To The Thirty-ninth Congress

The thirty-ninth congress was that which met in 1565 after the close of

the war, when it was charged with the great question of reconstruction;

the uppermost subject in men's minds was the standing of those who had

recently been in arms against the Union and their relations to the


O PEOPLE-CHOSEN! are ye not

Likewise the chosen of the Lord,

To do His will and speak His word?

From the loud thunder-storm of war

Not man alone hath called ye forth,

But He, the God of all the earth!

The torch of vengeance in your hands

He quenches; unto Him belongs

The solemn recompense of wrongs.

Enough of blood the land has seen,

And not by cell or gallows-stair

Shall ye the way of God prepare.

Say to the pardon-seekers: Keep

Your manhood, bend no suppliant knees,

Nor palter with unworthy pleas.

Above your voices sounds the wail

Of starving men; we shut in vain *

Our eyes to Pillow's ghastly stain. **

What words can drown that bitter cry?

What tears wash out the stain of death?

What oaths confirm your broken faith?

From you alone the guaranty

Of union, freedom, peace, we claim;

We urge no conqueror's terms of shame.

Alas! no victor's pride is ours;

We bend above our triumphs won

Like David o'er his rebel son.

Be men, not beggars. Cancel all

By one brave, generous action; trust

Your better instincts, and be just.

Make all men peers before the law,

Take hands from off the negro's throat,

Give black and white an equal vote.

Keep all your forfeit lives and lands,

But give the common law's redress

To labor's utter nakedness.

Revive the old heroic will;

Be in the right as brave and strong

As ye have proved yourselves in wrong.

Defeat shall then be victory,

Your loss the wealth of full amends,

And hate be love, and foes be friends.

Then buried be the dreadful past,

Its common slain be mourned, and let

All memories soften to regret.

Then shall the Union's mother-heart

Her lost and wandering ones recall,

Forgiving and restoring all,--

And Freedom break her marble trance

Above the Capitolian dome,

Stretch hands, and bid ye welcome home

November, 1865.

* Andersonville prison.

** The massacre of Negro troops at Fort Pillow.

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