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Poetry: Massachusetts To Virginia

Poetry: Massachusetts To Virginia image
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Read aloud at the Essex County "Latimer Convention" in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on January 2, 1843. First printed in the Boston abolitionist newspaper The Liberator on January 27, 1843.

Whittier later added the following introductory note: "Written on reading an account of the proceedings of the citizens of Norfolk, Va., in reference to George Latimer, the alleged fugitive slave, who was seized in Boston without warrant at the request of James B. Grey, of Norfolk, claiming to be his master. The case caused great excitement North and South, and led to the presentation of a petition to Congress, signed by more than fifty thousand citizens of Massachusetts, calling for such laws and proposed amendments to the Constitution as should relieve the Commonwealth from all further participation in the crime of oppression. George Latimer himself was finally given free papers for the sum of four hundred dollars."

OCR Text

The blast from Frcedom's northern hills, upor iis Southern wny, Bcars greeting to Virginia, from Massachusetti Bay:- No word of haughty chnller.ging, nor battlcbugle's peal, Nor stcady tread of marching files, nor clang oi korsemen's steel. No trains of dtep-mouthed cannon alor.g our highwaya go - Around our silent arsonals untrodden lies the snow ; And to the landbrceze of our ports, upon their errands far, A thousand snils of Commercè 6vell, bul none are spread for war. We hear thy threats, Virginia ! lliy slorniy words and high, Svcll hnrshly on the Soutlicrn winds which nielt along our sky: Yct. not one brown, ka.-d hond foregoes itshonest labor here: No hewer of our mounain oaks suspends his axe in fear. What nieans the Old Dominion? Hath she forgot the day When o'er her conquered valleys swept the Briton's steel array? And side by sidr, with sons of her's, the Massachusetts men Encountercd Tnrleton's charge of firc, and stout Cornwallis, thent Forgets she how the Bay State, inanswer to the cali Of her old House of Burgesses, spoke out from Faneuil Hall? When, cchoing hack her Henry's cry, carne pulsing on cadi breath Óf Northern winds, the thrilling sounds of ':LmIRTY OR Dk.ATH?" " What asks the Old Dominion? If now her sons have proved Falsc to their father's memory- false to the faith they loved. Ifshe c.m scofTat Freedom, and its Great Charter spurn, Must ire of Massachusetts from Truth and Duty turn?We hunt your bondmen, fiying from Slavery's hateful heil - Our voiccs. at your bidding. takc up the bloodliounds' veil - We gather, at your summons, above our fathers' graves, From Freedom's Iioly altir-horns to tear your wretched slaves! Thank God! not yet so vile can Massachusetts bow, The spirit of her early time is with her even nw; Dream not because her pilgrini blood, moves slow, and cnlm. nnd cool, She thiis can stoop her chainle&s neck, a sistcr's slavc and tooi! All that a sister State sliould do, all that a fre.t. State may, Ilcart, hand, and puree we profTer, as in our early day; But that one dark loathsome burden ye must stagCer with alonr, And reap the bitter harvcst which ye yourselves have so wn! Hold, while ye may, your struggling slaves, and burden God's free air Wilh wonian's shrick beneath the lash, and nianliood's Wild lespnir; Cling closer to the ';cleaving curse" thal writes upon yoUr plnins, The blasáng of Almighty wrath against a land of chaihs.Still sliamc your gallant ancestry, the cavaliers of old, By watching round llie slwni'dcs where human fle8h is sold - _ Gloat o'cr tlic new-born child, nnd count his market value, wlien The maddened mothcr's cry of woe 6hall piercc the sla ver' s den! Lower than plunimet soundetli, sink the Virginian name; Plant, if ye will, your fethers' graves with rnnkest wee ds ot shanie; Be, if ye will, the scaadal of God'ö fair univeree - We wash our hands forevcr, of your sin. and j shamc, and curse.A voicefron, lp8 wüerï thecoa, elirine haiii bcen, Thrüled, as bus ycs.erday, ,]10 hcarts of Berkshire's mountain-men: The echocsofthat solem voice are sadly hWer. ingstill In all sunny vallcys, on evcry wind-swept And when the prowlmg man-thief carne huntinfor lus prey Beneatl, the very shadow of Bunkcr's 8haft of How, ,l,rogh the Irp, of the son, thc father's warning spoke; How, from it8 bonds of trade and sect the Pilgrim city broke! A hundred tl.ousand rightarms wcre liAed up on high, A hundred thouaand voicee sent back thoir loud reply; the throngcd towns of Essex ihe startling sumnions rang. And up from hench and sounding loom her young mechanics sprnng. Thc voice of free, brond Middleacx- of thousnnds as of one - The eliaft of Bunker calling to thatof Lexington - From Norfolk's nncient villages, from Tlyniouth's ro:ky bound To whcre N:intucket feels t!ie arnis of ocean close her round; From rich nnd rural Worcester, where through the ca lm repose Of cultured vales and fringing woods the gentle Nnshun flows, To where Wachusett's wintry blas's the mountain cedars stir,Svellcd up to lieayen the thrilling cry of 'God save Latimer!" And snndy Barnstablc rose up, wet with the sal sen spray - And Bristol sent heranswerlng shout down Nnrrngnnsett Bny! Along the broad Conuecticut old Ilampden feit the thrill. And the clicer of FJnmpshiro'a woodmen swept down from Holyokc f lili. The voice ol M .i.-.ichiisetts! Of her nee sons nnd dnuijliters - Deepi-nlling unto deep aloud - the sound oí ninny waters! Against the hurden of that voice whnt tyrant power shall stnnf? JVó frJttrs in the Buy Stalt! No sluvz vpon her landt Lo.ik to t wcll, Virginians! In cnlmness we have borne In nn.-wer to our faith and trust, your insult and yourscorn; You've spurncd our kindeat counsels - you've hunted for our lives - And shaken round our hearths and homes your manacles nnd gyves! We. wnge no war - we lift no arm - we íling no torch wiihin The fire dnnips of the quaking mine beneath ynur soil of sin; We leave you with your bondrnen - lo wrestle while ye can, W ilh the strong upward tendencies and God-Iike soul of man! But for us and for our children. tho vow which ! we have given Por jFreedoin and humnnity, is registered in Heaven: ' No slaccinnt in o ir'borders - no p'rutc on our , strand! Vb f etters in thz Bay State- no slnte vpon our " land! l