RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments

10AThe Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832

CHAPTER IV.

Of the Powers delegated to the State Governments, by the people of each State respectively.

As the people of the several states have formed a political union by the federal constitution, for the purpose of providing for the general welfare of all; and, for the more effectual attainment of this object, have agreed upon a frame of government for the United States, thus constituting themselves to a certain extent a consolidated empire or government; in the same manner, the people of each of the states in the union, have formed a social compact with each other, and have agreed to adopt a state government, for the purpose of providing for the safety and happiness of each and of all the inhabitants, residing within their respective territories. The general government has the care and control of all the external relations of all the states collectively, as one great nation; the state governments have the regulation of the internal affairs of their respective states, and it is their duty to provide for the domestic safety and tranquility of each citizen. The former protects the whole nation, and every state or constituent part, from the hostile aggression of foreign enemies, and all other political dangers, arising either from external or internal causes; the latter regulates the social intercourse of private individuals with each other in all the various relations of society, and furnishes as far as is practicable, a protection against private violence, fraud or other injustice. As the former depends upon the will or assent of the whole people of all the states in the Union; so each of the latter depends upon the will or assent of all the people of each state, collectively. As the national compact of the United States is contained in the federal constitution; so the social compact of the people of each state, is contained in their state constitution, respectively. For the more clear illustration of this doctrine, an example may be taken, viz: The people of the state of Massachusetts have made a social compact with each other, in their state constitution, for the purpose, among others, of securing their natural rights, as far as they think consistent with the necessary restraints of organized society; in this case they act as individuals; they have also, collectively made a compact with the inhabitants of each of the other states collectively, for their mutual safety and defence against foreign enemies, the terms of which compact are contained in the federal constitution; in this case, the inhabitants collectively of each state, act as a distinct tribe and independent nation. In this manner and to this extent, the whole people of the United States, by the adoption of the federal constitution have become one great nation, with this qualification, however, that, if the union should be dissolved, the whole nation will not be resolved into its primary elements, i. e. the people in a state of anarchy, or, in a state of nature, but merely into those elements of a second order, viz. into the tribes or nations, which now reside on the territories of the states respectively, and which are now, and would then still continue to be, in subjection to the respective state governments.

states rights 1The people of the United States have agreed, that the federal constitutions shall be paramount in power and obligation to the constitution of the respective states, so that, if there should be discovered any incompatibility between the former and any of the latter of these, it is the latter which must yield. And as some of the state constitutions were adopted previous to the federal constitution, and some afterwards, it follows, that if any of the powers previously bestowed by the people of any of the states, on their respective state governments, in their state constitutions, should be found inconsistent with any powers afterwards conferred by them on the federal government in the federal constitution, the exercise of those powers by the state governments would be so far taken away, or more properly suspended. On the other hand, if the people of any state, since the adoption of the federal constitution, have granted any powers in the State constitution, to their respective state governments, and those powers should be found incompatible with any power previously granted to the federal government, in the federal constitution, the grant of power in the state constitution, will be considered as so far void. In the former case, it is presumed that the people of the states, by their adoption of the federal constitution have agreed to waive the provisions or the state constitution, so far as the inconsistency extends. In the latter, it is considered not to be within the power of any state, to curtail the powers granted in the federal constitution, without the consent of the other states.

From these general propositions as a basis, it follows, that any article or provision in a state constitution, which may interfere with the provisions of any national treaty whether made before or afterwards, if agreeable to the constitution of the United States, will be so far void. And for the same reason, if any article in a state constitution should be found to interfere with an act of congress, whether enacted before or afterwards, agreeably to the constitution of the United States, will also be so far void. Because, either an act of congress, or a treaty, made agreeably to the constitution of the United States, is entitled to the same respect as the constitution itself, since each must be made by virtue of powers granted by it. But, where a certain power is granted to congress in the federal constitution, which without any inconsistency or inconvenience may also be exercised by the states,’ the grant to congress, does not necessarily imply a prohibition to the states to exercise the same power. But, where the exercise of the same powers by both the federal government and the respective state governments, is incompatible, if both should legislate on the same subject, the act of congress must prevail and will suspend not only all laws made by the states concerning that subject, but of course the power itself in the state constitution. For example, congress have the constitutional power to pass a general bankrupt law ; but, until they exercise this power, the states may enact a bankrupt law within their respective territories. If congress afterwards enact a general bankrupt law, this annuls the state bankrupt law, and suspends the authority of the state legislatures to act on the same subject. If congress then repeals the general bankrupt law, the power of the state to legislate on that subject, again revives. See 4 Wheat. 122.

It may be remarked here incidentally, that, as the states cannot directly impede or hinder the exercise or operation of any of the constitutional powers of congress, or of any department of the general government, for the same reason any law of a state, which indirectly tends to the same purpose, will be so far void. See 4 Wheat. 316.

It will be observed on consulting some of the state constitutions, that they contain words expressive of a grant of powers, which though limited, are sovereign within the limits. These, it is obvious, must be suspended of annulled, so far as they are irreconcilable with the constitution of the United States, or any treaty or act of congress, made by virtue of it. But, if it should ever happen, that the Union should be dissolved, without any fault on the part of the state governments, it cannot be doubted but that all such sovereign powers expressly granted in the state constitutions, will immediately revive and be in force, until altered or resumed by the people of those states respectively.

Subject to these few restrictions and rules of construction, the powers delegated to each state government by the people of the state, may be readily ascertained by consulting the state constitution. And here it will be observed, that some of these social compacts, have a declaration of the natural rights of the citizens prefixed, with an intimation how many of them, and to what extent, they are submitted to, or exempted from the control of the state government erected by the state constitution; or, from the powers granted by it to the state rulers.

If any contradiction should seem to exist between the bill of rights and the constitution of any state, in any particular respect, it would seem reasonable to consider (he constitution as the compact, in which the powers of the state governments are delegated, and the bill of rights as merely the basis or substratum, on which such delegation is predicated. The constitution therefore, in any such case, where the intent of it is clearly expressed, ought not to be restrained by the bill of rights. But where the intent of the constitution is not precisely ascertainable of itself, it would be very proper to consider the bill of rights, as furnishing the best means of ascertaining the true meaning of those who framed the constitution, and giving a just construction to it. Where the bill of rights is clear, declaring explicitly what rights the people are entitled to enjoy in relation to a particular subject, if the constitution is silent in relation to it, all laws or regulations of the legislature made not to preserve, but to contravene, limit, or infringe such rights, are void ; because they will have been enacted, without any authority from the people. But, if any such law or regulation is made contrary to any provisions of the constitution of the state, it will be void, because, enacted against the express will of the people.

As it would not be practicable, within a reasonable compass, to give a detailed account of each of the state constitutions, a few general remarks only upon the powers delegated in them, by the people of the respective states to their state rulers, will be submitted to the reader.

wewantlibertyThe state constitutions contain, in the first place, the frame of government, which the people of the states have seen fit to adopt for the regulation of their respective territories; secondly, those powers which the people have delegated to their rulers; and lastly the restrictions upon those powers.

1. The frame of government of each of the states, is very similar in principle, to that of all the rest. Each of them has a governor or chief executive officer, with or without a council; a legislature, consisting of an upper and a lower house, or a senate and house of representatives; and a judiciary, which is either expressly established in the constitution, or erected by the legislature by virtue of powers conferred on them for that purpose, in that compact. The governors are chosen for one or more years; but no one holds his office either for life, or, during good behavior. The democratic principle, which runs through all the state governments, as well as the government of the United States, is most discoverable in the legislature, consisting of a senate or upper house, a body of men, presumed to be distinguished for their gravity, dignity of character, experience and wisdom; and, a lower house, or house of representatives or delegates, supposed to consist of men arrived at mature age, but retaining their full strength and capacity for active business. These characteristic qualifications however are sometimes lost sight of, and are frequently found interchanged in the two houses. It is not very unusual to see youthful sages in the senate; it is not uncommon to behold in the lower house, ardent temperaments, whose desire to render themselves conspicuous by their eloquence, the frosts of age have been unable to chill.

Many of the states have taken care, that the lower house shall not become so numerous, as to be liable by possibility, to assume the appearance of an irregular or primary assembly of the people. Some however still continue oppressed as with an incubus, by a house of representatives excessively numerous, which the people have frequently, but in vain, expressed a wish to have diminished.

The disadvantages, which might naturally be expected to result from too numerous a house of representatives, are,-

1. Unstable legislation; many new members are desirous of ‘rendering themselves conspicuous by the introduction of some fancied reform, and this, without being well acquainted with the state of the laws then in force. The disadvantage of frequent changes in the laws, is, that the people never know when they are safe; for, they hardly can have time to learn what the laws are before they are repealed, and new ones enacted.

2. A great increase of unimportant business in the legislature: this, in all probability, would arise, in part, from the zeal of the members to seem active in the service of the people; and partly, because the proximity of a member of the house, would frequently suggest to his neighbors a variety of applications to the legislature, which might hardly be thought of under other circumstances. The time consumed by the legislature. in the consideration of private applications respecting affairs of little or no moment to the public, may frequently be of more value in a pecuniary point of view, than the grant or denial of the application; yet, as every member in the house has a right to be heard on every subject, the time consumed in any debate, may obviously depend upon the number of speakers who choose to avail themselves of this right; this naturally suggests,

3. Prolonged debates, and almost interminable speeches. The propensity to indulge in popular declamation, which excites ambitious persons to deliver long harangues before numerous assemblies, loses much of its force, when they find themselves in the presence of a smaller body of individuals, each of whom the orator perceives to be a man of experience and discernment, and consequently not likely to be agreeably affected, or at all influenced by common place appeals to popular prejudices or predilections, the flourishes and sallies of debating clubs, or the rhetoric of the academies.

4. A vast expense to the state, not only directly, in money actually expended, but – indirectly, in the waste of time, which might be more profitably employed. This is a subject of frequent remark, but the amount of the loss arising to the state in this way, is not estimated as it ought to be, from not being considered with sufficient attention, and submitted to calculation. Let it be supposed then that the senate contains forty members, and the house of representatives double that number, which, if the difference in years and experience, and consequently in weight of character, is considered, will be a reasonable or proportional estimate. Suppose the pay of the representatives to be two dollars a day, apiece; and the travel fees of each member, one with another, to amount on an average to five dollars for both coming and returning, and the session of the legislature to continue ninety days. Then the whole charge on the state for a single session of the house of representatives, will be composed, so far as the present subject is concerned, of the following particulars. The attendance of eighty members, at two dollars a day for ninety days, will amount to $ 14,400; to which adding the travel fees of eighty members at five dollars apiece, viz. four hundred dollars, the whole amount will be $14,800. On the other hand, let it be supposed, that the house of representatives contains five hundred members. Then, at the same rate, it will be seen, that their pay, being two dollars a day, for five hundred representatives, for ninety days, will amount to $90,000, and their travel fees will be $2,500; the whole amount of both will be $92,500. Here, it is apparent, without any nicety of calculation, that there would be an annual saving to the state of $77,700 in money. If it is further considered, that, in all probability, the session of the legislature would be shortened, at least one third, by the reduction of the numbers of the representatives, in consequence of the subtraction of unimportant business, the suspension of unprofitable debate, and the infrequent recurrence of questions of order and formality, there would be a further saving of $4,800, with about half as much for the senate, viz. $2,400; amounting together to $7,200 to be added to the former saving of $77,700. The whole saving to the state, in money alone, in consequence of thus reducing the number of representatives, f thus appears, would probably be $84,900. This howeve would not be all, as appears from the following considerations It would be a degrading estimate of the value of the service of those individuals, who are elected representatives in tin state legislature, where their services are wanted at all, t(‘ suppose that their private business, which they are obliged t( neglect while they are attending in the house of representatives, would not bring them in, as much as the pay which they receive for their public duties. On the supposition, then, that the public good would be as well provided for in a less numerous house of representatives; and that the attendance of all beyond the proposed number of eighty representatives, is wholly useless; and that each of those members, on an average, would, in his private capacity, or, in his regular calling, perform services, or earn, to the amount of two dollars a day; it will appear, that the public lose by having five hundred representatives, the amount which four hundred and twenty of them might earn in ninety days, at two dollars a day, deducting however every seventh day. This loss will readily be found to amount to $75,600. And though it is not a pecuniary loss, like the abstraction of money directly from the treasury of the commonwealth; yet, it ought by no means to be wholly neglected by those, who wish to form a correct judgment of the expediency or inexpediency of public measures.

Under these views of this subject, can any one doubt, that it would greatly advance the public interest, in any such case, to reduce the representation in this manner and to this extent? Or, if eighty members of the house were selected, can any one doubt, that they would be a far more wise and efficient body than the whole number of five hundred, though including the same eighty? Would not the public service be better consulted and sooner performed? Would not the commonwealth in that case, be better able to afford to attend to minute business, at the same time that less of it would be brought before the legislature? Would not there be fewer laws passed, and would they not be more likely to survive the session of the legislature, at which they were enacted? If these advantages would result, would it not be better for the other four hundred and twenty representatives to remain at home?

But, perhaps it will be objected, that, it will be impracticable to apportion this reduced number of eighty, properly or equally. But, in fact, there needs be but little difficulty on the subject. Let the apportionment be, that each county send one, and then let the rest of the eighty representatives, be apportioned among those counties whose population entitles them to more than one representative, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, or the rateable polls, or the qualified voters for representatives, as may be judged best.

If it should be objected, in any such case, that the mode of electing representatives, will, in this way, become too much assimilated to that of electing senators; the answer is, that, let the representatives be chosen in what way they may, still they must be chosen by the people of the same state, who elect the senators. To district the state in a different manner for one class than for the other, is merely a piece of political pedantry, and would be attended with no benefit whatever. Its only recommendation is a show of wisdom. But, perhaps it will be objected, that the representatives are in the nature of agents for the towns by which they are chosen; and, if this mode of apportionment should be adopted, the towns would lose their agents. The answer is, that this would be a general benefit and not a disadvantage. Because, it would be much better that, the representatives should consider themselves, as the representatives of the people of the state, and owing a duty to the whole state, than consider themselves as the mere agents or instruments of the towns which send them, and accountable to them alone for their behavior in office. If they consider themselves in the former light, they will feel bound to consult the general good of the whole state, though it should happen to be inconsistent with some inconsiderable local interest. But, if they consider themselves as the agents of the towns, they will be tempted to sacrifice the good of the state, to that of the little clan which elects them, whenever those interests come into competition, from an apprehension that otherwise, they shall not be again returned to the legislature.

If the representatives are chosen in the way suggested, and their number is limited to double that of the senate, they will become at the same time more independent, and more respected. Petty intrigue and compromise will be more likely to cease. There will be less fluctuation in the laws, and there will be a greater probability that the weak point in a democratic government, may become equally its ornament and strong hold.

The future historian will probably smile at the simplicity of the citizens of any state thus situated, who should confide the task of reforming its representation in this particular, to the representatives themselves, Whose numbers are to be reduced by the amendment. Is it to be expected that the representative of an inconsiderable village, will so far consult its interests, as to vote himself out of the house of representatives, even though he should relieve the village of a large proportion of its state tax ; a consequence, which it has been shown, will certainly follow from the reduction of the number of the representatives? That they ought to be reduced, few will risk their reputation for political sagacity, so far, as to deny; but, the object of a denial of its expediency may just as well be obtained, by refusing under one pretext or other, to concur in any amendment which can be proposed, and making it a theme for never ending debate. If the people wish to have this measure adopted, they should take care to give their representatives explicit instructions to that effect; for, it is an evil, which yearly increases with the growth of the country, and will never remedy itself.

2. With regard to the powers delegated to the state governments by the people of the respective states, in their state constitutions, it may be remarked, that, all these powers may be reduced to the general heads of regulating the election or appointment of all public officers; making provision for the administration of justice; providing for the support of the government of the state, and adopting such measures, and enacting such laws from time to time as shall be found expedient for the safety, welfare, growth and general prosperity of the state; always however in subjection to the powers delegated to the general government in the constitution of the United States.

For the purpose of obtaining these general objects, particular powers are given in the state constitutions, more or less extensive and subject to various restrictions. Beyond these express powers, and such others as must necessarily be implied, in order to render the exercise of those which are expressed, effectual, neither the legislature nor any other branch of the state government, can constitutionally proceed. If they should attempt to do so, it would be an attempt to usurp power; and their laws or other acts, would be void and without obligation. The following short report of a case, the insertion of which, it is hoped the reader will excuse, may serve to illustrate the doctrine on this subject. It is the more worthy of notice, because it shows the necessity of having some check to prevent the usurpations and encroachments of the legislative departments of the freest governments on earth.

Massachusetts. Supreme Judicial Court. February Term, 1789. E. Goddard and alt. v. G. Goddard. The case was, G. Goddard sued out a writ of ejectment of lands in Roxbury against E. Goddard, returnable to the court of common pleas in Suffolk, July term, 1786, at which term E. Goddard was defaulted, and G. Goddard had judgment for seisin and possession, which judgment was executed by a writ of Habere facias possessionem. Afterwards, November 5th, 1787, the general court, on the petition of Jona. Metcalfe and uxor, Resolved, for reasons set forth in the petition, that the prayer thereof be granted, and that the said Jonathan and Hannah, his wife be empowered to re-enter the said action, and to become parties to the said suit at the common pleas in Suffolk, in January term in 1788, and the court are hereby authorized and directed to proceed thereon, according to law and the rules of the said court, in the same manner as if the said action had been regularly continued in the said court; the said Jonathan and Hannah, serving the said G. Goddard with an attested copy of the resolve, fourteen days at least before the sitting of the said court. Afterwards, at January term aforesaid, the action was re-entered, and the said Jonathan and Hannah were admitted by the court of common pleas, parties to the suit, and at the same term the action was dismissed, the said Jonathan being dead. Afterwards, on the petition of Fisher Ames, Esq. on the behalf of the said Hannah, the general court Resolved, that the said judgment recovered by the said G. Goddard, be annulled and reversed, and that the said writ of Habere facias possessionem, and all proceedings in pursuance thereof, be rendered null and void; and the clerk of the court of common pleas was directed to carry forward the action to July term, 1788, as if it had been regularly continued and not dismissed; and that the said Hannah should be admitted a joint defendant with the said E. Goddard; and the court of common pleas, and the supreme judicial court (if the same should be carried there) should have cognizance thereof in like manner, as if it had not been defaulted and dismissed, and the said Hannah had been an original defendant with the said E. Goddard; and if the said G. Goddard shall not prosecute his action, or shall not proceed therein, the said courts are required and directed to render judgment for the defendants, for their possession and costs, and to award a writ of Habere facias possessionem, in like manner as if the said Hannah and E. Goddard had demandad the same by the writ aforesaid. Accordingly at July term, 1788, the action was brought forward, and the said Hannah admitted a joint defendant, with E. Goddard, by order of court, and G. Goddard appears, and the pleadings are filed as follows; G. Goddard objects to the resolve as unconstitutional and against law; and the opposite party agrees to carry the cause or action up, ‘ for the judgment of the supreme judicial court, and that, when under the consideration of that court, the said G. Goddard shall have and be entitled to all and every advantage in the cause, whatever, as well respecting the said resolve, as the parties, and the action itself, which he now has or can have before the court of common pleas; and no injury or disadvantage shall accrue to the said G. Goddard, by reason of his thus appearing in this court in this manner, if the law would subject him otherwise to any.’ On which agreement the action was carried by a demurrer to a bad plea, to the supreme judicial court. August term, 1788; at which term the parties appeared. After argument upon the force and effect of the resolution of the general court, the cause was continued for advisement to February term, 1789, when the court ordered the following special judgment to be entered, viz.; ‘This cause appears to have been entered at a court of common pleas, held at Boston on the first Tuesday of July, 1788, in pursuance of a resolve of the general court, to which resolve the said G. Goddard objects and demurs, because he says, that by the thirtieth article of the declaration of rights it is declared, that in this government, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them; that the legislature of this commonwealth cannot by act or resolve nullify and reverse a judgment of court, and the consequent proceedings thereon, without exercising the judicial power; that it plainly appears from the resolve of the general court, copies of which are among the papers of the case, that this suit is now pending there on the mere power and authority of the same resolve, which expressly declares the judgment of the court of common pleas upon the original process, annulled and reversed, and the writ of Habere facias possessionem, which issued thereon and all proceedings in pursuance thereof, null and void, and expressly directs other parties, not named in the original process, to be parties therein. That the said Hannah, if she had the right she claims, had and still has her remedy in the regular and common course of law,—the parties being fully heard thereon, It is therefore, upon mature consideration and advisement, considered by the court here, that they will take no further cognizance of this action in consequence of said resolves’ Per Curiam.

The acts of a state legislature may therefore be void, either because they are contrary to the constitution of the United States, or to some treaty or act of congress, made under its authority. See 5 Cranch, 344. 7 Cranch, 164. 4 Wheaton, 316. As, if a state should attempt to regulate foreign commerce, or, to lay a tax on imports or exports. See 9 Wheat. 201, 209. 12 Wheat. 419. So, if an act of a state legislature, should tend to hinder, or burden, or control the operation of any constitutional law enacted by congress.

So, if a state legislature should enact a law, without having any authority under the state constitution, and especially if contrary to any prohibition contained either in it, or in the bill of rights. The restrictions, upon the Powers of the States will be further considered under Chapter VI.

And here a question may arise of great importance and deep interest to the United States, as well as to each of the several states. As the constitution of the United States is a compact, by which the citizens of the United States have delegated to their rulers certain limited powers, and have made an express reservation, either to the states or to the people, of all powers not delegated in it; suppose one of the states, or a private individual should be of opinion, that congress had transcended its legitimate authority, and enacted an unconstitutional law; what remedy can be had?

States-RightsIt has been seen before, that an unconstitutional law, whether enacted by congress or by a state legislature, is equally void, because it is an infringement of the national compact. If the officers of the federal government or of the state government, should attempt to enforce it, any private individual injured by it, might bring his action and have the question of the constitutionality of the law settled in the last resort, before the supreme court of the United States. If the law were decided to be constitutional, there would be an end of the question, so far as concerns any private individual. But, if the law of congress had a particular bearing on the interest or policy of one or more of the states, which considered the law as not authorized by any powers, really intended to be granted to congress by the federal constitution, however it might seem to be included within them by the generality of the terms made use of to express those powers, any such state or states, without being driven to the necessity of impugning the correctness of the decision, and without having recourse to the rash and treasonable attempt of forcibly opposing the law, or the decree of the supreme court grounded on it, might justifiably adopt the following course of measures, if thought expedient; viz.

1. They might send a remonstrance to congress, alluding to the decision of the supreme court, and stating, that though the question of the constitutionality of the law, might be considered as so far settled in the affirmative, in a technical sense, that it must be considered as the law of the land and obeyed as such, until repealed; yet, they did not consider such law, as coming, in fact, within the real intention of the parties to the constitution. They might then state their objections to it, and show the inequality of its operation, or in what manner it tended to sacrifice the interests of the states complaining, either to that of the United States, or, in favor of some one or more particular states, or, in general point out in what respect it was unconstitutional. They might conclude with requesting a repeal of the law, or a modification of it in those offensive particulars. If the offensive law were not repealed or modified;—

2. They might appeal to the states; i. e. either to the respective states, or to the respective state governments, both or either, as might be thought expedient, stating the whole case, and all the public proceedings, which had taken place in relation to it. They might also state the injury or injustice, which they and their interests suffered in consequence of the operation of the law. They might then request the citizens, to instruct their representatives in congress, by a declaration in convention, to endeavor to procure a repeal of the law. They might also call on the state legislatures, to declare, what in their opinion the true construction of the constitution of the United States, in relation to the offensive law, ought to be. If the law were not repealed, or, if an opinion favorable to its constitutionality were expressed;—

3. They might send a second remonstrance directed to congress, another similar one directed to the legislatures of the several states, and a third of the same import, addressed to the citizens of each of the states collectively, as members or constituent parts of the Union. This remonstrance might contain in substance, that, though under a strict construction of the constitution, it might perhaps be considered, that congress had a power to pass the law complained of; yet, in fact, it never was in the contemplation of the states remonstrating, to grant congress any such power; that the exercise of it was injurious to them, and that they therefore requested the constitution might be so amended, as to restrain the exercise of such power for the time to come. If this application also failed of obtaining the desired object;—

Lastly : They might send a remonstrance addressed to the respective states, as well as to the citizens of the United States, as forming collectively one great nation. In this remonstrance they might state, that, when the constitution of the United States was adopted, the states remonstrating did not intend to enter into such a compact, as that national agreement had been construed to contain; that, under this instrument laws had been enacted, which were subversive of their interests, and unauthorized by any power which they had intended to grant by that compact; that they had made application for redress, in every mode which could reasonably be expected of them, but in vain; that the union, therefore, had not been attended with all the advantages, which they had contemplated in adopting it; and, on the contrary, some evils had resulted to them from it, which more than counterbalanced all the benefit which they had derived from it, or could expect from a continuance of their connexion with the union; and that therefore, they requested the consent of their brethren, associates, and fellow citizens, that they, the remonstrants, might peaceably withdraw themselves from the union. Further than this, it is not thought worth while to carry the supposition, because it is hoped, that such extraordinary folly will never be found either in the people of the United States, or, in the people of any state ; or, in those delegates or representatives, to whom the people of either government may intrust the decision of this momentous question, as to dissolve the union on any such account. * * * *

Having skipped the crimson page, which might naturally be expected here, since, let the attempt at separation be commenced how it may, there is but little hope, that it will ever be effected without bloodshed; suppose the union to be dissolved, and that the calm of peace has at length succeeded, what will become of the fame and renown of those distinguished statesmen, who framed, and persuaded the people of the United States to adopt, the present admirable system of general government? certainly, if this attempt to induce men to govern themselves by laws grounded on the dictates of reason, religion and virtue, should prove unsuccessful, the foundation upon which the reputation of those politicians for wisdom, is grounded, will be swept away by torrents of vice and corruption; and the names of most of those who have been flattered by holiday orators, that their glory would be imperishable, will be effaced from the columns of time, before this century has passed away. But, what is this in comparison with the degraded and imbecile state, to which this now great and flourishing republic will infallibly be reduced?

