James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

June 12

The Kidnapping of Sims

By John Pierpont (1785–1866)

  • Sims was a fugitive slave, retaken June 12, 1841.

  • SOULS of the patriot dead

    On Bunker’s height who bled!

    The pile, that stands

    On your long-buried bones—

    Those monumental stones—

    Should not suppress the groans

    This day demands.

    For Freedom there ye stood;

    There gave the earth your blood;

    There found your graves;

    That men of every clime,

    Faith, color, tongue, and time,

    Might, through your death sublime,

    Never be slaves.

    Over your bed, so low,

    Heard ye not, long ago,

    A voice of power

    Proclaim to earth and sea,

    That where ye sleep should be

    A home for Liberty

    Till Time’s last hour?

    Hear ye the chains of slaves,

    Now clanking round your graves?

    Hear ye the sound

    Of that same voice that calls

    From out our Senate halls,

    “Hunt down those fleeing thralls,

    With horse and hound!”

    That voice your sons hath swayed!

    ’Tis heard, and is obeyed!

    This gloomy day

    Tells you of ermine stained,

    Of Justice’s name profaned,

    Of a poor bondman chained

    And borne away!

    Over Virginia’s Springs,

    Her eagles spread their wings,

    Her Blue Ridge towers—

    That voice—once heard with awe—

    Now asks, “Who ever saw,

    Up there, a higher law

    Than this of ours?”

    Must we obey that voice?

    When God or man’s the choice,

    Must we postpone

    Him, who from Sinai spoke?

    Must we wear slavery’s yoke?

    Bear of her lash the stroke,

    And prop her throne?

    Lashed with her hounds, must we

    Run down the poor who flee

    From slavery’s hell?

    Great God! when we do this

    Exclude us from thy bliss;

    At us let angels hiss

    From heaven that fell!