned orator of his day, Everett’s political career collapsed in 1854 when he spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but was absent when the vote was taken.  Facing public outrage in Massachusetts, Everett resigned in the second year of his term.  Everett represented moderate compromise and national conciliation over the issue of slavery.

22  Boston marketplace building and meeting-hall, originally constructed in 1742 and re-built in 1806, that served as a center of political debate.

23  In October 1835, a mob attacked a meeting of the Boston Anti-Slavery Society, where abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was present.  Garrison was seized and bound, but escaped unharmed.  “Our Wilberforce” compares Garrison to William Wilberforce  (1759 – 1833), British merchant and leading early abolitionist.

24  English version of  Jupiter, supreme god of the Roman pantheon.

25  From Hebrew for ‘giants.’  Together with Amalekites, Anaks were inhabitants of biblical Israel.  Joshua 11:21; Num 13:33; Deut 9:2.

26  Bungay here denounces Daniel Webster for his support of the Compromise of 1850, which enraged the abolitionist movement.

27  Carrara, Italy, famed for stone quarries and the quality of its marble.

28  Lit., ‘foolish fire.’  Spectral light that deceives.

29  Public opinion in Michigan was especially upset by the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  In July 1854 in Jackson, Michigan, the first state Republican Party convention occurred with some 10,000 in attendance, in reaction to the crisis.

30   Thomas Hart Benton  (1782 – 1858).  US congressional representative and senator from Missouri.  Born in Hillsboro, North Carolina; became schoolteacher, attorney, Tennessee state legislator, and well-known duelist; moved to Missouri and was elected to US Senate in 1820.  Benton owned slaves, but despised and opposed expansion of the institution, limitation on antislavery petitions to Congress, and censorship of the US mails against abolitionist literature.  Defeated in 1850 due to his antislavery and Unionist sentiments, Benton returned to the US House of Representatives in 1852 and opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, leading to his election defeat.  In 1857, Benton published a book-length attack against the Dred Scott decision.

31  Nestor, king of Pylos, representative figure of warrior virtues and wisdom in Greek mythology.  Appears in the  Iliad  and Odyssey .  

32  The triumvirate of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John Calhoun, who were highly influential in the Senate and national during the mid-to-late 1830s and in the 1840s.  They were nicknamed “The Trio.”

33  Bungay’s reference.   Gerrit Smith  (1797 – 1874).  Businessman, social reformer, US congressional representative.  From a wealthy western New York family and one of the wealthiest men in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s, Smith provided substantial funds to antislavery, women’s suffrage, temperance, and international peace causes.  He provided land grants in western New York to over 2,000 freed slaves and financially supported Frederick Douglass’ newspapers.  Active in the antislavery Liberty Party, he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1852 and opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854.  He resigned from his congressional seat shortly after its passage.  Smith had gradually become identified with violent antislavery activities.  He was a leader in the Jerry Rescue, an 1851 jailbreak in Syracuse (NY) to free William Henry, arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law, and provided financial assistance to John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry in 1859.

34  In July 1853 in the harbor of Smyrna, Captain Duncan Ingraham of the USS Saint Louis confronted the Austrian brig SMS Hussar and demanded the release of Martin Kostza, a Hungarian revolutionary and US resident visiting Turkey.  After bringing ship cannons to bear, Ingraham obtained Kostza’s eventual release.  The act created a crisis between the United States and Austria, and Franklin Pierce’s first Annual Message to Congress (December 5, 1853) supported Ingraham’s actions.   Ingraham became a popular hero in the United States.  The US Congress passed a resolution that commissioned him Commander and authorized minting of a commemorative bronze medal.  See “Thanks to Captain Ingraham – Mr. Dean,” Congressional Globe , House of Representatives, 33 rd  Congress, 1 st  Session, pp. 81-84.  The comparison here is between Ingraham’s actions in the rescue of Kostza, and those of judges and politicians in the United States who enforced the Fugitive Slave Act.

35   Lajos Kossuth  (1802 – 1894).  Leader of Hungarian nationalist movement.  In 1851-52, Kossuth toured over 60 US cities and gave some 300 speeches in support of Hungarian independence.  Antislavery poetry frequently employed Kossuth as a heroic figure of freedom.  Kossuth, however, diplomatically preferred to avoid the topic of slavery during his American tour.  See ‘Kossuth’s Speech at Faneuil Hall,’ in Kossuth in New England: A Full Account of the Hungarian Governor’s Visit to Massachusetts; with His Speeches and the Addresses that Were Made to Him  (Boston: John P. Jewett and Co., 1852) pp. 86-97, esp. pp. 92-93.

36  Bungay refers here and in the following verse to the February 1851seizure of Shadrach Minkins, the first fugitive arrested in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  See Gary Collison, Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen  (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

37   Benjamin Robbins Curtis  (1809 – 1874).  Attorney, Massachusetts legislator, US Supreme Court justice.   Born in Watertown, Massachusetts; graduated Harvard Law School in 1832.  A conservative Northern proslavery advocate, Curtis aided Secretary of State Daniel Webster in arguing for passage of the Fugitive Slave Act.  He subsequently prosecuted the arrest of fugitive slaves and was involved in the Shadrach, Anthony Burns and Thomas Sims cases.  President Millard Fillmore appointed Curtis to the Supreme Court in 1851, where he became best-known for this dissent in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford  decision.  Brother of constitutional historian George Ticknor Curtis.

