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(August 18,1961 / Trenton, New Jersey)

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Civil War Ballad

America, America, sweet land of liberty.
But how could you so easily condone captivity?
Abolition was the call for half the citizenry.
The other half seemed well content with gross iniquity.
We kept a delicate balance between slave states and free,
with neither side prepared to give ground in this rivalry.
In states like Kansas, blood was shed to fight disparity.
And 1850's compromise caused animosity.
A book by Harriet Beecher Stowe stopped ambiguity.
Her anti-slavery message enjoyed popularity.
Five years later, Dred Scott's case was an atrocity,
'cause now the nation's highest court had upheld slavery.
At Harper's Ferry, John Brown secured immortality
by showing what lengths could be gone to for equality.
He died a martyr's death for his impetuosity;
a man that we should honor always throughout history.

With Lincoln's win, the nation's bonds start to disintegrate.
When he swore in, we'd seen the split of seven southern states.
When all was done, eleven states would disassociate
and form a new confederacy sworn to annihilate.
To save the union, Abraham was forced to advocate
a civil war when southern troops chose to initiate
hostilities which all had begun to anticipate.
And Fort Sumter would be the site we would commemorate.
This fratricidal conflict caused us to appreciate
the gesture made by Lincoln when he chose to consecrate
the battlefield at Gettysburg where he'd articulate
how nations founded "of the people" should not detonate.
When Sherman's march prompted the South to discombobulate,
and U.S. Grant's drive into Richmond helped to devastate,
then General Lee would come to terms and try to extricate.
And, not long after, all the rebels would capitulate.

Seven score years and more have passed since reunification.
Seven score and more also since black emancipation.
And though it was the South that started the conflagration,
their actions also helped to expedite eradication.
Because, although the Civil War was an abomination,
without it, more years might have passed till slaves saw liberation.

Submitted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013


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