Southern Literary Messenger, Mount Vernon, Vol. 21, Issue 12, 1855.


This poem, published in the Southern Literary Messenger in December 1855, calls for the preservation of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The anonymous author is responding to a widely published 1853 letter from “A Southern Matron,” the pseudonym used by Ann Pamela Cunningham, the founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, when she began her campaign to save the estate from dilapidation. Cunningham addressed women of the South, but this poem by a “lady of Philadelphia” shows how the cause soon spread to the North.


Mount Vernon

Inscribed to the “southern matron.”

By a lady of Philadelphia.

Let no rude steps those precincts fair invade

Where our immortal Washington is laid –

No purpose ruth assail that hallowed soil,

Where rests the noble hero from his toil,

But let it be our country’s treasured shrine

Sacred as erst were those in Palestine.

Our country! Oh! what thrilling memories rise,

As backward o’er the past I sweep my eyes!

Here in these streets, how often he hath trod,

Who conquered foemen by the help of God!

Here through these very streets, with pennons fair

While strains of martial music filled the air,

He led his soldiers to the battle plain,

Where hurtling shots fell round him like the rain,

And warriors dropped like leaves in Autumn time

When blighting winds sweep through our genial


Ah those were days when hearts were true and brave!

There are such now’ they gather round the grave,

Where sleeps the hero, sage and Christian just,

Seeking with pious care to guard his dust.

Let all unite – let no ungrateful heart,

Refuse to bear at least an humble part.

Is there not room throughout our land so wide –

From the Pacific, to the Atlantic’s tide –

From the far rising to the setting sun,

To leave untouched the home of Washington!

Or is it gold ye need? Go ask for gold!

A grateful nation with its wealth untold,

Will pour its lavish sums, as once poured blood

To gain our freedom on this favored sod,

Then ever sacred to the patriot’s bier,

We’ll hold the Mecca which we all revere.  

“To the Ladies of the South,” 1853
APA Citation:
Anonymous. Southern Literary Messenger, Mount Vernon, Vol. 21, Issue 12, 1855.. (2024, April 01). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Anonymous. "Southern Literary Messenger, Mount Vernon, Vol. 21, Issue 12, 1855." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (01 Apr. 2024). Web. 22 Jul. 2024
Last updated: 2024, April 12
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