Shall It Never Come Down?

From the Georgist weekly Chicago newspaper, The Public, June 30, 1900, in response to the United States occupation of Malaysia, Cuba and the Philippines

An answer to President McKinley's question: "Who Will Haul It Down?"

Shall it never come down?
Shall it never come down
From the heights where we placed
it o'er hamlet and town?
Must it float there forever,
the sign of our shame;
The flag which we love,
whose glory and fame
Have been that it sheltered
the wronged and oppressed;
That for Liberty's cause it
by all should be blessed?
What matter if Malays
or Cubans or others
Are weaker than we? Are they
still not our brothers?
Is the birthright of freedom
less theirs than 'tis ours?
Because they are weak, shall we
crush out the powers
Which God has implanted?
Forbid them to rise
To the stature of men 'neath
the o'er arching skies?

Shall it never come down?
Shall it never come down?
Must our flag, honored more
than e'er scepter or crown,
Now float o'er a land which
is peopled with slaves;
Or lies desolate, sown but with
patriot graves?
Have we wandered so far
from our principles, then,
That we're willing to traffic
in women and men
In the effort to stand
with the mighty of earth?
Can we hope to succeed,
if the right of our birth
Is thus trampled upon?
Can true freedom be ours
If we seek to oppress
those with more feeble powers?
Oh, let it come down!
Rather, let it be furled,
Than flaunt its disgrace
'neath the eyes of the world.

Shall it never come down?
Shall it never come down,
No matter what happens
to hamlet or town?
Must the red glare of war
and the dread din of battle,
The cannon's hoarse roar
and the musketries' rattle
Make us false to the cause which
for years we have claimed
Was most dear to our hearts, which
we oft have proclaimed
Was the source of our hopes -- was
the cause of our being?
Must we fail of our aims
when we thought we were seeing
The dawn of a day
of peace on the earth;
When the progress of man
at last should give birth
To freedom for all;
which bursting all bands,
Should leave none oppressed
throughout the known lands?

Shall it never come down?
Shall it never come down?
O God, hide Thy face!
Lest Thy terrible frown
Shall strike us with death!
Give us time to repent,
Ere, in Thy just wrath
is the thunderbolt sent!
Oh, give us to see that
our own cause is falling;
That unto the gods
of the heathen we're calling,
When we say, in our pride,
"We are better than they!
We've the right to command.
They the right to obey."
Oh, bid us awake
from our arrogant pride!
Make us strive once again
on fair Liberty's side!
Make our flag stand for Freedom
o'er hamlet and town,
Lest in shame and disgrace
it forever come down.

-- W.A. Hawley, Bellevue, Pennsylvania

Henry George was a seminal figure in the early days of the American progressive movement and the American labor movement. After his death in 1897, Georgists who took up the cause (such as Mark Twain) were also in the vanguard of the anti-imperialist movement.

-- Dan Sullivan

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