SAM DAVIS

Ella Wheeler Wilcox in The Confederate Veteran.

When the Lord calls up earth's heroes
    To stand before His face,
Oh, many a name unknown to fame
    Shall ring from that high place!
And out of a grave in the Southland,
    At the just God's call and beck,
Shall one man rise with fearless eyes
    And a rope about his neck.

For men have swung from gallows
    Whose souls were white as snow.
Not how they die or where, but why,
    Is what God's records show.
And on that mighty ledger,
    Is writ Sam Davis' name--
For honor's sake he would not make
    A compromise with shame.

The great world lay before him,
    For he was in his youth.
With love of life young hearts are rife,
    But better he loved truth.
He fought for his convictions,
    And when he stood at bay
He would not flinch or stir one inch
    From honor's narrow way.

They offered life and freedom
    If he would speak the word;
In silent pride he gazed aside
    As one who had not heard.
They argued, pleaded, threatened--
    It was but wasted breath.
"Let come what must, I keep my trust,"
    He said, and laughed at death.

He would not sell his manhood
    To purchase priceless hope;
Where kings drag down a name and crown
    He dignified a rope.
Ah, grave! Where was your triumph?
    Ah, death! Where was your sting?
He showed you how a man could bow
    To doom, and stay a King.

And God, who loves the loyal
    Because they are like Him,
I doubt not yet that soul shall set
    Among his cherubim.
O Southland! fling your laurels;
    And add your wreath, O North!
Let glory claim the hero's name,
    And tell the world his worth.

New York Times 22 Nov. 1897: 4.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.


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