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About this Item

Title: Song for Certain Congressmen

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 2, 1850

Whitman Archive ID: per.00004

Source: New York Evening Post 2 March 1850: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco

image 1

Song for Certain Congressmen.1

—Like dough; soft; yielding to pressure; pale.— [Webster's Dictionary.

We are all docile Dough-Faces,
They knead us with the fist,
They, the dashing southern lords,
We labor as they list;
For them we speak—or hold our tongues,
For them we turn and twist.
We join them in their howl against
Free soil and "abolition,"
That firebrand—that assassin knife—
Which risk our land's condition,
And leave no peace of life to any
Dough-Face politician.
To put down "agitation," now,
We think the most juidicious;
To damn all "northern fanatics,"
Those "traitors" black and vicious;
The "reg'lar party usages"
For us, as no "new issues."
Things have come to a pretty pass,
When a trifle small as this
Moving and bartering nigger slaves
Can open an abyss,
With jaws a-gape for "the two great parties;"
A pretty thought, I wis!
We know not where they're found.
Rights of the masses—Progress!—Bah!
Words that tickle and sound;
But claiming to rule o'er "practical men"
Is very different ground.
Beyond all such we know a term
Charming to ears and eyes,
With it we'll stab young Freedom,
And do it in disguise;
Speak soft, ye wily Dough-Faces—
That term is "compromise."
And what if children, growing up,
In future seasons read
The thing we do—and heart and tongue
Accurse us for the deed?
The future cannot touch us;
The present gain we heed.
Then, all-together, Dough-Faces!
Let's stop the exciting clatter,
And pacify slave-breeding wrath
By yielding all the matter;
For otherwise, as sure as guns,
The Union it will shatter.
Besides, to tell the honest truth
(For us an innovation,)
Keeping in with the slave power
Is our personal salvation;
We're very little to expect
From t' other part of the nation.
Indeed it's plain at Washington
Who likeliest wins the chase.
What earthly chance has "Free Soil"
For any good fat place?
While many a dew has feathered his nest
By his creamy and meek Dough-Face.
Take heart, then, sweet companions,
Be steady Scripture Dick!
Douglas, Cass, and Walker,
To your allegiance stick!
With Brooks, and Briggs and Phoenix,
Stand up through thin and thick!
We do not ask a bold brave front;
We never try that game;
'Twould bring the storm upon our heads,
A huge mad storm of shame;
Evade it brothers—subterfuge
Will answer just the same.


1. Revised as "Dough-Face Song" in Specimen Days (1882–83). [back]


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