Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2013, Volume 34

"Will not these days be by thy poets sung": Poems of the Anglo-African and National Anti-Slavery Standard, 1863–1864

Edited by Elizabeth Lorang and R. J. Weir
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Complete Issue: National Anti-Slavery Standard (30 April 1864)
Augusta Cooper Kimball, "Right Triumphs" National Anti-Slavery Standard (30 April 1864): [4]View Poem Image
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RIGHT TRIUMPHS.

           
"A rebel ball crashed through a large house, entering
the corner of the roof, and through the aperture was run
up the Union flag."
Chaplain's Notes.[2]
The man who fired that traitorous charge, Purposed to feed a grave; But only made destructive rent, Where Freedom's pennon, star-besprent, More gloriously should wave.
Oppression clutched at Liberty, And thought to stop her breath, He fixed his fingers in her throat; It was a thought o'er which to gloat— A Nation choked to death!
But lo! God works a miracle; Oppression yields the ghost! Our Country brightens from her night; The blood wrung out shall wash her white As Heaven's immortal host.
O rebels! in our noble dead, Ye give us precious dower. Their graves undying life shall breed! Sprouted in blood, the buried seed Shall yield the richest flower.
We will not call these valleys where Our dead boys lie concealed— The battle-hill and river shore— "Our grave yards!" they are something more: They're one grand harvest field!
For every one of Freedom's sons Who sleeps with death-closed eyes; For every mound that hides a face Scarred for our Country—in its place Ten patriot men shall rise.[3]
For every arm now stark and stiff, That fell in final pause, Fighting for Justice and for Truth, And battling with the zeal of youth— Ten more shall aid the cause.
And over every hideous rent Where cannon balls crash through, Shall float the white and crimson bars, The pennon, with its undimmed stars, In their loved field of blue.
O matchless priests of Liberty, Ordained her fires to keep! Let not the lights burn faint nor low Within her fane, but tower and glow, And flash with lightning-leap.
O countrymen with royal souls! Let heart and nerve be strong, Till Right shall reign from North to South, And lay her hand upon the mouth Of every gun of wrong!
Christian Inquirer.[4]

Notes

  1. Note on the text: The text in red, which is obscured in the newspaper printing represented here, is supplied by Augusta Cooper Kimball, Poems  (Boston: Adams and Co., 1868), 152.
  1. Augusta Cooper Bristol (1835–1910). Cooper, born in Croyden, New Hampshire, taught at a local school for seven years before she married printer Gustavus Kimball in 1858. They had a child and moved west on the eve of the Civil War. When the marriage failed in 1862, Cooper moved back to her parents' home with her daughter. Kimball divorced her, "on the ground of desertion" (Bessie Bristol Mason, "Biographical Sketch," in The Present Phase of Woman's Advancement and Other Addresses by Augusta Cooper Bristol [Boston: Christopher, 1916], 7).
     
    During the war, Cooper contributed poetry to newspapers and magazines, including the Christian Inquirer, the Continental Monthly, the New York Independent and the National Anti-Slavery Standard. She moved to Carbondale, Illinois, after marrying Louis Bristol in 1866. Poems, her first collection, was published by a Boston firm two years later. Abiel Abbot Livermore—Unitarian minister and Christian Inquirer editor—supplied the book's laudatory introduction. After the war, she began to lecture, and "for twenty years, she was constantly occupied as a public speaker" (8). In the early 1880s her subjects included "The Evolution of Character," "The Philosophy of Comte and Spencer," "The Scientific Basis of Morality," and "Labor and Capital." She undertook European research and spoke on topics relating to social science at national and international events. Cooper also supported currency reform and was actively involved in the Association for the Advancement of Women.
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  2. The source of this epigraph is unidentified, beyond the attribution provided by Cooper ("Chaplain's Notes").Go back
  3. Cooper describes Union volunteers as American Spartoi. In Greek mythology, the Spartoi sprang from dragon teeth. After Cadmus killed a dragon guarding the Spring of Ares, he sowed half its teeth like seeds—as the goddess Athena had told him. The warriors who rose from the earth were known as the "Sown Men" (Pierre Grimal, Dictionary of Classical Mythology [London: Penguin, 1990], 79).
     
    Cooper's vision of an infinite number of Union volunteers was a patriotic fantasy. The federal government introduced a national draft in 1863. Nevertheless, the hopes of pro-Union Northerners ran high in the spring of 1864. Before Grant crossed the Rapidan River in early May, the Union armies seemed poised for significant success (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The American Civil War [London: Penguin, 1991], 718). Shocking numbers of casualties and a lack of military success, however, caused Northern morale to collapse over the course of the summer. By mid-August Lincoln expected that ex-general and "War Democrat" George B. McClellan would win the upcoming presidential election.
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  4. A leading Unitarian weekly, based in New York City (Frank L. Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1850–1865 [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938], 2:72). Founded by William Kirkland in late 1846, the Inquirer was published under the auspices of the Unitarian Association of the State of New York. After Kirkland's death, Henry Bellows served as "chief editor" until 1850. From 1856 until 1863, the Reverend Abiel Abbot Livermore edited the paper; Livermore passed his responsibilities into the collective "hands of the Unitarian clergymen of New York, Brooklyn, and the vicinity" until a "proper editor" could be found to replace him (Christian Inquirer, September 12, 1863, 2).Go back