Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
The Stamp Act in New York, 1765 (abridged)
By George Lansing Raymond
 
THE NIGHT before the Stamp-Act
  Should rule the colony,
We slept not much; we melted lead;
We whetted steel; we plann’d ahead,
  We “Sons of Liberty.”        5
 
Then, when the morn was breaking,
  On every hill and plain,
In all the towns, we toll’d the bells,
That all began with doleful knells,
  As though for Freedom slain.        10
 
Anon, they rang out madly
  What might have peal’d to be
The land’s alarm-bell—only now
They peal’d to hail the new-born vow
  Of men that would be free.        15
 
New York went wild to hear them.
  Men flooded every way:
They left their shops; they stopt their mills;
And farmers flock’d from all the hills,
  And sailors from the bay.        20
 
Now who would buy a stamp here?
  Was ask’d in all the ways,
But not a shop was not shut to;
For all had wiser work to do
  On this, our day of days.        25
 
“We would not, and we will not
  Submit,” said Isaac Sears.
The governor said: “You fill the street,
But here a fort and there a fleet
  May yet awake your fears.”        30
 
Then from the fort the cannon
  Were turn’d upon the town,
But “If you fire,” the people cried,
“We hang the governor here outside,
  Or burn your quarters down.”        35
 
At night, the boys with torches
  Came trooping out for sport.
They sought the house of James, and took
The army flags his fear forsook,
  And march’d them round the fort.        40
 
The governor own’d his coaches,
  And one a coach of state.
They burst his barn-door in with cries
And dragg’d them off before his eyes,
  As trophies of their hate.        45
 
An image of the devil,
  And of the governor too
They made, and made them both careen,
While, side by side, through Bowling Green,
  They wheel’d them into view.        50
 
At last, of all the coaches
  They form’d a funeral pyre;
And, full in face of all the town,
Who only roar’d its roar to drown,
  They set the whole on fire.        55
 
The governor begg’d the army,
  The army begg’d the fleet,
To take the stamps and save the fort;
But neither cared to brave the sport
  Of those who fill’d the street.        60
 
The courage of the courtiers
  Had bow’d to wisdom higher;
The power of right that ruled the street
Had overawed the fort and fleet—
  They did not dare to fire.        65
 
So nothing now was left them
  Except to yield us all.
Our mayor took the stamps, at last,
And bore them off, and lock’d them fast
  Within the City Hall.        70
 
And loud the people shouted;
  They felt that right was done;
Cried “Liberty and Property!
No stamps to curse the Colony!”
  And parted, one by one.        75
 
The next day all the papers
  Without the stamps appear’d.
Men took no notes, but trusted men.
Our ships were off to sea again;
  And none the navy fear’d.        80
 
And none had bought a stamp there,
  Or seal’d himself a slave;
And half of England, trust my word,
Were thrill’d with joy, when they had heard
  How we ourselves could save.        85
 
At last there came a daybreak
  When all the thankful kneel’d;
And bells were rung, and banners hung;
And England’s weal was drunk and sung—
  The Stamp Act was repeal’d.        90
 
 
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