CPC Report; An unabashedly liberal perspective


18 April 2011

A Ballad Of The Boston Tea-Party by Oliver Wendell Holmes

No! never such a draught was poured

Since Hebe served with nectar
The bright Olympians and their Lord,
Her over-kind protector,--
Since Father Noah squeezed the grape
And took to such behaving
As would have shamed our grandsire ape
Before the days of shaving,--
No! ne'er was mingled such a draught
In palace, hall, or arbor,
As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed
That night in Boston Harbor!
The Western war-cloud's crimson stained
The Thames, the Clyde, the Shannon;
Full many a six-foot grenadier
The flattened grass had measured,
And many a mother many a year
Her tearful memories treasured;
Fast spread the tempest's darkening pall,
The mighty realms were troubled,
The storm broke loose, but first of all
The Boston teapot 
bubbled!

An evening party,--only that,
No formal invitation,
No gold-laced coat, no stiff cravat,
No feast in contemplation,
No silk-robed dames, no fiddling band,
No flowers, no songs, no dancing,--
A tribe of red men, axe in hand,--
Behold the guests advancing!
How fast the stragglers join the throng,
From stall and workshop gathered!
The lively barber skips along
And leaves a chin half-lathered;
The smith has flung his hammer down,
The horseshoe still is glowing;
The truant tapster at the Crown
Has left a beer-cask flowing;
The cooper's boys have dropped the adze,
And trot behind their master;
Up run the tarry ship-yard lads,--
The crowd is hurrying faster,--
Out from the Millpond's purlieus gush
The streams of white-faced millers,
And down their slippery alleys rush
The lusty young Fort-Hillers--
The ropewalk lends its 'prentice crew,--
The tories seize the omen:
'Ay, boys, you'll soon have work to do
For England's rebel foemen,
'King Hancock,' Adams, and their gang,
That fire the mob with treason,--
When these we shoot and those we hang
The town will come to reason.'

On--on to where the tea-ships ride!
And now their ranks are forming,--
A rush, and up the Dartmouth's side
The Mohawk band is swarming!
See the fierce natives! What a glimpse
Of paint and fur and feather,
As all at once the full-grown imps
Light on the deck together!
A scarf the pigtail's secret keeps,
A blanket hides the breeches,--
And out the cursed cargo leaps,
And overboard it pitches!

O woman, at the evening board
So gracious, sweet, and purring,
So happy while the tea is poured,
So blest while spoons are stirring,
What martyr can compare with thee,
The mother, wife, or daughter,
That night, instead of best Bohea,
Condemned to milk and water!

Ah, little dreams the quiet dame
Who plies with' rock and spindle
The patient flax, how great a flame
Yon little spark shall kindle!
The lurid morning shall reveal
A fire no king can smother
Where British flint and Boston steel
Have clashed against each other!
Old charters shrivel in its track,
His Worship's bench has crumbled,

It climbs and clasps the union-jack,
Its blazoned pomp 
is humbled,
The flags go down on land and sea
Like corn before the reapers;
So burned the fire that brewed the tea
That Boston served her keepers!

The waves that wrought a century's wreck
Have rolled o'er whig and tory;
The Mohawks 
on the Dartmouth's deck
Still live in song and story;
The waters in the rebel bay
Have kept the tea-leaf savor;
Our old North-Enders in their spray
Still taste a Hyson flavor;
And Freedom's
teacup still o'erflows
With ever fresh libations,
To cheat of slumber all her foes
And cheer the wakening nations.

