Autographs for Freedom

This poem by Harriet Beecher Stowe was written in 1852 in response to a request from the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-slavery Society.
“Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Thirty-five other Eminent Writers.”
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 8.


“He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” 

Ho! thou dark and weary stranger 

From the tropic’s palmy strand, 

Bowed with toil, with mind benighted, 

What wouldst thou upon our land? 

Am I not, O man, thy brother? 

Spake the stranger, patiently. 

All that makes thee, man, immortal, 

Tell me, dwells it not in me? 

I, like thee, have joy, have sorrow; 

I, like thee, have love and fear; 

I, like thee, have hopes and longings 

Far beyond this earthly sphere. 

Thou art happy,—I am sorrowing; 

Thou art rich, and I am poor; 

In the name of our one Father, 

Do not spurn me from your door. 

Thus the dark one spake, imploring, 

To each stranger passing nigh; 

But each child and man and woman. 

Priest and Levite passed him by. 

Spurned of men,—despised, rejected. 

Spurned from school and church and hall, 

Spurned from business and from pleasure. 

Sad he stood, apart from all. 

Then I saw a form all glorious. 

Spotless as the dazzling light. 

As He passed, men veiled their faces. 

And the earth, as heaven, grew bright. 

Spake he to the dusky stranger, 

Awe-struck there on bended knee, 

Rise! for I have called the brother, 

I am not ashamed of thee. 

When I wedded mortal nature 

To my Godhead and my throne, 

Then I made all mankind sacred, 

Sealed all human for mine own. 

By Myself, the Lord of ages, 

I have sworn to right the wrong; 

I have pledged my word, unbroken. 

For the weak against the strong. 

And upon my Gospel banner 

I have blazed in light the sign— 

He who scorns his lowliest brother. 

Never shall have hand of mine. 

Hear the word!—who fight for freedom! 

Shout it in the battle’s van! 

Hope! for bleeding human nature! 

Christ the God, is Christ the man! 

This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p249901coll37/id/10812/rec/161
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    From what place(s) has the enslaved protagonist been spurned in the poem?
    School, church, hall, business and pleasure
  2. Question
    What is the theme of the poem?
    Abolition of slavery
  3. Question
    Based on the context of the poem, who is the “dark and weary stranger”?
    An enslaved man
  4. Question
    What effect does the rhyme scheme (ABCB) of the poem have on its emotional appeal?
    Answers will vary.
  5. Question
    How does the author employ abolitionist rhetoric through religious suasion?
    Answers will vary.
  6. Question
    Consider the relationship created through the title of the poem.
    Answers will vary.
Reveal Answers
Add to an Existing Learning Plan
    "Learning for Justice new fall issue out now."

    Read the Newest Issue of ‘Learning for Justice’ Magazine!

    In promoting diversity and fighting racism, inclusive education programs forged pathways toward building equitable societies. Now, as our nation confronts multiple assaults on democratic values, we hold firm in the fight to protect—and to expand—democracy through social justice education.

    Read Now!