Other Poems and Works about Slavery







There have been numerous poems, songs, and stories written about the tragedies of slavery. 
The literary and history papers only focused on a few of the many works.  I felt it was necessary
to include this page to help viewers better understand the atrocities of slavery.  Enjoy!



                                                                                                              Speech for May 28-29 1851 by Sojourner Truth:                                                                                                                                                                       

                                               
                                                                                                      "Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.                                                                                               
I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking
about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.  But what's all this here talking
about?  That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages and
lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.  Nobody ever helps me into
carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place!  And ain't I a woman?  Look
at me!  Look at my arm!  I could have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns,
and no man could head me!  And ain't I a woman?  I could work as much and eat as
much as a man- when I could get it- and bear the lash as well!  And ain't I a woman?  I
have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I
cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me!  And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it?  [Intellect, somebody whispers]
That's it, honey.  What's that got to do with women's rights or negro's rights?  If
 my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to
 let me have my little half measure-full?  Then that little man in black there, he says women
can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman!  Where did your
Christ come from?  Where did your Christ come from?  From God and a woman!
Man had nothing to do with Him.  If the first woman God ever made was strong enough
to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn
it back, and get it right side up again!  And now they is asking to do it, the men better
let them.  Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say."



   Speech at a New York City Convention by Sojourner Truth:

  

"Is it not good for me to come and draw forth a spirit, to see what kind of spirit people are of?  I see that some of you have got the spirit of a goose, and some have got the spirit of a snake.  I feel at home here. I come to you, citizens of New York, as I suppose you ought to be. I am a citizen of the State of New York; I was born  in it, and I was a slave in the State of New York; and now I am a citizen of this State. I was born here, and I can tell you I feel at home here. I've been lookin; round and watchin' things, an I know a little mite 'bout Woman's Rights, too. I come forth to speak 'bout Woman's Rights, and want to throw in my little mite, to keep the scales a-movin'. I know that it feels a kind o' hissin; and ticklin' like to see a colored woman get up and tell you about things, and Woman's Rights. We all have been thrown down so low that nobody thought we'd ever get up again; but we have been long enough trodden now; we will come up again, and now I am here. I was a-thinkin', when I see women contendin' for their rights, I was a-thinkin' what a difference there is now, and what there was in old times. I have only a few minutes to speak; but in the old times the kings of the earth would hear a woman. There was a king in the Scriptures; and then it was the kings of the earth would kill a woman if she come into their presence; but Queen Esther come forth, for she was oppressed, and felt there was a great wrong, and she said I will die or I will bring my complaint before the king. Should the king of the United States be greater, or more crueler, or more harder? But the king, he raised up his sceptre and said:  "Thy request shall be granted unto thee-- to the half of my kingdom will I grant it to thee!" Then he said he would hang Haman on the gallows he had made up high. But that is not what women come forward to contend.  The women want their rights as Esther. She wanted only to explain their rights. And he was so liberal that he said, "the half of my kingdom shall be granted to thee," and did not wait for her to ask, he was so liberal with her. Now, women do not ask half of a kingdom, but their rights, and they don't get 'em. When she come to demand 'em, don't you hear how sons hiss their mothers like snakes, because they ask for their rights; and can they ask for anything less? The king ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows which he prepared to hang others;  but I do not want any man to be killed, but I am sorry to see them so short-minded. But we'll have our rights; see if we don't; and you can't stop us from them; see if you can. You may hiss as much as you like, but it is comin'. Women don't get half as much rights as they ought to; we want more, and we will have it. Jesus says: "What I say to one, I say to all-- watch!" I'm a watchin'. God says: "Honor your father and mother." Sons and daughters ought to behave themselves before their mothers, but they do not. I can see them a-laughin' and pointin' at their mothers up here on the stage. They hiss when an aged woman comes forth. If they'd been brought up proper they'd have known better than hissing like snakes and geese. I'm 'round watchin' these things, and I wanted to come up and say these few things to you, and I'm glad of the hearin' you give me. I wanted to tell you a mite about Woman's Rights, and so I came out and said so. I am sittin' among you to watch; and every once and a while I will come out and tell you what time of night it is."