 

Paul Revers's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march 
By land or sea from the town to-night, 
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch 
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,– 
One if by land, and two if by sea; 
And I on the opposite shore will be, 
Ready to ride and spread the alarm 
Through every Middlesex village and farm, 
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, 
Just as the moon rose over the bay, 
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay 
The Somerset, British man-of-war; 
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar 
Across the moon like a prison bar, 
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified 
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street 
Wanders and watches, with eager ears, 
Till in the silence around him he hears 
The muster of men at the barrack door, 
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, 
And the measured tread of the grenadiers, 
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church, 
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, 
To the belfry chamber overhead, 
And startled the pigeons from their perch 
On the sombre rafters, that round him made 
Masses and moving shapes of shade,– 
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, 
To the highest window in the wall, 
Where he paused to listen and look down 
A moment on the roofs of the town 
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, 
In their night encampment on the hill, 
Wrapped in silence so deep and still 
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread, 
The watchful night-wind, as it went 
Creeping along from tent to tent, 
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" 
A moment only he feels the spell 
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread 
Of the lonely belfry and the dead; 
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent 
On a shadowy something far away, 
Where the river widens to meet the bay,– 
A line of black that bends and floats 
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, 
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride 
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere. 
Now he patted his horse’s side, 
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near, 
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth, 
And turned and tightened his saddle girth; 
But mostly he watched with eager search 
The belfry tower of the Old North Church, 
As it rose above the graves on the hill, 
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still. 
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height 
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! 
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, 
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight 
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street, 
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, 
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark 
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet; 
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, 
The fate of a nation was riding that night; 
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, 
Kindled the land into flame with its heat. 
He has left the village and mounted the steep, 
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, 
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; 
And under the alders that skirt its edge, 
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge, 
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock 
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town. 
He heard the crowing of the cock, 
And the barking of the farmer’s dog, 
And felt the damp of the river fog, 
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock, 
When he galloped into Lexington. 
He saw the gilded weathercock 
Swim in the moonlight as he passed, 
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare, 
Gaze at him with a spectral glare, 
As if they already stood aghast 
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock, 
When he came to the bridge in Concord town. 
He heard the bleating of the flock, 
And the twitter of birds among the trees, 
And felt the breath of the morning breeze 
Blowing over the meadow brown. 
And one was safe and asleep in his bed 
Who at the bridge would be first to fall, 
Who that day would be lying dead, 
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read 
How the British Regulars fired and fled,— 
How the farmers gave them ball for ball, 
From behind each fence and farmyard wall, 
Chasing the redcoats down the lane, 
Then crossing the fields to emerge again 
Under the trees at the turn of the road, 
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere; 
And so through the night went his cry of alarm 
To every Middlesex village and farm,— 
A cry of defiance, and not of fear, 
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, 
And a word that shall echo for evermore! 
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, 
Through all our history, to the last, 
In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 
The people will waken and listen to hear 
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, 
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.


Parody of Longfellow's Poem by Helen F. Moore*

'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

*In 1896 ,this parody was penned in recognition of one of the riders history seemed to have forgotten, such as William Dawes.

Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Grandmothers story of Bunker Hill
(As she saw it from the Belfry)
by Oliver Wendell Holmes

'Tis like stirring living embers when, at eighty, one remembers
All the achings and the quakings of "the times that tried men's souls";
When I talk of Whig and Tory, when I tell the Rebel story,
To you the words are ashes, but to me they're burning coals.

I had heard the muskets' rattle of the April running battle;
Lord Percy's hunted soldiers, I can see their red coats still;
But a deadly chill comes o'er me, as the day looms up before me,
When a thousand men lay bleeding on the slopes of Bunker's Hill.

'Twas a peaceful summer's morning, when the first thing gave us warning
Was the booming of the cannon from the river and the shore:
"Child," says grandma, "what's the matter, what is all this noise and clatter?
Have those scalping Indian devils come to murder us once more?"

Poor old soul! my sides were shaking in the midst of all my quaking
To hear her talk of Indians when the guns began to roar:
She had seen the burning village, and the slaughter and the pillage,
When the Mohawks killed her father, with their bullets through his door.

Then I said, "Now, dear old granny, don't you fret and worry any,
For I'll soon come back and tell you whether this is work or play;
There can't be mischief in it, so I won't be gone a minute"
For a minute then I started. I was gone the livelong day.

