Freedom To The Slaves
By G.G.N.

War! War! is the cry across the deep sea,
While the stars and the stripes boldly wave;
The war-hounds are loose, and soon we shall see,
The fetters cast off from the slave.
Oppression has ruled for many long years,
And bound down the good and the brave;
But sorrow and pain, with misery’s tears,
Shall cease to torment the poor slave.
Why not he enjoy the gifts of this life?
Is he not a man and a brother?
Has he not a claim to a home and a wife:
How comes he a serf to another?
I ask, is his state of no higher birth,
Nay, worse than the beasts of creation?
Did God place a SLAVE on the face of the earth,
To toil hard in chains and starvation?
Go on then, Reformers in Liberty’s name . – RM
March forward the good and the brave;
‘Tis a foul blot on Freedom . – RM Humanity’s shame,
But God shall redeem the poor slave.

Title:Freedom to the Slaves

Author:G. G. N.

Publication:Accrington Guardian

Published in:Accrington

Date:October 5th 1861

Keywords:domesticity, slavery, war


We know relatively little about “G.G.N.”, the author of this poem, although they did produce original poetry specifically for the Accrington Guardian, which perhaps suggests he or she was a local resident. This poem makes no reference to the increasing employment crisis for cotton workers in Lancashire, although this was beginning to become apparent by the autumn of 1861 when the poem was published. Instead, “G.G.N.” focuses on the potential positive outcomes of the American Civil War for the enslaved people of the States, and, in the final stanza, seems to urge British intervention to the end of emancipation. The poem uses imagery common to abolitionist discourse in Britain. The third stanza evokes the famous Josiah Wedgewood image of the kneeling slave asking “Am I not a man and a brother?”, as well as appealing to the much-lauded domestic values of the Victorian era. The following stanza condemns slavery as both unnatural and irreligious. Though explicitly commenting on American affairs from a British perspective, the author does not mention the connections between the American plantations and the local cotton industry. . – RM RM.