Song of the Kansas Emigrants

John Greenleaf Whittier

We cross the prairie as of old
    The pilgrims crossed the sea,
To make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free!

We go to rear a wall of men
    On Freedom's southern line,
And plant beside the cotton-tree
    The rugged Northern pine!

We're flowing from our native hills
    As our free rivers flow;
The blessing of our Mother-land
    Is on us as we go.

We go to plant her common schools
    On distant prairie swells,
And give the Sabbaths of the wild
    The music of her bells.

Upbearing, like the Ark of old,
    The Bible in our van,
We go to test the truth of God
    Against the fraud of man.

No pause, nor rest, save where the streams
    That feed the Kansas run,
Save where our Pilgrim gonfalon
    Shall flout the setting sun!

We'll tread the prairie as of old
    Our fathers sailed the sea,
And make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free!

In 1854 many abolitionists left the East for Kansas. They wanted to swell the anti-slavery vote there and ensure that Kansas did not enter the Union as a slave state. This was one of the songs they sung at the time.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker and a staunch opponent of slavery.

Main Location:

Kansas, USA