No time for bodice-lacing or for looking-glass grimacing;
Down my hair went as I hurried, tumbling half-way to my heels;
God forbid your ever knowing, when there's blood around her flowing,
How the lonely, helpless daughter of a quiet household feels!

In the street I heard a thumping; and I knew it was the stumping
Of the Corporal, our old neighbor, on that wooden leg he wore,
With a knot of women round him, it was lucky I had found him,
So I followed with the others, and the Corporal marched before.

They were making for the steeple, the old soldier and his people;
The pigeons circled round us as we climbed the creaking stair,
Just across the narrow river O, so close it made me shiver!
Stood a fortress on the hilltop that but yesterday was bare.

Not slow our eyes to find it; well we knew who stood behind it,
Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the stubborn walls were dumb:
Here were sister, wife, and mother, looking wild upon each other,
And their lips were white with terror as they said, "The Hour has Come!"

The morning slowly wasted, not a morsel had we tasted,
And our heads were almost splitting with the cannons' deafening thrill,
When a figure tall and stately round the rampart strode sedately;
It was Prescott, one since told me; he commanded on the hill.

Every woman's heart grew bigger when we saw his manly figure,
With the banyan buckled round it, standing up so straight and tall;
Like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out for pleasure,
Through the storm of shells and cannon-shot he walked around the wall.

At eleven the streets were swarming, for the red-coats' ranks were forming;
At noon in marching order they were moving to the piers;
How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we looked far down and listened
To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted grenadiers!

At length the men have started, with a cheer (it seemed faint-hearted),
In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsacks on their backs,
And the reddening, rippling water, as after a sea-fight's slaughter,
Round the barges gliding onward blushed like blood along their tracks.

So they crossed to the other border, and again they formed in order;
And the boats came back for soldiers, came for soldiers, soldiers still:
The time seemed everlasting to us women faint and fasting,
At last they're moving, marching, marching proudly up the hill.

We can see the bright steel glancing all along the lines advancing
Now the front rank fires a volley—they have thrown away their shot;
Far behind the earthwork lying, all the balls above them flying,
Our people need not hurry; so they wait and answer not.

Then the Corporal, our old cripple (he would swear sometimes and tipple),
He had heard the bullets whistle (in the old French war) before,
Calls out in words of jeering, just as if they all were hearing,
And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty belfry floor:

"Oh! fire away, ye villains, and earn King George's shillin's,
But ye'll waste a ton of powder afore a 'rebel' falls;
You may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as safe as Dan'l Malcolm
Ten foot beneath the gravestone that you've splintered with your balls!"

In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepidation
Of the dread approaching moment, we are well-nigh breathless all;
Though the rotten bars are failing on the rickety belfry railing,
We are crowding up against them like the waves against a wall.

Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer, nearer, nearer,
When a flash a curling smoke-wreath then a crash the steeple shakes
The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud is rended;
Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder-cloud it breaks!

O the sight our eyes discover as the blue-black smoke blows over!
The red-coats stretched in windrows as a mower rakes his hay;
Here a scarlet heap is lying, there a headlong crowd is flying
Like a billow that has broken and is shivered into spray.

Then we cried, "The troops are routed! they are beat it can't be doubted!
God be thanked, the fight is over!" Ah! the grim old soldier's smile!
"Tell us, tell us why you look so?" (we could hardly speak, we shook so),
"Are they beaten? Are they beaten? Are they beaten?" - "Wait a while."

O the trembling and the terror! for too soon we saw our error:
They are baffled, not defeated; we have driven them back in vain;
And the columns that were scattered, round the colors that were tattered,
Toward the sullen silent fortress turn their belted breasts again.

All at once, as we are gazing, lo the roofs of Charlestown blazing!
They have fired the harmless village; in an hour it will be down!
The Lord in heaven confound them, rain his fire and brimstone round them,
The robbing, murdering red-coats, that would burn a peaceful town!

