James Madison Bell

The Triumph Of Liberty

 Next Poem          

To his Excellency Henry P. Baldwin, Governor of the State of Michigan, As a slight testimonial to his generosity of heart and nobleness of mind, the following poem is most respectfully inscribed.


That truth, than fiction, is more strange,
There's not the shadow of a doubt,
When we regard the wondrous change
One short decade has brought about.
The leopard may have changed his spots,
Or the Ethiop changed his skin,
And would far less excelled our thoughts,
Than those great changes which have been.
For nought exists in earth or air
Or ocean's depths of endless shade,
With which we justly can compare
The changes of the last decade.


Had one deep-skilled in mystic lore,
Some favored heir or providence,
Proclaimed abroad from door to door
The last decade's unborn events,
The multitudes who may have heard
His auguries, though chastely clad,
Would have pronounced them most absurd,
And their prognostic author mad.
Or, had an angel of the sky
Left for a time his watch and ward,
And from some towering mountain high
Cried mightily, thus saith the Lord!


Columbia's sons, a million strong
Shall panoply themselves for war,
And o'er their hills and vales ere long
To battle rush from near and far!
The century bound and fettered slave
Shall grasp the hilt of freedom's sword
And rush amid the struggling brave
And write his liberties restored;
He shall have faith where others doubt
And onward press to lead the van,
Till slavery's stain he washes out
In treason's gore, and stands a man.


And ere one full decade has passed
The land redeemed shall proudly see,
Of slavery's relics e'en the last
Engulfed in freedom's boundless sea.


Would we have deemed the message true,
Brought by the heavenly ward so near,
And gave to it that reverence due
A message from the glory sphere?
We might have lent a patient ear
And thus the message have received,
We might have felt a sense of fear,
But never would our hearts believed:


It would have been impossible,
So wedded were we to the wrong,
Our hearts had grown invulnerable
To all appeals however strong.


No message sent from hell or heaven,
Brought by the living or the dead,
Could e'er the mighty spell have riven
By which dark wrong and we were wed.


Our natures had been schooled to look
Adversely on each phrase of right,
Until our hearts could proudly brook
The truth made bare in reason's light --


For error's potent chords had twined
About our hearts from early age,
Till like the tillers of the mind
Our guides were they in every stage --
We could not comprehend the thought,
That freedom was of native mold,
Heaven inspired and heaven taught
Which neither chains nor cells can hold:
Therefore we could not reconcile
The seeming gross absurdity,
That he, the slave and long reviled,
Nursed yet the germs of liberty.


If not how could he rise above
His present status of disgrace,
Or what incentive could him move
The all auspicious to embrace?
But changes of the recent past
Have swept our theories away,
And crowned with wonders unsurpassed
The radiant glories of to-day.


Within the lapse of one decade
More history we have lived and made
Than during all the years before,
Since first our fathers sped them o'er
The deep blue ocean's heaving breast,
And came to this proud land, the West.
And we have grown in moral hight
When viewed by heaven's or freedom's light,
More in these years a thousand fold
Than during all the years of old.


One decade back and every eye
That scann'd us closely saw the lie,
And turned from our spread banner's face
To men in chains, and cried disgrace,
And, hissing, pointed with disdain
At Freedom forging slavery's chain.
One decade back and slavery's beck
Alike held State and Church in check,
How grave or trivial the affair
On no account would either dare
To move one hair-breadth in extent
Till clothed with his august consent --
When e'er he waved his Sceptered hand
The mighty millions of our land
Were filled with wonderment and awe
And eager to obey his law --
He stamped his foot, and Liberty
Trembled as doth the aspen tree,
When old Boreas from his cave,
Begirt with wrath comes forth to rave.


The court, to do him honor, made
Him a license to invade
The lowly cot and palace dome,
And sacred precincts of each home,
Where ever found upon our soil
In quest of his assumptive spoil.
And men who ranked in high estate
Would breathless on his bidding wait,
And all our proud official corps,
Like blood-hounds, ran from door to door,
And often forced their presence where
E'en decency would cry forbear;
And all for what? Why, simply
This, and nothing more -- Liberty!
Innate and deathless as the soul
Had swelled beyond the chains control,
And e'en inspired the base born slave
To seek for freedom or the grave.


