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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
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4
Complete Issue: National Anti-Slavery Standard (23 April 1864)
P., "On the Death of Owen Lovejoy" National Anti-Slavery Standard (23 April 1864): [4]View Poem Image
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Why throbs the nation's pulse with slow, sad beat to-day? Does some brave head lie lowly on the field of deadly fray? Nay, more! a deeper, sadder grief has fallen on our land: One good man less is left to stay our God's avenging hand.
Not 'mid the battle's clang and din has been his earnest
But in the braver battle of a pure and noble life. Unto his nature's high behest he bowed with reverent will, And only sought to know the right, the mandate to fulfil.
When freedom's sun was gloomed with clouds, and heavily
     the air
Told of the coming tempest-shock, the lightning's fiery
Firmly he stood, as one who knows no fear of aught beside A recreant heart to God's great trust:—all other foes defied.
When others faltered, he bore on with strong, unwavering
And turned not back 'till grandly pressed the mountain's
     glowing peak,
There breathed that purer upper air, and caught the sun-
     bright rays
They could not see who walked 'mid clouds that mantled at
     its base.
Standing upon those heights sublime, his eye took wider
And deeper issues held his life than lives of other men. Sooner than they his vision scanned the glorious land afar, Saw glimmering on the horizon's verge the calm, bright
     morning star.
As sleep the good, rest thou in peace! By deeds thy years
     we tell.
As on the fully ripened corn, on thee Death's sickle fell. And the bread that on the waters thou hast cast[2] in trusting
God's suffering poor shall gather, though thou sleep the
     sleep of death.


  1. Owen Lovejoy (1811–March 25, 1864), Congregationalist minister, abolitionist, and congressman. His elder brother, minister, and editor Elijah P. Lovejoy, was murdered by a proslavery mob in Alton, Illinois, on November 7, 1837. Owen, newly dedicated to the cause of abolition, co-wrote the Memoir of Elijah P. Lovejoy (1838) at the American Anti-Slavery Society's offices in New York, then began his ministry in Princeton, Illinois (Owen Lovejoy, His Brother's Blood: Speeches and Writings 1838–64, ed. William F. Moore and Jane Ann Moore [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004], 4). In the years that followed, Lovejoy promoted the foundation of antislavery churches in the state, worked on the Underground Railroad, and played a key role in state and national antislavery politics. He campaigned for the Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the 1840s, then helped to establish the Republican Party on "a popular antislavery basis" that was "more anti-extensionist than abolitionist" (Moore and Moore, xv; Mitchell Snay, "Abraham Lincoln, Owen Lovejoy, and the Emergence of the Republican Party in Illinois," Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 22 [2001]: 94). On January 11, 1855, the National Era celebrated his election to the Illinois Legislature as a "Great Triumph" for "our cause." In 1856, with Lincoln's support, Lovejoy won a seat in the House of Representatives. (Though he gave up his position in the church at this time, his religious convictions continued to influence his political activities.) He campaigned strenuously with and for Lincoln in 1858 and 1860, and served in Congress from 1857 until his death in 1864.
    During his Washington career, Lovejoy championed the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, the emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia, and universal emancipation—among other antislavery measures. At a memorial meeting after his death, members of the Washington Island United Literary Association praised him as "the friend of the Union, the friend of Liberty, and the friend of the colored people of the United States" (Christian Recorder, April 30, 1864, [2]). National Anti-Slavery Standard editor Oliver Johnson reprinted an obituary from the New York Tribune in his issue of April 2, and published Senator Charles Sumner's tribute on April 23, along with the elegy "On the Death of Owen Lovejoy." Lincoln wrote of Lovejoy that "while he was personally ambitious, he bravely endured the obscurity which the unpopularity of his principles imposed"; "it would scarcely wrong any other to say, he was my most generous friend" (letter dated May 30, 1864, in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler [New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953], 7:366).
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  2. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1).Go back
  3. Unidentified.Go back