“My Sweetheart is Liberty”


Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, “I was free born.” All men should be free. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” CS 227:19 (lesson 9).

Orison Swett Marden on General Francis Marion:

[The] visiting British officer …. had been led into [General Marion’s] camp blindfolded, bearing a flag of truce, and expecting to see a general of commanding presence, and an army of giant men, for the band of the famous “Swamp-Fox” was then a terror to every red-coat in the Carolinas. When the bandage was removed, he was introduced to a swarthy, smoke-dried little man, scantily clad in threadbare homespun; and, in place of tall ranks of gaily dressed soldiers, he beheld a handful of sunburned, yellow-legged militiamen.

[The visitor] had accepted his invitation [to dine, and one of Marion’s men] used a stick to roll out a heap of sweet potatoes that had been snugly roasting under the embers. “I fear, sir,” continued the general, “our dinner will not prove so palatable to you as I could wish, but it is the best we have.” The officer began to eat one of the potatoes, out of politeness, but soon he laughed heartily at the strange meal. “I beg pardon, general,” said he, “but one can not always command himself, you know.” “I suppose it is not equal to your style of living,” suggested Marion. “No, indeed,” replied the other, “and I imagine this is one of your accidental Lent dinners. In general, no doubt, you live a great deal better.” “Rather worse,” answered the general, “for often we don’t get even enough of this.” “Heavens!” rejoined the officer, “but probably, stinted in provisions, you draw noble pay? ” “Not a cent, sir,” said Marion, “not a cent.” “Heavens and earth!” exclaimed the Briton, “then you must be in a bad box. I don’t see, general, how you can stand it.”

“Why, sir,” returned Marion, “these things depend upon feeling. The heart is all, and when that is much interested, a man can do anything. Many a youth would think it hard to make himself a slave for fourteen years. But let him be head and ears over in love, and with such a beauteous sweetheart as Rachel, and he will think no more of fourteen years’ servitude than young Jacob did.

“This is exactly my case. I am in love, and my sweetheart is Liberty, and I am happy indeed. I would rather fight for such blessings for my country and feed on roots, than keep aloof, though wallowing in all the luxuries of Solomon. For now, sir, I walk the soil that gave me birth, and exult in the thought that I am not unworthy of it. I look upon these venerable trees around me and feel that I do not dishonor them. The children of future generations may never hear my name, but it gladdens my heart to think that I am now contending for their freedom and all its countless blessings.”

When the British officer returned, his colonel asked: “Why do you look so serious?” “I have cause, sir,” said he, “to look serious.” “What, has General Marion refused to treat?” “No, sir,” said the officer. “Well, then, has old Washington defeated Sir Henry Clinton, and broken up our army?” “No, sir, not that, but worse.” “Ah! what can be worse?” asked the colonel. “Why, sir,” replied the officer, “I have seen an American general and his officers without pay, and almost without clothes, living on roots and drinking water, and all for liberty! What chance have we against such men?” And at the first opportunity the young officer threw up his commission and retired from the service, for he believed that the enthusiasm which can conquer such hardships is invincible.

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