Our prisons, too, whose chief intent
Was crime to punish and prevent,
Became the slave-pens of the land,
To which the Tyrant of the brand
To check-mate human liberty
Held in his grasp both lock and key.


Besides all this, a hoary sage,
A highly honored legal chief
Just passing from this earthly stage,
Gave this as his profound belief:
"Blacks have no rights, not life except,
Which bind the white man to respect."


This formed the climax of support
Which slavery drew from Freedom's Court.
While thus the Court strained every nerve
Her wonted fealty to preserve,
The Church was not a whit behind;
For she, with all her strength combined,
Was moving earth and fiends and hell
In order that she might excel
The baseness of the Court, and rise
Pre-eminent in Slavery's eyes.
To do him honor prelates came
Of nearly every creed and name,
All decked in sacerdotal gear,
Each rivaling each as to appear,
While void of ostentatious pride,
Most potent, grave and dignified.


And each to Court his reverence bowed,
And prayed to him both long and loud;
And temples reared they in his name,
And grand memorials to his fame,
Whose every brick and massive stone
Was purchased with a human bone,
And all the mortar 'twixt their layers
Was mingled flesh and blood and tears
Of captives, whom dark wrong had slain
To rear up Slavery's Godless fain.
And thus with rant hypocrisy
And sacrilegious blasphemy,
The Church sought to surpass the Court
In crowning slavery with support
Oh, if the cheek was ever flushed,
Of devils, then they must have blushed
At these base scenes of mammon greed,
Which hell itself could scarce exceed!
For there, midst all this mock display,
This scowl upon the face of day,
The truth lay prostrate, and the right
Was chained and gagged, while reason's light
Shone like a taper in a tomb,
And half extinguished by the gloom.
Oh! ne'er did goodly land thus sink
As ours so near to ruin's brink.


Our fathers might have wept, and did,
If earthly scenes are not all hid
From eyes of those blest ones who stand
Or near or far in glory land.


But unto God that's ever near,
The righteous are His special care;
And in our land there were a few
Firm friends of Freedom, tried and true.
A few who ne'er had bowed the knee
Nor sacrificed to Slavery;


A faithful, zealous noble band,
The salt and savors of our land,
Whose meritorious deeds should blaze
In letters of undying praise.
But while we thus them all revere,
Of two we'd fain make mention here.


ONE decade back there lived a man,
A strict, unswerving Puritan;
And though as brave as Ammon's son,
No gods had he to serve but one,
The God of Justice, God of Truth,
Whom he had served from early youth.


His heart was not inured to wrong,
Though he had seen and felt it long;
Yet had he oft implored the time
When there should be an end to crime,
When Truth should rise, assert her claim,
And wrong sink down to whence it came.


At length he grew to feel inspired
To what his heart had long desired,
To strike one blow for Liberty,
Where it should end in victory;
Though he should perish in the deed,
He felt that he could plant the seed
From which the harvest would arise,
And shrank not from the sacrifice;
Him call enthusiast, if you will,
Fanatic, or something wilder still,
It will not blur his deathless name,
Nor bar his onward march to fame.


For when he felt the hour had come
He left his fair North Elba home
And with e'en less than a score of men,
Went forth, and in the very den
And citadel of Slavery
Unsheathed his sword for Liberty.


This, this was old John Brown, the brave
Whom great Virginia hanged, to save
Through sacrifice to Slavery,
Her panic stricken chivalry.
For from the night on which he made
Their State the center of his raid,
Until the law pronounced him dead,
Of him they lived in constant dread.


Although confined within a cell,
By many a bolt and lock as well,
And prostrate on a fevered cot,
Through consequences ill-begot,
From care and pain and loss of blood,
And from the much he had withstood,
Besides all this, of armed men,
To guard that ancient veteran,
A regiment were scattered round,
All o'er that half enchanted ground,
Lest he should from his mat of straw,
Come forth and by his presence awe,
And terrify e'en unto death
Famed Chivalry's half-suspended breath.