Two other questions naturally suggest themselves here.

1. If a law should be passed by congress, or any other public measure be adopted by the federal government, injurious to the interests of a particular state, and which should be decided by the supreme court of the United States to be constitutional, does the right, which the state has of adopting the course of remonstrance, just considered, belong to the government of the state or to the people of the state;—to the rulers, or, to the citizens?

The answer obviously must be, that, since, agreeably to the constitution of the United States, all rights, not delegated in it, are reserved to the states, or to’ the people, the determination of this question will depend upon the respective state constitutions. For, if the people of any state have given this superintending power to their state rulers in their constitution, those rulers will have the right to interpose, in the cases and in the manner before suggested and to that extent, but no further, between the general government and the people of their state. For, that such a power may be delegated by the citizens of each state, to their state rulers in general, or to the legislative, or the executive, or the judicial department singly, cannot be doubted. But, unless this power is thus expressly delegated, it must remain in the citizens; and, in that case, the interference of the state government itself, in its political capacity, will be a mere usurpation of illegal authority. It will not be denied, however, that, if the legislature of any state, should feel convinced that a law injurious to the interests of the state, and not warranted by the federal constitution, or the real intention of those who adopted it, had been enacted by congress, they would be bound to make it known to the people of the state, so that all proper measures might be adopted to procure its repeal. But, further than this, the state governments cannot constitutionally proceed, without authority from their citizens. For, within the powers delegated in the federal constitution, the government of the United states is the government, not only of all the states taken collectively, as one great nation; but, also is the government of each state taken separately; in the same manner, that within the powers delegated in the state constitutions, the state governments have the sovereign control of the affairs of the respective states, provided they do no act inconsistent with the federal constitution. But, neither the federal government, nor any of the state governments can justly transcend their assigned limits.

On examination of the state constitutions, however, it is believed, that no such power will be found to be given to the state governments, either expressly or by necessary implication, to interpose between the federal government and the citizens of any of the states; indeed, there would seem to be a manifest impropriety in intrusting any such power to them, if it is considered in what manner the state governments are organized. For, as the governor, as well as the members of the state legislatures, are chosen for short periods only, there could be but little dependance placed upon the permanence of any measures which, in an emergency of this nature, they might see fit to adopt; since however wise, firm and consistent the characters of the rulers may be, the administration of public affairs in popular governments, will always fluctuate, more or less according to the frequency of elections, with the changes of popular opinions. Because, a change in the public sentiment will immediately remove from office, all those individuals, whose offices are elective, and who are not pliant enough to accommodate their professions to the doctrines of the times ; and will put in their place, persons entertaining different opinions, and who consequently will adopt a different course of public measures. Besides, though the individuals usually selected for the public service, may be esteemed by the people, well qualified to answer the ordinary occasions of the public, by enacting the necessary laws for the regulation of the internal affairs of the state, and in the exercise of the powers conferred on the state governments in the state constitutions; yet, it is not at all unlikely, that, for the more important occasions of altering the slate constitution itself,—for the momentous crisis of assuming a new attitude with regard to the federal government, as well as an unexpected relation to the other states, the citizens of a state would think it expedient to call upon the highest abilities within their reach, for assistance: because nothing less would be thought adequate to direct them in any so dangerous a conjuncture.

Further; though aspiring men, even in the highest offices of the stale administration, if restricted to the exercise of the powers conferred on them by the state constitution, would have but little opportunity of disturbing the tranquility of society, in the common course of affairs; yet, if any power were conferred on such persons by the people, or, if they were permitted to usurp a power, to interfere in the manner before suggested, or, in any other manner between the government of the United States and the citizens of their own state, the most dangerous consequences might ensue. Because the strong desire, which such persons always have, to distinguish themselves in the eyes of the citizens of their own state, might prompt them to seize upon every pretense to rail against the general government; and, as far as inflammatory harangues, seditious and turbulent resolves, messages and addresses would go, to set it at defiance; and, in the improbable yet possible case of an actual encroachment upon some of the rights of the state, instead of adopting the wise and magnanimous course of friendly expostulation and remonstrance, thus giving the general government an opportunity of retracing its steps and redressing the grievance, if there were one, would gladly avail themselves of any such occasion, and from motives of selfish aggrandizement would be tempted to raise the standard of hostility, in the rash and unprincipled attempt to dissolve the union by force. Yet, what could they hope to gain by any such attempt? Certainly, the most probable consequence would be, that, though they might bring upon their own state the illimitable horrors of intestine war, they would ultimately be compelled to submit to reasonable terms of compromise, and observe the national compact to which all have agreed.

It would be desirable, without doubt, that the power, now under consideration, should be confided to the governor and the members of both houses of the legislature of the respective states, if their term of office were longer, so that there would be less reason to distrust the consistency as well as permanence of their public measures; because, they then would become the guardians and protectors of the rights of the states against the encroachments, not of the general government, for of this there is hardly a possibility, but of the legislative department of it. If then, congress should enact a law, which the authorities of a state considered to be unconstitutional and injurious to the interests of the state, those state rulers would immediately take care to have the question of its constitutionality determined by the supreme court of the United States; and, if aggrieved by their decision, would adopt the regular course before suggested, so far as was just and expedient, without the necessity of convening primary assemblies of the people, a measure seldom desirable, or in any manner disturbing the tranquility of the public mind. The supposition indeed is possible, though perhaps it would be better to consider it impossible, that there might be a final difference of opinion as to interests, which are believed to be of sufficient consequence, to demand for their preservation, the dissolution or dismemberment of the union. But, as it seems really impossible, that a necessity for adopting a measure so fatal to the strength and prosperity of this now great and flourishing nation, should ever arise from any other cause than the selfish or angry passions of the leaders and partisans of the various parties or factions, which already distract the country; if the people of the United States, or those of either of the several states, ever have recourse to this miserable alternative, they will have nothing to which to ascribe the loss of the happiness,, which, if they choose, they may enjoy under their complicated but admirable system of government, and the total decline of their rank among the nations of the earth, but their infatuation, their ignorance of their true interests, their misplaced confidence in superficial orators and selfish statesmen, and their weak concessions to rude importunity and senseless clamor.

2. It may be asked; are there really no limits to the jurisdiction of the supreme court of the United States, with regard to what are generally considered as constitutional questions? The answer must be, that, in one respect, there are limits, but in another, there are none. It would seem, that congress must always be bound by a decision of the supreme court of the United States; but the states are not always bound. If the supreme court should decide, that a law is unconstitutional, congress must always be bound by the decision, because the authority of that court to decide upon the constitutionality of all laws enacted by congress, proceeds from the same source from which congress derives all its authority to enact laws. They therefore cannot deny the authority of the court, in this respect, without removing the foundation of their own powers. But with regard to the states, the case is different. For, the states have delegated to the government of the United States certain limited powers only, and, for the purpose of providing a check upon the rulers to prevent their overstepping the limits prescribed to them, have erected the supreme court to decide, in the last resort, whether they exceed their powers or not. If therefore the supreme court should decide that any measure of the government of the United States is unconstitutional, it would be considered from that moment illegal and void, and the general government would be bound by the decision. But, if the supreme court should decide that the measure is constitutional, a further question may arise, which is, whether the point decided, comes within the jurisdiction of that court as limited in the constitution of the United States; for, if it does not, the decision of the court will not bind the states. In order that the supreme court should have jurisdiction in relation to a particular subject, it must either be conferred in the constitution in express terms, or it must be necessary to the exercise of some authority expressly delegated in the constitution. In either case, there would seem to be but little question as to the jurisdiction of the court. But, the supreme court must have jurisdiction conferred on them in the constitution, over the subject matter involved in their decision. If they have not, their decision, though obligatory on the national government, when given against them, because this court always has authority to decide that a measure, purporting to be adopted under the authority of the constitution, is in fact unconstitutional; yet, if given in favor of the general government and against the states, will not be binding. It is true, within the jurisdiction conferred by the constitution, every decision of the supreme court, must be submitted to by the states, since, by adopting the federal constitution they have agreed to do so; and, on the improbable supposition, that the court should make an incorrect decision, in fact, still it must be considered as correct, and obeyed as such, there being no higher court of appeal provided by the constitution. But, how can the states be bound by the decisions of the supreme court, on the supposition that they should usurp jurisdiction over matters not submitted to them by the states, in the federal constitution? If it is asked;—how can it be ascertained, whether such jurisdiction is granted in the constitution, or not, otherwise than by the construction given to it by the supreme court, and which they alone are authorized to decide in the last resort; the answer must be, that the question, whether a certain jurisdiction is conferred in the constitution, or not, must be determined by a reference to the constitution itself. This subject is not left to the mere discretion of the court. For, as this court can neither extend its jurisdiction beyond the express limits prescribed to it; so neither can it assume jurisdiction in cases where the constitution is silent. It can never depend upon mere construction. For, where the constitution is entirely silent in relation to a particular subject, and where the powers delegated to the supreme court can be exercised without giving authority or jurisdiction in relation to that subject, it must be self-evident, that the supreme court can have no constitutional jurisdiction. It is no small argument of the excellence and wisdom of the provisions in the constitution, that, in order to find cases not provided for in it, recourse must be had so frequently to absurd or at least very improbable suppositions. Let it be supposed then for a moment, that the supreme court should assume jurisdiction of a suit, commenced by a citizen of a state against another state, and that the court should decree against the state sued, can it be imagined, that the state would be bound to submit to the decree? Certainly not; because one of the amendments to the constitution of the United States, expressly provides, that the judicial power of the federal government shall not extend to such a case. Suppose again, that this court should entertain jurisdiction on a prosecution for a crime, committed within a state and against the laws of the state alone, would not any judgment which this court might pronounce in this case, be wholly void? No one can be so unreasonable as to believe, that the extent of delegated powers, can depend upon the construction of the delegate alone. No one can be so absurd as to imagine, that the limited jurisdiction of any court, however high, can be extended by the mere construction of the court itself. This subject will be farther examined in a different connexion, in the next chapter.

See the other parts of this series:
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Rights of Juries
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Rights of Witnesses
RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The mode of obtaining redress for infringement of civil or political rights

The Importance of the Freedom of the Press; by Senator Ebenezer Mack (1791-1849)

bill-of-rights-01.jpgWhen contemplating the liberties, freedoms and protections afforded United States Citizens by the Constitution and Bill of Rights: Remember the Free Exercise of Religion was the first to be protected by the Framers; the Freedom of Speech and of the Press, Right of Assembly, Petition to Government, were meant to protect and promote the Free Exercise of Religion! The Freedom of the Press was meant to insure against the abuse of the government and those in power of all the other rights of man.

Remember also when one right, liberty, or freedom is under attack, they are all under attack, when one is in jeopardy, they are all in jeopardy! The Second Amendment is meant to guarantee the First Amendment!

A dissertation by Senator Ebenezer Mack who was a printer, and co-published the Owego Gazette from 1815 to 1816, and the Ithaca American Journal from 1817 to 1823. He later became a Senator in New York State. Oration was given on 37th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence before the New York Typographical Society.

Brethren, Friends, And Fellow-citizens!

Again are we assembled beneath the wide-spread branches of the tree of liberty.

Although as an association, we have nothing to do with political concerns; yet, as American citizens, do we not, in common with others, feel an interest in every event which affects our country? And as men—as philanthropists—can we remain unmoved amidst the agitations of the civilized world?

To review the past, contemplate the present, and anticipate the future, is ever pleasing, ever instructive. Happy is it for mankind, that the Art Of Printing furnishes us records of times which are no more! Shall we not, then, improve the privilege? It is a proper moment. Let us cast our eyes, in grateful remembrance, to the days of danger, the hours of trial. Let us pay to the heroes of our revolution—the fathers of that freedom we now enjoy—the just tribute of recalling this day to our memories, their patriotism, their perils, their sufferings, and their achievements. And let their deeds and their motives, animate us, at least, to think of glory! Nay—shall we not extend farther back our retrospective views? Time, indeed, will not permit an historical particularization of events—yet, cannot the quick conception of your minds comprehend at one glance, more than the confined powers of limited oratory could convey?

1How changed, indeed, is the vast American continent from the time of its first discovery—when Columbus and his followers first kissed the sod of St. Salvador—when Americus Vespucius, following the path of that hero, in quest of gain, stole a bright wreath from the laurels of his brow, by giving his own name to the land which Columbus discovered. Then—all was desolate and dreary. Now, we behold a happy contrast.

What has contributed to a change so unexampled, and so important? Liberty—Liberty-—which has ever been the guardian goddess of Columbia. Animated by a love of liberty, our fathers left the lands of oppression, and sought an asylum in the western wilds. How dark, how gloomy, were the prospects before them! Surrounded on every side by a savage foe—few in number, feeble, worn down with toil, often emaciated by hunger—what were their hopes, and what should save them from threatening destruction ? Yet, their guardian angel did not forsake them. She enlivened their prospects—inspired them with perseverance. Before the brightness of her countenance, mountains of difficulties melted away—by the strength of her arm, she overthrew powerful obstacles. She promised her followers the noblest reward in life, and smiled upon them in the agonies of death!

Long, indeed, were their struggles with adversity—many were their toils and discouragements. How can we conceive, how shall we describe them ? Could the transitory life of man realize the reward of so much labor ? No ! they toiled for posterity. Theirs was the satisfaction to behold a budding wilderness, which should soon ” blossom like the rose”—to plant a vineyard, which their sons should reap. They beheld, beneath their hands, dreary deserts transformed to cultured fields—towns and hamlets arising, which were to prove the foundations of opulent cities. These were their rewards—these the console of their declining days. Blessing the inheritance to their children, they sunk beneath the soil; and the stone themselves had laid—the corner-stone of a mighty temple, covered their mouldering ashes!

To them succeeded a race, nowise inferior to their fathers. The same vigor braced their limbs; the same perseverance marked their labors, and the same spirit animated their bosoms.

Invited by their success, many of the oppressed of Europe sought a sanctuary among them, to enjoy the glorious privileges of conscience—of political and religious freedom. Growing in strength, in* creasing in numbers, they enlarged their views—extending themselves into the interior, and along the coast, to the east, to the south, and forming those colonies, which are now component parts of the great American republic.

These infant colonies were separated from Europe by a wide ocean. Nevertheless, there was still a (perhaps necessary) connection. Ere the marrow of their bones were full—ere the sinews of their joints were knit together—they sought, or submitted to, the protection of a foreign power. Great Britain, (like all corrupt governments) ever ready to succor the weak, when it tends to advance her power, and subserve her interest, adopted them as her children, and became their mother.

But the iron chain hung yet loose about their necks—the fetters were unrivetted, which bound them in slavery.

Too poor for plunder—too weak for oppression—the colonies were suffered to enjoy partial privileges, and grew daily in strength, commerce, and opulence. They built ships, and wafted their products to every clime; and “their fame spread abroad among the nations.” Their maritime skill, their persevering success in agriculture and in trade, bade fair to outrival the boasted splendor of the mother country.

Could Britain behold their rising power without an eye of jealousy? Could she not foresee their rapid approach to independence? And, if left to gain a prospect of that heavenly summit, that the connexion which bound them to her control, would be broken forever! Britain saw—she felt—she feared all this. Should she reject, then, the allurements of Interest, even when Justice plead against her? It was not in her nature—not her policy! The young lion must be slain in his slumbers—the infant Hercules smothered in his cradle—the Eagle must be caught unfledged!

Fellow-citizens!

We will recall, though we pass but slightly over this eventful period.

Now was America doomed to be the victim of ambition—the scourge of tyranny. The burden was increased—the oppressive chain was drawn with an iron hand, and stronger fetters were forged to be rivetted upon her.

At first, the colonies resorted to remonstrance. Through numerous embassies and petitions, they exercised the privilege of complaint. And of what did they complain? Indeed, the recital of their wrongs would prove too tedious—the catalog of oppressions were too extensive. But are they not written in the book? Yes! and the flood of ages will not wash them out! Denied the right of representation—commercial restrictions—oppressive taxes—partial administration, and corrupt government—these were among the most prominent acts of motherly chastisement.

Were these wrongs to be borne by men inured to perils, and inspired from their birth with a love of liberty? No! When all remonstrance had proved vain—when the faintest hope of obtaining justice had fled, they arose in their might, burst the chains which bound them, and declared themselves “Free, Sovereign, and Independent.”

What a sublime moment—what a daring measure, was this ! A few petty colonies, of scattered population, the acknowledged dependencies of a powerful kingdom, whose thousand ships covered the ocean, and whose numerous disciplined armies carried triumph in their progress, and terror in their name! How dare these colonies to forswear their allegiance, and how could they maintain a declaration so perilous? But, our fathers chose to be branded as rebels, rather than as cowards; to die free, rather than live in slavery. Though few though undisciplined, they were brave—Though wanting in arms and ammunitions—they trusted in the God of Justice, and made powerful use of those in their possession. They were indeed few, compared with their oppressors—Their resources were small, compared with those of England. No organized government—no disciplined army, no confidential leaders! Yet Liberty—their guardian Liberty—inspired both their inventive and their executive faculties. At her animating voice, warriors and statesmen arose, whose deeds—whose measures, would not disgrace the proudest heroes of boasted antiquity. They found a WASHINGTON to direct their armies; and in the cabinet, a Franklin, a Hancock, an Adams, and numerous others, whose names need no recital to bear them in remembrance.

And while we pay a tribute to these worthies—while the names of Washington, Warren, Greene, Montgomery, and Gates, are echoed in plaudits of our festivals-—shall we forget their more humble followers, who shared in their toils; who assisted them in all their plans of wisdom and bravery?

“Though high in honor, yet of humble birth,
Their names may perish with them from the earth;
But Time’s rude progress Memory shall defy—
Their glorious deeds shall never—never die!”

Yes—we will record them in our bosoms, and cherish them with the wannest gratitude.

The scenes of our revolution—are they not familiar to us all? Not too sufficiently so. Then, to refresh our memories, shall we point to the field of Lexington, where the first link was broken? to Bunker’s Hill, which stands, a proud monument of American bravery? Follow Montgomery to the walls of Quebec—behold that hero expiring in the arms of Liberty, his faintest breath whispering wishes for his country, and his ardent prayers for her safety ascending with his sainted spirit to Heaven? Shall we review the field of Bennington—where the brave Stark reaped immortal honors? And the plains of Saratoga, where the proud forces of Burgoyne yielded to those of the gallant Gates?

washington-prayerRugged, indeed, was the road our fathers trod to independence. It was a path of danger, and a path of death—but it was a path of glory! Whether we follow them, with Sullivan and Wayne, through the western wilderness, to chastise the murderous savage—where their deeds are rung amidst the wilds of Ohio and Susquehanna— or trace them by the blood of their feet over frozen ground from White Marsh to Valley-Forge—we must every where admire their valor, their fortitude, and their constancy.

It was not to this, nor to that quarter, that their trials were confined. We behold them in the cold regions of Canada, and the sultry Carolina. At Charleston—at Camden—in the Jerseys—at Princeton—at Monmouth—often amidst ill-success, when victory was against them, and their cause seemed dark and gloomy. We do not take a pleasure-excursion to Harlem, nor to admire the green fields of Long Island, but we behold the sacred spots where heroes’ bones have mouldered—the verdant soil, once stained with patriots’ gore! Even, perhaps, the spot of earth over which we are now assembled, has been drenched with the blood of our fathers!

O! Liberty! Heaven-born Liberty! how great is the power of thy inspiration! Thou didst animate the heroes of Greece and of Rome, to deeds of never-dying glory. It is thou that dost inspire the Brutuses, the Kosciuskoes, and the Tells of every country, and of every age. Thou didst rule in the breast of the immortal De Kalb; who nobly fell at the battle of Camden, fighting in a stranger’s land, in thy cause, covered with eleven wounds, amidst a mountain of thy foes! Yes, Liberty! whether on the banks of the Ganges or of the Hudson—amid the wilds of Kamchatka, or the fair regions of Columbia—in the abodes of the great, or the dwellings of the humble— thou dost soften every toil, and sweeten every enjoyment!

It was this spirit, fellow-citizens, that upheld the heroes of our revolution—that sustained them amidst the weight of their sufferings. She washed their wounds with healing balm; soothed the doubts that hung around them; watched over their scattered repose—smiled upon them amidst the broken visions of night, and guided them through the devious contests of the day. When poverty and want darkened around them, she chased away the fiend Despair; and pointed forward, with an exalted hope, to that bright hour, when they should sit beneath their own vines and their own fig-trees, “with none to make them afraid.”

Even the fair daughters of Columbia, catching the hallowed fire, bowed before her shrine as to the temple of Vesta, and became the angelic attendants of celestial Liberty. While still retaining all their natural delicacy, the native tenderness of their hearts—their soft hands were often subjected to the most rugged toils. Their fervent wishes were with their brave defenders in the field of battle, and they even joined their assisting efforts in the field of daily labor. Instancing thus, the sympathy of beauty and bravery—the unison of Liberty and Love.

Yet who, my fellow-citizens, who shall describe the sufferings and the trials amidst which our revolutionary contest progressed? Often may we conceive, what we cannot express. Where the faculties of th.e faltering tongue would fail, the heart may render justice. Inch by inch were our rights contested, till the deciding battle of YorkTown put an end to the struggle, and Confirmed the Declaration of our Independence. Then we arose as a nation. By the united efforts of wisdom and bravery, Columbia was placed upon a rock— her constitution, the rock of Freedom—so firm, that the tempest of Tyranny may rave, and the billows of Time may beat around—yet, while her sons remember the deeds, and cherish the spirit of their fathers, she shall never—never be overwhelmed.

But, the heroes of our revolution—where are they? Look around! Alas! many of them have passed away. They have followed their leader Washington, to realms of glorious immortality! Few—very few, remain behind. Their hoary heads are fast blossoming for the grave! they are ripening for eternity! Soon will it be said of them, as of the patriarchs of old, “they slept with their fathers, and their sons ruled in their stead.”

Let not their sons, then, tarnish their glory! We have enjoyed the blessings of peace and commerce. We have become rich in resources, and strengthened by numbers. We know the price, the value of Liberty. America once more is involved in a contest with the very power from whose chains she has been emancipated. Is this contest right—is it just on our part? Is it not a contest to Maintain those rights, that liberty, which our forefathers Acquired? Far be it from me on this occasion to pursue the inquiry. I will not prolong the subject, which has presented itself in the course of events, nor enter into an examination of its merits—lest some of you should whisper me the old proverb, “Let thine own business engage thy attention—leave the affairs of the state to the governors thereof!” Have we, then, no interest in these important concerns? As freemen, we have the happy privilege of enjoying our private opinions. As patriots, too, we may this day rejoice in those victories and those successes which tend to promote the honor and prosperity of our country. We may also regret whatever we conceive has a contrary effect. It were wise, indeed, for every American, at this crisis—a crisis which involves the dearest interests of our country—to dispel the spirit of party, which, under different names, and in different shapes, blinds the eyes of its followers. It were wise to make the reason of our hearts the standard of our principles. Thinking and acting thus, from honorable motives, conscience would direct to pursue our country’s good; and we should then remain worthy of the blood-bought privileges we enjoy.

in-the-age-of-tyrannyShall we forget the deeds of Decatur, of Hull, of Jones, and of Bainbridge? Shall we forget the death of Lawrence, of Ludlow, and of Pike? Surely, the cause in which such men fought—the cause in which such men fell—is worthy to inspire a spirit in the bosom of every freeman!

Injustice to the living brave, shall the voice of praise resound— In remembrance of those heroes fallen—shall a manly tear moisten the eye, and the heart beat with emulous, with ecstatic gratitude.

There is not in human nature a character more exalted than that of the Patriot—the man who, disregarding his own immediate individual interest, labors for that of his country. When foes—when dangers surround—he does not so much inquire, “Are they self provoked, or unmerited?” as, “how shall we meet them? how shall they be repelled?” Is he high in society—his merits shall sweeten, adorn, and dignify his station. Is he poor and humble—the attributes of his character shall raise him far above the proudest eminence of ambitious fortune. Through life, he is honored and respected, and the blessings of a whole community attend him to the grave.

Whatever may have produced the present war, is not a speedy and an honorable peace desired by every patriotic American? And should every American unite, in sentiments and efforts, to attain that grand object, would it not soon be ensured?

“From chains to save his country—to repel
Her ruthless foes, and save a threatened state—
A glorious spirit stimulates the brave,
Whose lofty purpose is the pledge of triumph!”

Would we learn to estimate the favors with which, under Divine Providence, our country has been blessed? Turn our eyes to Europe—the happiest spot of devoted Europe! There hell-born Despotism reigns in iron sway! Ambition, with giant tread, stalks o’er the fields, spreading desolation around, and drenching the earth in blood. Liberty has fled—she has no spot for a foot-stool. Religion, civilization and science, are about to follow. Her subjects are degraded to the condition of beasts—her rulers, exalted to the sublime preeminence of Destroying Demons! To what may we ascribe this state of things? To corrupt systems of government—where one or a few individuals bear sway, seeking personal power and aggrandizement, disregardful of the general welfare! O, Europe! Humanity weeps for thee! she weeps for thy crimes, thy follies and thy sufferings; but turns with disgust from the scenes of thy degradation! She directs her eyes (with mingled pleasure and anxiety) to Columbia! Here, her hopes are centered—Here shall they flourish, sacred to Freedom, to science, and to virtue.

