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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 (29 August 1863)
B., "Principles and Their Fruits" National Anti-Slavery Standard (29 August 1863): [4]View Poem Image
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Principles work from within to without; So just let us see what the nation's about. North and South have a motive which time will reveal; Both of them working, "wheel within wheel." On the outermost circle of one, see Secession! The legitimate fruit of the traitor's profession. The next, just within, its co-worker will be, Bearing the man-curse of Disloyalty. And Slavery comes next, that dark institution, Defended by man, and by man's "Constitution." Not only the slavery of black, but of white; Only he is the freeman, whose gold argues "right." Slavery, begotten of that next inner wheel, Aristocracy, laboring its fruits to conceal. Weak aristocracy, built upon pelf; Sham aristocracy, boasting of self. Aye! probing for motive, we find the true sore Is self-aggrandisement, the disease at the core. In the other, the outermost circle shows ever That "Union" which prompts from the right not to sever; Union of purpose, which ever will be The legitimate offspring of true Loyalty. Then glorious Freedom, which is ever the "tower Of strength" to the Union, the Nation's true power. Democracy moves it—ah, who knows not that? But Democracy pure, not your "Peace Democrat."[1] Democracy proper, breathing "good will to man." Not Democracy Wood-en,[2] ex-official may plan. Democracy free from all "Copperhead"[3] sting, Outflowing from Justice, its pure living spring. Yes! the principles here, working outward with might, Are Justice and Liberty—Truth and the Right.


  1. A Democrat who argued for peace with the South. Extreme Peace Democrats "were ready for peace without reunion," while moderates "favored peace and reunion"—but the public made no distinction between these positions (Jerome Mushkat, Fernando Wood: A Political Biography [Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1990], 136).Go back
  2. A reference to Democrat Fernando Wood (1812–1881), who established himself as a member of New York City's Tammany Hall in the 1830s and jockeyed for political office throughout the war era. Between 1854 and 1861 he served several terms as mayor of New York City. After South Carolina's secession, Mayor Wood suggested that New York City might become an independent municipality—but he adapted to the pro-Union sentiment that dominated the North after the attack on Fort Sumter. Initially, Wood "saw no inherent contradiction between being a loyal American and a loyal Democrat" (Jerome Mushkat, Fernando Wood: A Political Biography [Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1990], 117). His loyalty was repeatedly challenged by Republicans; nevertheless, New York City voters elected him to the House of Representatives in 1862.
    The administration's war policies pushed him toward the Peace Democrats (see note above). Wood took advantage of both war weariness and the arrest of leading Peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham to consolidate support for the faction under his own leadership in June 1863. His efforts to stir up hostility to the national draft backfired when mob violence erupted in New York City, but he nevertheless took his place in the House of Representatives and challenged pro-war groups during the Thirty-Eighth Congress. He reviled abolitionists and manipulated the racial prejudices of his contemporaries for political gain. He was not reelected in 1864 but returned to the House in 1866.
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  3. A poisonous snake, "Copperhead" became the popular (Republican) name for so-called Peace Democrats, who opposed the administration's war policies and promoted peace with the South. Copperheads were widely associated with disloyalty and treachery on the home front.Go back
  4. The aftermath of the Draft Riots occupied the New York press in August. The federal government passed its first Conscription Act in March 1863, and the first draft took place in July. Democrats opposed the draft as unconstitutional (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The American Civil War [London: Penguin, 1991] 608–9). The implementation of the draft sparked mob violence in several cities, New York foremost among them. For four days, July 13–16, rioters attacked African Americans, prominent Republicans, and public officers. More than a hundred people were killed; many more black New Yorkers grappled with trauma and destitution (Carla L. Peterson, Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011], 225–53).Go back