Although like Sampson he was ta'en,
And by the base Philistines slain,
Yet he in death accomplished more
Than e'er he had in life before.
His noble heart, which ne'er had failed,
Proved firm, and e'en in death prevailed;
And many a tear drop dimmed the eye
Of e'en his foes who saw him die --
And none who witnessed that foul act
Will e'er in life forget the fact.


'Twas on a clear December day,
So mild it seemed, that gentle May
Had, in respect for that dread hour,
Donated one from her sweet bower.
No clouds were seen in all the sky,
Save one, and that was hovering nigh,
As though its mission was to screen
From angels' ken the awful scene.
For when upon the scaffold bare,
The hero stood, that cloud was there,
But when the throng pronounced him dead
That mystic cloud and screen had fled.


His lifeless form his friends besought,
And far, far from that wretched spot,
And from those scenes of suffering
To which such dreadful memories cling,
And to a freer, purer soil,
Uncursed by sweat of unpaid toil,
And to an unfrequented nook,
Whereon no craven eye may look,
Where Freedom doth her vigil keep,
They laid him down to dreamless sleep.


Scarce had his friend in calm repose
Entombed his form, when there arose
A restless spirit, which obtained,
Where e'er of liberty remained
A single spark of honest thought,
Too sacred to be sold or bought.
And thus the truths for which he died
Spread everywhere, and multiplied,
And rolled on like a foaming sea,
Until the Sons of Liberty
In all their majesty came forth,
And styled themselves the mighty North;
And from their ranks selected one,
An unassuming woodman's son,
Who bore their standard midst the feud,
And mighty contest which ensued.


He was from nature's plastic mold,
What kings and mighty men of old
Through lengthened years of toil, in vain
Had sought and striven to attain;
All that a language could express
Of noble-hearted faithfulness.
There was no grace he did not court,
Nor blemish in his manly port,
Tall, and of commanding form
And Heaven ordained to rule the storm.
There was a calm serenity,
A kind, persuasive, artless art
Pervading the Divinity
Which filled his great and manly heart.


All manly forms that graced his sight,
He deemed them men or black or white;
He bowed to all with deference,
And won a world of reverence.


He was that Son of Liberty,
Whose Heaven-approved fidelity
Made every act of his sublime.
And safely might we challenge Time,
With his deep, enveloped page,
The annals of a nameless age,
To bring forth one of purer mold,
Or one who had a stronger hold
Upon his country's throbbing heart,
Then he whose native, artless art
Has carved his own undying name
Upon the deathless scroll of fame.


Need I here that name pronounce,
Where if each heart would speak at once,
The glorious, grand response would be
"Lincoln, the friend of Liberty!"
If Fame's all glorious scroll were lost,
And there remained the merest ghost
Of all the present, of all the past,
If deathless liberty could last,
Her share of glory to receive,
Great Lincoln's name would also live!


But to return, when slavery's hosts
Saw how that all their plans had failed,
And how that he, they envied most,
Had e'en despite their wiles prevailed;
They grew incensed, and madly blind,
And swore by all that had been done
To rend the sacred bands which bind
Our many glorious states in one, --
And in their stead, build of their own
A time enduring dynasty,
Whose spreading base and corner stone
Should rest on human slavery.
To such an epoch they had bent,
For thirty years their vulturous eye,
And well-provisioned the event,
With every species of supply.
The arsenals were in their hands,
And in their hands were all the spoil,
And all the soldiery of our lands
Were rendezvousing on their soil,
With these unique advantages,
And deeming their success as sure,
Like Hell-inspired savages
Upon the nation's flag they pour
Volleys of grape and canister,
Then seized the navy, and reversed
Its purpose, so as to deter
The North, then dared them to their worst.


The news spread forth with speed of thought
In all directions o'er the land;
Nor nook nor point was there forgot.
It swept its length from strand to strand,
The State was like the storm-lashed sea,
Chafing itself with wild unrest,
No bounds were there to the degree
Of rage, apparent and expressed.
All business lay in blank suspense;
And men stood idly here and there,
With no apparent deference
To secular pursuit or care.


