America Independent— and Her Everlasting Deliverance from British Tyranny and Oppression

by Philip Freneau

Philip Freneau

'TIS done! and Britain for her madness sighs—
Take warning, tyrants, and henceforth be wise,
If o'er mankind man gives you legal sway,
Take not the rights of human kind away.
WHEN God from chaos gave this world to be,
Man then he form'd, and form'd him to be free,
In his own image stampt the favourite race—
How dar'st thou, tyrant, the fair stamp deface!
When on mankind you fix your abject chains,
No more the image of that God remains;
O'er a dark scene a darker shade is drawn,
His work dishonour'd, and our glory gone!
WHEN first Britannia sent her hostile crew
To these far shores to ravage and subdue,
We thought them gods, and almost seem'd to say
No ball could pierce them, and no dagger slay—
Heavens! what a blunder—half our fears were vain;
These hostile gods at length have quit the plain,
On neighbouring isles the storm of war they shun,
Happy, thrice happy, if not quite undone.
Yet soon, in dread of some impending woe,
Even from those islands shall these ruffians go—
This be their doom, in vengeance for the slain,
To pass their days in poverty and pain;
For their base triumphs be it still their lot
To triumph only o'er the rebel Scot,
And, to their insect isle henceforth confin'd,
No longer lord it o'er the human kind.—
But by the fates who still prolong their stay,
And gather vengeance to conclude their day,
Yet, ere they go, the angry Muse shall tell
The treasur'd woes that in her bosom swell:—
Proud, fierce, and bold, O Jove! who would not laugh
To see these bullies worshipping a calf:
But they are who spurn at Reason's rules;
And men, once slaves, are soon transform'd to fools.—
To recommend what monarchies have done,
They bring for witness David and his son;
How one was brave, the other just and wise,
And hence our plain republics they despise;
But mark how oft, to gratify their pride,
The people suffer'd, and the people died:
Though one was wise, and one Goliah slew,
Kings are the choicest curse that man e'er knew.
HAIL, worthy Britain!—how enlarg'd your fame;
How great your glory, terrible your name,
"Queen of the isles, and empress of the main,"
Heaven grant you all these mighty things again;
But first insure the gaping crowd below
That you less cruel, and more just may grow:
If fate, vindictive for the sins of man,
Had favour shown to your infernal plan,
How would your nation have exulted here,
And scorn'd the widow's sigh, the orphan's tear!
How had your prince, of all bad men the worst,
Laid worth and virtue prostrate in the dust!
A second Sawney had he shone to-day,
A world subdued, and murder but his play.
How had that prince, contemning right or law,
Glutted with blood his foul, voracious maw:
In him we see the depths of baseness join'd,
Whate'er disgrac'd the dregs of human kind;
Cain, Nimrod, Nero—fiends in human guise,
Herod, Domitian—these in judgment rise,
And, envious of his deeds, I hear them say
None but a George could be more vile than they.
SWOLN tho' he was with wealth, revenge and pride,
How could he dream that heaven was on his side—
Did he not see, when so decreed by fate,
They plac'd the crown upon his royal pate,
Did he not see the richest jewel fall—
Dire was the omen, and astonish'd all—
That gem no more shall brighten and adorn;
No more that gem by British kings be worn,
Or swell to wonted heights of fair renown
The fading glories of their boasted crown.
Yet he to arms, and war, and blood inclin'd,
A fair-day warrior with a feeble mind,
Fearless while others meet the shock of fate
And dare that death, which clips his thread too late,
He to the fane (O hypocrite!) did go,
While not an angel there but was his foe,
There did he kneel, and sigh, and sob, and pray,
Yet not to lave his thousand sins away,
Far other motives sway'd his spotted soul;
'Twas not for those the secret sorrow stole
Down his pale cheek—'twas vengeance and despair
Dissolv'd his eye, and planted sorrow there—
How could he hope to bribe the impartial sky
By his base prayers, and mean hypocrisy—
Heaven still is just, and still abhors thy crimes,
Not acts like George, the Nero of our times—
What were his prayers—his prayers could be no more
Than a thief's wishes to recruit his store;
Such prayers could never reach the world above;
They were but curses in the ear of Jove;—
You pray'd that conquest might your arms attend,
And crush that freedom honour did defend,
That the fierce Indian, rousing from his rest,
Might these new regions with his flames invest,
With scalps and tortures aggravate our woe,
And to the infernal world dismiss your foe.
NO mines of gold our fertile country yields,
But mighty harvests crown the loaded fields,
Hence, trading far, we gain'd the golden prize,
Which, though our own, bewitch'd their greedy eyes—
For that they ravag'd India's climes before,
And carried death to Asia's utmost shore—
Clive was your envied slave, in avarice bold
He mow'd down nations for his dearer gold;
The fatal gold could give no true content,
He mourn'd his murders, and to Tophet went.
