Helen Maria Williams

In Kansas Just Before the First Struggle

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Freedom, freedom, has been my song
And shall be till I die,
Or till from every Negro's tongue,
I hear it echo by.


Increase my faith, strengthen my heart,
Almighty God my King,
That I may ever do my part,
May work as well as sing.


The groans of thy black children
Forever reach my ears,
By my soul I am bidden
To shoulder up their cares.


This course, my duty, I'll pursue
Although I feel alone,
And fail or die my deed through you
Will move some others on.


Not for the riches of the soil
My brothers do we come,
We come to never let them spoil,
With slavery as its home.


The fertile earth, the pasturage
Invite the toiling livers,
But never the horde of bondage
With masters, hounds and drivers.


From tyrants its for you and me
These treasures here to save,
That labor true may harvest free
What nature freely gave.


Sons of my love, my own heart blood
Around me make your stand,
Hear now and heed my honest word,
And mark my rising hand.


Here remember all my teachings
My olden views and promise,
They are the things, the very things,
I came to put in service.


Sons, brothers, all, here is the spot
To conquer or to fall,
'Tis justice cause what e'er the lot,
So move at duty's call.


If you have love for humankind
For mercy, justice, right,
For God's poor ones stay not behind,
But move in haste and might.


See yonder hostile masses
Standing in battle array,
They came to plant in Kansas,
The seed of Southern slavery.


With bayonets, guns and kettledrum
That fill our ears and sight,
Ah! let us strike for freedom
While they for slavery fight.


They are fighting for a wicked cause
Of sin and shame and lust,
But we are for the moral laws
And in our God we trust.


Kansas alone fills not their view
They seek the Western main,
And may succeed if they subdue
Us on this very plan.


Then right here now in Kansas
With these obedient hands,
We should drive away the curse
Of all the Southern lands.


From early youth till even now
My soul detested war,
For love and peace I make a vow
To all whom e'er I saw.


To shed the blood of mortal man
Of any race or clime,
To desolate a lovely land
Must be a moral crime.


But when through evil, luck or might
Men go to conquer men,
The true and good possess the right
The wronged ones to defend.


Then whate'er system, men or law
Seeks mankind to enslave,
The true and good should open war
For human rights to save.

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Helen Maria Williams