No ships of war, nor arms nor men,
The treasury in a broken state;
And every post a rebel den,
Where treason brawled in high debate, --
Is but a picture faintly drawn,
Too faint by far except to cull
Some scattered fragments of the dawn
Of Lincoln's first inaugural.


Now, as our chief executive,
His first great office to perform
Was on the moment to conceive
A means by which to check the storm,
Which soon would burst from its confines,
And sweep along our northern lines
With lightning flash and thunder roar,
More terrible than aught before.


He called for loyal men of war,
Five and seventy thousand strong:
'Twas heralded anear and far,
And answered by a mighty throng.
They came of every clime and race
Of which our glorious land can boast,
With anxious hearts to take their place
In freedom's cause at any post.


And some there came of Afric's hue,
Though born and reared upon our shore,
Who eager were to don the blue,
As they had done in days before.
As they had done at Lexington,
At Bunker Hill and Brandywine,
At Monmouth and at Bennington,
'Midst freedom's boasts in freedom's line.


As they had done at New Orleans,
And on Lake Erie's troubled waves,
And in a word, 'midst all the scenes,
Made sacred through our struggling braves.


But prejudice and foul disdain
Rebuked and scorned their proffered aid,
And taunting, urged that slavery's chain
Bore no relation to the raid.


And thus they grew, the jeer and butt
Of the derisive and the vile;
And suffered many a cruel cut
From rostrum and from press the while.
These prated of a White Man's war,
And claimed that Negroes feared to die;
That face of those who placed the scar
Upon their backs would make them fly.


Such was the feelings which possessed
The loyal heart when Sumpter's fort
By rebel soldiers was distressed,
And we could render no support.
And such the feeling which prevailed
Up to our sad Bull Run retreat;
For ever yet our arms had failed
The rebel forces to defeat.


Our dead lay bleaching on the plains,
By scores of thousands slept they there,
While liberty, with plaintive strains,
Was calling fresh recruits to war.
Our hospitals were running o'er
With all our sick and wounded braves;
And in one line a thousand score
Of stalwart, hail and idle slaves.


Of these their masters some were dead,
And prisoners some, but all were foes,
Who from their slaves and homes had fled,
The Union forces to oppose.


O Prejudice! thou art to blame
For half of all the noble braves
Who fell in Freedom's sacred name;
'Twas thy base deeds that dug their graves!


Witness thy truckling course, and then
Defer thy case to honest men;
To judge betwixt thy soul and mine.
Behold within the Union line
Scores of thousands of brawny arms
Held up in view of war's alarms,
Pulsating with their force of life,
And anxious for the scenes of strife, --
Anxious to wield the battle sword
'Gainst vile oppression's murderous horde,
Praying heaven, and praying earth
To grant them license to go forth,
And bear their part where freedom's braves
Were falling in untimely graves.


Alas! alas, their humble prayer
Fell heedless on the murky air,
And met no answer in return,
Except a cold and heartless spurn.
And yet, while thou wert scorning these,
Our forces, both by land and seas,
Were being worsted in the fight,
And pressed at times e'en unto flight,
Leaving behind their graveless dead,
And wounded braves, uncared or fed.


And yet thou hold'st at thy command,
Ready whereon to lay thy hand,
A hundred thousand stalwart blacks,
Eager to don their haversacks,
And rush with muskets to the field,
Or swords dissevered from their shield,
And there to pledge 'neath Heaven's blue sky
To conquer treason's host or die.
And yet they were denied the right --
Denied the privilege to fight
'Gainst rebels, who had veiled in gloom
Full many a Northern heart and home.


And wherefore were they thus denied
Until the glory and the pride
Of all our mighty North was taken
And lifeless strewn o'er many a plain?
Oh! Prejudice! thou art to blame
For half of all the noble braves
Who fell in freedom's sacred name;
'Twas thou, foul fiend, that dug their graves!


But for thy forked tongue of guile
Blood would have flowed not half the while;
But for thy craven heart of guilt
Not half the blood would have been spilt;
Yet, in despite thy rant and boast,
The right shall live when e'en thy ghost,
Thy hated ghost, thou cursed thing,
Shall to the drift of raiment cling!


