John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), was one of the best-known American poets. He was known as the "Quaker Poet," as his faith was exhibited in his life and poetry. He wrote Panorama, in 1856, which included the favorites "Barefoot Boy," and Maud Muller." His other renowned works include: song of the Vermonteers, 1779, Lays of My Home and other poems, 1843, Voices of Freedom, 1846, Snowbound, 1866, Justice and Expediency, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.
He was the editor of the American Manufacturer, the Essex Gazette, The Pennsylvania Freeman, and the National Era. He bitterly opposed slavery, to the extent that once he was mobbed and severely beaten during a speaking tour. Later, his office in Philadelphia was burned. John Greenleaf Whittier, one of the first to suggest the creation of a Republican Party, wrote:
"I believe in the Scriptures because they repeat the warnings and promises of the indwelling Light and Truth; I find in them the eternal precepts of the Divine Spirit declared and repeated. They testify of Christ within.... My ground of hope for myself and for humanity is in that Divine fullness which was manifested in the life, teachings, and self-sacrifice of Christ. In the infinite mercy of God so revealed, and not in any work or merit of my own nature, I humbly, yet very hopefully, trust." - Samuel T. Pickard, Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier, pp. 264,265. Stephen Abbott Northrop, D.D., A Cloud of Witnesses (Portland, Oregon: American Heritage Ministries, 1987), p. 501-502. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Glory of America (Bloomington, MN: Garborg's Heart 'N Home, Inc., 1991), 4.22.
In 1876, one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and shortly after the Civil War had ended, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote his famous Centennial Hymn:
"We meet today, united free,
And loyal to our land and Thee,
To thank Thee for the era done,
And trust Thee for the opening one.
O Maker Thou us, through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of Thy righteous law:
And, cast in some diviner mould,
Let the new cycle shame the old! - 1876, in his poem Centennial Hymn. Patriotic Anthology, p. 395. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Glory of America (Bloomington, MN: Garborg's Heart 'N Home, Inc., 1991), 12.14.15.
In poetic verse, John Greenleaf Whittier expressed:
The Word of God
Voice of the Holy Spirit, making known
Man to himself, a witness swift and sure,
Warning, approving, true and wise and pure,
Counsel and guidance that misleadeth none!
By Thee the mystery of Life is read;
The picture writing of the world's gray seers,
The myths and parables of the primal years,
Whose letter kills, by thee interpreted
Take healthful meanings fitted to our needs,
And in the soul's vernacular express
The common law of simple righteousness.
Hatred of cant and doubt of human creeds
May well be felt the unpardonable sin
Is to deny the Word of God within! - Samuel T. Pickard, Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier, pp. 264,265. Stephen Abbott Northrop, D.D., A Cloud of Witnesses (Portland, Oregon: American Heritage Ministries, 1987), p. 501-502.
We may not climb the heavenly steeps
To bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
For Him no depths can drown.
O Lord and Master of us all!
Whate'er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.
Deep strike Thy roots, O heavenly Vine,
Within our earthly sod,
Most human and yet most Divine,
The flower of Man and God! - ibid.