You are viewing the archived content of Scholarly Editing, Volumes 33 – 38 issued between 2012 and 2017. Go to the new site.

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
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4
Complete Issue: The Anglo-African (29 August 1863)
Aleph, "Ode to Freedom and Unity" The Anglo-African (29 August 1863): [1]View Poem Image
Full size in new window


Our Father's God, to Thee— Pillar of Liberty Unto this hour— We lift our longing eyes; Great Ruler of the skies, Scatter our enemies By Thy great Power!
Our Father's Guardian, Thou, Before Thy throne we bow, Thine aid implore; Thou who has kept till now, And registered each vow, O be our Guardian now, Hence, evermore!
Where mad Ambition reigns, And desolates our plains With Treason's harms, Do Thou thyself attend; Let War's dread carnage end, Our liberties defend; God speed our arms!
Eternal Spirit, deign O'er all our hearts to reign, Our country bless; Bind fast our Union's chain, O'er island land and main, Let glorious Freedom reign— And Righteousness!
Angel of peace, descend! To us thy succor lend In peril's hour; Come with thine angel-band, Breathe love through all the land, Firm may we ever stand In Love's own power!
Angel of heavenly grace, Bid all our jarrings cease, This nation save! O break the bondman's chain! Unite us once again! Let Truth and Justice reign! Aid thou the brave!
Thou who hadst guided us Till sin divided us— And war arose: God of immortal power, Be thou our guide this hour; Vouchsafe a gracious shower— Rebuke our foes!
We own Thy dreadful hand Brings evil on our land In this sad hour; O God! In mercy, now, That penitence bestow Which soothes the bondman's woe, And aids the poor.
Our sins have caused us shame, We have blasphemed Thy name— Incurred Thine ire: We've spread oppression's reign, Mocked at our brother's pain, Borne Freedom's shield in vain— And holy fire!
New Orleans L'Union.[3]


  1. A barren but strategically important island twelve miles off the Mississippi coast, occupied by Union army regiments from December 1861. Fort Massachusetts dominated the island's western end. A prison was established there in 1862; initially for Union and Confederate soldiers and Confederate sympathizers, it served as a Confederate prisoner of war camp after October 1864 (David C. Rankin, ed., Diary of a Christian Soldier: Rufus Kinsley and the Civil War [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004], 42). Union regiments served on Ship Island throughout the war—most of them for short periods of time. The Second Regiment of Louisiana Native Guards (later the Second Regiment Corps D'Afrique, then the Seventy-Fourth United States Colored Troops) stayed there for over two years, from January 1863 until fall 1865. One of their main duties was to guard the prisoners.Go back
  2. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. A correspondent who wrote under the pen name "Aleph" provided the Christian Recorder with Cincinnati correspondence between May 1862 and October 1863; it is, however, unlikely that the same writer produced "Ode to Freedom and Unity." Given that there was little on Ship Island to entice most civilians, Aleph was probably a soldier, prisoner, or an interested visitor.Go back
  3. L'Union was established as a French-language biweekly in September 1862, by a group of free Afro-Creoles based in New Orleans. The Christian Recorder described it as an "Anti-Slavery paper" that "addresses itself, in particular, to the French people of color, to whom it appeals in stirring articles, to join the Union troops and aid them in the establishment of a 'Republican system without stain, of a democracy without fetters'" (November 15, 1862, [3]). Historian David Rankin qualifies the Recorder's emphasis on abolition: "L'Union had championed the abolition of slavery, but the paper was above all concerned with the special interests of the free colored caste, which was predominantly middle class, French speaking, light colored, free born, and Catholic. Indeed, L'Union feared that the crusade against slavery might totally eclipse the free colored campaign for political equality" (David C. Rankin, introduction to My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune: A Memoir of the Civil War Era, by Jean-Charles Houzeau, trans. Gerard F. Denault [Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984], 34).
    Paul Trévigne (1825–1908) served as the title's editor. Its inaugural editorial comprised a rallying cry addressed to "friends of Progress": "The hour has come for the struggle of the great humanitarian principles against a vile and sordid interest which gives birth to pride, ambition, hypocrisy, and lying, and silences the conscience, that voice of the heavens which cries endlessly to man: 'You were born for liberty and happiness! Do not deceive yourself in this and do not deceive your brother!'" (September 27, 1862, quoted by Rankin, 20). Planters threatened to attack the newspaper's office. L'Union became a triweekly in December 1862. In July 1863 L'Union urged its readers to volunteer in response to Confederate advances. From July 9, 1863 until its closure in mid July 1864, the title was published in French and English (20). In July 1864 Louis Charles Roudanez bought L'Union; two days after its closure, he launched the New Orleans Tribune.
    Go back