Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
To the Americans
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
   On the rumoured approach of the Hessian forces, Waldeckers, &c.; occasioned by General Gage’s proclamation, that the provinces were in a state of rebellion and out of the king’s protection.

(Published 1775)

 The blasts of death! the infernal guns prepare—
“Rise with the storm and all its danger share.”

REBELS you are—the British champion cries.
Truth, stand thou forth, and tell the wretch he lies:
Rebels!—and see this mock imperial lord
Already threats these rebels with the cord. 1
The hour draws nigh, the glass is almost run,        5
When truth will shine and ruffians be undone;
When this base miscreant shall forbear to sneer,
And curse his taunts and bitter insults here.
If to control the cunning of a knave,
Freedom respect, and scorn the name of slave;        10
If to protest against a tyrant’s laws,
And arm for vengeance in the righteous cause,
Be deem’d rebellion—’tis a harmless thing:
This bugbear name, like death, has lost its sting.
Americans at freedom’s fane adore!        15
But trust to Britain and her flag no more:
The generous genius of their isle has fled,
And left a mere impostor in his stead.
If conquer’d, rebels (their Scotch records show)
Receive no mercy from the parent foe; 2        20
Nay, even the grave, that friendly haunt of peace,
(Where mercy gives the woes of man to cease,)
Vengeance will search—and buried corpses there
Be raised, to feed the vultures of the air;
Be hang’d on gibbets! such a war they wage:        25
Such are the devils that swell our souls with rage.
If Britain conquers, help us heaven to fly:
Lend us your wings, ye ravens of the sky;
If Britain conquers, we exist no more;
These lands will redden with their children’s gore,        30
Who, turn’d to slaves, their fruitless toils will moan,
Toils in these fields that once they call’d their own!
To arms! to arms! and let the murdering sword
Decide who best deserves the hangman’s cord:
Nor think the hills of Canada too bleak        35
When desperate freedom is the prize you seek;
For that the call of honour bids you go
O’er frozen lakes and mountains wrapt in snow:
No toils should daunt the nervous and the bold,
They scorn all heat, or wave-congealing cold.        40
Haste! to your tents in iron fetters bring
These slaves, that serve a tyrant, and a king.
So just, so virtuous is your cause, I say,
Hell must prevail, if Britain gains the day.
Note 1. See, in the records of American History, about this time, a letter from General Gage to General Washington; with the answer of the latter. [back]
Note 2. After the battle of Culloden. See Smollett’s History of England, 1745. [back]

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