Mason and Slidell.

Take them and welcome, Old England— the traitors!
Tho’ a slave cannot breathe on your boasted free soil.
Your arms open wide to receive their oppressors;
Should any one hinder, the world you’d embroil!
Sit down at your ease with your ears stuffed with cotton,
(Full long are they closed to your paupers’ sad wail!)
You like the slave’s products, if others will keep him;
You heed not the sorrows pressed down in each bale.
Take the and welcome, Old England— the traitors!
They could not breathe long in our free Northern air!
Take with them the scorn of a free hearted nation,
Then put forth another demand, if you dare.
Take the and welcome, Old England— the traitors!
We’ll send you the rest of their heads, bye and bye,
But never more say that you stand up for freedom—
Or the civilized world will call it a lie!

Title:Mason and Slidell.

Author:L. L. A. V.

Publication:Lowell Daily Citizen and News

Published in:

Date:January 7th 1862

Keywords:politics, war


The poem was published amidst a context of the tense diplomatic standoff between Britain and the Union during the Trent Affair. In November 1861, a Union navy ship, captained by Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British postal vessel, RMS Trent, and took captive the Confederate diplomats on-board, James Murray Mason and John Sliddell, allowing the ship to continue on its journey without the seized passengers. There ensued an intense diplomatic debate between Britain and the Northern States, with many in the Union affronted by the interference and the British argument that the capture of Mason and Sliddel was illegal. The poem projects the indignant sentiment shared throughout the Union during the Trent Affair in its criticism of Britain’s moral hypocrisy: ‘Old England’ remains willingly complicit in the evil subjugation of slaves, so long as others keep them; and the boasts of freedom do not translate into actioned support for the Union cause. JC