Who, grown prophetic from a knowledge of past ages, by the examples of Greece and of Rome, shall predict a subversion of American liberties? What similitude do they discover in the origin, the local condition, or the governments of ancient republics and our own, which warrants such a prediction? We are not sprung from “a lace of outlaws, begotten of ravished Sabines”—We cannot look back to the time when our fathers were a horde of uncivilized barbarians! We have arisen amidst the light of civilization. Ours, from the beginning, has been the liberty of reason, unalloyed by licentiousness. We have no privileged orders—no constitutional division line between the rich and the poor—no plebeians—no patricians. Though great was the glory of Greece and of Rome, which lives through the remembrance of their heroes and sages—yet were not their civil institutions far from being perfect? Were they established upon just principles of equity? Indeed, the then rude, ignorant, and contentious state of general society, rendered the formation of such governments impossible. Though a dazzling fame is left behind— their existence—their splendor, has passed away like a rush-light. America has not built upon their systems—and so long as she maintains her original purity of government, can have no fear of their fate. Yet a cautious watchfulness is at all times necessary. From the experience of ages past, we may learn the mutability of all human institutions. Guarding, then, our union, our rights and liberties, with a jealous eye, from outward or internal innovations—neither growing giddy upon the eminence of success, nor despairingly blind amidst threatening dangers—American glory shall never fade, but brighten through the most distant period of revolving time.

When we contemplate—my indulgent friends ! when we contemplate the rise and progress of the Art of Printing, we find, that it has every where assisted Religion, Civilization, and Science, and been promotive—nay, essential to the existence, of civil Liberty.

What was the condition of man, in the first stages of society? Blest with rational faculties—with the powers of language—he could, indeed, communicate his thoughts and sentiments orally to his fellow. But they could not be perpetuated—they would not extend beyond the time and place in which they were uttered. With distant friends he had no communication, and remained ignorant of most transactions, except in his immediate presence. Wandering alone, and in the fields —when he beheld the scenes of nature which surrounded him—his mind was filled with the sublimest contemplations. But they came, and passed away—they glided over his memory, like the transitory rays of a falling star. As the first essay of his invention, he resorted to imitative figures, carved upon tables of stone or wood, representing in shape the object of his ideas. Here commenced the era of symbolic writing, practiced to this day among many eastern nations. Behold the first sages, the astronomers of Egypt, roaming the banks of the Nile and the Niger, gazing in silent wonder at the heavenly system—and tracing, in rude figures, their signs and their circles upon the sands of the shore, etching them upon the rocks of the desert, or upon the rough and unpolished skins of animals.

But soon, amidst progressive genius, arose a nobler art—the invention of letters. We will not stop to inquire, to whom belongs the honor of this invention—whether to Thaut the Egyptian, or Thaut the Phoenician—or whether it was of Divine origin.

The art of writing was indeed slow in progressing—irregular in its system.

Even at its greatest perfection among the ancients, how dull was the advancement of Science. The little splendor which it emitted, was owing to the general darkness by which it was surrounded.

Time would not allow us to trace the progress of Science, in all its different vicissitudes, through the intricacies of obscure ages—even if the speaker were competent to the task. Often have we beheld it bursting forth with brightness, like a meteor of night; and like a nightly meteor, sinking in darkness, leaving behind no traces of its splendor. When Liberty and Science flourished together in Greece and in Rome, a general ignorance nevertheless prevailed. Her sages and philosophers were considered as more than mortal; and even their absurdities were recorded as oracles. But their names and their works have descended, even to enlighten modern ages—many, indeed, which would sink into obscurity, had they not the airy merits of antiquity to buoy them up. The difficulty of obtaining education.in those periods, put it entirely beyond the reach of the common people. Pew—very few, could claim the privilege of becoming learned, and learning was shackled by ostentation and bigotry. Books were seldom seen except in the libraries of the wealthy. If an author committed his productions to writing, it was for the use of himself or his friends. A single transcript would have cost more than the printing of a whole edition, perhaps, at the present day. It was the custom for great men to deliver their effusions orally, often extempore, in public. To this we may, in some degree, ascribe the perfection of oratory among the Greeks and Romans. In the time of Henry the 2nd, of England, the manner of publishing the works of authors, was to have them read over for three days successively, by order of the universities, or judges appointed by the public; and if they met with approbation, copies of them were then permitted to be taken.

Instead of printers, scribes were in those periods employed. All could not then recur to a newspaper, and obtain a correct history of every passing event. They could not apply to a bookstore, and receive the most celebrated and valuable work for a mere trifle. What would be thought now, were a Concordance to cost five hundred dollars? or were two hundred dollars to be given for a common octavo volume? Yet such, we are told, was the rate at which books were sold previous to the discovery of Printing. They were also transferred from one to another, by bond or deed, as we now convey real or landed estate.

Amidst this state of things, how was it possible that science should extensively flourish? What was Greece, in its brightest moments, and Rome, in its Augustan splendor, but dark lanterns, beaming brightly within, yet spreading no radiance around them? Far distant ages were to reap the benefit of their researches; and when they themselves were sunk in darkness, to walk in the reflection of their glory! With means of diffusion so confined, how could infant science withstand the clouds of superstition and ignorance, when ambition and tyranny united against her? When Liberty—amidst those revolutions which history has recorded—again took her flight, Science accompanied her from the earth. And for many centuries we behold her, in different regions, like an electric flash, emit, at intervals, a lurid ray—and like an electric flash, as suddenly disappear!

But the Art of Printing arose as a sun, which should dispel the clouds of Ignorance and Superstition, and shine with a steady luster, enlightening ages, till it should set with the world, in the night of eternity!

We are told that printing, by characters carved on blocks of wood, had been for ages practiced among the Chinese. This invention has never, perhaps, been traced to its origin; and should be called stamping, rather than printing. Had their knowledge of the art tended to enlighten the Chinese ? What advantages have they reaped from it ? Even at the present day, they experience no salutary effects from that divine art, which has tended (where left free to the course of its nature) to enlighten other parts of the world. And how is it possible that they should, when we consider, that they are superstitiously bigoted against every innovation upon ancient custom, and that the alphabet is composed of eighty thousand different characters!

It was the genius of FAUST, which in the fifteenth century unfolded the Art of Printing as at present practiced. Justly was it ranked as the greatest of human inventions. By the ignorant of that age, its source was considered supernatural. When Faust printed his first edition of the Bible, and exposed it for sale in the streets of Paris, he was imprisoned as a necromancer. They were offered as written transcripts. The cheapness at which he sold them, and the fairness —the regularity of the characters—determined at once that he dealt with the devil. And he would have suffered the punishment, inflicted by the pious priestcraft in such cases, had he not divulged the art, which he before had endeavored to conceal.

From that period it began gradually to spread—through different parts of the continent—to England—diffusing beams of light, and chasing before it the clouds of bigotry and ignorance. Genius and Wisdom welcomed its appearance, and hailed it as the star of Jacob— the Art Divine. Religion, Literature, and Science, soon owned its resuscitating power. Truth arose, with renovated vigor—wielding the Press—a powerful engine. At its approach, Superstition trembled, in her dark palace of cruelty and crimes! She could not withstand its force—and Error shrank from the rays of its searching radiance. Here commenced a new era. Learning would no longer be monopolized by a few bigoted, superstitious, designing monks. The effusions of former ages—the discoveries and improvements in the Arts and the Sciences—the moral and metaphysical works of ancient philosophers, were brought forth from the grave of obscurity. Their musty parchments and mouldering inscriptions—dim from the rust of ages, and dark in their signification—were explained in simple terms; stamped in fair and legible characters, and diffused to enlighten a world of inquirers.

But what elucidations are now necessary to convince mankind of the transcendent usefulness of this art? Compare the past with the present. I cannot attempt to pass upon it a merited eulogium; nor will the occasion allow minutely to trace its progress and effects.

What was England, previous to the introduction of printing into that kingdom? Comparatively speaking, a horde of barbarians. It waa there cultivated, hotvever, with greater assiduity than in the country from which it emanated—which is produced as one instance, among many, that genius is seldom rewarded—seldom flourishes, in its native soil. By the wise and the powerful was it patronised; and men of genius, education and wealth, were proud to become its professors. The Press was introduced into universities—established by literary associations, and every where held in the highest veneration. Soon did they perceive the benefit of its encouragement. The means of obtaining knowledge being rendered easy, and brought within the reach of all, the majority became gradually more enlightened. The shackles which bound the mind, and the veil which blinded the eyes of mankind, were rent asunder. They were led to behold the errors which surrounded science—the arts, the bigotry and superstitions which veiled Religion, which perverted that pure fountain into a deadly pool, more pestiferous than the Lake of Sodom; changed the mild breath of peace into the wasting winds which sweep the plains of Java! It was then that designing priestcraft exclaimed, “We must root out printing, or printing will root out us.” But printing was too firmly established. We must, then, said they, “set up learning against learning.” This they did, perhaps with more, but with limited success—for their opponents were armed with Truth and Reason.

Thus too, amidst enlightened inquiry, the original rights of man are unfolded. He learns his own strength—his attributes—the power of his faculties. He perceives the injustice, and despises the oppression of despotism. He catches the spirit of Liberty, and longs for personal —for rational freedom.

jm-tyrannyAlthough the old world has beheld the dawnings of many revolutions, tyranny still maintains its ascendency. By tyranny, the light has been withheld—it has not been suffered to become general. The generous few have yielded, with the ignorant many, to the chains and darkness of designing despots. Their efforts, though they must still await the happy period of a general emancipation—may nevertheless boast of glorious ameliorations. Instance England—Not only as regards literary and scientific acquirements—also, her reformation of government. Not but that her constitutional government is imperfectHot but that it is often grossly perverted in its administration. Yet consider its purity, as compared with former eras. In promoting these, the Art of Printing stands conspicuous. Her historians acknowledge it, and the world bears witness.

But is it not the interest of tyrants to destroy the press? Has it not ever been their policy? France affords a conspicuous example.. There printing has been practised in much perfection. For a while, as relates to science, she had experienced its happy effects. From the same source, Liberty was about to crown her with a glorious blessing. Yet now, we behold a gloomy reverse. The despot who rules her destinies—did he not know that where the Press was left free to enlighten the mind, personal thraldom would not long be submitted to? Yes! And for his decree alone—setting aside his other characteristics, which the speaker would neither depreciate nor overvalue—for his decree alone which destroys the liberty of the Press, he deserves the execration of every virtuous man.

Tyranny, we must ever abhor. It is still tyranny—whether reigning in adverse darkness, or amidst delusive and guilty splendor. And shall we not feel for Fiance, as for the rest of enslaved Europe? How long shall it be thus? Is there not still a spark of that Divine fire, which shall never be extinguished? Soon may it burst forth, and spread its light through every darkened nation! Thus will we hope, as we ardently desire. We would wish them—not a change of oppressors; but a thorough emancipation from every kind of oppression.

Turn once more to America. To the Art of Printing it is, that she in a measure owes her present exalted condition. Perhaps, too, it was the effects of this art, which taught Columbus, that the broadbeaming sun, which seemed to quench its splendor in the western ocean, descended but to light another land.

Our honest forefathers—ever revered be their memories! did they not for a time inherit a portion of ignorance? Did they not sometimes burn a witch, and sometimes suspend a quaker? And shall we not ascribe this to ignorance rather than to wickedness? With few opportunities to discover—with confined means to disseminate it, they still indicated a disposition to encourage truth. Welcome were the first rays of reviving knowledge which shone upon them from the antient world. Now and then a wandering spark from the fire of Science, in the character of eminent exiles, descended among them. These kindled up a flame, which, at no distant period, was to illumine a mighty realm, eminent for genius and learning.

Printing, on its early introduction into this country, met with every encouragement which could have been expected. The Press was considered as an oracle, more – famous than that of ancient Delphi. But far different were its attributes and effects from those of that oracle. It was the province of the Press—not to’ mislead ignorance and confirm folly—but to subserve the cause of truth, to remove error and superstition, to enlighten the mind by every species of knowledge which should exalt it from tlie dust—from the darkness in which it was buried.

Jefferson-Freedom-of-PressIn the records of our Revolution, the Press stands pre-eminent for promoting the cause of Independence. Prom this fountain flowed the pure effusions—the doctrines of freedom, of our heroes and sages. These inspired the American people with a sense of their original rights and privileges as men. These opened the pores of the soul to the infusion of that ardent spirit of Liberty, which was to urge them to the contest, and animate them through the glorious struggle, till it should end in success.

It is not, then, at the power of arms alone that tyranny has to tremble. No! It is the enlightened mind, which knows and feels the dignity of human nature—which scorns to bow beneath the yoke of oppression. Knowing that liberty—rational liberty, is the bequest of God—and that “in his wrath,” as a curse only, did he first place a king upon earth—the man thus enlightened, thus dignified with a sense of feeling and understanding, would sooner yield to death, than submit to the galling chains of slavery.

Science is the sister of Liberty; and Printing, though of later birth, is the guardian of both : They are co-existent and coessential: They are inseparable companions, and can prosper but together. Liberty must preside o’er the Press, and the Press be the watch-tower of Liberty. By Science must the Press be illuminated, and the Press shall disseminate the rays of Science.

Where is the country—where the people, blest with this glorious combination? Let them cherish it, as the core of their heart—for it shall preserve them through every revolution of destroying time. It shall preserve them unmoved, amidst falling kingdoms and dissolving empires; and exalt them to the proudest eminence of happiness and glory! Where, then, shall we turn our eyes? To Europe?— They thence revolt, with indignant disappointment; nor will again recross the ocean. But here—here in our own Columbia, we behold that favorite of heaven. Here, the Press has flourished free, advancing Liberty and Science. And here may it ever—ever remain unshackled!

In America, we enjoy the Freedom Op The Press in its greatest purity. Who would contract its limits, or rob it of a privilege? But, does it not at times border upon licentiousness? Shall it be left free, then, to pervert truth, and subserve the cause of falsehood—to disseminate false doctrines in religion and politics? What! would we, that the sun were extinguished from the firmament, because the serpent basks as freely in its beams as the swallow?—because it Warms alike to vegetation the noxious weed as the nutritious plant? Would we, that the dews of heaven should cease to fall, because they moisten alike the Bohon Upas, as the fragrant bosom of the rose? No! with the antidote before us, why should we fear the poison? A free privilege of inquiry, and unbiassed judgment where the mind is thus enlightened, Truth will ever, in the end, prevail. The constituted laws of our country define and punish libellous and treasonable publications: With all other discussions, they have no right to interfere. And the first blow which is aimed at the Freedom of the American Press, would be the step by which a tyrant would attempt an ascent to power. But it would prove a stumbling block, which would for ever prostrate him in the dust.

Look round upon our country. We behold learning every where encouraged. Not only the wealthy, but the poor partake of its blessings. Although young in existence, America transcends in general knowledge, if not in classical literature and useful science, every other nation upon the face of the earth. If America can boast of few literary productions—if her writers, her poets, her philosophers, her artists, have not arisen to superior eminence, it has not been from a poverty of genius. It may be ascribed to other causes. Having a wide field open before them, they do not confine themselves, (as did antient researches) to a particular branch of the arts or sciences. Probably, too, in a nation so young, where an equality prevails, and a general improvement is the prominent object, emulation does not so much exist. Shining talents are more seldom brought forward, and perhaps too little encouraged. But, who shall say that America is without native genius? We will produce Rittenhouse, and the whole celestial system shall bear witness. We will mention West, and Nature herself shall appear in his behalf. We will point out FRANKLIN, and the lightning of heaven shall descend to convince them! A Paine, a Barlow, and a Rush, have lately sought the tomb, whose worth—whose works shall stand recorded to ages. We have, also, many living instances of native genius. We will not name them. They speak for themselves, and to the honor of their country.

The encouragement given to common schools, and to periodical publications, does honor to the American people. It tends to hasten them, by a dignified advancement, to a glorious pre-eminence—a preeminence to which they may justly aspire. In every village—in every country town—and often amidst the dark wilderness, where culture has scarce lopped the branches of the pine to admit the light of heaven—we behold temples arising, dedicated to Knowledge. In more populous places, and in cities, are charitable institutions, for instructing the poor and the orphan. Seminaries, also, for the higher branches of education, the eminence of which would not disgrace the proudest countries of the old world, where the arts and the sciences have flourished for ages.

Throughout almost every part of the United States, where population will insure patronage, newspapers are established, whose columns “blend amusement with instruction”—which convey occasional literary morceaus, with political and miscellaneous information.

We have also numerous periodical publications, devoted exclusively to literature, science, and the arts. Many of these possess a spirit and purity, which does honor to the abilities of their conductors and to the genius and literary character of the nation. But, do these meet with merited encouragement ? We might venture to affirm, that they are no where too extensively patronized—not too well rewarded.

These, my friends, are the blessings of Freedom—purified by science, diffused through the Divine medium of the Press.

It will not be supposed that America can yet boast extensive practical or mechanical improvement in the Art of Printing. She is, indeed, making rapid advancements. American materials will be found, perhaps, inferior to none in elegance, if not in durability. The typefounderies of New York and Philadelphia have produced specimens, both plain and fancy letter, which will long remain unrivalled. Amidst the disk of inexperience which has shrouded our firmament, we have beheld bright Stars appearing. Like day-stars, they forebode increasing light, a meridian splendor to American typographic-mechanical geniMS. Many works have lately issued from the American Press, unsurpassed in neatness and correctness of execution. And the sons of Faust, of Franklin and of Freedom, may look forward with pride to a no distant period, when that Press shall be as distinguished for the mechanical elegance, as for the truth and chasteness of its emanations. For Science and the Arts have declared, that “where Liberty dwells, there is our Country.”

Respected Brethren!

Thus has the speaker essayed to discharge the duty assigned him. To sum up the substance or intent of his discourse, you have but to repeat this motto: “Printing, the source of Knowledge.” We may then add, “The Press, the cradle of Science, the nurse of Genius, and the shield of Liberty.” Considering, then, ourselves as a profession, we have one prominent duty to perform: That is, to emulate, .as far as we are able, the examples of our great prototype, our American father, Franklin. Next to love and to serve our country, his first maxim was, “Honor thy profession.” Unlike many who presume to advise, he ever practised the duties he inculcated. Often has he exemplified the words of the good Plutarch, who was once a street scavenger in his native village: “It is not the station which dignifies the man; but the man which dignifies a station.”

As a Society, therefore, let our pride be, to preserve our existence. Let us endeavor by all honorable means to extend our influence, and to promote the objects for which we are united. Associations, when originating in laudable motives, are ever commendable. Such an origin this Society may boast. We would not estimate its merits by the miser’s standard, the weight of its treasury-box: In this balance, it would not be “found wanting.” Perhaps it may not be altogether perfect in its nature. It might more extensively embrace literary and other improvements, and promote various interests of our profession. It may be capable of much improvement. To whom shall it look, then, but to those who are already its members, and to those whose duty it is to unite their efforts? Brethren of the art—you whose names are not found upon the records of this Society—by what incitement shall I address you? Having no private motives, my words shall be few, yet spoken in sincerity. The-warm hand of fellowship is tendered. Do„you want arguments to convince your reason—invitations and appeals to prompt your decision? Have we not all one common interest? And by our united zeal, cannot that interest be successfully promoted, extended and ennobled?

An aged sire, who was fast approaching to dissolution, called his seven sons around him. He gave them a bundle of rods, which he desired them to break, They took them—tried in succession—but as one could effect it. “Give them to me,” said the father. Separating the rods, he took them singly, and soon acomplished the object. “Thus, (said the venerable sage) while you remain united in the bonds of brotherly love, you may defy the frowns of fortune, and the power of your enemies. But by division, by contending passions and adverse interests, you invite misfortune, are exposed to the malice of the world, and incur destruction.”

This is an antient allegory. Apply it as we will—either to our own little professional community, or to the more high and important relations of the republic.

Here will I leave each portion of the subject. May our own dictates—the emotions of our bosoms, inspire to worthy conduct, and ensure happiness and prosperity.

My Friends!

The speaker will now render his acknowledgments for your indulgence. To this occasion he has not done justice. He feels—he knows it. But, he has not addressed you from motives of personal fame—not for popular applause—but to subserve an immediate duty of the day. Youth—inexperience—want of health, genius, or abilities—or whatever has tended to retard that fire and that eloquence which should distinguish an orator—he oners no excuse in extenuation. He were even satisfied with meriting your charity. It is the irst time he has spoken in public—It will be the last time, perhaps, he shall have the honor of addressing any of this assembly. But often, he hopes, we may meet to perpetuate this anniversary, under prospects more auspicious to all individually, and to our country. And when we shall pass away—when posterity shall walk, if not weep, over our graves—may the liberties we inherit be transmitted bright and unimpaired to our descendants, till the sun shall cease to shine, and the world itself shall dissolve.

Soon, brethren, are we to assemble in the hall of festivity. There, while the wine sparkles in the glass, and the song and the toast resound—may good humor preside o’er the scene, and brighten every countenance. May we remember, that it is not for ourselves alone that we rejoice. May the sentiments of our hearts unite, and the affections of our bosoms expand rejoicing, with harmony, as becomes friends—with reason, as becomes men—with freedom, as becomes Americans!

See also: Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Political Evils and the Remedy for them by Noah Webster 1834
LIBERTY OF THE PRESS by Senator Edward D. Baker 1811-1861
The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini
The Failure of Marxism and Socialism

THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS by Charles F. Partington 1836

Amendment 1; United States Constitution – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

printing-press-tyrants-foe

When contemplating the liberties, freedoms and protections afforded United States Citizens by the Constitution and Bill of Rights: Remember the Free Exercise of Religion was the first to be protected by the Framers; the Freedom of Speech and of the Press, Right of Assembly, Petition to Government, were meant to protect and promote the Free Exercise of Religion! The Freedom of the Press was meant to insure against the abuse of the government and those in power of all the other rights of man. The Religion Clause in the First Amendment was meant to keep government out of religion, not to keep religion out of the public square or government.

Remember also when one right, liberty, or freedom is under attack, they are all under attack, when one is in jeopardy, they are all in jeopardy! The Second Amendment is meant to guarantee the First Amendment!

THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS by Charles F. Partington 1836

Censorship
This great bulwark of national as well as individual freedom is now better understood, and its rights admitted, than at any previous period in the history of the world. Properly speaking, it means the right that every man possesses to print whatever he chooses, though without at all taking from the laws the power of punishing him for the abuse of that liberty.

To make the liberty of the press real, two things are essential; 1, that the laws against its licentiousness should be precise and clear; 2, that they should only punish what is really injurious to the public welfare.

The laws against treason under Tiberius, against heresy under the inquisition, against irreverence under Catharine II., against conspiracy under the convention, against infringements of the royal dignity, and contempt of government in various states, are very indefinite, and allow the greatest tyranny.

The laws for punishing abuses of the press are generally directed against attacks upon the government or its officers, upon the reputation of individuals, and upon good morals and religion. The latitude allowed to the press of course will vary with circumstances. A discussion will be permitted in England which would be punished in Austria. Discussions of certain religious topics are considered in one age blasphemous, while another age esteems them innocent. As to charges affecting the character of governments and individuals, we may observe that the freer a government is, the less sensitive it is, and the less sensitive are the people who live under it. No governments arc so indifferent to being publicly spoken of as the British and American, whilst the Prussian code contains many laws against verbal offenses. As the liberty of speech is unquestioned, and printing only gives permanence and circulation to what might be freely spoken (newspapers, for instance, take the place of speeches and conversations in the forums of the petty states of antiquity), the right of printing rests on the same abstract grounds as the right of speech; and it might seem strange to a man unacquainted with history, that printing should be subjected to a previous censorship, as it is in most states, any more than speaking, and that the liberty of the press should be expressly provided for in the constitutions of most free states. But when we look to history, we find the origin of this, as of many other legislative anomalies, in periods when politics, religion, and individual rights were confusedly intermingled. It is only since men’s views of the just limits of government have become clearer, that the liberty of the press has been recognized as a right j and to this country is the world mainly indebted for the establishment of this principle, as of so many other bulwarks of freedom, though the Netherlands preceded us in the actual enjoyment of the liberty of the. press.

When we consider the practical effect of a censorship, it is no more defensible on that ground than on the ground of abstract right. In what times and countries have morals and religion, and the reputation of individuals, been more outrageously attacked through the press, than in those in which the censorship was established? We are far from considering the liberty of the press as without evil consequences ; but the censorship does not prevent these consequences, while it destroys the numberless benefits of an unshackled press. But the liberty of the press, properly considered, is not to be treated as a mere question of political expediency. Liberty of conscience and liberty of thought are rights superior in importance to any objects which fall under the head of expediency.