LED on by lust of lucre and renown,
Burgoyne came marching with his thousands down,
High were his thoughts, and furious his career,
Puff'd with self-confidence and pride severe,
Swoln with the idea of his future deeds,
Onward to ruin each advantage leads,
Before his hosts his heaviest curses flew,
And conquer'd worlds rose hourly to his view:
His wrath, like Jove's, could bear with no controul,
His words bespoke the mischief in his soul;
To fight was not this miscreant's only trade,
He shin'd in writing, and his wit display'd—
To awe the more with titles of command
He told of forts be rul'd in Scottish land;—
Queen's colonel as he was, he did not know
That thorns and thistles, mix'd with honours, grow;
In Britain's senate though he held a place,
All did not save him from one long disgrace,
One stroke of fortune that convinc'd them all
That we could conquer, and lieutenants fall.
FOE to the rights of man, proud plunderer, say
Had conquest crown'd thee on that mighty day
When you, to GATES, with sorrow, rage, and shame
Resign'd your conquests, honours, arms, and same,
When at his feet Britannia's wreaths you threw,
And the sun sicken'd at a sight so new;
Had you been victor—what a waste of woe!
What souls had vanish'd to where souls do go!
What dire distress had mark'd your fatal way,
What deaths on deaths disgrac'd that dismal day!
Can laurels flourish in a soil of blood,
Or on those laurels can fair honours bud—
Curs'd be that wretch who murder makes his trade,
Curs'd be all arms that e'er ambition made!
WHAT murdering Tory now relieves your grief
Or plans new conquests for his favourite chief;
Designs still dark employ that ruffian race,
Beasts of your choosing, and our own disgrace.
So vile a crew the world ne'er saw before,
And grant, ye pitying heavens, it may no more?
If ghosts from hell infest our poison'd air,
Those ghosts have enter'd these base bodies here,
Murder and blood is still their dear delight—
Scream round their roofs, ye ravens of the night!
Whene'er they wed, may demons, and despair,
And grief, and woe, and blackest night be there;
Fiends leagu'd from hell, the nuptial lamp display,
Swift to perdition light them on their way,
Round the wide world their devilish squadrons chase,
To find no realm that grants one resting place.
FAR to the north, on Scotland's utmost end
An isle there lies, the haunt of every fiend,
There screeching owls, and screeming vultures rest,
And not a tree adorns its barren breast!
No shepherds there attend their bleating flocks,
But wither'd witches rove among the rocks;
Shrouded in ice, the blasted mountains show
Their cloven heads, to f•ight the seas below;
The lamp of heaven in his diurnal race
Here scarcely deigns to unveil his radiant face,
Or if one day he circling treads the sky
He views this island with an angry eye,
Or ambient fog• their broad, moist wings expand
Damp his bright ray, and cloud the infernal land;
The blackening wind? incessant storms prolong,
Dull as their night, and dreary as my song;
When stormy winds with rain refuse to blow,
Then from the dark sky drives the unpitying snow;
When drifting snows from iron clouds forbear
Then down the hailstones rattle through the air—
No peace, no rest, the elements bestow,
But seas forever rage, and storms forever blow.
HERE, miscreants, here with loyal hearts retire,
Here pitch your tents, and kindle here your fire;
Here desert nature will her stings display,
And fiercest hunger on your vitals prey,
And with yourselves let John Burgoyne retire
To reign the monarch, whom your hearts admire.
BRITAIN, at last to arrest your lawless hand,
Rises the genius of a generous land,
Our injur'd rights bright Gallia's prince defends,
And from this hour that prince and we are friends,
Feuds, once in bloom, are vanish'd from our view,
Once we were foes—but for the sake of you—
Britain, aspiring Britain, now must bend—
Can she at once with France and us contend,
When we alone, remote from foreign aid,
Her armies captur'd, and distress'd her trade—
Britain and we no more in combat join,
No more, as once, in every sea combine;
Dead is that friendship which did mutual burn,
Fled is the sceptre, never to return;
By sea and land, perpetual foes we meet,
Our cause more noble, and our hearts as great;
Lost are these regions to Britannia's reign,
Nor shall these upstarts of their loss complain,
Since all the debt we owe to Britain's throne
Was mere idea, and the rest our own—
Our hearts are ravish'd from our former queen
Far as the ocean God hath plac'd between,
They strive in vain to join this mighty mass
Torn by convulsions from its native place;
As well might men to flaming Hecla join
The huge high Alps or towering Appennine;
In vain they send their half-commissioned tribe
And whom they cannot conquer strive to bribe;
Their pride and madness burst our union chain,
Nor shall the unwieldy mass unite again.
NOR think that France sustains our cause alone;
With gratitude her helping hand we own,
But hear, ye nations—truth itself can say
We bore the heat and danger of the day:
She calmly view'd the tumult from afar,
We brav'd each insult, and sustain'd the war?
