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This alternate version of the Star Spangled Banner was offered up to readers of The Liberator on the 32nd anniversary of the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key.  Garrison and other abolitionists took every opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of calling America the land of the free while slavery remained legal anywhere in the country.

A New Version of the National Song

Oh, say do you hear, at the dawn’s early light,
The shrieks of those bondmen, whose blood is now streaming
From the merciless lash, while our banner in sight
With its stars, mocking freedom, is fitfully gleaming?
Do you see the backs bare? do you mark every score
Of the whip of the driver trace channels of gore?
And say, doth our star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where Afric’s race in false safety reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it heedlessly sweeps, half conceals, half discloses?
‘Tis a slave ship that’s seen, by the morning’s first beam,
And its tarnished reflection pollutes now the stream:
‘Tis our star-spangled banner ! Oh! when shall it wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is the band, who so valiantly bore
The havoc of war, and the battle’s confusion,
For Liberty’s sweets? We shall know them no more:
Their fame is eclipsed by foul Slavery’s pollution.
No refuge is found on our unhallowed ground,
For the wretched in Slavery’s manacles bound;
While our star-spangled banner in vain boasts to wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

Shall we ne’er hail the day when as freemen shall stand
The millions who groan under matchless oppression?
Shall Liberty’s shouts, in our heaven-rescued land,
Ne’er be shared by the slave in our blood-guilty nation?
Oh, let us be just, ere in God we dare trust;
Else the day will o’ertake us when perish we must;
And our star-spangled banner at half mast shall wave
O’er the death-bed of Freedom— the home of the slave.

Source

Publication: The Liberator
Date: September 13, 1844
Title: From the Signal of Liberty. New version of the National Song
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

The Liberator was a weekly newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, Massachusetts. William Lloyd Garrison was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in December, 1805. At thirteen years of age he began his newspaper career with the Newburyport Herald, where he acquired great skills in both accuracy and speed in the art of setting type. He also wrote anonymous articles, and at the age of twenty-one began publishing his own newspaper.

On January 1, 1831 the first issue of The Liberator appeared with the motto: “Our country is the world—our countrymen are mankind.”