South Carolina.
CONTENT NOTE: This poem contains an offensive racist term.

There’s a mighty new-born nation,
Sprung to life and power and station,
Just by seizing the occasion
Of a triumph in the North:
And they’ve cut, in indignation,
From our poor Confederation,
With our “black amalgamation,”
Abolition, and so forth.
And they’ve snubbed their Uncle Sam, sir,
Called that potentate a sham, sir, —
Swore they didn’t care a d—n, sir,
For his little puny arm,—
They could whip him even-handed,
But if succor they demanded,
Foreign troops would soon be landed,
Lest their Cotton come to harm.
With sloop, man-of-war and cruiser,
To King Cotton’s aid would sail,—
That our ports they would blockade, sir
And our hated land invade, sir,
In a second grand crusade, sir
To set free the Cotton-Bale!
And they’re mighty, too, in figures,
Boast four hundred thousand “niggers,”
And they talk of pulling triggers,
Storming forts, and marching North,—
And if Lincoln, whom they hated,
Comes to be inaugurated,
That his doom is sealed and dated
From the coming March the fourth.
So we warn each Northern coward,
You are soon to be devoured
By these ogres from the Sou’ward,
Led by Keitt, and Rhett, and Wise;
So you’d best go in for “fusion,”
And amend the Constitution,
Bow before the Revolution,
And seek favor in their eyes.
You must let them have their will, sir,
Whip their slaves at Bunker Hill, sir,
Carry slavery where they will, sir,—
Swear that slavery is right;
You must change public opinion,
And throughout our whole dominion
You must hoot and gag and pinion
All who speak in its despite.
You must take off the embargo—
Bring in niggers by the cargo,
(Just as far as we will dare go,
Lest the British Lion roar)—
Cuba you must buy, or take her,
Coax old Spain to sell, or make her—
And for Mexico, we’ll rake her,
Gaining slave States three or four.
If you’ll do all this, “poor devil,”*
And be humble, meek and civil,
Though the Union is an evil,
They’ll stay in it for a spell;
Only, they must have the plunder,—
Otherwise, I shouldn’t wonder,
Every four years you’ll hear thunder,
And “the Union sent to h—l”!+
*Keitt’s name for every Northern Republican.
+ From a secession speech at Norfolk, Va.
VICTORIA, (ILL.) Jan., 1861.

Title:South Carolina.

Author:J. W. Temple


Published in:

Date:February 15th 1861

Keywords:politics, satire


This northern poem by J. W. Temple on the south’s ambitions for secession was published in this context in the Liberator newspaper, but was first published in the Chicago Tribune. The poem was written before the outbreak of the American Civil War, when all eyes were particularly on South Carolina, as the state with the most advanced structure of secessionist politics, having been the first to vote for secession after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president in November 1860. The third stanza considers the prospect of cotton-dependent nations, including Britain, invading the US to maintain supplies, which was a very real fear given the economic dominance of the crop. The poem contains offensive racist terms, but appears to be using them ironically to attack the political approach of the Confederacy. – SR