Representative governments are empty forms without the liberty of the press. The free discussion of all political measures, and of the character of public officers, is of much more consequence than the freedom of debate in legislative assemblies. A parliament would be a comparatively small chock upon a government, were it not for the liberty of the press. In fact, it might easily be made an instrument for enforcing oppressive measures; since a government would find little difficulty in gaining over a majority of such a body by the motives of ambition and avarice, were it not for the control exercised over legislative bodies by a free press. Without this, publicity of discussion in legislative assemblies would be of little avail. In fact, representative governments, without the liberty of the press, are a mockery. This liberty is, indeed, the great safeguard of all others; and a whole dynasty was lately prostrated in a struggle with this formidable power. Polignac’s Report, which caused the revolution in France of 1830, will ever be memorable in the history of the liberty of the press, as proving the difficulty or impossibility of a minister’s ruling in opposition to public opinion in a country where the press is free. In this country, the liberty of the press, soon after printing was introduced, was regulated by the king’s proclamation?, prohibitions, charters of licence, &c, and, finally, by the court of star-chamber. The long parliament, after their rupture with Charles I., assumed the same power. The government of Charles II. imitated their ordinances, and the press did not really become free till the expiration of the statutes restricting it in 1694, after which it was found impossible to pass new laws in restraint of it, and it has remained free ever since. A licence is required both in France and this country. Here it is easily obtained; but a late law in France, since the revolution of July, 1830 has required very high security.

See also: LIBERTY OF THE PRESS by Senator Edward D. Baker 1811-1861

IN MEMORY OF THE FALLEN By Luella Curran

Remember the Fallen

Remember the Fallen

IN MEMORY! By Luella Curran

Bring ye blossoms of the May,
For the brave beloved dead;
Tender memories rise to-day
O’er each fallen hero’s bed.

Wave the starry symbol dear,
They so loved and died to save,
O’er their rest, let memory’s tear
Consecrate the patriot’s grave.

Peace, fair child of victory,
Twines the olive with the palm—
Wed for them eternally,
Of their noble wounds the balm.

Thou, their country, proud and free,
Grateful bow thy star-crowned head;
They who shape thy destiny
Thrill at thy majestic tread!

Bring ye blossoms of the May,
Strew each humble soldier’s grave;
Liberty shall kneel to-day.
Honoring the true and brave.

Published in Good Housekeeping 1895.

field_cross

Field Cross

 

MEMORY’S WREATH by George B. Griffith

memorial-day2Memorial or Remembrance Day was originally began to honor the dead of the War between the States.

 

 

 

MEMORY’S WREATH

Memory’s wreath of white and red,
Of purest blue and green is spread,
Today, above the patriot dead,
In songs and story blest;
Nor do we grudge the fairest flowers
That oped and bloomed ‘neath Southern showers.
On this Memorial Day of ours,
Laid where the foemen rest.

For Peace has silenced bitter Hate,
The blue and gray together mate,
And by each other’s hearths have sate
Since the long strife was o’er.
Thank God for this! and from this day
May love and prayer keep clear the way,
And make us one in heart for aye—
One country evermore!

It was a woman’s tender thought;
Her slender hand the first wreath wrought,
And she a grateful Nation taught
To garland thus the dead;
So long as gallant knight shall ride
To win by valor lovely bride,
And music stirs the true and tried,
Shall this of her be said!

And when we vaunt of greatest fray.
We’ll ne’er forget that far away
Our wives and mothers prayed each day,
In safety God would keep
The soldier clad in gray or blue.
As comes Memorial Day anew
Let woman’s hand the flowers strew
Where battle heroes lie.
-George B. Griffith in Christian at Work.

THE STARRY FLAG By Stockton Bates

eagle.with.flagFrom proud Atlantic’s surging waves
To where the broad Pacific lies,
And playfully the bright sand laves
Beneath clear, sunny skies;

And far along Canadian lines,
The rocky borders of the land,
To where the Gulf in beauty shines,
And breaks upon the strand;

From Alleghany’s crested mounts,
And on the Rocky’s summits gray,
Where brightly, snow-fed crystal founts
Are welling forth alway.

On Mississippi’s mighty tides,
And on Ohio’s silver stream,
Or where the Susquehanna glides,
Or Schuylkill’s ripples gleam;
Where Delaware, with current grave,
Is sweeping outward to the sea;
In every land, on every wave,
The starry Flag floats free!

And through all time this flag above,
In triumph o’er oppression’s holds,
Shall, in the light of peace and love,
Unroll its glorious folds.
— One Hundred Choice Selections.

 

MEMORIAL DAY (Formerly) DECORATION DAY 1895

DECORATION DAY.

Strong men fast asleep,
With coverlets wrought of clay,
Do soft dreams over you creep
Of friends who are here to-day?
Do you know, O men low lying
In the hard and chilly bed,
That we, the slowly dying,
Are giving a day to the dead?
Do you know that sighs for your deaths
Across our heart-strings play,
E’en from the last faint breaths
Of the sweet lipped month of May?
When you fell, at duty’s call,
Your fame it glittered high,
As leaves of the somber fall
Grow brighter, though they die;
Men of the silent bands,
Men of the half-told days,
Lift up your specter hands
And take our hearts bouquets.

Women whose rich graves deck
The work of strife’s red spade,
Shining wrecks of the wreck
This tempest of war has made,
You whose sweet, pure love
Round every suffering twined,
Whose hearts like the sky above
Bent o’er all human kind.
Who walked through hospital streets
‘Twixt white abodes of pain,
Counting the last heart beats
Of men who were slowly slain,
Whose deeds were so sweet and gracious,
Wherever your light feet trod,
That every step seemed precious,
As if it were that of God;
Whose eyes so divinely beamed,
Whose touch was so tender and true.
That the dying soldier dreamed
Of the purest love he knew.
O, martyrs of more than duty!
Sweet-hearted woman-braves!
Did you think in this day’s sad beauty
That we could forget your graves?

memorial_day1

Men who fell at a loss,
Who died ‘neath failure’s frown,
Who carried strife’s red cross
And gained not victory’s crown,
Whose long fight was so brave
That it won our sad applause,
Who sleep in a hero’s grave,
Though clutched by the corpse of a
Sleep sweet, with no misgiving,     [cause.
By bitter memories fed,
That we, your foes while living,
Can be your foes when dead.
Your fault shall not e’en be spoken—
You paid for it on the pall;
The shroud is forgiveness’ token,
And death makes saints of all.

Men of the dark-hued race,
Whose freedom meant—to die—
Who lie with pain wrought face
Upturned to the peaceful sky.
Whose day of jubilee,
So many years o’erdue,
Came—but only to be
A day of death to you.

Men who died in sight
Of the long-sought promised land.
Would that these flowers were bright
As your deeds are true and grand.
Boys, whose glossy hair
Grows gray in the age of the grave,
Who lie so humble there
Because you were strong and brave;
You whose lives cold set
Like a winter’s sun ill-timed,
Whose hearts ran down ere yet
The noon of your lives had chimed—

Do you know your fathers are near,
The wrecks of their pride to meet?
Do you know your mothers are here
To throw their hearts at your feet?
Do you know the maiden hovers
O’er you with bended knee.
Dreaming what royal lovers
Such lovers as you would be?
Ruins of youthful graces,
Strong buds crushed in the spring,
Lift up your phantom faces
And see the flowers we bring!

Sleep well, O sad-browed city!
Whatever may betide,
Not under a nation’s pity
But mid a nation’s pride.

The vines that round you clamber
Brightest shall be and best;
You sleep in the honor chamber,
Each one a royal guest.

And aye in realms of glory
Shine bright your starry claims—
Angels have heard your story,
And God knows all your names.
— Will Carleton

Memorial Day Tribute to the Unknown Soldiers

Tomb of the Unknown

UNKNOWN PATRIOTS: In some cemeteries lie ten thousand, in others twenty thousand, of the men who died for the nation. An iron tablet records the name of the soldier and the battle in which he died. Often, alas! the record is merely that of “Unknown Soldier.” Over the graves floats the flag which those below loved so well. Nothing in America is more touching than her national cemeteries. So much brave young life given freely, that the nation might be saved! So much grateful remembrance of those who gave this supreme evidence of their devotion!

Normandy2Where’er we meet the friends once fondly cherished.
And hands all warm with old affection take,
Breathe ye with love the names of those who perished
And sleep in graves unknown for freedom’s sake.

 

Normandy Cemetery in France where they buried the Americans who gave their all saving Europe from the atrocities of Hitler, the Nazi's and their allies.

Normandy Cemetery in France where they buried the Americans who gave their all saving Europe from the atrocities of Hitler, the Nazi’s and their allies.

Peace! Let us mingle love’s sweet tears with pity’s
For those who bought the heritage we own,
Who gave their all, and in death’s silent cities
Have but the nameless epitaph, “Unknown”
Rest in peace, ye honored martyrs of liberty!

 

 

 

Tomb of the Unknown

Alexanders may weep for more worlds to conquer; Caesars may wage bloody wars and bring subjugated princes to crown their triumphal entries into the “Eternal City”; Napoleons may sweep with the besom of destruction all Europe, from the Tuileries to the Kremlin;but all the treasure expended and all the blood spilled in winning their brilliant conquests, are not of so much worth in the sight of God as the humblest of your nameless lives freely offered in defense of your country. While the spirit that animated you shall dwell in the hearts of the people, our broad continent shall be your monument. “They died for their country’‘ shall be your noblest record on the pages of history.—Butterworth’s Young Folk’s History of America.

See also:
THE PATRIOTS REMEMBRANCES ON DECORATION (Memorial) DAY 1895
We The People Never Forget September 11, 2001
History of the Cross in America
For our Troops (Tribute)

Public Servants Who Fasten Themselves on the Public Treasury Like Leeches

Political Leeches

Public Servants Who Fasten Themselves on the Public Treasury Like Leeches Sucking Themselves Full and Fat at the Public’s Expense.

“If the present Assembly pass an act, and declare it shall be irrevocable by subsequent assemblies, the declaration is merely void, and the act repealable, as other acts are. So far, and no farther authorized, they [the first Virginia convention] organized the government by the ordinance entitled a Constitution or form of government It pretends to no higher authority than the other ordinances of the same session; it does not say that it shall be perpetual; that it shall be unalterable by other legislatures; that it shall be transcendent above the powers of those who they knew would have equal power with themselves. Not only the silence of the instrument is a proof they thought it would be alterable, but their own practice also; for this very convention, meeting as a House of Delegates in General Assembly with the Senate in the autumn of that year, passed acts of assembly in contradiction to their ordinance of government; and every assembly from that time to this has done the same. I am safe, therefore, in the position that the Constitution itself is alterable by the ordinary legislature. Though this opinion seems founded on the first elements of common sense, yet is the contrary maintained by some persons. First, because, say they, the conventions were vested with every power necessary to make effectual opposition to Great Britain. But to complete this argument, they must go on. and say further, that effectual opposition could not be made to Great Britain without establishing a form of government perpetual and unalterable by the Legislature; which is not true. An opposition which at some time or other was to come to an end. could not need a perpetual constitution to carry it on; and a government amendable as its defects should be discovered, was as likely to make effectual resistance, as one that should be unalterably wrong. Besides, the assemblies were as much vested with all powers requisite for resistance as the Conventions were. If, therefore, these powers included that of modelling the form of government in the one case, they did so in the other. The assemblies then as well a~ the conventions may model the government: that is, they may alter the ordinance of government. Second, they urge, that if the convention had meant that this instrument should be alterable, as their other ordinances were, they would have called it an ordinance; but they have called it a constitution, which, ex vi termini, means ” an act above the power of the ordinary legislature.” I answer that constitutio, constitutum, statutum, lex, are convertible terms. * * * Thirdly. But, say they, the people have acquiesced, and this has given it an authority superior to the laws. It is true that the people did not rebel against it; and was that a time for the people to rise in rebellion? Should a prudent acquiescence, at a critical time, be construed into a confirmation of every illegal thing done during that period? Besides, why should they rebel? At an annual election they had chosen delegates for the year, to exercise the ordinary powers of legislation, and to manage the great contest in which they were engaged. These delegates thought the contest would be best managed by an organized government. They, therefore, among others, passed an ordinance of government. They did not presume to call it perpetual and unalterable. They well knew they had no power to make it so; that our choice of them had been for no such purpose, and at a time when we could have no such purpose in contemplation. Had an unalterable form of government been meditated, perhaps we should have chosen a different set of people. There was no cause, then, for the people to rise in rebellion. But to what dangerous lengths will this argument lead? Did the acquiescence of the Colonies under the various acts of power exercised by Great Britain in our infant state, confirm these acts, and so far invest them with the authority of the people as to render them unalterable, and our present resistance wrong? On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion, or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already? One certainly for every session of assembly. The other States in the Union have been of opinion that to render a form of government unalterable by ordinary acts of Assembly, the people must delegate persons with special powers. They have accordingly chosen special conventions to form and fix their governments. The individuals then who maintain the contrary opinion in this country, should have the modesty to suppose it possible that they may be wrong, and the rest of America right. But if there be only a possibility of their being wrong, if only a plausible doubt remains of the validity of the ordinance of government, is it not better to remove that doubt by placing it on a bottom which none will dispute? If they be right we shall only have the unnecessary trouble of meeting once in convention. If they be wrong, they expose us to the hazard of having no fundamental rights at all. True it is. this is no time for deliberating on forms of government. While an enemy is within our bowels, the first object is to expel him. But when this shall be done, when peace shall be established, and leisure given us for intrenching within good forms the rights for which we have bled, let no man be found indolent enough to decline a little more trouble for placing them beyond the reach of question.” —Thomas Jefferson Notes On Virginia, viii, 364. Ford Ed., iii, 226. (1782.) See Virginia, Conventions.

“If a Nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be…if we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
~ Attributed to Thomas Jefferson I haven’t found where he said or wrote it yet

WARNINGS FOR THE FUTURE! An Oration By Honorable Andrew Shuman, Delivered At LERA, Friend of Lincoln and Former Republican Governor of Illinois, July 4, 1876.

Fellow-citizens,—I greet you with patriotic congratulation. The circuit of the first century of the American Republic is this day accomplished, and fortunate we who are living witnesses of the great consummation. Fortunate we who are citizens of a country so free, so blessed, so progressive, so glowing with auspicious auguries for the future.

Hail illustrious day! commemorating the birth of a nation of free men, indexing from year to year, through 100 years, a national history abounding with conspicuous achievements of human bravery, genius and government, and now marking the dawn of a new century of national life. Hail illustrious day! now crowned with a diadem of an hundred precious jewels, shining like a circle of suns in the boundless firmament of Time!

The occasion is an appropriate one, not only for congratulation, but also for retrospection and thoughtful forecast.

We can felicitate ourselves that the past is secure; its wars have been fought and won; its labors have been performed and their fruits gathered; all its trials have been survived, all its dead are buried, and all its events, activities and achievements are embalmed in those indubitable evidences of our national growth and greatness which are visible all around us and all over our favored land; it is a century of completed history, the incidents of which are quite too familiar to us to need recapitulation. These lessons, and the instruction we have derived from our national experience, are irrepressibly suggestive, and ought to serve us to excellent purpose as practical guides. We can avoid the rocks upon which other ships of State have foundered, and steer clear of others which wisdom, a trustworthy pilot, discerns in the billowy sea of civil government.

Looking first on the bright side, then, we see much to encourage us hopefully to anticipate the continued advancement of our country, and the stability of our republican form of government, with its free institutions and its power, under popular support, to maintain its integrity. The fact that the Republic has survived all the trials, perils and embarrassments of an hundred years—having been neither crippled by misfortune nor spoiled by prosperity—is itself the most inspiring evidence that it possesses the elements of national endurance and permanency. Other new nations have in the meantime arisen and disappeared, while old ones have dissolved and vanished from the map of the world. Only a few which existed when ours was born are greater to-day than they were then, and none of them—not one—has in any respect progressed as ours has in the elements of civilization and real greatness and power. England and Germany and Russia alone, of all the older nations, are stronger and greater now than they were a century ago. France has been twice humbled and dismembered; Italy and Spain and Austria have each had their national vicissitudes and disasters, by which their progress has been retarded, their glory tarnished, and their territory contracted. Turkey, besotted with licentiousness and crazed with a fanaticism that is as stubborn as it is stupid, is still the “sick man” of Europe, and becomes sicker continually, his miserable and useless life being spared only because his neighbors, each coveting his possessions, are afraid to go to war with each other over the question as to which of them shall secure the largest and best part of his territory and navigable waters. The other and smaller nationalities of Europe are likewise spared only as a matter of prudence and discretion by the greater powers, the jealousy of these of each other being the only guaranty those have of continued life. Crossing over to Africa and Asia, we find that their ancient nations are standing still, decaying, or being gradually absorbed by foreign conquest, the only exceptions being China and Japan, the former of which merely vegetates, as she has vegetated for centuries, behind her stone wall of exclusiveness, and the latter of which has of late given hopeful signs of a progressive impulse by her admiration of our modern system of popular education and the importation of foreign machinery of agriculture, manufacture and transportation. As regards the South American and Central American nationalities, they are as unstable as the weather in March, and as unprogressive as their long-smothered volcanoes. Brazil is the solitary exception, but it is questionable whether even her progressive tendencies of the current epoch will outlive her present wise and liberal ruler, to whose good sense she owes her tranquility and prosperity. Our neighbor Republic of Mexico, of whom we have so often and so anxiously expected much, but been always disappointed, is but little better off to-day than when she was a dependency of Spain, and, unless her government should hereafter more successfully than of late years demonstrate its ability to compel her marauding free-booters to cease their depredatory incursions across the border, it is merely a question of time when the American eagle will pounce down upon her and mercifully spread the stars and stripes all over her mountains and plains.

tyrannyAnd this leads us to the consideration of that first manifested symptom of a decline in the patriotism of a free people—indifference to political duty on the part of good citizens—a symptom which bodes no good to a Republic, the successful maintenance of which is entirely dependent upon the faithful exercise of the elective franchise by its men of intelligence; honesty and public spirit. It is a fact to which we cannot shut our eyes, that this is the most alarming cause of apprehension now existent in this country—this growing indifference to the most vital duty of citizenship by the very class of men who have the most at stake in the honorable and efficient management of our public affairs—the men of property, conscience and thoughtfulness. It is the neglect of this class of men to which most of our political evils are attributable. They too often stand aloof from active participation in the work and duty of politics, and it follows, as a matter of course, that selfish and unprincipled men, by means of those methods and appliances which the professional politician knows so well how to employ, are left to manage affairs, not for the public welfare, but for the subservience of individual interests and the gratification of unworthy ambitions. Thus the powers of unconscionable greed and unreasoning ignorance, the one becoming the hired servant of the other, usurp the reins of government, which should never for an instant be intrusted out of the control of the sober minded, intelligent, tax-paying, patriotic portion of the community. And thus it is that corrupt rings and venality in office become possible, and that one designing man or a few sharpers in politics so often succeed in fastening themselves upon, the public treasury, like leeches, sucking themselves full and fat at the people’s expense. Wherever and whenever in this country corruption creeps into our legislative bodies and into our public offices, the so-called “good citizens,” who naturally become disgusted and indignant at the disgraceful results, are generally responsible, not because of their own acts, but because of their inexcusable non-action at the proper time, when they might have prevented bad men from worming themselves into positions which should never be given to any but good men. It is an established theorem in our modern political philosophy, that official representatives and agents usually reflect the average intelligence and morality of their immediate constituents—that is, those who by their votes elect them. Now, we are aware that, in almost every town, district, or city in this country, the majority of the population is fairly intelligent, honorable, and patriotic. This being so, when corrupt or unworthy men are elected to office, it only proves that a majority of those entitled to the elective franchise virtually disfranchised themselves, either by failing to take an active part in the primary caucuses, at which better candidates could have been selected, or by neglecting to do their duty as electors at the polls, where better men could have been elected.

Happily, of late there have been evidences of a general re-awakening to the importance of all good citizens taking an active part in politics. They are just discovering the sad truth that while they have been politically asleep, dreaming pleasant dreams of security, wakeful plunderers have been despoiling their treasures; that they have too long left to others the performance of duties which can never safely be intrusted to proxies; and now, appalled and indignant, they have arisen and gone to work with the one grand purpose of making up for lost time. Such popular awakenings and uprisings are sublime and salutary. Their effect upon the body politic is similar to that of a rushing torrent through a long-stagnating pool of water, cleansing and purifying it. But what if the rushing torrent should never come? What if the waters of the stagnant pool should be left undisturbed, to thicken with accumulated putridity, to breed malarial vapors, and contaminate all the air around it with noxious offensiveness, without ever receiving a purifying visitation from the heaven or the earth! Would not the ardent midsummer sun, angered at the poisoner of his medium of radiation, bring the power of his irresistible shafts to bear upon it, evaporating and dispersing in noisome atoms, drying up its foul bed, and covering it over with a crop of the rankest weeds? It is fortunate for our Republic that the. mass of intelligent, patriotic citizens do occasionally, even though spasmodically, wake up to the necessity of cleansing and purifying the stagnating pool of politics; but what if, at some period in the coming century, they should neglect to awaken from one of their sleeps of apathy and indifference, and the foul stagnation should be left to thicken and putrify, without ever receiving a cleansing visitation from the heaven or the earth! Would not the sun of Destiny, angered at the noisome offense, evaporate its elements, and rill its place upon the earth with rankest weeds? This—this my fellow countrymen, is the most solemn danger to our national future—-this possibility that, at some time, those of the people who have the most direct interest in the proper and honorable administration of public affairs will fall into such a deep stupor of political indifference that they will awaken, if ever at all, only to see their Republic in irretrievable ruins, and themselves the helpless slaves of an usurper or a conqueror! If there is one warning that should be sounded abroad over all this free and broad land, more loudly and emphatically than all others, it is this: If they would preserve their liberties and maintain their national integrity, let all citizens of intelligence and patriotic feeling participate actively and earnestly in all political movements, hold in check the over-presumptuous, ever selfish arts and devices of demagogism, and keep the reins of government, both local and general, in their own strong hands.

All the American people ought to be active politicians. They ought to study political principles, systems and economies, and the science of statesmanship, with the same interest with which in the schools they study mathematics and the practical sciences. In a Republic, where the individual interests and personal liberty of every man are dependent upon the efficient administration of the government, politics is as much a part of the citizen’s business as is the pursuit by which he earns his daily bread. Taxation, protection of individual and popular rights, and private as well as public security are matters of politics, and therefore of vital concern to every man. The citizens are the sovereigns—they, in their aggregate capacity, are the possessors and rulers of the land. To understand how to rule wisely should be their ambition, and this they cannot understand unless they study politics, familiarizing themselves with the principles of Government, the spirit and letter of the organic laws, and the causes and effects of political action. Unless the mass of intelligent citizens do become politicians, we will be governed by an oligarchy, consisting of an irresponsible class of men, who will make politics their business—they will be the governing class—and class government in a Republic would in time degenerate into as obnoxious and burdensome a system as would be an absolute dictatorship, towards which it would gradually tend, and in which, if permitted to have uninterrupted sway, it would ultimately culminate.

DontTreadOnMOther dangers there are in our pathway into the now veiled future, which are equally deserving of sober thought. Among these is that aggressive phase in our human nature—we will call it unreasoning selfishness—which tends to the assumption of excessive license on the one hand and to bigoted intolerance on the other. I mean that repulsive, anti-republican manifestation of supreme self-assertion which, in one extreme, develops itself in communism, and, in the other, in persecution for opinion’s sake. These, if suffered to gain power, would in time eventuate in legalized piracy and plunder on the one hand, or legalized tyranny on the other, both being equally in conflict with the spirit and harmonious existence of popular government. Being a heterogeneous people, with a variety of tastes, creeds, customs, prejudices and interests, we must, if we would continue to live together in peace and harmony, be exceedingly tolerant towards each other in matters of opinion, and exceedingly respectful of each other’s personal rights and prerogatives as citizens who stand on an equality under the law.

Then, too, we must carefully cherish our peculiar system of free schools and guard it against encroachment from sectarian agencies or other influences which would seek to transform it into an instrumentality of bigotry, factious ambition, social disorder or political mischief. More depends upon our schools, their faithful maintenance and their efficient management, for the future of this Republic, than upon all other agencies and influences combined. Popular intelligence is the rock upon which our national structure rests, and so long as the youth of each generation—the poor man’s as well as the rich man’s children—shall freely enjoy the advantages of liberal education, the nation will have its strongest possible guaranty of continued life, and popular liberty an impregnable safeguard.

In conclusion, it may reasonably be anticipated by the patriotic citizen of this grand Republic whose peculiar privilege it is this day to witness the close of the first and the dawning of a second century of national existence, that there will be a glorious future as there has been a glorious past; that our posterity will be as faithful to their sacred trust as we have been and as our forefathers have been; that those who will follow us as the possessors of this priceless inheritance of national blessings, will .appreciate it as we do—that they will be thoughtful patriots, true and faithful citizens, moral and intelligent men. Let us, in the earnestness of our patriotic devotion, in the fulness of our hopeful and trustful hearts, pray to Him who is the Supreme Ruler of Nations that they maybe so, and that centuries after our poor dust shall have mingled with that of the patriots, the heroes, and the statesmen of America’s eventful history, the Republic of the United States, free and independent, will still maintain, with ever-increasing luster, its proud place among the nations of the earth.

See also: The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
 Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation

 The Betrayal Of ‘We The American People’ Our Nation! Our Birthright!
Open Letter to ALL Politicians and Bureaucrats, we’re coming for you
DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICAN FLAG
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC
A RESUME OF AMERICAN HISTORY by Lawrence A. Gobright , Esq., (1816-1881)
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876

THE MEANING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by Col Robert G Ingersoll

IngersollTHE MEANING OF THE DECLARATION An Oration By Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Peoria, Illinois, July 4, 1876.