       
The Two Altars by Harriet Beecher Stowe:



In 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe published a story in response to the
Fugitive Slave Law.  The Law was passed in September of 1850.  The
story itself is extremley long and therefore I have only posted the first
paragraph.  For the entire story, click the link below which will bring
you to a page containing the full work. 

I. The Altar of Liberty, or 1776

The well-sweep of the old house on the hill was relieved dark and clear, against the reddening sky, as the early winter sun was going down in the west.
It was a brisk, clear, metallic evening; the long drifts of snow blushed lilac in the hollows; and the old wintry wind brushed shrewdly along the plain,
tingling people's noses, blowing open their cloaks, puffing in the back of their necks, and showing other unmistakable indications that he was getting
up steam for a real roistering night.

"Hurrah! How it blows!" said little Dick Ward, from the top of the mossy wood-pile.
Now Dick had been sent to said wood-pile, in company with his little sister Grace, to pick up chips, which, everybody knows, was in the olden time
considered a wholesome and gracious employment, and the peculiar duty of the rising generation. But said Dick, being a boy, had mounted the wood-pile,
and erected there a flagstaff, on which he was busily tying a little red pocket-handkerchief, occasionally exhorting Grace "to be sure and pick up fast."

"Oh, yes, I will," said Grace; "but you see the chips have got ice on 'em, and make my hands so cold!"

"Oh, don't stop to suck your thumbs! Who cares for ice? Pick away, I say, while I set up the flag of liberty."

So Grace picked away as fast as she could, nothing doubting but that her cold thumbs were in some mysterious sense an offering on the shrine of liberty;
while soon the red handkerchief, duly secured, fluttered and snapped in the brisk evening wind ....


                                                                                                                                                                                      



Stand from Under by Lydia Marie Child:



This piece was the first piece Child wrote for William Lloyd Garrison's anti-slavery weekly The Liberator. The piece appeared in the January 28, 1832 edition of the paper.


Preface
[The following story was told me as one actually related by a sailor. I wrote it, not because I believed it for a moment, but because I supposed it was one of the numerous traditions among sea-faring people; and I thought it a fine specimen of that wild and terrible grandeur of imagination naturally excited by the solitude and dangers of the ocean. I have since learned that the same story, or a similar one, had been previously written for an English periodical; but never having seen that story, I cannot be accused of plagiarism, or imitation.]

We were on board a slave-ship, bound to the coast of Africa. I had my misgivings about the business; and I believe other had them too. We had passed the Straits of Gibraltar, and were lying off Barbary,one clear, bright evening, when it came to my turn to take the helm. The ship was becalme, and every thing around was as silent as the day after the deluge. The wide monotony of water, varied only by the glancings of the moon on the crest of of the waves, made me thing the old fables of Neptune were true; and that Amphitrite and her Naids were sporting on the surface of the ocean, with diamonds in their hair. Those fancies were followed by thoughts of my wife, my children and my home; and all were oddly enough jumbled together in a delicious state of approaching slumber. Suddenly I heard, high above my head, a loud, deep terrible voice, call out, "Stand from under!" I started to my feet--it was the customary signal when anything was to be thrown from the shrouds, and mechanically sung out the usual answer, "Let go!" But nothing came -- I looked up in the shrouds--there was nothing there. I searched the deck,--and found that I was alone! I tried to think it was a dream, -- but that sound, so deep, so stern, so dreadful, run in my ears, like the bursting of a cannon!

In the morning, I told the crew what I had heard. -- They laughed at me; and were all day long full of their jokes about "Dreaming Tom." One fellow among them was most unmerciful in his raillery. He was a swarthy, malignant looking Spaniard; who carried murder in his eye, and curses on his tongue; a daring and lordly man, who boasted of crime, as if it gave him pre-eminance among his fellows. He laughed longest and loudest at my story. "A most uncivil ghost, Tom," said he; "when such chaps come to see me, I'll make 'em show themselves. I'll not be satisfied without seeing and feeling, as well as hearing."

