Liberty’s Call | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

The authorship of this chaste ballad has been assigned to one Jere. Sargent, of Philadelphia, a person of whom little is known; and also to Francis Hopkinson, the author of “The Battle of the Kegs.” But, it is most probable, that it was written by the “eccentric John Mason,”1 an operative in the office of the Pennsylvania Packet, the newspaper in which it first appeared. The late Mr. Hunnewell, of Watertown, Massachusetts, well remembered its popularity, and attributed it to Mason.

Liberty’s Call

HIGH on the banks of Delaware,
Fair Liberty she stood;
And waving with her lovely hand,
Cried, “Still, thou roaring flood.

Be still ye winds, be still ye seas,
Let only zephyrs play !”
Just as she spoke, they all obeyed;
And thus the maid did say:

“Welcome my friends, from every land
Where freedom doth not reign;
Oh! hither fly from every clime,
Sweet liberty to gain.

“Mark Londonderry’s brave defence
‘Gainst tyranny that swayed;
Americans, the example’s great !
Like them, be not dismayed.

“Expect not that on downy beds,
This boon you can secure;
At perils smile, rouse up your souls
War’s dangers to endure.

” ‘Gainst your affronted land behold
Oppression rear its head;
In hydra-form and battle’s din,
Each trembling slave to dread.

“But ye, its sons, will ne’er give up
Your parent fires till death;
Behold ! yon beauteous virgins seek
Laurel your brows to wreathe.

“Bear on your minds the noble deeds
Your ancestors achieved;
How many worthy Britons bled,
To have their children freed!

“See on the meteors of the night
Their spirits wanly fly !
Roused from their graves by your distress;
Hark ! thus I heard them cry.

“Was it for this, ye mothers dear !
Ye nursed your tender babes ?
Was it for this, our yet loved sons !
We sheathed our trusty blades ?

“O ! genius of our ancient times !
Be thou our children’s guide,
To arms ! to arms ! ‘-They call to arms,
And stalk in martial pride.

“I will them guide, ye reverend sires !
Go to your tombs in peace;
The rage of proud usurping men,
Your sons shall yet repress.

“Hold up your heads, ye weeping fair !
Their swords are on their thighs;
Smile yet again, ye lovely babes !
Their banner’s in the skies.

“I come, I come, to join your train;
Heaven’s ministers I see;
Farewell, my friends, be not afraid !
Be virtuous and be free !”

Heaven’s portals opened as she soared,
And angels thence did come;
With heavenly songs and golden harps,
The Goddess welcomed home.

  1. “Eccentric John Mason.” This gentleman was a native of Maryland. In early life he went to Philadelphia, where little was known of him, until he commenced work at the office of Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet, a paper strenuously devoted to the cause of liberty. During the earlier part of the Revolution, Mason was accustomed, privately, to print and circulate squibs, pasquinades and epigrams; bearing severely on the royal cause, and in a measure gained the hatred of many friends of the crown, whom be often made the subject of his ridicule. He combined the trade of a printer with that of an upholsterer, and kept a shop in Arch street, Philadelphia, opposite the gate of the Friends burying-ground, where he carried on “Upholstery in all its various branches,” besides making his shop a depot for the circulation of his “little billets of ridicule.” On the approach of the British, in 1777, Mason removed his store from the city, and abandoned for ever the “setting of types.” About one year after, the following advertisement appeared in his old friend, the Pennsylvania Packet:”JOHN MASON, UPHOLDER.Carries on the Upholdstery business in all its various branches, and shall be extremely obliged to those noble and generous ladies and gentlemen who delight in employing the industrious.

    “Said Mason begs leave to inform his former friends and customers, that when the enemy marched into this city, he, the said Mason, marched out, and since that time has had many a march and counter-march, and now has had the happiness to march back again to a city where slavery could not thrive, because there liberty springs spontaneous.

    “Ah ! slavery, how loved, how valued
    Once, avails thee not; to whom
    Related or by whom begot;
    A painful nuisance alone
    Remains of thee. –
    ‘Tis all thou art, and it is all
    Thy proud friends and abettors shall be.”

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