Fellow-citizens.—You have just heard read the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by man. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom. I say of physical courage, because it was a declaration of war against the most powerful nation then on the globe; a declaration of war by thirteen weak, unorganized colonies; a declaration of war by a few people, without military stores, without wealth, without strength, against the most powerful kingdom on the earth; a declaration of war made when the British navy, at that day the mistress of every sea, was hovering along the coast of America, looking after defenseless towns and villages to ravage and destroy. It was made when thousands of English soldiers were upon our soil, and when the principal cities of America were in the possession of the enemy. And so, I say, all things considered, it was the bravest political document ever signed by man. And if it was physically brave, the moral courage of the document is almost infinitely beyond the physical. They had the courage not only, but they had the almost infinite wisdom to declare that all men are created equal. Such things had occasionally been said by some political enthusiasts in the olden time, but for the first time in the history of the world, the representatives of a nation, the representatives of a real living, breathing, hoping people, declared that all men are created equal. With one blow, with one stroke of the pen, they struck down all the cruel, heartless barriers that aristocracy, that priestcraft, that kingcraft had raised between man and man. They struck down with one immortal blow, that infamous spirit of caste that makes a god almost a beast, and a beast almost a god. With one word, with one blow, they wiped away and utterly destroyed all that had been done by centuries of war—centuries of hypocrisy—centuries of injustice.

“What more did they do? They then declared that each man has a right to live. And what does that mean? It means that he has the right to make his living. It means that he has the right to breathe the air, to work the land, that he stands the equal of every other human being beneath the shining stars; entitled to the product of his labor—the labor of his hand and of his brain.

What more? That every man has the right; to pursue his own happiness in his own way. Grander words than these have never been spoken by man.

And what more did these men say? They laid down the doctrine, that governments were instituted among men for the purpose of preserving the rights of the people. The old idea was that people existed solely for the benefit of the state—that is to say, for kings and nobles.

And what more? That the people are the source of political power. That was not only a revelation, but it was a revolution. It changed the ideas of the people with regard to the source of political power. For the first time it made human beings men. What was the old idea? The old idea was that no political power came from, nor in any manner belonged to, the people. The old idea was that the political power came from the clouds; that the political power came in some miraculous way from heaven; that it came down to kings, and queens, and robbers. That was the old idea. The nobles lived upon the labor of the people; the people had no rights; the nobles stole what they had and divided with the kings, and the kings pretended to divide what they stole with God Almighty. The source, then, of political power was from above. The people were responsible to the nobles, the nobles to the kings, and the people had no political rights whatever, no more than the wild beasts of the forest. The kings were responsible to God: not to the people. The kings were responsible to the clouds; not to the toiling millions they robbed and plundered.

And our forefathers, in this declaration of independence, reversed this thing, and said, No; the people, they are the source of political power, and their rulers, these presidents, these kings, are but the agents and servants of the great, sublime people. For the first time, really, in the history of the world, the king was made to get off the throne and the people were royally seated thereon. The people became the sovereigns, and the old sovereigns became the servants and the agents of the people. It is hard for you and me now to imagine even the immense results of that change. It is hard for you and for me at this day to understand how thoroughly it had been ingrained in the brain of almost every man, that the king had some wonderful right over him; that in some strange way the king owned him; that in some miraculous manner he belonged, body and soul, to somebody who rode on a horse, with epaulettes on his shoulders and a tinsel crown upon his brainless head.

Ingersoll1Our forefathers had been educated in that idea, and when they first landed on American shores they believed it. They thought they belonged to somebody, and that they must be loyal to some thief, who could trace his pedigree back to antiquity’s most successful robber.

It took a long time for them to get that idea out of their heads and hearts. They were three thousand miles away from the despotisms of the old world, and every wave of the sea was an assistant to them. The distance helped to disenchant their minds of that infamous belief, and every mile between them and the pomp and glory of monarchy helped to put republican ideas and thoughts into their minds. Besides that, when they came to this country, when the savage was in the forest and three thousand miles of waves on the other side, menaced by barbarians on the one side and by famine on the other, they learned that a man who had courage, a man who had thought, was as good as any other man in the world, and they built up, as it were, in spite of themselves, little republics. And the man that had the most nerve and heart was the best man, whether he had any noble blood in his veins or not.

It has been a favorite idea with me that our forefathers were educated by Nature; that they grew grand as the continent upon which they landed; that the great rivers—the wide plains—the splendid lakes—the lonely forests—the sublime mountains—that all these things stole into and became a part of their being, and they grew great as the country in which they lived. They began to hate the narrow, contracted views of Europe. They were educated by their surroundings, and every little colony had to be, to a certain extent, a republic. The kings of the old world endeavored to parcel out this land to their favorites. But there were too many Indians. There was too much courage required for them to take and keep it, and so men had to come here who were dissatisfied with the old country, who were dissatisfied with England, with France, with Germany, with Ireland and Holland. The kings’ favorites stayed at home. Men came here for liberty, and on account of certain principles they entertained and held dearer than life. And they were willing to work, willing to fell the forests, to fight the savages, willing to go through all the hardships, perils and dangers of a new country, of a new land, and the consequence was that our country was settled by brave and adventurous spirits; by men who had opinions of their own and were willing to live in the wild forest for the sake of expressing those opinions, even if they expressed them only to trees, rocks, and savage men. The best blood of the old world came to the new.

When they first came over they did not have a great deal of political philosophy, not the best ideas of liberty. “We might as well tell the truth. When the Puritans first came, they were narrow. They did not understand what liberty meant—what religious liberty, what political liberty, was; but they found out in a few years. There was one feeling among them that rises to their eternal honor like a white shaft to the clouds—they were in favor of universal education. Wherever they went they built school houses, introduced books, and ideas of literature. They believed that every man should know how to read and how to write, and should find out all that his capacity allowed him to comprehend. That is the glory of the Puritan fathers.

They forgot in a little while what they had suffered, and they forgot to apply the principal of universal liberty—of toleration. Some of the colonies did not forget it, and I want to give credit where credit should be given. The Catholics of Maryland were the first people on the new continent to declare universal religious toleration. Let this be remembered to their eternal

honor. Let this be remembered to the disgrace of the Protestant government of England, that it caused this grand law to be repealed. And to the honor and credit of the Catholics of Maryland let it be remembered that the moment they got back into power they re-enacted the old law. The Baptists of Rhode Island also, led by Roger Williams, were in favor of universal religious liberty. And these were the only colonies that were in favor of religious freedom. Yet it may truthfully be said that they did not understand the idea of religious liberty as we understand it, to-day.

But the people finally met in congress in the old city of Philadelphia. They had become tired of being colonists—of writing and reading and signing petitions, and presenting them on their bended knees, to an idiot king. They began to have an aspiration to form a new nation, to be citizens of a new republic instead of subjects of an old monarchy. They had the idea—the Puritans, the Catholics, the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Quakers, and a few Free Thinkers, all had the idea—that they would like to form a new nation.

Now, do not understand that all of our fathers were in favor of independence. Do not understand that they were all like Jefferson; that they were all like Adams or Lee; that they were all like Thomas Paine or John Hancock. There were thousands and thousands of them who were opposed to American independence. There were thousands and thousands who said, “When you say men are created equal, it is a lie; when you say the political power resides in the great body of the people, it is false.” Thousands and thousands of them said, “We prefer Great Britain.” But the men who were in favor of independence, the men who knew that a new nation must be born, went on in full hope and courage, and nothing could daunt or stop or stay these heroic, fearless men.

They met in Philadelphia; and the resolution was moved by Lee of Virginia, that the colonies ought to be independent states, and ought to dissolve their political connection with Great Britain.

They made up their minds that a new nation must be formed. All nations had been, so to speak, the wards of some church. The religious idea as to the source of power had been at the foundation of all governments, and had been the bane and curse of man.

Happily for us, there was no church strong enough to dictate to the rest. Fortunately for us, the colonists not only, but the colonies differed widely- in their religious views. There were the Puritans who hated the Episcopalians, and Episcopalians who hated the Catholics, and the Catholics who hated both, while the Quakers held them all in contempt. There they were, of every sort, and color, and kind, and how was it that they came together? They had a common aspiration. They wanted to form a new nation. More than that, most of them cordially hated Great Britain; and they pledged each other to forget these religious prejudices, for a time at least, and agreed that there should be only one religion until they got through, and that was the religion of patriotism. They solemnly agreed that the new nation should not belong to any particular church, but that it should secure the rights of all.

Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights, and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; that it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence. You might as well have a state united by force with art or with property, or with oratory, as with religion. Religion should have the influence upon mankind that its goodness, that its morality, its justice, its charity, its reason, and its argument give it, and no more. Religion should have the effect upon mankind that it necessarily has, and no more. The religion that has to be supported by law is without value, not only, but a fraud and curse. The argument that has to be supported by a musket, is no argument. A prayer that must have a cannon behind it, had better never be uttered.

So, our fathers said, ” We will form a secular government, and under the flag with which we are going to enrich the air we will allow every man to worship God as he thinks best. They said, “Religion is an individual thing between each man and his Creator, and he can worship as he pleases and as he desires.” And why did they do this? The history of the world warned them that the liberty of man was not safe in the clutch and grasp of any church. They had read of and seen the thumb-screws, the racks and the dungeons of the inquisition. They knew all about the hypocrisy of the olden time. They knew that the church had stood side by side with the throne; that the high priests were hypocrites, and that kings were robbers. They also knew that if they gave to any church power, that power would corrupt the best church in the world. And so they said, power must not reside in a church or in a sect, in a few or in a nobility, but power must be wherever humanity is, in the great body of the people; and the officers and servants of the people must be responsible to them. And so I say again, as I said in the commencement, this is the wisest, the profoundest, the bravest political document that ever was written and signed by man. They turned, as I tell you, everything squarely about. They derived all their authority from the people. They did away forever with the theological idea of government.

And what more did they say? They said that whenever the rulers abused this authority, this power, incapable of destruction, returned to the people. How did they come to say this? I will tell you. They were pushed into it. How? They felt that they were oppressed; and whenever a man feels that he is the subject of injustice, his perception of right and wrong is wonderfully quickened. Nobody was ever in prison wrongfully who did not believe in the writ of habeas corpus. Nobody ever suffered wrongfully without instantly having ideas of justice.

And they began to inquire what rights the king of Great Britain had. They began to search for the charter of his authority. They began to investigate and dig down to the bed rock upon which society must be founded, and when they got down there, forced thereto by their oppressors, forced against their own prejudices and education, they found at the bottom of things, not lords, not nobles, not pulpits, not thrones, but humanity and the rights of men. And so they said we are men; we are men. They found out they were men. And the next thing they said, was, we will be free men; we have got weary of being colonists; we are tired of being subjects; we are men; and these colonies ought to be states; and these states ought to be a nation; and that nation ought to drive the last British soldier into the sea. And so they signed that brave Declaration of Independence.

I thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart for signing that sublime declaration. I thank them for their courage —for their patriotism—for their wisdom—for the splendid confidence in themselves and in the human race. I thank them for what they were, and for what we are—for what they did and, for what we have received—for what they suffered, and for what we enjoy.

What would we have been if we had remained colonists and subjects? What would we have been to-day? Nobodies,—ready to get down on our knees and crawl in the very dust at the sight of somebody that was supposed to have in him some drop of blood that flowed in the veins of that mailed marauder— that royal robber, William the Conqueror.

They signed that Declaration of Independence, although they knew that it would produce a long, terrible, and bloody war. They looked forward and saw poverty, deprivation, gloom, and death. But they also saw on the wrecked clouds of war, the beautiful bow of freedom. These grand men were enthusiasts; and the world has only been raised by enthusiasts. In every country there have been a few enthusiasts who have always given a national aspiration to the people. The enthusiasts of 1776 were the builders and framers of this great and splendid government; and the enthusiasts there saw, although others did not, the golden fringe of the mantle of glory that will finally cover this world. They knew it and they felt it; and they said, notwithstanding the horrors of war, notwithstanding the privations of war, we will give a new constellation to the political heavens ; we will make the Americans a grand people,—grand as the continent upon which they live.

The war commenced. There was no money, no credit. The new nation had no means and but few friends. To a great extent each soldier of freedom had to clothe and feed himself.

What did the soldier leave when he went? He left his wife and and children. Did he leave them in a beautiful home, surrounded by civilization, in the security of a great and powerful republic? No. He left his wife and children on the edge, on the fringe of the boundless forest, in which crouched and crept the red savage, who was at that time the ally of the still more savage Briton. He left his wife to defend herself, and he left the prattling babes to be defended by their mother and by nature. The mother made the living; she planted the corn and the potatoes, and hoed them in the sun, raised the children, and in the darkness of night, told them upon what a sacred expedition their brave father had gone.

The soldiers of 1776 did not march away with music and banners. They went in silence, looked at and gazed after by eyes filled with tears. They went not to meet an equal, but a superior —to fight five times their number—to make a desperate stand—to stop the advance of the enemy, and then, when their ammunition gave out, seek the protection of rocks, of rivers and of hills.

Let me say here: The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. That army is the bravest, that can be whipped the greatest number of times and fight again.

Over the entire territory, so to speak, then settled by our forefathers, they were driven again and again. Now and then they would meet the English with something like equal numbers, and then the eagle of victory would proudly perch upon the stripes and stars. And so they went on as best they could, hoping and fighting until they came to the dark and somber gloom of Valley Forge. There were very few hearts then beneath that flag that did not begin to think that the struggle was useless; that all the blood and treasure had been spent in vain. But there were some men gifted with that wonderful prophecy that fulfills itself, and with that wonderful magnetic power that makes heroes of everybody they come in contact with.

And so our fathers went through the gloom of that terrible time, and still fought on. Brave men wrote grand words, cheering the despondent, brave men did brave deeds, the rich man gave his wealth, the poor man gave his life, until at last, by the victory at Yorktown, the old banner won its place in the air, and became glorious forever.

Seven long years of war—fighting for what? For the principle that all men are created equal—a truth that nobody ever disputed except a scoundrel; nobody, nobody in the entire history of this

world. No man ever denied that truth who was not a rascal, and at heart a thief, never, never, and never will. What else were they fighting for? Simply that in America every man should have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nobody ever denied that except a villain; never, never. It has been denied by kings—they were thieves. It has been denied by statesmen— they were liars. It has been denied by priests, by clergymen, by cardinals, by bishops and by popes—they were hypocrite’s.

What else were they fighting for? For the idea that all political power is vested in the great body of the people. The great body of the people make all the money; do all the work. They plow the land, cut down the forests; they produce everything that is produced. Then who shall say what shall be done with what is produced except the producer? Ts it the non-producing thief, sitting on a throne, surrounded by vermin?

Those were the things they were fighting for; and that is all they were fighting for. They fought to build up a new, a great nation; to establish an asylum for the oppressed of the world everywhere. They knew the history of this world. They knew the history of human slavery.

The history of civilization is the history of the slow and painful enfranchisement of the human race. In the olden times the family was a monarchy, the father being the monarch. The mother and children were the veriest slaves. The will of the father was the supreme law. He had the power of life and death. It took thousands of years to civilize this father, thousands of years to make the condition of wife and mother and child even tolerable. A few families constituted a tribe; the tribe had a chief; the chief was a tyrant; a few tribes formed a nation; the nation was governed by a king, who was also a tyrant. A strong nation robbed, plundered, and took captive the weaker ones. This was the commencement of human slavery.

It is not possible for the human imagination to conceive of the horrors of slavery. It.has left no possible crime uncommitted, no .possible cruelty unperpetrated. It has been practiced and defended by all nations in some form. It has been upheld by all religions. It has been defended by nearly every pulpit. From the profits derived from the slave trade churches have been built, cathedrals reared and priests paid. Slavery has been blessed by bishop, by cardinal and by pope. It has received the sanction of statesmen, of kings and of queens. It has been defended by the throne, the pulpit and the bench. Monarchs have shared in the profits. Clergymen have taken their part of the spoil, reciting passage of scripture in its defense at the same time, and judges have taken their portion in the name of equity and law.

Only a few years ago our ancestors were slaves. Only a few years ago they passed with and belonged to the soil, like coal under it and rocks on it. Only a few years ago they were treated like beasts of burden, worse far than we treat our animals at the present day. Only a few years ago it was a crime in England for a man to have a Bible in his house, a crime for which men were hanged, and their bodies afterwards burned. Only a few years ago fathers could and did sell their children. Only a few years ago our ancestors were not allowed to speak or write their thoughts that being a crime. Only a few years ago to be honest, at least in the expression of your ideas, was a felony. To do right was a capital offense; and in those days chains and whips were the incentives to labor, and the preventives of thought. Honesty was a vagrant, justice a fugitive, and liberty in chains.

As soon as our ancestors began to get free, they began to enslave others. With an inconsistency that defies explanation, they practiced upon others the same outrages that had been perpetrated upon them. As soon as white slavery began to be abolished, black slavery commenced. In this infamous traffic nearly every nation of Europe embarked. Fortunes were quickly realized; the avarice and cupidity of Europe were excited; all ideas of justice were discarded; pity fled from the human breast; a few good, brave men recited the horrors of the trade; avarice was deaf; religion refused to hear; the trade went on; the governments of Europe upheld it in the name of commerce—in the name of civilization and of religion.

Our fathers knew the history of caste. They knew that in the despotisms of the old world it was a disgrace to be useful. They knew that a mechanic was esteemed as hardly the equal of a hound, and far below a blooded horse. They knew that a nobleman held a son of labor in contempt—that he had no rights the royal loafers were bound to respect. The world has changed.

The other day there came shoemakers, potters, workers in wood and iron from France, and they were received in the city of New York as though they had been princes. They had been sent by the great republic of France to examine into the arts and manufactures of the great republic of America. They looked a thousand times better to me than the Edward Alberts and Albert Edwards—the royal vermin, that live on the body politic. And I would think much more of our government if it would fete and feast them, instead of wining and dining the miserable imbeciles of a rotten royal line.

Our fathers devoted their lives and fortunes to the grand work of founding a government for the protection of the rights of man. The theological idea as to the source of political power had poisoned the web and woof of every government in the world, and our fathers banished it from this continent forever.

What we want to-day is what our fathers wrote down. They did not attain to their ideal; we approach it nearer, but have not reached it yet. We want, not only the independence of a State, not only the independence of a nation, but something far more glorious—the absolute independence of the individual. That is what we want. I want it so that I, one of the children of Nature, can stand on an equality with the rest; that I can say this is my air, my sunshine, my earth, and that I have a right to live, and hope, and aspire, and labor, and enjoy the fruit of that labor, as much as any individual or any nation on the face of the globe.

We want every American to make to-day, on this hundredth anniversary, a declaration of individual independence. Let each man enjoy his liberty to the utmost—enjoy all he can; but be sure it is not at the expense of another. The French convention gave the best definition of liberty I have ever read: “The liberty of one citizen ceases only where the liberty of another citizen commences.”‘ I know of no better definition. I ask you to-«lay to make a declaration of individual independence. And if you are independent, be just. Allow everybody else to make his declaration of individual! independence. Allow your wife, allow your husband, allow your children to make theirs. Let everybody be absolutely free and! independent, knowing only the sacred obligation of honesty and affection. Let us be independent of party, independent- of everybody and everything except our own consciences and our own brains. Do not belong to any clique. Have the clear title deeds in fee simple to yourselves, without any mortgage on the premises to anybody in the world.

Only a few days ago I stood in Independence Hall—in that little room where was signed the immortal paper. A little room, like any other; and it did not seem possible that from that room went forth ideas, like cherubim and seraphim, spreading their wings over a continent, and touching, as with holy fire, the hearts of men.

In a few moments I was in the park, where are gathered the accomplishments of a century. Our fathers never dreamed of the things I saw. There were hundreds of locomotives, with their nerves of steel and breath of flame—every kind of machine, with whirling wheels and curious cogs and cranks, and the myriad thoughts of men that have been wrought in iron, brass, and steel. And going out from one little building were wires in the air, stretching to every civilized nation, and they could send a shining messenger in a moment to any part of the world, and it would go sweeping under the waves of the sea with thoughts and words within its glowing heart. I saw all that had been achieved by this nation, and I wished that the signers of the Declaration—the soldiers of the revolution—could see what a century of freedom has produced. That they could see the fields we cultivate—the rivers we navigate—the railroads running over the Alleghenies, far into what was then the unknown forest—on over the broad prairies— on over the vast plains—away over the mountains of the West, to the Golden Gate of the Pacific.

All this is the result of a hundred years of freedom.

Are you not more than glad that in 1776 was announced the sublime principle that political power resides with the people? That our fathers then made up their minds nevermore to be colonists and subjects, but,that they would be free and independent -citizens of America?

I will not name any of the grand men who fought for liberty. All should be named, or none. I feel that the unknown soldier who was shot down without even his name being remembered—who was included only in a report of “a hundred killed,” or “a hundred missing,” nobody knowing even the number that attached to his august corpse—is entitled to as deep and heartfelt thanks as the titled leader who fell at the head of the host.

Standing here amid the sacred memories of the first, on the golden threshold of the second, I ask: Will the second century be as grand as the first? I believe it will, because we are growing more and more humane. I believe there is more human kindness, more real, sweet human sympathy, a greater desire to help one another, in the United States, than in all the world besides.

We must progress. We are just at the commencement of invention. The steam engine—the telegraph—these are but the toys with which science has been amused. Wait; there will be grander things; there will be wider and higher culture—a grander standard of character, of literature, and art.

We have now half as many millions of people as we have years, and many of us will live until a hundred million stand beneath the flag. We are getting more real solid sense. The school-house is the finest building in the village. We are writing and reading more books, we are painting and buying more pictures; we are struggling more and more to get at the philosophy of life, of things —trying more and more to answer the questions of the eternal sphinx; we are looking in every direction—investigating ; in short, we are thinking and working. Besides all this, 1 believe the people are nearer honest than ever before. A few years ago we were willing to live upon the labor of four million slaves. Was that honest? At last, we have a national conscience. At last, we have carried out the Declaration of Independence. Our fathers wrote it—we have accomplished it. The black man was a slave—we made him a citizen. We found four million human beings in manacles, and now the hands of a race are held up in the free air, to-day, without a chain.

I have had the supreme pleasure- of seeing a man—once a slave —sitting in the seat of his former master in the Congress of the United States. I have had that pleasure, and when I saw it, my eyes were filled with tears. I felt that we had carried out the Declaration of Independence,—that we had given reality to it, and breathed the breath of life into its every word. I felt that our flag would float over and protect the colored man and his little children—standing straight in the sun, just the same as though he were white and worth a million. I would protect him more, because the rich white man can protect himself.

All who stand beneath our flag are free. Ours is the only flag that has in reality written upon it: Liberty, Fraternity, Equality —the three grandest words in all the languages of men.

Liberty: Give to every man the fruit of his own labor—the labor of his hands and of his brain.

Fraternity: Every man in the right is my brother.

Equality: The rights of all are equ«il: Justice, poised and balanced in eternal calm, will shake from the golden scales, in which are weighed the acts of men, the very dust of prejudice and caste: No race, no color, no previous condition, can change the rights of men.

The Declaration of Independence has been carried out in letter and in spirit.

The second century will be grander than the first.

Fifty millions of people are celebrating this day. To-day, the black man looks upon his child and says: The avenues to distinction are open to you—upon your brow may fall the civic wreath—this day belongs to you.

We are celebrating the courage and wisdom of our fathers, and the glad shout of a free people, the anthem of a grand nation, commencing at the Atlantic, is following the sun to the Pacific, across a continent of happy homes.

We are a great people. Three millions have increased to fifty —thirteen States to thirty-eight. We have better homes, better clothes, better food and more of it, and mjre of the conveniences of life, than any other people upon the globe.

The farmers of Peoria county live better than did the kings and princes two hundred years ago—and they have twice as much sense and heart. Liberty and labor have given us all. I want every person here to believe in the dignity of labor—to know that the respectable man is the useful man—the man who produces or helps others to produce something of value, whether thought of the brain or work of the hand.

I want you to go,away with an eternal hatred in your breast of injustice, of aristocracy, of caste, of the idea that one man has more rights than another because he has better clothes, more land, more money, because he owns a railroad, or is famous and in high position. Remember that all men have equal rights. Remember that the man who acts best his part—who loves his friends tho best— is most willing to help others—truest to the discharge of obligation —who has the best heart—the most feeling—the deepest sympathies—and who freely gives to others the rights that he claims for himself, is the best man. I am willing to swear to this.

What has made this country? I say again, liberty and labor. What would we be without labor? I want every farmer, when plowing the rustling corn of June—while mowing in the perfumed fields—to feel that he is adding to the wealth and glory of the United States. I want every mechanic—every man of toil, to know and feel that he is keeping the cars running, the telegraph wires in the air; that he is making the statues and painting the pictures; that he is writing and printing the books; that he is helping to fill the world with honor, with happiness, with love and law.

Remember that our country is founded upon the dignity of labor and the equality of man. Remember this, and the second century will be grander than the first.

The Betrayal Of ‘We The American People’ Our Nation! Our Birthright!

tyranny_-_montesquieuDEMOCRACY IN DANGER! An Address By Rev. R. A. Holland. Delivered In Christ Church, St. Louis, Missouri. July 4th, 1876

A note from me: It is truly interesting how history continues to repeat itself, “to the victor belong the spoils” indeed. This concept has no place in America, American politics, nor American society. Too many times we have seen the president being given the crooks he wants to aid in his plundering, pilfering, binding and blinding of WE the American People! Too many times congress votes to confirm a presidential nominee, simply because that is the way it is normally done, and the president gets what he wants. It is time for our Senators in the Senate Chamber and Representatives in the House look at what aids in the liberty, prosperity and happiness of We The American People, than at what the president, the special interest groups, the celebrities, and the lobbyist want. It is time for them to finally listen to what We The American People, the heirs of the American Republic, the Sovereigns of the Nation are telling them.