Oft drove the foe, or forc'd their hosts to yield,
Or left them more than once a dear bought field—
'Twas then, at last, on Jersey plains distrest,
We swore to seek the mountains of the west,
There a free empire for our seed obtain,
A terror to the slaves that might remain.
PEACE you demand, and vainly wish to find
Old leagues renew'd, and souls once more combin'd—
Yet shall not all your base dissembling art
Deceive the tortures of a bleeding heart—
Yet shall not all your mingled prayers that rise
Wash out your crimes, or bribe the avenging skies;
Full many a corpse lies mouldering on the plain
That ne'er shall see its little brood again:
See, yonder lies, all breathless, cold, and pale,
Drench'd in her gore, Lavinia of the vale,
The cruel Indian seiz'd her life away,
As the next morn began her bridal day!—
This deed alone our just revenge would claim,
Did not ten thousand more your sons defame,
RETURN'D a prisoner to my native shore,
How chang'd I find those scenes that pleas'd before!
How chang'd those groves where fancy lov'd to stray,
When spring's young blossoms bloom'd along the way;
From every eye distils the frequent tear,
From every mouth some doleful tale I hear!
Some mourn a father, brother, husband, friend,
Some mourn, imprison'd in their native land,
In sickly ships what numerous hosts confin'd
At once their lives and liberties resign'd,
In dreary dungeons woeful scenes have pass'd,
Long in tradition shall the story last,
As long as spring renews the flowery wood,
As long as breezes curl the yielding flood!—
Some sent to India's sickly climes, afar,
To dig with slaves for buried diamonds there,
There left to sicken in that land of woe
Where o'er scorch'd hills infernal breezes blow,
Whose every blast some dire contagion brings,
Fevers or death on its destructive wings,
'Till fate relenting, its last arrows drew
Brought death to them, and infamy to you.
PESTS of mankind! remembrance shall recall
And paint these horrors to the view of all;
Heaven has not turn'd to its own works a foe
Nor left to monsters these fair realms below,
Else had your arms more general vengeance spread,
And these gay plains been dy'd a deeper red.—
O'er Britain's isle a thousand woes impend,
Too weak to conquer, govern, or defend,
To liberty she holds the lying claim—
The substance we enjoy, and they the name;
Her prince, surrounded by his mitred slaves,
Still claims dominion o'er the vagrant waves:
Such be his claims o'er all the world beside,
An empty nothing—madness, rage, and pride.
FROM Europe's realm• fair freedom has retir'd,
And even in Britain has the spark expir'd—
Sigh for the change thy haughty empire feels,
Sigh for the doom that no disguise conceals!
Freedom no more shall Albion's clifts survey;
Corruption there has planted all her sway,
Freedom disdains her honest head to rear,
To herd with North, or Bute, or Mansfield there;
She shuns their gilded spires, and domes of state,
Resolv'd, O Virtue, at thy shrine to wait,
'Midst savage woods and wilds she dares to stray,
And bids uncultur'd nature bloom more gay;
She is that glorious and immortal sun,
Without whose ray this world would be undone,
A mere dull chaos, sunk in deepest night,
An abject something, without form or light,
Of reptiles, worst in rank, the dire abode,
Perpetual mischief, and the dragon's brood.
LET Turks and Ruffians glut their fields with blood,
Again let Britain dye the Atlantic flood,
Let all the east adore the sanguine wreathe
And gain new glories from the works of death—
America! the works of peace be thine,
Thus shalt thou gain a triumph more divine—
To thee belongs a second golden reign,
Thine is the empire o'er a peaceful main;
Protect the rights of human kind below,
Crush the proud tyrant who becomes their foe,
And future times shall own our struggles blest,
And future years enjoy perpetual rest.
AMERICANS! revenge your country's wrongs;
To you the honour of this deed belongs,
Your arms did once this sinking land sustain,
And sav'd those climes where Freedom yet must reign—
Your bleeding so•l this ardent task demands,
Expel yon' thieves from these polluted lands,
Expect no peace till haughty Britain yields,
'Till humbled Britain quits your ravag'd fields—
Still to the charge that routed foe returns,
The war still rages, and the battle burns—
No dull debates, or tedious counsels know,
But rush, at once, embodied on the foe;—
With hell-born spite a seven years war they wage,
The pirate Goodrich, and the ruffian Gage.
Your injur'd country groans while yet they stay,
Attend her groans, and force their hosts away;
Your mighty wrongs the tragic muse shall grace,
Your gallant deeds shall fire a future race;
To you shall kings and potentates appeal,
You shall the doom of jarring nations seal;
A glorious empire rises, bright and new!
Firm be its basis, and must rest on you—
Fame o'er the mighty pile expands her wings,
Remote from princes, bishops, lords, and kings,
Those fancied gods, who, fam'd through every shore,
Mankind have fashioned, and, like fools, adore.
Here yet shall heaven the joys of peace bestow,
While o'er our soil the streams of plenty flow,
And o'er the main we spread the trading sail,
Wafting the produce of the rural vale.

Last updated January 11, 2023