Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
American Freedom
By Edward Rushton (1756–1814)
          The author of the following complimentary poem, to the men and the principles of ’76, was an Englishman. He was born and died in Liverpool. He was esteemed and respected for his personal worth, his talents, and his liberal principles. He was the friend of Roscoe! It is nearly half a century since the writer of this note parted with Edward Rushton. He was then, and for many years before had been blind. His bland and gentle manners, his conversational powers, and the zeal and eloquence with which he advocated the principles of universal freedom, made his society much sought after. All his poems, and he wrote several, proclaim not only his love of freedom and the whole human family, but the goodness of his heart. Praise from such a man is no light homage paid to the courage and the virtue of the founders of our republic.

YE men of Columbia, O hail the great day
  Which burst your tyrannical chain;
Which taught the oppress’d how to spurn lawless sway,
  And establish’d equality’s reign;
Yes, hail the bless’d moment, when, awfully grand,        5
  Your Congress pronounced the decree
Which told the wide world that your pine-cover’d land,
  In spite of coercion, was free.
Those worthies who fell in the soul-cheering cause,
  To the true sons of freedom are dear;        10
Their deeds the unborn shall rehearse with applause,
  And bedew their cold tomb with a tear.
O, cherish their names—let their daring exploits
  And their virtues be spread far and wide,
And if fierce-eyed ambition encroach on your rights,        15
  Again shall her schemes be destroy’d.
As he tills the rich glebe, the old peasant shall tell
  (While his bosom with gratitude glows)
How your Warren expired—how Montgomery fell,
  And how Washington baffled your foes.        20
With transport his offspring shall catch the glad sound,
  And as freedom takes root in each breast,
Their country’s defenders with praise shall be crown’d,
  While their plunderers they learn to detest.
By those fields that were ravaged, those towns that were fired,        25
  By those wrongs which your females endured;
By those blood-sprinkled plains where your warriors expired,
  O, preserve what your prowess procured;
And reflect that your rights are the rights of mankind,
  That to all they were bounteously given;        30
And that he who in chains would his fellow-man bind,
  Uplifts his proud arm against Heaven.
How can you, who have felt the oppressor’s hard hand,
  Who for freedom all perils did brave,
How can you enjoy ease, while one foot of your land        35
  Is disgraced by the toil of a slave?
O, rouse, then, in spite of a merciless few,
  And pronounce this immortal decree—
That “whate’er be man’s tenets, his fortune, his hue,
  He is man—and shall therefore be free!”        40

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