There are two kinds of patriotism—one of instinct, the other of reason. Patriotism of instinct is attachment to a spot of ground, familiar scenes, inherited customs, a geographical name. It is the love of the fox for his hole, the fowl for her nest. In war a sort of magic, mobilizing men into instant armies reckless of death, in peace it encourages abuses and invites usurpations by defending every evil that may be done in the sacred name of country. “My country, right or wrong,” is its confession of faith, and for fetish it worships a flag.

Not in this spirit have we assembled to-day to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of our republic, but rather in the spirit of that more rational patriotism which loving truth, right, humanity first, loves country only in so far as these supreme ideas are or may be organized and administered in its policy. For governments are not an end to themselves, but means for achieving an end which is higher, broader, more enduring. They exist for man, not man for them. The method by which he attempts to realize social aims, they change in form as one form after another fails of its task. Even if the form should be perfect in its adaptation to a particular stage of national growth.

jm-tyrannyA Particular Stage Of National Growth:

The continuance of such a growth would by and by require a change to suit its enlarging needs. And whatever may be the fate of individual nations, whether or not their law is to mature and decay, the growth of the race is constant and imparts its gains of experience to all institutions that are vital enough to assimilate them. Accordingly, experiments in government have not been without an order of succession and a certain utility of failure. Failure warns against exact repetition. Men are not likely to go back to feudalism or despotism, the reign of one or of a few, for the models of future society. When only the few had knowledge and wealth, it was well that the few should govern; but knowledge has now become common, and wealth diffuse. There are no longer in our civilization lord and vassal separated by an impassable gulf. The gulf has been closed by a middle class nobler in intelligence and richer in estate than baronage. The rabble, as it was once called, has by co-operation, risen likewise in consciousness of power and stands before wealth and rank, with bare arms that on provocation might toss them both out of its way. One would have to bind one’s eyes with fold on fold of prejudice not to see that the tendency of these changes is towards democracy; that, indeed, by peoples who have graduated from a state of pupilage and know their manhood, no other kind of government will be tolerated long unless in evident transition towards democracy.

Within the present century we have seen Great Britain admit multitudes to a partnership in her crown, Spain elect a monarch who rules by popular consent, Italy unite under a scepter wrought of suffrage and stronger than the keys of St. Peter, Russia emancipate her serfs, and France stunned by the horror of the first revolution and reeling between throne and tribune as if unable to collect her senses, finally ascend the latter with firm step and proclaim the republic of peace.

jefferson_liberty_vs_tyrannyThe Republic Of Peace:

And still the tendency of governments sets in the same direction, and gains impetuosity as it goes. Men have not to be harangued any more about liberty, equality, fraternity. These ere-while abstractions are household words defined by the heart. Liberty—the right of every man to be himself so far as his self-hood does not trench upon the same right in others; equality—the level on which all men stand before the law, none born to rank or rule, each exercising the authority he obeys, sovereign that he may be subject, and subject that he may be sovereign; and fraternity, which is identity of interest, abolition of caste, every man being as jealous of the rights of every other as of his own, and the strongest and wisest willing to bear vexation or hardship that the weak and ignorant may qualify themselves for self-government by the use of rights which, even when least understood, foster self-respect, independence and a lively concern in affairs of state, and thus serve for a moral education.

The question is not whether democracy be the cheapest form of government, or the shrewdest, or the most facile, or the stoutest against inner or outer foes—in all which qualities superiority may be conceded to despotism; but whether in spite of extravagance, blunders, caprice, it is not the best for man as man, worth its excess of cost in money and toil and sense of danger.

Did monarchy impose small taxes, stimulate trade, render speedy and sure the process of law and lighten every load of government, the government would still weigh heavy on a shoulder that felt itself the bearer of a compulsory benefit. There is nothing in the power of government to bestow so precious as man’s right to rule himself—a right which democracy simply admits and leaves free to take whatever form it will. Better manhood with liberty, though liberty run risk of license; better manhood with equality, though equality sway to transient rule of ignorance and vice; better manhood with fraternity, though fraternity may run for awhile into the clannish hate and envy of the commune; better universal suffrage with all its drawbacks and dangers than any limitation of it that bars the birthright of the soul.

in-the-age-of-tyrannyThe Birthright Of the Soul:

Sooner or later, by the very discipline which their errors, with right of the the consequent sufferings, enforce, men will learn the art of self-government; and the secret of that are when learned, will be little else than the wiser head and warmer heart and more helpful hand of a developed manhood.

Nor is it mere moony vision or spread-eagle rapture to anticipate a democracy as vast as civilization. Be it for good or evil, the peoples will not rest until they have tried the experiment and tried it more than once. The might is theirs and they will exert it; theirs is the right and it will justify the utmost exertion to throw off the yoke of titled accidents; and if progress be the law of humanity, as it is of all things else, might and right must grow with time into graces of unity, peace and concord. Otherwise humanity is a predestined failure, and the ethics of its hope a lie.

For what else is democracy in the purest notion of it but the religion of politics. It means faith in man and in his destiny; it means that there is more of good than of evil in his nature, and that in the conflict between them the good shall triumph at last; it means the supremacy of conscience over force, and of reason over prejudice and passion; it means that men shall love their neighbors as themselves, and so adopts the golden rule for a civil constitution and charters the brotherhood of the race.

This, I say, is the ideal state of society. Perhaps not to be attained for ages, it will yet be steadily approached by the advance of civilization. The possibility of its attainment is bound up with no particular form of administration. Different forms may be wanted for different people, all forms will change with changing epochs ; but throughout differences and changes the spirit of democracy shall live and wax strong, healing whatever suspicions, discords, strifes afflict the body that grows meanwhile towards the fulness of the stature of a perfect man.

But why these truisms about democracy? For truisms they appear to the American mind. Is it necessary after a hundred years of democratic government to argue its utility and prophesy its permanence? Yes, and therein is the saddest reflection of our Centennial holiday. Time was when the American people believed in their institutions as an article of religion. To doubt their beneficence was heresy, as to fear for their perpetuity was treason. Such faith may have been child-like, but it was the substance of things hoped for. Its simplicity was justified by the rare auspices under which the experiment of free government began. There were no old customs and traditions to cast away. The nation was new-born. No enemies threatened its young life. Oceans made a moat between it and foreign harm. A continent gave it room and its forthgoings of enterprise were but an athlete’s pastime. It had a presentiment of high destiny, of some august mission to the world, and was exalted by that day-dream above everything mean and sordid. Here, it said, in this new world of nature, there shall be a new world of society. The old world is faint under oppression. The heaped up evil of a thousand years lies upon its breast, like Aetna on Enceladus, and the Titan’s unrest only heaves the mountain it cannot remove. Let us begin afresh. Let the oppressed of every land come hither for asylum. There is room enough and to spare. There shall be no distinction of class, no alienage of race, no barrier of religion. As one people equal and free, we will enact our own laws, elect our own officers to administer them in trust and call no man master. The old world looking hither shall see our glory and wonder as at a sunrise in the west.

tyranny-slavesA Sunrise In The West:

It was the invitation of youth, but there were many young hearts that heeded it. They flocked hither on the winds. Cities were extemporized to shelter them, states multiplied by a kind of segmentation, habitations sprang up in the desert, and the wilderness and the solitary places were glad with surprise. Rough, perhaps, the people were, unsophisticated and grotesquely proud of their prerogative, but they had virtues which more than offset these defects. They were as devoted to the principles of their government as the Parsee to his sacred fire. These principles they talked over by fireside and church door, on the road, behind the plough, in the smithy and across the counter. With heads bowed over the published reports of Congress, they listened to every word of its debates attentively enough to learn them almost by heart. By their very rights they were apprenticed to statesmanship, and the statesmanship they studied was that of Hamilton, of Jefferson, of Adams, of Madison, of Webster, of Calhoun—prophets whose mantle caught by no worthy successor, has fallen in the dust Those were the poetic days of our politics; bribery, stock-jobbing and embezzlement were unknown in high places; the least suspicion soiled a public name; official honor was as delicate and sensitive as virginity. Then the benefits of democracy were a truism, and only discoursed of in panegyric.

But those days are no more. What contributed most to preserve their purity was the freshness of the ideas which engaged the minds of the people and which the people were striving to embody in their institutions. A great idea transfigures whatever it informs, whether an individual, a state or a church, and turns the coarsest tissue of organism through which it shines into radiance “exceeding white as snow.” And such ideas are involved in the questions that engrossed the first thought of the nation. Was it to be a mere fasces of states, bound about an axe of common defence, or a nation indeed? Was it to be self-blockaded for the protection of a guild, or open in trade to the world that its citizens might have .the benefit of the world’s competition in its markets?

Was it to be restricted or universal in suffrage? The answers to these questions created parties, but they were parties breathed into by earnest thought and by such breath of life made living souls. They had a faith and a purpose, and sought to fix that faith and purpose in the framework of the republic. But the issues that divided them are now settled or ignored; the great ideas that organized them have passed from thought into fact, or oblivion; still the parties remain—remain without a soul. How can they be other than corrupt when they are but the carcasses of themselves. They use the old names for purposes wholly strange to their significance. They contend without hostility of opinion. They present the same statement of principles, each trying, however, in the artifice of it to construct the more tempting trap for votes. Both are in favor of economical government, of low tariff, of correcting abuses, of kindness to widows and orphans of dead soldiers, and of putting everybody in a good humor. Both avoid any declaration of belief that might cause a change of lines and the disruption of their compact and subservient organizations—organizations so compact and subservient as to belong to a set of men called bosses, who make a business of driving and trading their herded souls, which are too dull to hear the crack of the caucus whip or too tame to bolt from under it.

party-bossesA Set Of Men Called Bosses:

Every honest man must feel, even if he does not acknowledge, the dishonesty of such organizations, and whenever felt, and not renounced, that dishonesty is tainting his character. Hence the prevalent compromise between partisanship and virtue—a partition put into the conscience that one side may be kept clean for the ordinary duties of life, while the other is fouled by the use of party. Violation of the ballot is condemned in the abstract as an assault on the republic’s life, but covered up or excused when done for the sake of one’s party. Fraud is an abomination, and ought to be tied hand and foot and thrown into jail, but may be given a softer name and treated more tenderly—possibly allowed to escape and honored for its zeal when acting as the agent of one’s party.

Nevertheless, dishonesty is dishonesty; dishonesty with one’s self glides easily into dishonesty with others—dishonesty of allegiance into dishonesty of broken trusts. It is no worse to steal the people’s money than to steal their votes. If party can connive at one, party may apologize for the other and defend it. Hence theft with arms elbow-deep in the treasury of cities; theft shaking empty the overturned coffers of states; theft of hard-earned savings from freedmen; theft of dole from half-naked and half starved Indians; theft of wages from soldiers on the frontier; theft from the graves of the nation’s heroic dead; theft of revenue, of customs, of appropriations to lay out public grounds, erect public edifices, build ships of war, carry mails, pave iron thoroughfares across the continent; theft promoted in the name of civil-service reform, and given charge of the nation’s exchequer. And why not? Who cares but the opposite party, itself as slow to discover and as quick to condone the sins of its own adherents. No tremendous shock, no vast flaming up of indignation follows the exposure of the wholesale roguery. Certainly not; the roughs are high-toned rogues.

Mark TwainHigh Toned Rogues:

Gentlemen of the first class, eminent respectabilities—judges, are they, and governors and generals, and chairmen of congressional committees and senators, and ambassadors to foreign courts, and advisers of the president’s council, who have stolen handsomely by tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, and not like a low-bred felon. Let them off, your excellency, for the sake of their wives who have not hoarded the ill-gotten gain selfishly. but turned it into diamonds to decorate the drawing-rooms of the capital. Mollify their sentence, your honor, in consideration of their wealth, which should have kept them above temptation; their age, which, sinned not from impulse, but with veteran deliberation; their influence, which spreads all the further the corruption of a bad example. Has not justice ever demanded that punishment should be severe according to the distress, inexperience and obscurity of the culprit? And you, gentlemen of the jury, acquit, by all means acquit; innocent or guilty, still acquit any whom to convict would be to graze, if not to pierce, the head of the nation.

I trust that those who hear me will not think that in these words I wish to aid one party by branding the other. I am not a partisan. I have never cast a partisan vote. I have uo preference for Democrat or Republican, as such. I have no reason to believe that the party now out of power would withstand the temptations of fifteen years of absolute sway more successfully than the party has done which still controls the emoluments of the administration. Both parties seem to me notionless, without aim beyond the getting or keeping of power by any sort of clap-trap, and therefore, morally dead, their activity being the activity of rot. What boots the promise of reform from men who, to fulfill that promise, must padlock their own hands? The pledges of a national convention, are they worth any more than the pledges of such men? Is not the convention itself a huge trick? Pretending to represent the people, it represents, with few exceptions, a class whom the people ought to detest as mountebanks. The primary meetings which elect the delegates are packed by bummers, who take their cue from local bosses, and the delegates nearly all are office-holders or office-seekers, who in turn are wire-pulled by a clique that prepares their work in advance, and prompts every detail of it. Before the convention assembles, traffic has been going on between aspirants and those who have part in the privilege of nomination; if not traffic in coin, traffic in promises of office, for promises of support, which is bribery as real and as gross. Whew the convention organizes, it organizes for any other object than to> deliberate and choose as becomes the pretending representatives of half a nation ; deliberation is confounded by hired shouts and’ hisses of clans that strive for their respective favorites, and’ choice waits impatient on a signal to desert its real favorite for the ranks of the winning chief. And this body of politicians who hope by electing their candidate for the presidency to elect themselves to a share of his patronage, this body which is spurious from its earliest conception in a ward-meeting to its expiring resolve, would cozen the people again and again with oaths of reform. Reform, indeed! Will it reform itself out of existence? When votes are not sought for the maintenance of a principle, what other motive can explain the zeal, the expense, the labor with which they are solicited? Not the excellence of candidates, since candidates are never chosen for their excellence, but for their availability in pushing the ends of party; not the enthusiasm of the party’s rank and file, which are apathetic until up-roused by the appeals of interested leaders who urge on the canvass. What then but greed for place, power, perquisites?—the fenris wolf whose jaws it is the first duty of reform to gag and split asunder! Reform, therefore, is impossible by parties so long as they exist in their present organizations, and the civil service of the country is labelled with the motto: “To the victors belong the spoils.”

jacksonspoils To The Victors Belong The Spoils:

In this service are thousands of offices that have no relation to questions of civil polity. The assessment and collection of taxes, the stamping of money, award of patents, distribution of mails, arrest, prosecution and punishment of criminals, are simply wheels and bands in the machinery of government, and should move the same under all changes of administration. As well dismiss all notaries public, or teachers of public schools, or officers of the army with every turn of an election as the persons engaged in this equally routine work. Yet, however faithful and expert, they must retire when another party than that to which they belong marches into possession of the nation’s offices, for “to the victors belong the spoils.” Even while in office they hang there on the pleasure of their patron, and may be cut off at any hour; competency counts for nothing unless it be competency to further his schemes. Flunkeyism is the most profitable type of character. Salaries are paid less for service to the country than for service against it. These salaries are then docked by the dispensers of patronage, who chastise complaint with forfeiture of the office itself; and so the nation’s work is neglected, her interests betrayed, her revenues squandered, her industry stricken prone that “to the victors may belong the spoils.”

Said one high in position, who lost his official hand by thrusting it into this soul-grinding machine to check some of its operations: “No sooner is a man in place than his rivals or enemies are on his track, ready to prove that he was the most unfit person that could be chosen, and that the party will be utterly demoralized if he is not instantly removed and his place given to another. If a month or two were all that is wasted in this employment it would be bad enough; but the truth is, that by far the larger part of the time of the president and all the members of his cabinet is occupied by this worse than useless drudgery during the whole term of his office, and it forms literally and absolutely the staple of their work. It is, therefore, no figure of speech to say that administering the government means the distribution of its offices, and that its diplomacy, finance, military, naval and internal administration are the minor affairs which the settled policy of the country has relegated to such odds and ends )f time as may be snatched from the greater cares of office.” —Hon. J. D. Cox.

Think you then that a party, of its own free will and accord, will surrender the hope of these spoils so dear, which hope alone holds it together from commander-in-chief down to the corporal of the curbstone who drums up recruits with a dram of whiskey? No. Never will that hope be surrendered except at, the demand of the people breaking loose from party and bent on deliverance from wrongs which have been suffered until they become insufferable. And the man who leads that uprising to victory, will save the republic from a greater peril than threatened its life in civil war. Has the hour come, and the man?

JeffersonTyrannyAnother Danger To Democracy:

But there is another danger to Democracy. The country has grown rich with almost magic suddenness. Its great extent of soil, inexhaustible mineral resources, universal opportunity of profitable labor, together with the rapid influx of population which these attract, have made the pursuit of wealth a mania.

It is as if money had been showering from the sky, and men had postponed all other thought than to pick up a fortune before the miracle was over. Thus, the very ease with which the republic prospered has been an injury to its permanent welfare; since that ease gave quiet to patriotism and excited avarice. As a result avarice is to-day the ruling passion of Americans. More with us than with any other nation does money regulate the scale of society. Money is our rank, our morality; in the hand hushes all inquest as to how it was got—commands like omnipotence. In our haste to be rich honest work for moderate wages is despised. Speculation runs mad. The activity of commerce exceeds its material. Values are fictitious and fluctuate every hour. Business gambles in contingencies and banks heavily on the future. Mutual sense of risk in all transactions tenders off-hand compromise to debt, and, debt freed from its awe of obligation rushes into extravagance; and extravagance is the quicksand where through contracts made not to be kept, mendacity, disregard of the rights of others, manhood, sinks towards utter loss of self-respect, at once its death and burial. But self-respect is the very spirit of democracy, and the spirit gone, nothing remains but the rule of the mob; insanest of tyrannies! Again, out of our haste to be rich have risen numerous corporations which mass the capital of many in one giant stock with a giant’s grasp. By such combinations the evils of individual avarice are aggravated. Division of responsibility among the members of a board and the impersonal nature of their operations renders them more unscrupulous and fearless than they each would be in a solitary enterprise. Having no existence but for money-making, the corporation regards all other existence from that stand-point. Soulless itself, it is without faculty to recognize the soul. It looks upon laws as commodities and those who enact and execute them as commission-brokers. Life, labor, commerce, art, politics and religion seem to it various phases of a melee whose prizes are for the strongest, and the corporation is the strongest. Individuals must die, corporations may be perpetual. Individual estates must dissolve and mingle again with the current wealth; the estates of corporations may stay entire and increase age after age. Already among us are some of these giants, yet in their youth, that own cities, hold liens on States, step off their acreage to the width of a continent and wear county-courts, common councils, legislatures and congress on their ring fingers. Compare their bold predatory course with the halt and blind policy of the parties which have charge of our institutions and answer if their continued aggrandizement does not bode ill to democracy.

cartoon-acron-voter-fraudA More Serious Danger Yet:

But there is a more serious danger yet. Old parties may corrupt, but their corruption is decay, and from that decay new parties will spring into life; corporations, while buying  special legislation, aid in developing the wealth of the country and are sure to incur popular wrath whenever their exorbitancies gall—provided the ballot remains pure and efficient. It is by the ballot that the people think, repent, resolve, and carry their, mind into conduct. They may think slowly, but by errors they will at last learn truth; they may repent late, but the later the repentance the sorer the conscious need of reform; they may hesitate long to act, but the hesitation sharpens the exigency that will spur them to swifter and more irresistible action when they start. Thus the ballot may educate them through evil into habits of forethought, of vigilance, of prompt exertion. But without purity and efficiency the ballot is worse than useless—it is an imposition. The people do not govern themselves, but are governed by unknown usurpers. Safer a Caesar crowned for services to the state, or the weak heir of a name constrained by the glare of a kingdom’s eyes—

“That fierce light which beats upon a throne,
And blackens every blot—”

Than these despots of the dark. What the ark was to Israel the ballot should be to the American people, and their love of liberty should act like a divine presence to palsy the hand that profanes it. Nor is such profanation menaced, as some apprehend, chiefly by ignorance. Ignorance may be reverent and cautious as well as rash. Besides, who are the ignorant of a nation? Capitalists are ignorant as well as workingmen. Students of one branch of knowledge are ignorant of many other branches. The most learned think of themselves as learners still. There are no standard textbooks of government, acquaintance with which may be demanded as a necessary qualification for suffrage, nor is any distinction valid between those who hold different theories of government and those who hold no theory at all. It was Milton who rebuked the grammarian, and said: “Whosoever he be, though from among the dregs of the common people, that you are so keen upon, whosoever, I say, has sucked in this principle, that he was not born for his prince but for God and his country—he deserves the reputation of a learned and an honest and a wise man more, and is of greater use in the world, than yourself.” Moreover in the people wise and unwise are mixed together, and the difference between them melts away with time. The philosophy of one generation is the proverb of the next. Before Adam Smith had been dead a century there was a realm of Adam Smiths. A word of fire went forth from a private citizen of Boston, and a score of years afterwards, he heard its effect in the cannonade of armies and the clank of a million falling chains.

No, the danger to democracy is not so much in ignorance as in indifference. The poor man loves his franchise for the sense of equality with the richest which it confers, and the villain is as sure to vote as a hawker to cry his wares. It is the men of culture who least esteem the privilege and therefore are most apt to neglect it. They feel degraded in an occupation which cheapens their culture to a par with boorishness and venality. Considering themselves the few, and the base and unlettered the many, they think of the rule of the majority as inevitably a rule of ignorance and vice— the inversion of social order. And their despondency would be reasonable, their indifference blameless, if the functions and duties of the ballot were confined to the mere depositing of votes. But the ballot includes all the mental and moral forces that enlighten the judgment and influence the will of the voters. In that work the few are not necessarily a minority; intelligence has sway equal to its worth, and character is more than a multitude. Howbeit, character needs time to count itself. The fool can say his folly in a minute, but the speech of understanding is slow. By acting on these principles in certain crises of state, character has demonstrated its supremacy. But why wait for crises to do what might be better done and with less fatigue by steady work? Is it because such work seems a disproportionate task for the few? Nature everywhere joins rare responsibility to rare endowments. The most favored citizens are by their very condition detailed to stand guard for the rest. They must watch while others sleep. Tyranny is an insidious thing, and it is for them to detect its crawl in the slightest abuse and transfix the snake before it raises its head to strike.

political-plunderBaffle The Hope Of Plunder:

When majorities begin to corrupt, they should be the first to revolt, and by concerted action baffle the hope of plunder and confuse the discipline of party. The wretch who interferes with the ballot they should lynch with their scorn as one who had attempted to garrote Liberty herself for debauchment.

Gentlemen, churchmen, does your conscience acknowledge the high obligation? Then, as men of conscience, to your duty. The dilettantism that pleads refinement in a neglect of duty is cowardice, as mean a vice as any that begrimes the riff-raff it would shun. “Wherever citizens meet to discuss public interests, you should be seen and heard and felt. Wherever place-hunters plot in caucus against the commonwealth you should not shrink from going to spy out their mischief that it may be brought to judgment. Least of all can you afford to countenance or even seem to wink at the pettiest falsehood, or fraud, or meddling with the perfect candor of the people’s choice. And when the hour of darkness falls and men’s hearts are failing them for fear—who, if not you, shall be the forlorn hope of the republic and rally its discouraged forces? Liberty has many sons and loves them all; but some know her only by the look of cheer that blesses their toil, and others by the hand-clasp that has led them into opportunities of wealth and honor; and others by her sentinel step around the altar-places of the soul, its love of truth and freedom of worship; while to a few she has confided her whole heart, her good intentions to men, and anxiety lest men should mar their fulfillment by distrust, and all her lifelong dream of a perfect race. Who of these sons should love her most? And if these who should love most because most trusted with love, betray, is there any treason that can be likened to their treachery?

Such are some of the most serious dangers that confront American democracy in its hundredth year. Doubtless they have been precipitated and made worse by the war through which it has recently passed. All war is savagery, and to prosecute war, civilization must forget its moral achievements and return to the instincts of the forest and jungle. However righteous the aim of a war, in the fury of strife, it is remembered only to license these instincts which, as soon as let slip, speed to havoc. Since, not the army only, but the whole people fight, we may expect, if the fight is protracted, that the savage instincts of the people will run so wild that morality cannot readily call them back into leash. Ferocity, deceit and lust of pillage having survived the occasion that allowed them, will henceforth seek their prey by the stratagems of peace. Defects of government they will take to for cover and follow the scent of an evil tendency as a jackal noses out distant carrion. Thus, while the late war revealed the nation’s strength, it likewise revealed or prepared the revelation of the nation’s weakness. That strength is the devotion of the masses to the great ideas embodied in our constitution; that weakness is the ease with which the masses are duped by a catch-word of party to intrust their government to men who filch its treasures or waste them in subsidizing corporations which grow fat only to want more, and which in order to get all they want would rob the people of their last liberty, a state of things already so bad that the better class of citizens have begun to lose heart, and by despondency are abetting the evil they deplore. Nevertheless, melancholy as the situation is, I see no cause to despair. The weakness of Democracy seems to me the weakness of strength. Dangers beset all governments and will beset them until men are perfect, and then government shall no longer be needed.

We are not in the millennium that we should throw up our hands at sight of wrong and marvel how it chanced here. Our world is thick with wrongs, and out of them government is to be built the best it may, so placing the tendency of one wrong against the tendency of another as to make, if possible, a fair proportion and a staunch support like the stones of an arch. The only question is, have we the architect in Democracy? I believe we have. I believe that the pressure of abuses will render the people more compact. Resistance, even now, is getting dense among us; parties do not hold the elements of it apart as hitherto. There are enough who desire reform to compel it if they were only pressed into unity of action. The pressure will come, and, with it, the reform.

