Introduction

Published in various songbooks during the election of 1860 and also during the Civil War, these alternate lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” make it clear that to the composer, at least, slavery was at the heart of the sectional conflict of the era.


Source: The Union must and shall be preserved. Air.- Star Spangled Banner. H. De Marsan, Publisher, … N. Y. Monographic. Online Text. https://www.loc.gov/item/amss.cw106170/.


THE UNION MUST AND SHALL BE PRESERVED, to the tune of “Star-Spangled Banner”

O say, can a thought so vile and base come
To the mind of a dweller on Columbia’s soil,
That the work of our fathers should now be undone,
And unwound should now be the proud national coil!
And that traitors should sway and rule o’er this proud land
With tyranny’s lash, and the plunderers brand!
No, never! Freemen, never! With the right our arm nerved,
The Union it must, and it shall be preserved

And though traitors may spring from ‘mong kindred and friends,
Let them look to themselves, to the Union we’re true;
If their hearts will prove false let its blood make amends,
And the stain we’ll wash off while our hands we imbue!
Neither love of friends false or kindred shall save
Them the terror of flight, and the gloom of the grave,
Let them look to themselves, with right our arm nerved,
The Union it must and shall be preserved!

If a son or a father prove false to the flag,
Then sever the tie with which nature has bound you,
And remember, though anguish your own heart may drag
To despair! that the love of your Country has found you.
And, whatever the issue be of this foul strife,
Be sure that it cost not fair Liberty’s life.
Then let traitors beware! With the right our arm nerved,
The Union it must, and it shall be preserved!

Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and fraternal blood spilling.
May they ever be guided, great God, by thy hand,
To obey thy just laws and commandments be willing;
And a prosperous nation we ever shall be,
With true love for our Country and full trust in Thee,
Grant these blessings, Jehova! with the right still us nerve,
While the Union we rush to uphold and preserve!