AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! An Oration by Justice Colonel Henry Alger Gildersleeve (1840-1923) At The Centennial Celebration At Irving Hall, New York City, July 4th, 1876.
Fellow-citizens:—We are gathered here to-day from every quarter of this great metropolis, imbued with a common purpose and actuated by a common motive, which every individual present understands full well. Our ears are straining to hear and our minds are eager to receive the words of gratitude, patriotism and liberty—the themes to-day of 40,000,000 of freemen. Our hearts are swelling to greet these sentiments, and with shouts of applause to waft them on until they echo amid the white hills of the East and the mountains of the far West, or die away on the placid gulf of the South.
One hundred years of liberty and union! Not every year of peace and quiet, but if maintained sometimes by battle and blood so much the richer and dearer. Shall we not be pardoned on this day for manifestations of pride at the success of the Republic? The history of the world shows the people of every nation possess, instinctively, pride and love of country, and are we not justly proud of our country, which can point to more progress and more great achievement in a single century than have been vouchsafed to any other nation in a decade of centuries?
The love of country! Time cannot efface it,
Nor distance dim its heaven descended light;
Nor adverse fame nor fortune e’er deface it.
It dreads no tempest and it knows no night.
Who would not be an American citizen and claim a home in these United States? It has a home, bread and raiment for the family of every honest industrious man, no matter under what skies his eyes first saw the light of day, nor by what language he could be heard. Our lands are broad and free to all. The latch-string that opens to Uncle Sam’s domain hangs ever on the outside, and honest emigrants are always welcome within our borders. We try to-day to show our gratitude to the noble men who secured our independence and laid the foundation of our prosperity. What a pleasant task; but oh, how difficult! We have no memory rich with thankfulness that is not theirs. We have no praise rich with reverence that is not theirs. The world never saw more unselfish or truer patriots. No legislative hall ever held wiser statesmen. Our liberty is the fruit of their labor and sacrifice. At the mention of the name of the humblest of their numbers we now bow in humble adoration and thanksgiving. May this warm affection never cool in the hearts of the American people; may we never tire in studying the early history of our Republic and the characters and lives of the great men who forged for us so strong and well the pillars of liberty and equality. They are the boasted strength of our government and the envy of the other nations of the world. The past is a sure and safe guard by which to build hereafter. Our history assures us of the bright and lasting future if we but cling to the sheet anchor of our safety, the Constitution of the United States, and in harmonious accord remain loyal to our country’s flag—emblem of liberty, “flag of the free heart’s hope and home.” And when thrones shall have crumbled into dust, when scepters and diadems shall have long been forgotten, the flag of our Republic shall still wave on, and its stars, its stripes, its eagle shall still float in pride and strength and glory over the whole land; not a stripe erased or polluted, or a single star obscured.See also: NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903 SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775 TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891 Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895 True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876 WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876 OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876 RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876 The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini Obama’s Nazi Youth Campaign Slogan “Forward” The Failure of Marxism and Socialism