Moreover a new power has just appeared among the people and reinforced their wisdom and will. It is the independent press. Until yesterday the daily press was the mouthpiece of party. Living on patronage it had to fawn. But wealth gives independence, and thus it happens that the ablest and most extensively read newspapers are those which have broken their alliance with party. They stand apart, unsparing critics of mischievous legislation and malfeasance of office. Parties dread their censure, and to corrupt politicians it is worse than indictment. Their eye is everywhere and their voice fills the land. Many an official whose crime is still secret, sleeps uncomfortably in the fear that some morning he will wake up to hear them shouting his name from city to city with a curse. They may yet prove the people’s trump of doom.

All in all, the republic has reason to be proud of its hundred years. For a hundred years the test of democracy, in spite of drawbacks and dangers, has been favorable. For a hundred years it has shown as much discretion as have contemporary monarchies in dealing with social problems. For a hundred years, with now and then a financial famine such as visits all governments alike, it has rivaled the richest empires in prosperity. And should the outward form of it perish at sunset of this anniversary, the example of democracy working out a hundred years of such order, energy, accumulation of wealth, and union of diverse interests in fealty to a sublime moral sentiment, has spoiled the race for any other form of government. It has insured beyond doubt that though in the end it should fail here, the experiment will be tried elsewhere, and until by an education of trials men have learned to maintain their own and respect each other’s rights.

But I cannot suffer myself to think of failure. The day forbids it, and points to good omens under the cloud. The republic is more closely knit than ever before. The wound of sectional war is well nigh healed. The flowers that fall on graves every spring from hands impartial to the blue and the gray, are flowers of a common hope that our country’s springtime may abound more and more to a far summer. Side by side, the North and South face the future and look into it with the same desire, and shall march against its dangers, and I trust through them with linked pace.

Best sign of all, as it were horses and chariots of fire round about, are the schools of every rural precinct and village and city where the children of rich and poor, cultured and ignorant meet together and by associations as well as by study learn to rule themselves as equal and free and one. Self-preserved by thus training her generations ever to purer and wiser patriotism, may the republic live to celebrate her Century of Centuries.

See also: The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
Open letter to Speaker Boehner and Republican party
Tea Party Crimes & Sins?
Open Letter to ALL Politicians and Bureaucrats, we’re coming for you
A message for our elected representatives
Liberals and celebrity endorsements
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICAN FLAG
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
 THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876

DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICAN FLAG

American-Flag-Cross-1Daniel Webster saw the rising glory of our national government and the adoring admiration of the people of this free country for our national banner, the bright symbol of our liberties and our progress, and in a burst of loyal enthusiasm he exclaimed, “Let it rise! let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and the parting day linger and play upon its summit.

flag_and_eagleSo let me say of the Banner of Brotherly love, which is the symbol of so much of hopefulness and cheer to the way-worn servants of the Lord who have done so much to promote the best interests of our country: “Let it rise.” Lift it up! let it float over our beloved Church, let the wayworn missionary from the Orient see its bright folds floating continually to give him a welcome home; let the self-denying missionary on our wide-extended home land see its shining glory as he lays down the sickle in the field of ripened grain, proclaiming to him, after having borne the burden and heat of the day, that there is sweet rest for the weary provided by a sympathizing host of friends; let the widow and the fatherless lift up their eyes and rejoice that a grateful people have hearts and hands open to supply their wants in the days of their dependent widowhood and childhood; and let the friends of humanity, the participants in the merits of the Redeemer’s death, the sharers in the blessings of this Christian land, raise that bright Banner of Brotherly-love higher, and still higher, as the Church of our fathers lengthens her cords and strengthens her stakes on the ever-increasing territory of the conquests of the world for our Emmanuel and Redeemer, and let it proclaim as it waves in heavenly grandeur that our Church is not ungrateful to her faithful servants, but that she will provide for them the comforts of an earthly home as long as God keeps them in the wilderness, awaiting his own time to translate them to the better land and to their rewards in glory.

My thoughts; obviously the government has grown into a state sponsor of religion, that religion being climate change and that faith being in the liberal, marxist, facist, socialist, progressive, ideology that regresses us back to the failed policies of the past where tyranny, oppression, serfdom and slavery reigned.

See also: THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775
 

A RESUME OF AMERICAN HISTORY by Lawrence A. Gobright , Esq., (1816-1881)

A RESUME OF AMERICAN HISTORY, An Oration by Lawrence A. Gobright , Esq., (1816-1881) Delivered At  Washington D.C., (Ford’s Opera House),  July 4th, 1876.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Fellow-members Of The Oldest Inhabitants Association, And Soldiers Of The War Of 1812:— Time was with some of us when on the Fourth of July revolutionary soldiers adorned the platform, and were objects of curiosity, but they have all passed away, leaving their works as our inheritance. At first they fought for their rights as British subjects, but these being denied, the Continental Congress in 1776 meditated a separation from British rule, and on the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, introduced the following resolution:

Resolved that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be. free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Before the final discussion a committee, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert C. Livingston, was appointed to draft a Declaration of Independence. The Declaration having been reported to Congress by the committee, the resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day of July, and again on the 2nd, on which latter day it was agreed to and adopted. Having thus passed the main resolution, Congress proceeded to consider the reported draft of the Declaration. It was discussed on the second, third, and fourth days of the month, and on the last of those days received the final approbation and sanction of Congress. It was ordered at the same time that copies be sent to the several States, and that it be proclaimed at the head of the army. The Declaration thus published did not bear the names of the members, for as yet it had not been signed by them. It was authenticated, like other papers of the Congress, by the signatures of the President and the Secretary. On the 19th of July, as appears by the Secret Journal, Congress resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and style of “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America,” and the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress; and the 2nd day of August following, the Declaration being engrossed and compared with the original, was signed by the members.

Absent members afterwards signed as they came in, and it bears the names of some who were not chosen members of Congress until after the 4th of July.

We must be unanimous,” said Hancock; “there must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together.” “Yes.” replied Franklin, “we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

On the 9th of July Washington caused the Declaration to be read at the head of each brigade of the army, “The General hopes,” he said in his orders, “that this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier to act with fidelity, as knowing that now the peace and safety of the country depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms, and that he is now in the service of a State possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country.

The people of the City of New York not only indulged themselves in the usual demonstrations of joy by the ringing of bells and the like, but also concluded that the leaden statue of his Majesty, George the Third, in the Bowling Green, might now be turned to good account. They therefore pulled down the statue, and the lead was run into bullets for the good cause.

Everywhere throughout the country the Declaration was hailed with joy. Processions were formed, bells were rung, cannon fired, orations delivered, and in every practicable way the popular approbation was manifested.

The causes which led to the Revolutionary War are sufficiently set forth in the Declaration of Independence, which has just been read in your hearing, and therefore need no elaboration. The result of the conflict is stated in the treaty of peace—1783— in which his Majesty the King of Great Britain acknowledges the American Colonies as free, sovereign, and independent States; “treats with them as such for himself, his heirs, and successors, and relinquishes all claims to the Government, proprietary and territorial rights of the same, and any part thereof.” After coming through the night of the Revolution,

“Our ancestors, with Joy, beheld’  the rays of freedom pour
O’er every nation, race, and clime—on every sea and shore;
Such glories as the patriarch viewed, when, ‘mid the darkest skies,
He saw, above a ruined world, the bow of promise rise.”

With a view of maintaining the Declaration of Independence a resolution was passed making an appropriation to the committee of safety for a supply of gun flints for the troops at New York, and the secret committee were instructed to “order the gun flints belonging to the continent and then at Rhode Island, to the commanding general at New York.” An agent was also sent to Orange county, New York, for a supply of flint-stone, and a board was empowered to “employ such number of men as they should think necessary to manufacture flints for the continent.”

Additional measures were also taken to arm the militia, provide flying camps, and to procure lead, to build ships, make powder, to manufacture cannon and small arms, and provide generally for vigorous warfare.

washington-prayerColonel Washington had been appointed Commander-in-chief of the American forces in June, 1775, by the unanimous voice of the colonies. In accepting the trust, he declared, “with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command with which I am honored.” His modesty, perhaps, gentlemen, would not suit the fashion of the present time.

It is necessary merely to allude to the present appliances of war in contrast with the means then accessible, namely, the monster cannon; the giant powder, with shot and shell in proportion to the explosive power; the mailed ship, propelled by steam; the perfected rifle, with its percussion caps and longer range than the musket, and no anxiety about a plentiful supply of flints, such as exercised our patriotic sires.

american-eagle-and-flagEver since 1776 the subject of the Declaration has afforded fourth of July orators an opportunity to glorify the Eagle as the symbol of America.

You have often been told of the victory of this same American eagle over the British Lion, in a kind of allegorical description. But this was more poetic than historic. In the common-sense moments of the youngest as well as of the “oldest inhabitants,” we should not think the contest between two such forces exactly equal!

Tobias Smollett, the English novelist, reconciles the Lion with the Eagle thus:

Thy spirit Independence let me share,
Lord of the Lion heart and Eagle eye.
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.

EagleThe eagle, no matter what may be said of his predatory habits, and of the scriptural expression that “where the carcass is there will the eagle be gathered together,” triumphs. He is seen on the buttons of our warriors, on our coin, and the seal of the United States, the last-named designed by a committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Wilson, the American ornithologist, says of the bird: “Formed by nature for braving the severest cold, feeding equally on the produce of the sea and of the land, possessing powers of flight capable of outstripping even the tempests themselves, unawed by anything but man, and from the ethereal heights from which he soars, looking abroad at one glance on an immeasurable expanse of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean deep below him, he appears indifferent to the localities of change of seasons, as in a few minutes he can pass from summer to winter, from the lower to the higher regions of the atmosphere, and thence descend at will to the arctic, the abode of eternal cold, or to the torrid regions of the earth.

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Gentlemen, our Government has such veneration for the proud bird that it has three fine live specimens in our own Franklin Square, in a cage for public admiration! The eagle is one of our institutions, and therefore has our enforced respect.

UniteOrDieThe eagle, however, was not the only symbol recognized by our ancestors. The rattlesnake was displayed on many of their banners. One of the arrangements was a rattlesnake divided in thirteen parts, with the initial letters of the colonies to each, and the motto “Unite or Die!” And another, the rattlesnake, in the act of striking, the motto being, “Don’t tread on me!” The rattles were thirteen in number. This device, stranger than that of ” Excelsior,“was a favorite with the colonists, and was meant to signify retaliation for the wrong upon America:

“The snake was ready with his rattle.
To warning give of coming battle.”

DontTreadOnMeSomething may here be said about the American flag, the one that has taken the place of all others. It was not till the 14th of June, 1777, that the design of the flag was formally adopted by the Continental Congress, although it is said a similar flag flew over the headquarters at Cambridge more than a year before that time. The act of Congress thus described it: “The flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, the Union thirteen stars, white, in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

dont_tread_me_flagThis continued to be the flag until two new States were admitted into the Union, namely, Vermont, in March, 1791, and . Kentucky, in June, 1792, when Congress passed an act, June 13, 1794, making an alteration in the flag, which provided that from and after the first day of May, 1795, the flag of the United States shall be fifteen stripes, with fifteen stars. There seems to have been no further agitation of the subject until 1816, when a bill was introduced making another alteration in the flag. The number of stripes were restored to thirteen, the stars to correspond to the number of States in the Union, a new star to be added to the flag whenever a new State should be admitted, the star to be placed there on the 4th day of July thereafter.

Among the reasons for altering the flag was that “There was a prospect at no distant period that the number of States would be considerably multiplied, and this rendered it highly inexpedient to increase the number of stripes on each flag, which must be limited in size.” As a consequence of this arrangement we have now thirty-seven stars, with room for many more on the azure field; and additional brightness will be added this centennial year to our constellation by the silver beams of Colorado.

This flag has for it century “braved the battle and the breeze;”
A blazing light upon the land, a beacon on seas.

It would be a mistake to suppose that our forefathers conquered Great Britain. The question might be put in this way: Great Britain did not conquer them. She found, after experience, that, having to transport, at enormous expense, large bodies of troops across the ocean—three thousand miles, in sailing vessels—was very unprofitable, as they did not accomplish the desired object, namely, the subjugation of the Colonists, who, of determined spirit, and having resolved to be free and independent of British rule, were not to be frightened from their patriotic purpose by coats of red, typical of the fire that boomed from their unfriendly cannon, and, besides, Holland having joined the belligerents against England, and England having been humiliated by the crowning battle of the contest—the surrender of Cornwallis—she departed from our soil, leaving the Colonists in full possession.

bald_eagle_in_flight_denali_national_park_alaskaIt was not until 1789 that the General or Federal Government went into full operation. At that time the population was supposed to be three millions, but in the eighty-seven years past it has, from various causes, increased to forty millions. The American eagle, which could fly over our original country without stopping to drink or to rest, finds that he cannot now without frequent stoppages on his course for refreshments, owing to enlarged limits, accomplish the distance from ocean to ocean without complaining, in his own natural way, of a weary wing.

A hundred years ago the people never thought of railroads, the steam engine and the electric telegraph—those great revolutionizes in everything that pertains to individual and national comfort—or if they did, there is no record of the fact. The traveling was on horseback, in gigs, and wagons, and carryalls, and sailing vessels, and row boats. And think: the time between England and America was from six weeks to two months, the duration of the voyage depending upon the state of the weather and the temper of the sea. Steam now propels the magnificent steamer across the Atlantic in eight or nine days— 3,000 miles—and the same distance is traveled from Washington to the Pacific Ocean, by railroad, in seven days. An experimental trip recently showed that the journey from New York to San Francisco could be made in eighty-three hours and thirtyfour minutes, or at the rate of one thousand miles a day! And, instead of waiting for weeks or months to receive intelligence from remote parts of our own country, and the world at large, the path of the subtle fluid, electricity, affords an instantaneous means of intercommunication, and thus annihilates space!

DoIIf our Revolutionary sires could reappear on earth, and see these wondrous things, together with the results of inventive genius, and progression in the arts and sciences, their expressions of surprise would be equal to, if they did not exceed, those of the hero of the Catskill mountains—but in a more agreeable sense—when he awoke from his long slumber, to be startled by the actual changes which meanwhile had taken place! We ourselves can scarcely realize the growth of the infant Republic, from its cradle in Independence Hall to the present time, when it stands forth in the pride of manhood with unconquerable strength!

It may here be appropriately mentioned that the first voyage across the Atlantic in a steam vessel was performed by the steamship Savannah in 1819. She was built in New York the year previous. On nearing Liverpool she was discerned from a lookout, and, as nothing of that kind had been seen there before, supposing a ship was on fire, one of the King’s cruisers was sent to her relief.

An item of the past will not be uninteresting in connection with the subject of locomotion. The Pennsylvania Gazette, of Philadelphia, January 3, 1776, had the “latest dates,” namely: ten days from Boston, and five days from New York. The “freshest” foreign dates from London were sixty days old, and these contained “an humble address of the House of Commons to the King,” in which they say:

No other use has been made of the moderation and forbearance of your Majesty and your Parliament but to strengthen the preparations of this desperate conspiracy, and that the rebellious war now levied is become more general, and manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent empire; and we hope and trust that we shall, by the blessing of God, put such strength and force into your Majesty’s hands as may soon defeat and suppress this rebellion, and enable your Majesty to accomplish your gracious wish of restoring order tranquility, and happiness through all the parts of your united empire.

The King graciously returned his fervent thanks for this loyal address, saying: “I promise myself the most happy consequences from the dutiful and affectionate assurances of the support of my faithful Commons on this great and important conjuncture, and I have a firm confidence that by the blessing of God and the justice of the cause, and by the assistance of my Parliament, I shall be enabled to suppress this dangerous rebellion, and to attain the most desirable end of restoring my subjects in America to the free and happy condition and to the peace and prosperity which they enjoyed in their constitutional dependence before the breaking out of these unhappy disorders.

The King and Commons not being as successful as they anticipated, his Majesty sent to this country Admiral Viscount Howe and General William Howe, general of his Majesty’s forces, as a commissioner in the interests of peace, and it is somewhat singular that their flag-ship bore the name of our national symbol the Eagle(1)—off the coast of the Province of Massachusetts. He declared the purpose of the King “to deliver all his subjects from the calamities of war and other oppressions they now undergo, and restore the colonies to peace;” and he was authorized by the King to “grant his free and general pardon to all those who in the tumult and disorders of the times may have deviated from their first allegiance, and who are willing by a speedy return to their duty to reap the benefits of the royal favor.”

But the Colonists or “conspirators” were not desirous of thus “reaping.” The seed they had themselves sown was to mature to a more precious harvest. They turned their plowshares into swords, and their pruning-hooks into spears, with the result of a fruitage beneficial to all mankind!

JohnQuincyAdamsJohn Quincy Adams, in his oration delivered July 4, 1831, said “Frederick the First of Brunswick constituted himself King of Prussia, by putting a crown upon his own head. Napoleon Bonaparte invested his brows with the crown of Lombardy, and declared himself King of Italy. The Declaration of Independence was the crown with which the people of united America, rising in gigantic stature as one man, encircled their brows, and there it remains. There, long as this globe shall be inhabited by human beings, may it remain a crown of imperishable glory.”

My friends, it is a solemn truth that there is not now on earth an intelligent person who lived on the Fourth of July, 1776. We read of the heroic struggles of the Continental army; their want of discipline and poverty, and the scarcity of money with which to purchase the needed supplies, and of the many sacrifices they made in the cause to which the best men that ever lived consecrated their lives and fortunes, and all else they held’ dear of ease and comfort; men who set the world an example in the straggle for freedom, which they eventually established. Their Constitution and the laws they passed to put it into operation attest their wisdom and the knowledge of the needs of the people in their new condition.

My friends, in what condition will our country be one hundred years hence?—the fourth of July, 1976? Will the same form of government we now have be preserved? Will it afford the same protection of personal freedom, property and human rights? Will the proud banner still wave over a united and prosperous people V These are questions to be answered by succeeding generations. If they are true to the teachings and examples of our Revolutionary sires the Republic will endure. If not, than the bright, and we might say this haughty Republic will pass into history with that of Rome, and for similar causes. There can be no republic that is not founded on the virtue, intelligence, and assent of the people. Enforced government belongs to tyranny.

We have additional cause of rejoicing in the fact, that, although national encounters have cursed the world ever since nations have had an existence, there is now no war between any nations. This is an era of peace. Even the oldest nations, including China and Japan, and others of the East, come will those of Europe to the happy centennial greeting. They bring with them, to exhibit near our own, their useful and ornamental products; all compatible with peace, and calculated to stimulate a beneficial rivalry.

Not far from where we are assembled lie the ashes of one whose character the entire world admires.

His name is seldom heard, excepting when it is uttered to designate the city which he founded. There was a time when it was more publicly honored than it is now; but still his memory is cherished by many patriotic hearts. Whatever may be the mutations in public affairs—whosoever may, for the time being, occupy the larger share of public attention, either as a warrior or as a statesman, the name of Washington, with its patriotic associations, will always be precious to the lover of liberty. But, alas! his teachings are too often disregarded, and we have not yet completed the monument to his memory. We may, however, without a dissenting voice, on this Centennial day, the first that we have seen, and the last that We shall ever see, recall a few words from his Farewell Address, although it was written eighty years ago. He said:

The unity of government which constitutes us one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquility at home, and your peace abroad; of your safety, of your prosperity;- of that very liberty which you so highly prize.

And the Father of his Country further advised “his friends and fellow-citizens” to “indignantly frown upon the first dawning of every attempt, to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

He counseled: “Towards the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy State, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretext.

And again: “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government . Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric. Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

US flag and bible crossMy friends, let us cherish the heavenly principle of “Peace on earth, good will to man,” and by word and example endeavor to cultivate in the hearts of those who are taking our places in the active scenes of life a love for law and liberty—a respect for the institutions of others, while preferring our own— and the enforcement of the duty of elevating the best men only to office, those who will see that the Republic suffers no detriment, for the acts of the public agent should be the reflex of the will of the constituency. A few should not plunder the many. To permit such practices is to sanction them. And let all wrongdoers be punished either by public opinion or by the criminal court, and public agents remember that the Government is for the people and not for themselves.

It was said aforetime, “Power is always stealing from the many to the few;” therefore if we would continue free we must guard against every encroachment on our liberties. And then there can be no doubt the Republic will endure, strengthened in population with the corresponding prosperity, presenting an example to the world at large for emulation, and conferring the richest blessings on the entire human race!

Footnote (1)  September 7, 1776 – Turtle Sinks Eagle
In the wee hours of the morning in New York Harbor, an explosion tore through the hull of the HMS Eagle, Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship. Though carpenters and crew rushed to save the vessel, it sank, carrying twenty-five men with it while the rest fled to shore and nearby ships. The British suspected an accident with the stored gunpowder, but two more explosions sank ships the next night. Eventually word came from old notes provided by a Loyalist spy that the Americans had a sort of “sub-marine” attack ship.
The Turtle had been invented by the young Yale student David Bushnell. While a freshman, he had begun experiments with underwater explosives, proving that gunpowder exploded underwater. He sought help from Isaac Doolittle, a New Haven clockmaker, and created the first time bomb. To implement the explosive on the hulls of ships, Bushnell designed a boat that could dive under the water. Something like an upturned clam, the one-man boat was made of two steel-reinforced wooden shells covered in tar. A hand pump and bilge tank allowed the intake and expulsion of water, thus increasing or decreasing the density of the craft and allowing it to sink. Six small windows allowed for bearings along with a compass lit by the bio luminescence of foxfire from fungus on cork.
Called the Turtle, the boat was manned by Sergeant Ezra Lee, who would later become part of Washington’s secret service. Dodging the iron plate at the Eagle’s rudder, Lee was able to secure the bomb and sneak away before spotted by soldiers. As the watch increased around the panicked British fleet, the Turtle was too easily discovered, so Washington set Bushnell on the task of improvements. The general referred to the craft as “an effort of genius” that had much promise for the future.
See also: Patrick Henry Lion of Liberty! greatest American Statesman
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4th 1876
Open Letter to ALL Politicians and Bureaucrats, we’re coming for you
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876 
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English so even Politicians, Lawyers and Bureaucrats can understand)

PROVIDENCE, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE by Samuel G. Arnold 1876

Samuel G. Arnold

Samuel G. Arnold

PROVIDENCE, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, Oration By The Honorable Samuel G. Arnold (1821-1880) Delivered At Providence, Rhode Island, July 4, 1876

To trace the causes that led to the American Revolution, to narrate the events of the struggle for independence, or to consider the effect which the establishment of “the great Republic” has had upon the fortunes of the race in other lands— these have been the usual and appropriate themes for discourse upon each return of our national anniversary. And where can we find more exalted or more exalting subjects for reflection? It is not the deed of a day, the events of a year, the changes of a century, that explain the condition of a nation. Else we might date from the 4th of July, 1776, the rise of the American people, and so far as we as a nation are concerned, we might disregard all prior history as completely as we do the years beyond the flood. But this we cannot do, for the primitive Briton, the resistless Roman, the invading Dane, the usurping Saxon, the conquering Norman, have all left their separate and distinguishable stamp upon the England of to-day. As from Caedmon to Chaucer, from Spenser to Shakespeare, from Milton to Macaulay, we trace the progress of our language and literature from the unintelligible Saxon to the English of our time; so the development of political ideas has its great eras, chiefly written in blood. From the fall of Boadicea to the landing of Hengist, from the death of Harold to the triumph at Runnymede, from the wars of the Roses to the rise of the Reformation, from the fields of Edgehill and Worcester, through the restoration and expulsion of the Stuarts down to the days of George III, we may trace the steady advance of those nations of society and of government which culminated in the act of an American Congress a century ago proclaiming us a united and independent people. When the barons of John assembled on that little islet in the Thames to wrest from their reluctant kins the right of Magna Charta, there were the same spirit, and the same purpose that prevailed nearly six centuries after in the Congress at Philadelphia, and the actors were the same in blood and lineage. The charging cry at Dunbar, “Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered,” rang out a hundred and twenty-five years later from another Puritan camp on Bunker Hill. So history repeats itself in the ever-recurring conflict of ideas, with the difference of time, and place and people, and with this further difference in the result, that while in ancient times the principal characters in the historic drama were the conqueror, the conquered and the victim, these in modem days become the oppressor, the oppressed and the deliverer. Charles Stuart falls beneath Cromwell and Ireton, George III yields to Washington and Greene, serfdom and slavery vanish before Romanoff and Lincoln.

But we must turn from this wide field of history to one of narrower limits, to one so small that it seems insignificant to that class of minds which measures States only by the acre, as cloth by the yard; to those men who, to be consistent, should consider Daniel Lambert a greater man than Napoleon Bonaparte, or the continent of Africa a richer possession than Athens in the days of Pericles. There are many just such men, and the materialistic tendency of our times is adding to their number. It is in vain to remind them that from one of the smallest States of antiquity arose the philosophy and the art that rule the world to-day, Judea should have been an empire and Bethlehem a Babylon to impress such minds with the grandeur of Hebrew poetry or the sublimity of Christian faith. But for those to whom ideas are more than acres, men greater than machinery, and moral worth a mightier influence than material wealth, there is a lesson to be learned from the subject to which the Act of Congress and the Resolutions of the General Assembly limit this discourse. And since what is homely and familiar sometimes receives a higher appreciation from being recognized abroad, hear what the historian of America has said of our little Commonwealth, that “had the territory of the State corresponded to the importance and singularity of the principles of its early existence, the world would have been filled with wonder at the phenomena of its history.

