Poem: “Good-bye!” by Off for Kansas! by John Willis Menard

0 Posted by - May 13, 2021 - Black History, History, LATEST POSTS, Poems

John Willis Menard was a federal government employee, poet, newspaper publisher and politician born in Illinois to parents who were Louisiana Creoles from New Orleans.

Menard was born in 1838 in Kaskaskia in Randolph County in southern Illinois, to parents who were free people of color. They were Louisiana Creoles from New Orleans, of mostly European and some African descent

Menard was elected as the very first black Congressman, but ultimately, was excluded because of his race. By virtue of this conflict, he has been recorded in history as the first black man to speak in the House of Representatives by way of arguing the validity of his election. He favored black separatism and emigration, believing in a separation of the races.

Menard was a poet, the author of Lays in Summer Lands (1879). Menard was also the editor of the Florida News and the Southern Leader from 1882 to 1888.

Menard died in the District of Columbia and was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Washington, D.C. When Graceland closed in 1894, his remains were moved to nearby Woodlawn Cemetery.


Good-bye! Off for Kansas!
by John Willis Menard

Good-bye ye bloody scenes of long ago!–
Good-bye to cotton fields and hounds!
From you, vile sources of my earthly woe,
My freed and leaping spirit bounds!
Though free, my work to me no prfit yields,
And for my politics, am mobb’d;
No more thank God! upon these bloody firelds
Shall I be of my labor robb’d!
Good-bye Aunt Polly! good-bye Uncle Ned!
I am off, and shall not come back;
This land is cursed; we are in rags, half fed,
Bull-dozed and killed by Yellow Jack!
Good-bye! I’ve sold my little cane and corn!
And am off for the river’s banks;
ANd when I step on board to-morrow morn,
I’ll sing and give the good Lord thanks!

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