They are marching, stern and solemn; we can see each massive column
As they near the naked earth-mound with the slanting walls so steep.
Have our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noiseless haste departed?
Are they panic-struck and helpless? Are they palsied or asleep?

Now! the walls they're almost under! scarce a rod the foes asunder!
Not a firelock flashed against them! up the earthwork they will swarm!
But the words have scarce been spoken, when the ominous calm is broken,
And a bellowing crash has emptied all the vengeance of the storm!

So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted backward to the water,
Fly Pigot's running heroes and the frightened braves of Howe;
And we shout, "At last they're done for, it's their barges they have run for:
They are beaten, beaten, beaten; and the battle's over now!"

And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough old soldier's features,
Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we would ask:
"Not sure," he said; "keep quiet, once more, I guess, they'll try it
Here's damnation to the cut-throats!" then he handed me his flask,

Saying, "Gal, you're looking shaky; have a drop of old Jamaiky:
I'm afraid there'll be more trouble afore this job is done;"
So I took one scorching swallow; dreadful faint I felt and hollow,
Standing there from early morning when the firing was begun.

All through those hours of trial I had watched a calm clock dial,
As the hands kept creeping, creeping, they were creeping round to four,
When the old man said, "They're forming with their bayonets fixed for storming:
It's the death grip that's a coming, they will try the works once more."

With brazen trumpets blaring, the flames behind them glaring,
The deadly wall before them, in close array they come;
Still onward, upward toiling, like a dragon's fold uncoiling
Like the rattlesnake's shrill warning the reverberating drum!

Over heaps all torn and gory shall I tell the fearful story,
How they surged above the breastwork, as a sea breaks over a deck;
How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men retreated,
With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swimmers from a wreck?

It has all been told and painted; as for me, they say I fainted,
And the wooden-legged old Corporal stumped with me down the stair:
When I woke from dreams affrighted the evening lamps were lighted,
On the floor a youth was lying; his bleeding breast was bare.

And I heard through all the flurry, "Send for Warren! hurry! hurry!
Tell him here's a soldier bleeding, and he'll come and dress his wound!"
Ah, we knew not till the morrow told its tale of death and sorrow,
How the starlight found him stiffened on the dark and bloody ground.

Who the youth was, what his name was, where the place from which he came was,
Who had brought him from the battle, and had left him at our door,
He could not speak to tell us; but 'twas one of our brave fellows,
As the homespun plainly showed us which the dying soldier wore.

For they all thought he was dying, as they gathered 'round him crying,
And they said, "O, how they'll miss him!" and, "What will his mother do?"
Then, his eyelids just unclosing like a child's that has been dozing,
He faintly murmured, "Mother!" and I saw his eyes were blue.

"Why, grandma, how you're winking!" Ah, my child, it sets me thinking
Of a story not like this one. Well, he somehow lived along;
So we came to know each other, and I nursed him like a mother,
Till at last he stood before me, tall, and rosy-cheeked, and strong.

And we sometimes walked together in the pleasant summer weather;
"Please to tell us what his name was?" Just your own, my little dear,
There's his picture Copley painted: we became so well acquainted,
That in short, that's why I'm grandma, and you children all are here.

Bunker Hill Monument Oration by Daniel Webster

17 June 1825

This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a deep impression on our hearts.

If, indeed, there be any thing in local association fit to affect the mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here. We are among the sepulchers of our fathers. We are on ground, distinguished, by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of June, 1775 would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probably train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to men on earth.

We do not read even of the discovery of this continent, without feeling something of a personal interest in the event; without being reminded how much it has affected our own fortunes and our own existence. It would be still more unnatural for us, therefore, than for others. to contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say that most touching and pathetic scene, when the great discovery of America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping; tossed on the billows of an unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair tossing his own troubled thoughts; extending forward his harassed frame, straining westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstasy, in blessing his vision with the sight of the unknown world.

Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cherish every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their patience and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise; we teach our children to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being descended from men who have set the world an example of founding civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge. To us, their children, the story of their labors and sufferings can never be without its interest. We shall not stand unmoved on the shores of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash it; nor will our brethren in another early and ancient Colony forget the place of its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by it. No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended.

But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion...

VENERABLE MEN! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same oceans roll at your feet; but all else how changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strowed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful repulse; the loud call to resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death; - all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its whole happy population, come out to welcome and greet you with a universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seemingly fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but your country's own means of distinction and defence. All is peace; and God has granted you this sight of your country's happiness, ere you slumber in the grave. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you!...

The great wheel of political revolution began to move in America. Here its rotation was guarded, regular, and safe. Transferred to the other continent, from unfortunate but natural causes, it received an irregular and violent impulse; it whirled along with a fearful celerity; till at length, like the chariot-wheels in the races of antiquity, it took fire from the rapidity of its own motion, and blazed onward, spreading conflagration and terror around.

We learn from the result of this experiment how fortunate was our own condition, and how admirably the character of our people was calculated for setting the great example of popular governments. The possession of power did not turn the heads of the American people, for they had long been in the habit of exercising a great degree of self control. Although the paramount authority of the parent state existed over them, yet a large field of legislation had always been open to our Colonial assemblies. They were accustomed to representative bodies and the forms of free government; they understood the doctrine of the division of power among different branches, and the necessity of checks on each. The character of our countrymen, moreover, was sober, moral, and religious; and there was, little in the change to shock their feelings of justice and humanity, or even to disturb an honest prejudice. We had no domestic throne to overturn, no privileged orders to cast down, no violent changes of property to encounter. In the American Revolution, no man sought or wished for more than to defend and enjoy his own. None hoped for plunder or for spoil. Rapacity was unknown to it; the axe was not among the instruments of its accomplishment; and we all know that it could not have lived a single day under any well-founded imputation of possessing a tendency adverse to the Christian religion.

It need not surprise us, that, under circumstances less auspicious, political revolutions elsewhere, even when well intended, have terminated differently. It is, indeed, a great achievement, it is the masterwork of the world, to establish a government entirely popular on lasting foundations; nor is it easy, indeed to introduce the popular principle at all into governments to which it has been altogether a stranger. It cannot be doubted, however, that Europe has come out of the contest, in which she has been so long engaged, with greatly superior knowledge, and, in many respects, a highly improved condition. Whatever benefit has been acquired is likely to be retained, for it consists mainly in the acquisition of more enlightened ideas. And although kingdoms and provinces may be wrested from the hands that hold them, in the same manner they were obtained; although ordinary and vulgar power may, in human affairs, be lost as it has been won; yet it is the glorious prerogative of the empire of knowledge, that what it gains it never loses. On the contrary, it increases by the multiple of its own power; all its ends become means; all its attainments, helps to new conquests. Its whole abundant harvest is but so much seed of wheat, and nothing has limited, and nothing can limit, the amount of ultimate product.

Under the influence of this rapidly increasing knowledge, the people have begun, in all forms of government, to think, and to reason, on affairs of state. Regarding government as an institution for the public good, they demand a knowledge of its operations, and a participation in its exercise. A call for the representative system, wherever it is not enjoyed, and where there is already intelligence enough to estimate its value, is perseveringly made. Where men may speak out, they demand it; where the bayonet is at their throats, they pray for it...

And, now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the benefit which the example of our country has produced, and is likely to produce, on human freedom and human happiness. Let us endeavor to comprehend in all its magnitude, and to feel in all its importance, the part assigned to us in the great drama of human affairs. We are placed at the head of the system of representative and popular governments. Thus far our example shows that such governments are compatible, not only with respectability and lower, but with repose, with peace, with security of personal rights, with good laws, and a just administration.

