December 11, 1845, and the United States has declared war on Mexico. In Boston, James R. Lowell published a poem; the first stanza of which went:
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light...