The mission of the war was plain,
But prejudice so dimmed our sight
That long we blindly strove in vain,
Groping our way amidst the light.


The mission of the war was this --
To force the bolt, unbar the door,
And let the long oppressed go free;
It was no veiled hypothesis,
But plain, so plain that all might see,
E'en to the poorest of the poor.


And some did see, and feigned they saw it not,
While others saw and cursed their hapless lot.
But those who long in darkness dwelt,
And those who in death's shadow stood,
Saw its bright beams; they saw and felt,
And well its purpose understood.


For straight they took their harps once more
From off the boughs where they had hung,
And ran their stiffened fingers o'er
Their chords, to which the moss had clung,
When lo! to their too great surprise,
Those chords possessed their wonted glee
And chanted to the very skies
The rising dawn of jubilee.


But those who dwelt upon the plain,
Or sported on the mountain high,
When prejudice had left his stain,
Saw no bright bow of promise nigh.


For we had sought to crush the South,
Without the black man or his aid,
And to this end had taxed the North,
And West and East to quell the raid,
And yet the rebels kept the field
With reinforcements in reserve,
Before our troops they would not yield,
Nor widely from their purpose swerve.


Full twenty moons had waxed and waned,
And war had darkened many a home,
Before the anxious black obtained
The right, a soldier to become.


But not till we had vainly tried
To reconcile our traitorous foe:
Not until we, with humbled pride,
Had really begged them to forego,


And e'en were driven to destroy
Their institution of support,
Did we a single black employ,
In rank or navy, field or fort.


But when the time had quite expired;
The hundred days of the decree,
And God and justice now required
The bondsman's promised liberty --


Then noble Lincoln, armed with might,
And clothed with honor, truth and right,
Stretched forth his hand, and took the quill,
And tracing it along the page,
He framed, with heaven-admiring skill,
The crowning feature of his age --


That God inspired instrument!
Charter of manhood -- Liberty!
Heaven ordained and heaven sent
To rid our land of slavery!


The news thereof spread far and wide,
And filled each humble slave's abode
With the grand and joyous tide
Of blessings which had been bestowed.


Then wild the Union to assist,
As regulars or volunteers,
The blacks rushed forward to enlist
'Midst thunder shouts and deafening cheers.


Old Massachusetts' Fifty-fourth
Filed into line, and swelled the ranks,
And charged so nobly on the South
As to extort the Nation's thanks.


Then came the arming of the slaves,
The noble Butler's "contrabands,"
Who proved themselves not only braves,
But ranked the soldiers of our lands.


Then black men went as substitutes
While timid white men staid at home;
Thus swelled the ranks of all recruits,
Till bloody treason met its doom.


Two hundred thousand strong they stood,
And fought for liberty and right,
And quite as freely shed their blood
As those proud braves whose skins were white.


They bravely fought! And is that all
That truth can say in their defense?
They drank the very dregs of gall,
And bore a world of insolence.


And yet of Liberty's tried friends,
They ranked the truest of the true;
Ne'er having swerved for selfish ends,
Nor coupled treason with their hue.


For twelve score years in feeless toil,
They labored for our country's good,
Delved in our mines, wrought on our soil,
And fertilized our fields with blood.


In all our wars they bore their part,
Nor shrank from dangers imminent,
Mingling the life-blood of their heart
With that of braves most eminent.


And yet, through all those lengthened years,
Their life was one of grief and pain,
And groans, and sighs, and bitter tears,
And worse than all, a life of chains.


But there's to every day an eve,
And unto every night a morn,
And joys there are for those who grieve,
Howe'er dejected and forlorn!


The wrong may triumph for a while,
But right comes uppermost at last,
And love shall bloom, and peace shall smile,
When error's hated reign is past.


Lift up your hearts, ye long oppressed,
And hail the gladsome rising dawn,
For Slavery's night, that sore distressed
And tortured you, has passed and gone!


And Liberty's refulgent blaze
Lights up our broad, unbroken land,
And nowhere 'neath her spreading rays
Lives there a fetter or a brand!


All hail! the land has been redeemed
From thraldom's foul and ruthless sway;
And Freedom's radiant light has streamed
Along the bondman's gloomy way!