The sailors all joined with him; and , ashamed of my alarm, was glad to be silent. The next night, Dick Burton took the helm. Dick had nerves like an ox, and sines like a whale: it was little he feared on on the earth, or beneath it. The clock struck one-- Dick was leaning his head on the helm, as he said, thinking nothing of me, or my story,--when that awful voice again called from the shrouds, "Stand from under!" Dick darted forward like an Indian arrow, which they say goes through and through a buffalo, and wings on its way, as if it had not left death in the rear. It was an instant, or more, before he found presence of mind to call out "Let go!" Again nothing was seen,--nothing heard. Ten nights in succession, at one o'clock, the same unearthly sound rung through the air, making our stoutest sailors quail, as if a bullet-shot had gone through their brians. At last the crew grew pale when it was spoken of; and the worst of us never went to sleep without saying our prayers. For myself, I would have been chained to the oar all my life, to have got out of that vessel. But there were in the the vast solitude of ocean; and this invisible being was with us. No one put a bold face on the matter, but Antonio, the Spaniard. He laughed at our fears, and defied Satan himself to terrify *him*. However, when it came his turn at the helm, he refused to go. Several times, under the pretense of illness, he was excused from a duty, which all on board dreaded. But at last, the Captain ordered Antonio to receive a round dozen lashes every night, until he should consent to perform his share of the unwelcome office. For a while this was borne patiently; but at length he called out, "I may as well die one way as another--Give me over to the ghost!"

That night Antonio kept watch on deck. Few of the crew slept; for expectation and alarm had stretched our nerves upon the rack. At one o'clock, the voice called "Stand from under!" "Let go!" screamed the Spaniard. This was answered with a shriek of laughter -- and *such* laughter!--It seemed as if the fiends answered each other from pole to pole, and the bass was howled in hell! Then came a sudden crash upon the deck, as if our masts and spars had fallen. We all rushed to the spot -- and there was a cold, stiff, gigantic corpse. The Spaniard said it was thrown from the shrouds, and when he looked on the ground his teeth like a madman. "I know him," exclaimed he; "I stabbed him within an hour's sail of Cuba, and drank his blood for breakfast."

We all stood aghast at the monster. In fearful whispers we asked what should be done with the body. Finally we agreed that the terrible sight must be removed from us, and hidden in the depth of the sea. Four of us attempted to raise it; but human strength was of no avail--we might as well have tugged at Atlas. There it law, stiff, rigid, heavy, and as immovable as if it formed a part of the vessel. The Spaniard was furious; "let me lift him," said he, "I lifted him once, and can do it again. I'll teach him what it is to come and trouble me." He took the body round the waist, and attempted to move it. Slowly and heavily the corpse raided itself up; its rayless eyes opened; its rigid arm stretched out,and clasped its victim in a close death-grapple-- and rolling over to the side of the ship, they tottered an instant over the waters -- then with a loud plunge sunk together. Again that laugh, -- that wild, shrieking laugh, was hear on the wind. The sailors bowed their heads, and put up their hands throughout the appalling sound.

I took the helm more than once after, but we never again heard in the shrouds that thundering sound, "Stand from under."



The Slave Mother by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper



Heard you that shriek? It rose
So wildly on the air,
 It seemed as if a burden'd heart
     Was breaking in despair.

 Saw you those hands so sadly clasped--
The bowed and feeble head--
The shuddering of that fragile form--
That look of grief and dread?

Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
Its every glance was pain,
As if a storm of agony
Were sweeping through the brain.

She is a mother pale with fear,
Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kirtle vainly tries
His trembling form to hide.

He is not hers, although she bore
For him a mother's pains;
 He is not hers, although her blood
 Is coursing through his veins!

 He is not hers, for cruel hands
May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
That binds her breaking heart.

His love has been a joyous light
That o'er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
Amid life's desert wild.

His lightest word has been a tone
Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one--
Oh, Father! must they part?

They tear him from her circling arms,
Her last and fond embrace.
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
Gaze on his mournful face.

No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
Disturb the listening air:
She is a mother, and her heart
Is breaking in despair.





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