Posted by: Democratic Thinker | February 16, 2012

Christopher Gadsden—February 16, 1724


General Christopher Gadsden.
February 16, 1724 – September 15, 1805.

I wish the charters may not ensnare us at last, by drawing different colonies to act differently in this great cause. Whenever that is the case, all will be over with the whole. There ought to be no New-England man, no New-Yorker, known on the Continent; but all of us Americans.


Christopher Gadsden.

IN the borders of ancient Charles-Town
Where the Ashley River runs,
Round Christopher Gadsden gathered
Brave Carolina’s sons,
And under a massive live-oak shade,
Gray-bearded patriarch tree,
They pledged the word and girded the sword
For the cause of Liberty.
For tyranny’s hand was heavy;
The dullest soul was stirred,
And the voice of bold resistance
To foreign rule was heard.
‘Twas Massachusetts gave the call,
No stronger soul than she
Unto this day hath shaped the way
For a people’s destiny.
But no second to the summons
From the faint-hearted came,
And the smoke of doubt was smothering
Bright Freedom’s flickering flame;
The blaze that was kindled in Fanueil Hall
Was swiftly dying out
For want of a breath to keep it from death
In all the land about.
In that great crucial moment
Which tried the souls of men,
‘Twas the voice of Christopher Gadsden
That pronounced for Union then;
From the dim Southern distance rang
His voice in resonant tone,
“What to one doth befall, belongeth to all,
We are one people alone.”
Then from Hampshire hills to Georgia,
All the divided land,
Was moved by a mighty impulse
In fellowship to stand;
Yea, all the colonies in that day
With dauntless purpose rose
And gave their hands in brotherly bands
Against their country’s foes.
First in New England highways
The blood of the brave was shed,
But Southern wastes and hillsides
With the last drops were red.
For the issues of Concord and Bunker Hill
The Puritans left their toil,
But at the last the die was cast
And won on Southern soil.
Ye have heard how in Carolina
The Patriot’s Cause seemed lost;
How ruthless through all her borders
Ravaged the Conquering host;
How with stern restriction and treacherous oath
The souls that had striven to be free
In bondage they held, and to earth they felled
And burned that old Liberty tree.
No tree on History’s pages
Hath better right, I wis,
No Charter Oak, nor Washington Elm
For lasting renown, than this;
But though its glories all were shorn
And its site may no man see,
With reverence here I witness bear
To the fame of that Old Oak tree.
Long lay the land in darkness,
Yet in mountain fastness and swamp,
Bold Partisans, true to their Country
Kept burning Liberty’s Lamp.
In shelterless famine these out-law bands
‘Mong morasses that skirt the Pedee
Kept the pledge that they made ‘neath the moss-hung shade
Of Gadsden’s Liberty tree.
Let the wrongs of the time be forgotten,
The hatred that oft did divide
As Tory and Whig, close kinsmen
Who should have fought side by side;
But we’ll lift our banners on each July
For all the ages to see,
While oration and bell triumphantly tell
Of the conflict that made us free.
And second to none in glory
Christopher Gadsden’s name
Upon the patriot roll-call
Boasteth enduring fame—
Large-souled, unwavering, faultless, bold,
Lover of Country he,
Who spied afar the glorious star
Of Western liberty.
Still echoing down the ages
His voice in accent strong
Reminds us if grown faint-hearted
To unite against error and wrong,
To acknowledge now no East and no West,
No North and no South to see,
No Dixie—nay—nor New England to-day,
For Americans all are we.

—Mary Hall Leonard.

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  1. I agree, there should be No African Americans, No Mexican Americans, No Irish Americans, No Italian Americans, Only American Citizens! We are or should all be Americans, Brothers and sisters no divided race, religion, or national cultural.