And in those dungeons of despair,
Whence every ray of hope had fled,
Blest Liberty had entered there
And breathed new life into the dead.


And o'er those regions of the brand,
Where toil was recompensed with scorn,
Has waved abroad her flaming wand;
And lo! a nation there is born --


And clothed upon with sacred rights;
Those sacred rights of jealous care,
In whose defense the torch she lights,
And strips her arm of vengeance bare.


O, Liberty! thou peerless queen!
Thou quenchless essence of the soul,
Preside o'er these in every scene,
And ward them 'gainst all base control;


Plant in their hearts a love of thought,
An anxious spirit to acquire
Those mighty truths that are only bought
With perseverance and desire.


Move them to grasp with hand and heart,
And with a deathless will beside,
Each mode of science, skill and art,
Consistent with our Nation's pride:


So that the world may ne'er regret
The mighty work that's been performed,
And so that Time his seal may set
Upon their future all adorned.


There is no right a freeman has
So purely sacred as his choice.
How e'er bereft he'll cling to this,
And in its potency rejoice:


For in its exercise he stands
The peer of titled wealth and state,
How e'er possessed of spreading lands,
Or gifted they in high debate --


He is their peer, however grand,
Or much upon themselves they dote,
For there's no station in our land
Which ranks a man above his vote.


The right to exercise a right;
The right to choose 'twixt man and man;
The right to battle for the right,
And in the right do what we can,


Is manhood clothed with liberty --
The just, inherent right of all,
Regardless of ability,
Or age, or sex, or great or small!


That right today the black man wields
With gratitude, though long denied,
For deep within his heart he feels
A sacredness of joy and pride.


Nobly the war has done its work,
And nobly the Republicans,
With no apparent wish to shirk,
Have canceled Freedom's high demands.


They took the fetters in their hand,
And wrenched them from the bleeding limb;
Then took the slave 'neath their command,
And nurtured and disciplined him.


They gave subsistence to his wife,
And to his little ones gave bread,
And thus amid the scenes of strife
Were countless thousands clothed and fed.


They formed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill,
Which placed the letter in his hand,
And gave him schools, despite the will
Of him, the tyrant, in command.


They framed the Bill of Civil Rights,
By which his living was secured
Against those vile malevolent whites
Whose souls to treason were inured.


Then toward our fundamental laws
They bent their hearts in zealous toil,
And thereunto affixed a clause
Which banished slavery from our soil.


This nobly done, they still propose
Our charter further to amend,
By making citizens of those
The law had proffered to defend.


Though 'twas a grave step in the right,
The party claimed it none the less,
And girding well their loins with might,
They fought the issue to success.


This contest, proudly fought and won,
Left one just claim uncanceled yet,
Before the world-wide shout, well done!
Would ring from freedom's minaret.


To council this, the final claim,
And merit freedom's grand applause,
And win a fadeless wreath of fame,
Through noble deeds in manhood's cause;
They concentrated all their might,
Which great Ulysses deigned to lead?
And claimed the Franchise as a right,
And just investment of the freed.


To every State went forth the claim,
How e'er convenient or remote,
And everywhere, in freedom's name,
They pressed the freedman's right to vote.


State after State endorsed the fact,
Which lent new ardor to their zeal --
A zeal which no incentive lacked
To strengthen or enforce appeal.


Full thirty States at length filed out,
And proudly stood on manhood's side;
And Freedom raised the joyous shout,
"Well done! All hail! All satisfied!"


This was the crowning act of all;
And placed upon one common base,
Of all this mighty rolling ball
A specimen of every race.


Freedom's proud temple's now complete,
Crowned with the long-rejected stone;
And we are here to hail and greet
The master minds by which 'twas done.


Hail! Master Workmen, noble band!
And hail the key-stone, and the arch,
The pride and glory of our land!
And hail, to manhood's onward march!


The night of gloom, the night of sorrow,
The night of wrong, the night of chains,
At length has passed, and lo! the morrow
Of joy has dawned, and Freedom reigns.


For, in our nation's Senate Hall,
A Negro has his seat today,
Where, e'en in memory's brief recall,
Sat Calhoun, Webster, Cass and Clay.


