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  • Writer's pictureLocal History Collection

William Cullen Bryant - The Death of Slavery

William Cullen Bryant, our library's founder and namesake, held abolitionist views and was instrumental in securing northern votes for Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign.


In this excerpt from his poem "The Death of Slavery" (originally published in the July 1866 issue of The Atlantic ) he personifies elements of the natural world as celebrating and welcoming the end of human bondage:


A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent; 

Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks;

Our rivers roll exulting, and their banks

Send up hosannas to the firmament!

   Fields where the bondman’s toil

  No more shall trench the soil,

Seem now to bask in a serener day;

The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs

Of heaven with more caressing softness play,

   Welcoming man to liberty like theirs.

A glory clothes the land from sea to sea,

For the great land and all its coasts are free.


Read the full poem and other Bryant works in this digitization of The Complete Poems of Bryant from the Emory University Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

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