38   John Quincy Adams  (1767 – 1848).  Attorney, minister to the Hague, Massachusetts state senator, US senator, Secretary of State, sixth US President, US congressional representative.  As a congressman, following his Presidency (1824 – 1828), Adams led congressional opposition to slavery, opposed the ‘gag rule’ forbidding antislavery petitions, defended the slaves captured after the Amistad  mutiny (1839), and opposed the admission of Texas to the Union and the Mexican War on grounds of antislavery.  

39   Joseph Warren  (1741 – 1775).  Physician, organizer and orator in the American Revolution, major general.  Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts; came to prominence as leader of the Liberty faction in Massachusetts during the Stamp Act controversy in 1765.  Warren served as a leader of the Boston Committee of Correspondence and later as president pro tem of the Provisional Congress.  He died at the Battle of Breed’s Hill in June 1775.

40  Mount Wachusetts, near Worcester, Massachusetts.

41   Franklin Pierce  (1804 – 1869).  Attorney, New Hampshire state assemblyman, US senator, brigadier general, fourteenth US President (1852 – 1856).  Pierce was a Northern ‘doughface’ with proslavery Southern sympathies.  He supported the 1850 Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act.  As president during the Kansas-Nebraska crisis, Pierce backed proslavery forces in Kansas and opposed the antislavery Free Soilers.  During the Lincoln administration, Pierce was a vocal critic of the Emancipation Proclamation.

42  Biblical figure of Caleb, who silenced opponents of Moses.  Num 13 and 14:5-11.

43  In Greek mythology, god of winter.

44  A lion and unicorn rampant appear on Canada’s Coat of Arms.

45   Millard Fillmore  (1800 – 1874).  Textile worker, attorney, New York state assembly member, US congressional representative, US Vice President, thirteenth US President (1850 – 1852).  Fillmore supported the 1850 Compromise as a settlement of the slavery issue.  His political career ended with his unsuccessful presidential candidacy for the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Party (Know Nothings) in 1856.

46  Celestial sphere or vault of heaven.  

47  Ex 3:5.

48  Personal reference unidentified.

49  Patron saint of shoemakers.

50   Salmon Portland Chase  (1808 – 1873).  Attorney, antislavery activist, US senator from Ohio, Ohio governor, Secretary of the Treasury, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.  Born in Cornish, New Hampshire; graduated Dartmouth College in 1826.  Became a committed evangelical during the Second Great Awakening and a leader of the American Sunday School Union.  In the late 1830s, Chase committed himself to the antislavery cause defended captured fugitive slaves, becoming known as “the attorney general for fugitive slaves.”  He was a leader of the abolitionist Liberty Party, fighting both the 1850 Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and then a founder of the Republican Party in 1856,  

51   Charles Sumner  (1811 – 1874).  Attorney, social reformer, US senator.  Born in Boston; graduated Harvard Law School.  Sumner emerged as an attorney devoted to antislavery and reform causes, and became the leading political abolitionist within the US government prior to the Civil War. Following the war, he lent support to Reconstruction work and civil rights legislation.  

52   William Henry Seward  (1801 – 1872).  Attorney, New York state senator, New York governor, US senator, Secretary of State.  Seward became a leader of antislavery forces when he joined the US Senate in 1849 and denounced the institution as contrary to “higher law.”  He aggressively opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and expansion of slavery while his own Whig Party fractured over the issue.  Seward joined in founding the Republican Party in 1856, but advocated a policy of peaceful compromise in the belief that slavery would disappear of itself.

53   Caleb Blood Smith  (1808 – 1864).  Attorney, newspaper publisher, Indiana state representative, US congressional representative, Secretary of Interior.  Smith was an opponent of the Mexican War in 1846 and an antislavery politician, but one who advocated emigration and colonization for freed slaves.  He opposed the Emancipation Proclamation and, as Secretary of Interior, promoted a short-lived plan to re-settle former slaves in Panama.

54   Benjamin Franklin Wade  (1800 – 1878).  Farmer, attorney, US district judge, US senator from Ohio.  Entering the US Senate in 1851, Wade attacked slavery and the Fugitive Slave Act continually.  In response to the Whig Party’s divisions over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Wade became a founder of the Republican Party.

55  Southerner.

56  Imitation men.  Dismissive term applied to the names of articles of trade allegedly made of basswood and dispensed by Yankee peddlers.  Mitford Matthews, Dictionary of Americanisms  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), p. 85.

57  Both Connecticut and New Hampshire elected Republicans to the US Congress in 1854 in consequence of the Kansas-Nebraska crisis.  Isaac Toucey, a Democratic Party senator from Connecticut, was burned in effigy for supporting the Act.  These are the latest events that the poem references, indicating a probable publication date in November or December 1854.

58  Obscure reference.  Probably refers to a political dispute between James Guthrie  (1792 – 1869), US senator from Kentucky and Secretary of the Treasury under the Pierce administration, and Greene C. Bronson  (d. 1863), judge and defeated proslavery New York gubernatorial candidate in 1853.  

59  Original three hills of early Boston, where Beacon Hill developed in the late 18 th  century; presently  commemorated in the name of Tremont Street.