Rejoice, O land, bought by the sword,
Redeemed and by the sword set free!
Let all thy sons, with one accord,
Be jubilant o'er thy victory.


That we should have a member, where
One decade back, 'twere worth the head
Of such as he, to even dare
Within those sacred halls to tread,


Proves that the world doth surely move,
And proves that men of worth may rise
From low estate, and soar above
Their former selves in nature's guise.


How wondrous the coincident,
That from the Great Arch Rebel's home,
His erring State to represent,
Our first Black Senator should come,
A seat of office to complete,
Made vacant through Jeff's recreancy.
O, for the privilege to greet
That Negro in that Rebel's seat!
'Twere worth the distance and expense.


But this is not the only post
By Negroes filled, deserving boast:
We have a Judge upon the seat,
And Ministers in foreign lands,
At home, a Governor, to greet,
And Legislators e'en in bands.


The prayed-for time has come at last --
The time of which we used to sing,
The good time talked of in the past,
Is here today upon its wing --
The ballot's in the black man's hand;
Promotion waits him at his door,
And peace and plenty crown our land,
And freedom reigns from shore to shore.


Strike all your bells, ye lofty spires!
Wave all your banners, freedom wave!
Loose your tongues, ye tell-tale wires,
And you, ye thundering cannons rave!


America, the land of science,
The land of every nation's love,
Has formed with Freedom an alliance
So pure, 'tis registered above!


Lift up your heads, ye lofty mountains!
Clap your glad hands, ye mighty seas!
Leap for joy, ye crystal fountains,
And odors waft sweet balmy breeze!
The crowning work is now accomplished,
The builders have received the stone!
Dark Slavery's fame has been demolished.
And all his Dagon gods o'erthrown!


And on its base a mighty temple,
Gorgeous, grand, sublime and free!
O'er whose proud dome and lofty steeple
Presides eternal Liberty!


Stand proudly up, aged sire!
Be filled with hope, elastic boy;
Bring forth the lute and tune the lyre,
And let us have a feast of joy!


For lo! the hand that held the musket,
And strangled treason in the fight,
Has laid aside the war-worn corselet,
And taken the ballot as a right!


And the right at his discretion
To wield it as his faith may guide
Responsible for each digression,
To God, his country, and his pride!


And now, in conclusion, accept a brief line
Inscribed to our country, thy country and mine.


Hail! hail mighty Land with thy proud destiny!
Enduring as time, all chainless and free!
Hail! hail to thy mountains majestic and high,
Reclining their heads against the blue curtained sky.


And hail to thy valleys so fragrant and fair,
With wild flowers blooming and scenting the air,
And hail to thy prairies, outspreading and wide,
Resembling the Ocean's broad billowless tide.


And hail to thy Streamlets, all wending their way
Adown to their Rivers, more mighty than they;
And hail to thy Rivers as onward they sweep
Through th' low valley lands to their home in the deep;


And hail to thy Oceans, all dotted with sails,
Their white wings extended, inviting the gales;
And hail to thy Commerce, the pride of the world.
And hail to thy Standard so proudly unfurled;


And hail to thy Cities all teaming with life,
Where the interest of all is the center of strife.
And hail to thy Railroads and steam-driven trains,
That sweep through thy mountains and dash o'er thy plains;


And hail to thy Telegraph, thy glory and prime,
Defying all distance, and outstripping Time,
Extending its arms through the heart of the sea
And binding all Realms to the Land of the Free;


And hail to thy Magistrates, Judges and Courts,
And Armies and Navies, thy strength and supports.


And hail to thy Congress, where thy statesmen are met,
Where thy wisdom for ages in Counsel have sat.
And hail to thy Chief, the Bright Crown of thy State,
The gallant Ulysses, all glorious and great;


And hail, once again, thy glory and pride,
Bright Banner of Freedom, out-spreading and wide.


There's not a dark spot on thy features today,
As pure as the heavens, and radiant as they;
Thus, ever proud Banner, exultingly wave,
Thou glory and pride of the unfettered slave.

Next Poem 

 Back to
James Madison Bell