We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems are preferred, either as being thought better in themselves, or as better suited to existing conditions, we leave the preference to be enjoyed. Our history hitherto proves, however, that the popular form is practicable, and that with wisdom and knowledge men may govern themselves; and the duty incumbent on us it, to preserve the consistency of this cheering world. If, in our case, the representative system ultimately fail, popular governments must be pronounced impossible. No combination of circumstances more favorable to the experiment can ever be expected to occur. The last hopes of mankind, therefore, rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed, that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth.

These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of doubt. Our history and our condition, all that is gone before us and all that surrounds us, authorize the belief, that popular governments, though subject to occasional variations, in form perhaps not always for the better, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and permanent as other systems. We know, indeed, that in our country any other is impossible. The principle of free government adheres to American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains.

And let the sacred obligation which have devolved on this generation, and on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those who established our liberty and our government are daily dropping from among us. The great trust now descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that which is presented to us, as our appropriate object. We can win no laurels in a war for independence. Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us by the side of Solon, and Alfred, and other founders of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defence and preservation, and there is opened to us, also, a noble pursuit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us. Our proper business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great objects which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these twenty-four States are one country. Let our conception be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our object be, OUR COUNTRY, OUR WHOLE COUNTRY, AND NOTHING BUT OUR COUNTRY. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration for ever!!


Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Ay, tear  tattered ensign down!

Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar;--
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;--
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered bulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!


The Battle of New Orleans
by Thomas Dunn English

Here, in my rude log cabin, 
Few poorer men there be 
Among the mountain ranges 
Of Eastern Tennessee. 
My limbs are weak and shrunken, 
White hairs upon my brow, 
My dog lie still, old fellow!
My sole companion now. 
Yet I, when young and lusty, 
Have gone through stirring scenes, 
For I went down with Carroll 
To fight at New Orleans. 

You say you'd like to hear me 
The stirring story tell 
Of those who stood the battle 
And those who fighting fell. 
Short work to count our losses
We stood and dropp'd the foe 
As easily as by firelight 
Men shoot the buck or doe. 
And while they fell by hundreds 
Upon the bloody plain, 
Of us, fourteen were wounded, 
And only eight were slain. 

The eighth of January, 
Before the break of day, 
Our raw and hasty levies 
Were brought into array. 
No cotton-bales before us
Some fool that falsehood told; 
Before us was an earthwork, 
Built from the swampy mould. 
And there we stood in silence, 
And waited with a frown, 
To greet with bloody welcome 
The bulldogs of the Crown. 

The heavy fog of morning 
Still hid the plain from sight, 
When came a thread of scarlet 
Marked faintly in the white. 
We fired a single cannon, 
And as its thunders roll'd 
The mist before us lifted 
In many a heavy fold. 
The mist before us lifted, 
And in their bravery fine 
Came rushing to their ruin 
The fearless British line. 

Then from our waiting cannons 
Leap'd forth the deadly flame, 
To meet the advancing columns 
That swift and steady came. 
The thirty-twos of Crowley 
And Bluchi's twenty-four, 
To Spotts's eighteen-pounders 
Responded with their roar, 
Sending the grape-shot deadly 
That marked its pathway plain, 
And paved the road it travell'd 
With corpses of the slain. 

Our rifles firmly grasping, 
And heedless of the din, 
We stood in silence waiting 
For orders to begin. 
Our fingers on the triggers, 
Our hearts, with anger stirr'd, 
Grew still more fierce and eager 
As Jackson's voice was heard: 
"Stand steady! Waste no powder 
Wait till your shots will tell! 
To-day the work you finish
See that you do it well!" 

Their columns drawing nearer, 
We felt our patience tire, 
When came the voice of Carroll, 
Distinct and measured, "Fire!" 
Oh! then you should have mark'd us 
Our volleys on them pour 
Have heard our joyous rifles 
Ring sharply through the roar, 
And seen their foremost columns 
Melt hastily away 
As snow in mountain gorges 
Before the floods of May. 

They soon reform'd their columns, 
And 'mid the fatal rain 
We never ceased to hurtle 
Came to their work again. 
The Forty-fourth is with them, 
That first its laurels won 
With stout old Abercrombie 
Beneath an eastern sun. 
It rushes to the battle, 
And, though within the rear 
Its leader is a laggard, 
It shows no signs of fear. 

It did not need its colonel, 
For soon there came instead 
An eagle-eyed commander, 
And on its march he led. 
'Twas Pakenham, in person, 
The leader of the field; 
I knew it by the cheering 
That loudly round him peal'd; 
And by his quick, sharp movement, 
We felt his heart was stirr'd, 
As when at Salamanca, 
He led the fighting Third. 

I raised my rifle quickly, 
I sighted at his breast, 
God save the gallant leader 
And take him to his rest! 
I did not draw the trigger, 
I could not for my life. 
So calm he sat his charger 
Amid the deadly strife, 
That in my fiercest moment 
A prayer arose from me, 
God save that gallant leader, 
Our foeman though he be. 

Sir Edward's charger staggers: 
He leaps at once to ground, 
And ere the beast falls bleeding 
Another horse is found. 
His right arm falls 'tis wounded; 
He waves on high his left; 
In vain he leads the movement, 
The ranks in twain are cleft. 
The men in scarlet waver 
Before the men in brown, 
And fly in utter panic
The soldiers of the Crown! 

I thought the work was over, 
But nearer shouts were heard, 
And came, with Gibbs to head it, 
The gallant Ninety-third. 
Then Pakenham, exulting, 
With proud and joyous glance, 
Cried, "Children of the tartan 
Bold Highlanders advance! 
Advance to scale the breastworks 
And drive them from their hold, 
And show the staunchless courage 
That mark'd your sires of old!" 

His voice as yet was ringing, 
When, quick as light, there came 
The roaring of a cannon, 
And earth seemed all aflame. 
Who causes thus the thunder 
The doom of men to speak? 
It is the Baritarian, 
The fearless Dominique. 
Down through the marshall'd Scotsmen 
The step of death is heard, 
And by the fierce tornado 
Falls half the Ninety-third. 

The smoke passed slowly upward, 
And, as it soared on high, 
I saw the brave commander 
In dying anguish lie. 
They bear him from the battle 
Who never fled the foe; 
Unmoved by death around them 
His bearers softly go. 
In vain their care, so gentle, 
Fades earth and all its scenes; 
The man of Salamanca 
Lies dead at New Orleans. 

But where were his lieutenants? 
Had they in terror fled? 
No! Keane was sorely wounded 
And Gibbs as good as dead. 
Brave Wilkinson commanding, 
A major of brigade, 
The shatter'd force to rally, 
A final effort made. 
He led it up our ramparts, 
Small glory did he gain 
Our captives some, while others fled, 
And he himself was slain. 

The stormers had retreated, 
The bloody work was o'er; 
The feet of the invaders 
Were seen to leave our shore. 
We rested on our rifles 
And talk'd about the fight, 
When came a sudden murmur 
Like fire from left to right; 
We turned and saw our chieftain, 
And then, good friend of mine, 
You should have heard the cheering 
That rang along the line. 

For well our men remembered 
How little when they came, 
Had they but native courage, 
And trust in Jackson's name; 
How through the day he labored, 
How kept the vigils still, 
Till discipline controlled us, 
A stronger power than will; 
And how he hurled us at them 
Within the evening hour, 
That red night in December, 
And made us feel our power. 

In answer to our shouting 
Fire lit his eye of gray; 
Erect, but thin and pallid, 
He passed upon his bay. 
Weak from the baffled fever, 
And shrunken in each limb, 
The swamps of Alabama 
Had done their work on him. 
But spite of that and lasting, 
And hours of sleepless care, 
The soul of Andrew Jackson 
Shone forth in glory there.


glynn braman


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