Roger Williams Statue

Roger Williams Statue

Hear too a less familiar voice from beyond the sea, a German writer of the philosophy of history. Reciting the principles of Roger Williams, their successful establishment in Rhode Island, and their subsequent triumph, he says: “They have given laws to one quarter of the globe, and dreaded for their moral influence, they stand in the background of every democratic struggle in Europe.” It is of our ancestors, people of Providence, that these words were written, and of them and their descendants that I am called to speak.

To condense two hundred and forty years of history within an hour is simply impossible. We can only touch upon a few salient points, and illustrate the progress of Providence by a very few striking statistics. Passing over the disputed causes which led to the banishment of Roger Williams from Massachusetts, we come to the undisputed fact that there existed, at that time, a close alliance between the church and the State in the colony whence he fled, and that he severed that union at once and forever in the city which he founded. Poets had dreamed and philosophers had fancied a state of society where men were free and thought was untrammeled. Sir Thomas More and Sir Philip Sydney had written of such things. Utopias and Arcadias had their place in literature, but nowhere on the broad earth had these ideas assumed a practical form till the father of Providence, the founder of Rhode Island, transferred them from the field of fiction to the domain of fact, and changed them from an improbable fancy to a positive law. It was a transformation in politics—the science of applied philosophy—more complete than that by which Bacon overthrew the system of Aristotle. It was a revolution, the greatest that in the latter days had yet been seen. From out this modern Nazareth, whence no good thing could come, arose a light to enlighten the world. The “Great Apostle of Religious Freedom” here first truly interpreted to those who sat in darkness the teachings of his mighty Master. The independence of the mind had had its assertors, the freedom of the soul here found its champion. We begin then at the settlement of this city, with an idea that was novel and startling, even amid the philosophical speculations of the seventeenth century, a great original idea, which was to compass a continent, “give laws to one quarter of the globe,” and after the lapse of two centuries to become the universal property of the western world by being accepted in its completeness by that neighboring State, to whose persecutions Rhode Island owed its origin. Roger Williams was the incarnation of the idea of soul liberty, the Town of Providence became its organization. This is history enough if there were naught else to relate. Portsmouth, Newport and Warwick soon followed with their antinomian settlers to carry out the same principle of the underived independence of the soul, the accountability of man to his Maker, alone in all religious concerns. After the union of the four original towns into one colony, under the Parliamentary patent of 1643, confirmed and continued by the Royal charter of 1663, the history of the town becomes so included in that of the colony, in all matters of general interest, that it is difficult to divide them. The several towns, occupied chiefly with their own narrow interests, present little to attract in their local administration, but spoke mainly through their representatives in the colonial assembly, upon all subjects of general importance. It is there that we must look for most of the facts that-make history, the progress of society, the will of the people expressed in action. To these records we must often refer in sketching the growth of Providence.

Roger Williams and Narragansett Indians

Roger Williams and Narragansett Indians

It was in June, 1636, that Roger Williams, with five companions crossed the Seekonk to Slate Rock, where he was welcomed by the friendly Indians, and pursuing his way around the headland of Tockwotton, sailed up the Moshassuck, then a broad stream, skirted by a dense forest on either shore.

Attracted by a natural spring on the eastern bank he landed near what is now the cove, and began the settlement which in gratitude, to his Supreme Deliverer he called Providence. He had already purchased a large tract of land from the natives which was at first divided with twelve others “and such as the major part of us shall admit into the same fellowship of vote with us,” thus constituting thirteen original proprietors of Providence. (4). The first division of land was made in 1638, in which fifty-four names appear as the owners of “home lots” extending from Main to Hope streets, besides which each person had a six acre lot assigned him in other parts of the purchase. The granters could not sell their land to any but an inhabitant without consent of the town, and a penalty was imposed upon those who did not improve their lands. The government established by these primitive settlers was an anomaly in history. It was a pure democracy, which, for the first time guarded jealously the rights of conscience. The inhabitants, “masters of families” incorporated themselves into a town and made an order that no man should be molested for his conscience. The people met monthly in town meeting and chose a clerk and treasurer at each meeting. The earliest written compact that has been preserved is without date but probably was adopted in 1637. It is signed by thirteen persons (5.) We have not time to draw a picture of these primitive meetings held beneath the shade of some spreading tree where the fathers of Providence, discussed and decided the most delicate and difficult problems of practical politics, and reconciled the requirements of life with principles then unknown in popular legislation. The records are lost and here and there only a fragment has been preserved by unfriendly hands to give a hint of those often stormy assemblies where there were no precedents to guide, and only untried principles to be established by the dictates of common sense. Of these the case of “Verm, reported by Winthrop, is well known wherein liberty of conscience and the rights of woman were both involved with a most delicate question of family discipline. It is curious enough that one form of the subject now known under the general name of women’s rights, destined more than two centuries later to become a theme of popular agitation, should here be foreshadowed so early in Rhode Island, the source of so many novel ideas and the starting point of so many important movement*

Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom, he started the Baptist church in America.

Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom, he started the Baptist church in America.

Religious services had no doubt been held from the earliest settlement, but the first organized church was formed in 1638, the first Baptist church in America.

From the earliest days of the colony to the close of the recent civil strife, the war record of the State has been a brilliant one. As early as 1655, in the Dutch war she did more than the New England Confederacy, from which she had been basely excluded. Her exposed condition, by reason of the Indians, fostered this feeling in the first instance, and long habit cultivated the martial spirit of the people till it became a second nature. Her maritime advantages favored commercial enterprise, and the two combined prepared her for those naval exploits which in after years shed so much glory on the State. The three Indian wars, the three wars with Holland (1652-8, 1667, 1672-4), and the two with France (1667, 1690), in the seventeenth century, the three Spanish(1702-13, 1739-48, 1762-3), and the three French wars (1702-13, 1744-8, 1754-63) of the eighteenth, had trained the American colonies to conflict, and prepared them for the greater struggle about to come. At the outbreak of the fourth inter-colonial war, known as the “old French war,” this colony with less than forty thousand inhabitants and eighty-three hundred fighting men, sent fifteen hundred of these upon various naval expeditions, besides a regiment of eleven companies of infantry, seven hundred and fifty men under Col. Christopher Harris, who marched to the siege of Crown Point. Thus more than one-quarter of the effective force of the colony was at one time, on sea and laud, in privateers, in the royal fleets and in the camp, learning that stern lesson which was soon to redeem a continent. Is it surprising then that when the ordeal came the conduct of Rhode Island was prompt and decisive? It is said that small States are always plucky ones, and Rhode Island confirmed the historic truth.

The passage of the stamp act (Feb. 27, 1765), roused the spirit of resistance through America to fever heat. But amid all the acts of Assemblies, and the resolutions of town meetings, none went so far or spoke so boldly the intentions of the people as those passed in Providence at a special town meeting (August 7,1765), and adopted unanimously by the General Assembly (Sept 16). They pointed directly to an absolution of allegiance to the British crown, unless the grievances were removed. The day before the fatal one on which the act was to take effect, the Governors of all the Colonies, but one, took the oath to sustain it. Samuel Ward, “the Governor of Rhode Island stood alone in his patriotic refusal,” says Bancroft. Nor was it the last as it was not the first time that Rhode Island stood alone in the van of progress. Non-importation arguments were everywhere made. The repeal of the odious act (Feb. 22, 1766) came too late, coupled as it was with a declaratory act asserting the right of Parliament “to bind the Colonies in all cases.” Then came a new development of patriotic fervor instituted by the women of Providence. Eighteen young ladies of leading families of the town met at the house of Dr. Ephraim Bowen (March 4, 1766), and from sunrise till night, employed the time in spinning flax. These “Daughters of Liberty,” as they were called, resolved to use no more British goods, and to be consistent they omitted tea from the evening meal. So rapid was the growth of the association that their next meeting was held at the Court House. The “Sons of Liberty” were associations formed at this time in all the Colonies to resist oppression, but to Providence belongs the exclusive honor of this union of her daughters for the same exalted purpose. This is the second time we have had occasion to notice that women has come conspicuously to the front in the annals of Providence, when great principles were at stake. But we claim nothing more for our women than the same spirit of self-denial and lofty devotion that the sex has everywhere shown in the great crises of history. The first at the cross and the first at the sepulcher, the spirit and the blessing of the Son of God have ever rested in the heart of woman.

Side by side with the struggle for freedom grew the effort for a wider system of education. It was proposed to establish four free public schools. This was voted down by the poorer class of people who would be most benefited by the movement. Still the measure was partially carried out, and a two story brick building was erected in (1768). The upper story was occupied by a private school, the lower, as a free school. Whipple Hall, which afterwards became the first district school, was at this time chartered as a private school in the north part of the town, and all the schools were placed in charge of a committee of nine, of whom the Town Council formed a part the next year a great stimulus was given to the educational movement in the town. Two years had passed since Rhode Island College was established at Warren, and the first class oi seven students was about to graduate. Commencement day gave rise to the earliest legal holiday in our history. A rivalry among the chief towns of the Colony for the permanent location of what is now Brown University, resulted in its removal two years later (1774) to Providence. This now venerable institution, whose foundation was a protest against sectarianism in education, has become the honored head of a system of public and private schools, which for completeness of design, for perfection of detail, and for thoroughness of work, may safely challenge comparison with any other organized educational system in the world.

There are some significant facts connected with The Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which serve to show the relative importance of this city in the industrial summary of the country. One is that in the three principal buildings Providence occupies the centre and most conspicuous place. We all know the man who commands Presidents and Emperors, and they obey him—who says to Don Pedro “come,” and he cometh, and to President Grant “Do this,” and he doeth it, and we have seen the mighty engine that from the centre of Machinery Hall, moves fourteen acres of the world’s most cunning industry. The Corliss engine proudly sustains the supremacy of Providence amid the marvels of both hemispheres. Facing the central area of the main exhibition building, the Gorham Manufacturing Company have their splendid show of silver ware around the most superb specimens of the craftsman’s art that has ever adorned any Exposition in modern times. Under the central dome of Agricultural Hall the Rumford Chemical Works present an elaborate and attractive display of their varied and important products, arresting the eye as a prominent object among the exhibits of all the world. And when we visit the Women’s Pavilion we shall see that of all the rich embroidery there displayed none surpasses that shown by the Providence Employment Society, and shall learn that little Rhode Island ranks as the fifth State in the amount of its contributions to the funds of this department, being surpassed only by New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachusetts. A city which occupies these positions in the greatest Exposition of the century has no cause to shun comparison between its past and its present.

But by far the greatest event of its bearing upon the prosperity of Providence was the introduction of water which, after being four times defeated by popular vote, was finally adopted in 1869. The work commenced the next year, and the water was first introduced from the Pawtuxet river in November, 1871. The question, whether Providence was to become a metropolis of trade and manufactures or to continue as a secondary city, was thus settled in favor of progress. The stimulus given in the right direction was immediate and immense. The overflow of population soon required the city limits to be extended, and the annexation of the Ninth and Tenth Wards caused an increase of forty-six per cent, from the census of 1870 to that of 1875, a showing which no other city in the country can equal.

That the city of Providence has its future in its own hands is apparent. With the vast wealth and accumulated industries of a century at its disposal; with the result which this latest measures of improvement has produced as an encouragement; and with the experience of other less favored seaports as a guide, there would seem to be the ability and the inducement to take the one remaining step necessary to secure the supremacy which nature indicates for the head waters of Narragansett bay. While our northern and western railroad connections are already very large and are rapidly reaching their requisite extension there remains only the improvement of the harbor and adjacent waters of the bay, which can be made at comparatively small expense, to make Providence the commercial emporium of New England. There is no mere fancy in this idea. It is an absolute fact, attested by the history of Glasgow, and foreshadowed by the opinions of those who have thought long and carefully upon the subject. It is a simple question of engineering and of enterprise, and it will be accomplished. When Providence had twelve thousand inhabitants, as it had within the life time of many of us who do not yet count ourselves as old, had some seer foretold that the centennial of the nation would see the quiet town transformed into the growing city starting upon its second hundred thousand of population, it would have seemed a far more startling statement than this with which we now close the Centennial Address—that the child is already born who will see more than half a million of people within our city, which will then be the commercial metropolis of New England.

See also: The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
THE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! by Hon. Theodore Bacon, New York 1876
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
NEW HAVEN CT, ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO by Leonard Bacon July 4, 1876
Celtic Prayer of the Lorica or Breastplate prayer
Founders on the 2nd Amendment
The Story of Paul Revere

OUR REPUBLIC! By Jeremiah Taylor at Providence, R. I., July 4th 1876

Power of History2OUR REPUBLIC! An Oration By Rev. Jeremiah Taylor, D. D., Delivered At Providence, Rhode Island, July 4th, 1876, At The Planting Of A Centennial Tree In Roger William’s Park.

Mr. President, Ladies, Gentlemen, Youth And Children: A German schoolmaster once said, “Whenever I enter my schoolroom, I remove my hat and bow with reverence, for there I meet the future dignitaries of my country.” Standing as we do this hour upon the high places of national prosperity and joining with the forty millions of people, the inhabitants of our proud and grateful country in this centennial celebration, the future outlook is awe-inspiring. To us as to him of old, who beheld the bush burning, yet not consumed, there comes the admonition, that we are standing in the presence of the high and the holy. In the order of the exercises which the committee have arranged for this day’s work among us, I am impressed that each department illustrates well some grand historic fact, or enunciates some underlying principle which has built and which must conserve this Republic.

You will have observed that the celebration began by a military and civic procession which, after winding through some of the principal streets of the city, brought up at the venerable “meeting house,” which is older than the nation, and has stood all these years blessing the people, and there combined with the services of religion and the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the address of eloquence.

WeThePeopleWhat better picture of the state of tilings one hundred years ago, when stirred with eloquence as the fire of patriotism burned bright and all consuming, men rushed to their altars for divine guidance, and then to their implements of war, to conquer or die. “A civic and military procession!” just that was the army of the Revolution springing up from field and workshop and all trades and professions wherever a hero might be found and the sacred cause moved him. Next in order to-day came the grand Trades Procession; symbolizing the prosperity of the country during a century of life and industry, and what nation under the whole heaven, can exhibit such a growth in a century as we do to-day, in all these things which constitute the strength and glory of a free people?

The third act in the scene of this pageantry is the one passing here, in which the children and the youth are so largely represented; from whose ranks are to arise the men and the women of the future. Yes, here we stand in the presence of the nation that is to be. There is a meaning, too, in the regatta appointed for the silent hours of incoming evening upon the quiet waters of the Seekonk That old stream that has played so important a part in ages gone as well as now; that yielded her bosom just as readily when furrowed by the canoe of the red man before civilized life began, as now it endures all the wantoness and sport of the trained sons of Brown. For shall we not see in the struggles of the boat race the intensified energy and stimulated purpose exemplified which must constitute the warp and woof in the great business life of the future?

That nation only has a future among the centuries that shall be worthy of record, which employs all her skill and well-directed enterprise to keep fully abreast of all the questions that bear upon human weal, and, when rightly solved, bless mankind to the last degree. We want the bone, the muscle, the sinew capable of hardly endurance, not less than the well-trained thought and sterling virtue for future use. The old Republic, weakened by effeminacy, perished. May God save us from such an unhonored grave!

Portrait_of_George_WashingtonIt will be seen then from this run along the line of the procession that the morning service had a more special reference to the past; was largely puritanic while this of the afternoon and evening contemplate the future, and are mainly prophetic. Let us catch the inspiration that ought to move us even here and now. I have said this service is future in its bearings. But lest the muse of history should turn away in sorrow, stop a moment before we proceed with that idea. Let us not forget this place is hallowed ground. Go up into the old house which has crowned the brow of the hill for the century past, and which has just been “fixed up” for the century to come. Then walk down to the well of whose pure waters, the Williams family drank from generation to generation, and which when mixed with tea gave such zest to the evening hours in the life of Betsey, to whose noble benefaction it is due we are here in such joyous mood, feeling that we are part owners of these twenty acres, if we hold not a foot of soil outside the Park. Then pass down into the sacred enclosure where the “forefathers of the hamlet sleep,” and read the quaintly lettered story of their life and death. We are sorry that you cannot look upon the face of old Roger himself, the patron saint of all these domains, and whose statue with a face as he ought to have looked when living, will one day appear ready to defy the storms of the open heavens as they may here sweep over the plain. But in the absence of that costly embellishment, walk across yon rustic bridge where you will find the apple tree and Roger Williams in it. But to our theme,—With these children from our public schools, and you, Mr. President representing the Board of Education, before me, how natural to say a few things in regard to education and government. And thus we shall see what the children must be and do to render the future grand—enduring. I have just read the story of the “Blue-eyed Boy,” who peered through the keyhole into the Hall of Independence, saw the venerable men sign the Declaration of Independence, then of his own accord shouted to the bellman to ring forth the joyful tidings, then leaping upon the back of his pony, self-appointed, rode night and day to the camp of General Washington, located in New York, and communicated to him what had been done in Congress, and this two days before the commander-in-chief received his dispatches from the proper authorities. Like that patriotic, heroic boy, we want the children of to-day to herald down the coming ages the great facts and principles of our nation’s life and glory. How can they do it?

We have planted our centennial tree; whether it survives and flourishes, or dies after a few months, depends upon certain established laws in nature. Soil, climate, sunshine and storm are to tell in the one direction or the other. The Republic of of the United States, which to-day wears a matronly brow and bears the wreath of a century, is to abide in honor and flourish in prosperity, or to perish from being a nation under the operation of laws no less fixed and obvious.

betsy_ross_flag1We are probably now passing through the test period of our existence. We have seen the sword cannot devour. The world knows, we know, that our arm of power is strong in defence and protection. The adverse elements which, during the century gone, have at times appeared so fierce and destructive, have only reduced elements of strength. Prosperity is often more dangerous than adversity. When Moab could not conquer ancient Israel on the field of battle, she did so spread her net of enticement as to decoy and imperil her. If we have come through the scourge of the sword strong, who can say that corruption and loss of public virtue shall not mark our ruin? We must educate the young aright, if we are to conserve what we have received and now hold. It has been said, “the chief concern of a State is the education of her children.” As a prime element in this education, we have need to inculcate American ideas of government. This may be quite easy to do with that portion of the young that are born here, and whose blood is Anglo Saxon; without other ingredients, the blood and the birth place both have an important bearing. The Englishman, reared on the other side of the Atlantic, does not easily comprehend the genius of our free institutions, and there noticeably are duller scholars still. The government here is through the people, and of course belongs to the people. I am a part of the nation, and am to my measure of ability responsible for what the national life is. This idea of being a factor in the Republic becomes one of the most potent influences for good; one of the most powerful educators in the land. It was this idea that brought to the field of battle such vast armies to save the government in its last scene of danger, and rendered them so tractable, wise, enduring, brave, where no standing armies existed before. Now whether a man came from China or Ireland, Japan or Germany, the north pole or the south pole, let him understand at the earliest possible period, that he is one of us and owes allegiance to no government but what he helps to constitute. It has been said many a time, that the English debt makes the English government strong—because so many of the people are creditors. Our own government in the late war made the people largely its creditors for a like reason. But the bond of our union is deeper, broader than this, more binding, more sure. It is this, that not only the money is ours, but the honor and prosperity, and the very being of the nation belongs to the people. And allow me to say that our system of popular education is one of the best agencies that can be employed to inculcate, foster and strengthen this idea. Every school in our land made up of a distinct nationality, on a fundamental principle of religion or politics, is fostering a spirit anti-Republican, and fraught with evil to our free institutions.

If any people are so purblind as not to see that we offer to them through our public institutions better educational opportunities than they can transplant here from the Old World, then we beg they will abide under their own vine and fig tree and leave to us and ours, what we so highly prize, and propose to perpetuate. We shall not submit to any foreign domination, whether it be political or ecclesiastical.

There will naturally be connected with this American idea of government, as a second educational element, patriotic fervor. One of the weakest things in the old Ottoman power so shaken just now that indicates its near ruin is a lack of patriotism. Such an emotion as love of country is not found there. The Turk may fight because he is forced to, not because his home, family and native land are dearer to him than life.

The Storming of Stony Point by Alonzo Chappell

The Storming of Stony Point by Alonzo Chappell

It was this patriotic fervor that brought our nation into being, and this must be an important instrumentality in its continuance. Read the closing sentence in that immortal document which one hundred years ago this very day so fired and nerved the people in their great struggle for liberty: “And for the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Those words were no mere rhetorical flourish, when published. They included all the language could express, and infinitely more than such a declaration ever contained before.

It may be quite easy to frame resolutions and give pledges in times of peace; but the hour when the framers of the Declaration of Independence spoke so boldly and meaningly was when war was at the door and the hand of a most powerful nation was upon the throat of her feebler Colonies.

To pledge life, property, sacred honor then was to have them put in immediate requisition for the imperiled cause.

It meant, as Benjamin Franklin said to John Hancock, as he wrote his bold name and remarked, (1)”We must all hang together. Yes, we must indeed hang together, or else, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” That high-toned sentiment, fearlessly uttered was sustained by sacrifice and intense endurance. Republics are made of youth and let there arise generation after generation of youth, so infused, men of such devotion to the good of the country, and we are safe for the century to come, for all future years while the world standeth; for:

Our country first, their glory and their pride,
Land of their hopes, land where their fathers died,
When in the right they’ll keep her honor bright,
Wherein the wrong they’ll die to set it right.

It was a painful feature of our American life made prominent before the late rebellion, that so many eminent in positions at home, or traveling abroad, affected to despise their birth-right, were ashamed of their country. They claimed to be English rather than Americans, when in foreign lands. And when here on our soil, fostered, honored, had nothing of the national life and spirit about them.

In such an ignoble spirit the rebellion was matured. They were ever decrying their home blessings, and extolling the beauty and bounty of institutions far away. We are thankful that spirit, so vain and silly, so unnatural and obsequious, has been so thoroughly flogged out of the nation. I do not think so big a fool can be found in the entire land, in this day of grace, July 4, 1876, as a man who chanced to be born in our famed country, wishing the lines of life in the beginning had fallen to him in some other place. American citizenship has passed the period of reproach. It challenges the homage of the world. It is set in gems of beauty. It is royal diadem.

In studying the character of the men who became the founders and framers of this Republic, we find they were distinguished for sterling integrity, and so we must see to it that the young, rising up around us, are possessed of the same element of character, if our institutions are to be perpetuated. What we want to-day in our country is men who can be trusted. They are here, no doubt, and will appear and take their place when called for. Gold is good, and we want that, but men more. We have had a decade of sordid sentiment and base practice.

Such a state of things is not unusual after a season of war. Competition was widespread after the Revolution.

hero_of_vincennes1The vile mercenary spirit has invaded all departments of life and influences. The greed of gain, inflamed by a desire for personal gratification, has been too strong for the ordinary barriers of virtue and fair dealing, and what wrecks of character, fortune and life even have appeared as a consequence upon the surface of society. Men who have become insane through lust and gain scruple not at the use of any means which may accomplish their purpose. And so we distrust one another, and wonder if we shall find at the Centennial Exhibition even that noblest work of God, “an honest man.” It is thought by many that the evil is self-corrective, that the appalling depths of iniquity which have been revealed will frighten and compel a hasty retreat on the part of those who have ventured on the perilous extreme. That is not the ordinary law of reform. Reeking corruption does not of itself become a scene of sweetness and beauty. Let us trust in no such vain hope. Rather let the education of the young be the source of cheerful expectation. Train up the children in the ways of integrity. Let it be engraven upon their hearts in the deep-bedded lines of ineffaceable conviction, that righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways though he be rich.

“Ill fares the land to hast’ning; ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.”

Another important lesson to bo taught our youth is that wealth is not the end, but the means, and so our life ought to be one of well-appointed industry and careful husbandry, whether we be rich or poor.

Harriet Martineau, who has just died at her home in England, after traveling through this country and observing the working of our free institutions, recorded as her deliberate opinion that no calamity could befall an American youth more serious in results than to inherit a large patrimony.

The idea has been so wide spread, that if a man has riches he has attained already the chief end of his being, that an overindulged, useless life, is almost a sure concomitant of inherited wealth; more diligence, less extravagance, should be the watchwords with which to start on the new century. With the very fair show which the benevolent department of the country may make as to-day she unrolls her record of church work at home and abroad, her educational work, with endowed colleges and public libraries, her charities to the poor and the unfortunate, it must yet be apparent that as a people we have not learned how to use wealth aright.

The great industries of the land are depressed. The hands of the laborer are seeking in vain for something to do, and the rich are becoming poor, as a consequence of the recklessness of habits in the modes of earning and spending in the past. The same is true of a liberal education, as of wealth. The youth who, blessed with opportunities for a higher education, must be made to feel that they are carried through the schools, not to be drones in society, fancy men, but that they may contribute to the wisdom, integrity and every virtue in the high places of state and nation.

It is sometimes said that higher education unfits some for business. Send a boy to college and he is good for nothing except in the learned professions. “If this be so, then our educational system needs reorganizing.” The old maxim that knowledge is power, is true, and broad as true. A man will be better fitted to fill any occupation in life for a higher education, if he has been educated aright. Out upon any other theory. Let the people everywhere be made to feel this, as the graduates do honor to their privileges, by meeting the just claim that society has upon them and the questions about graded schools and free colleges will fail to be discussed for want of an opponent.

Our country offers the highest prize for every virtue, all trained talent. It is base, it is mean, it is contemptible, not to be true, noble and good when the way to ascend is so easy; where the people are so ready to crown, and honor him who deserves to wear a crown, and when our free institutions are so deserving of all the support and praise we can bring them.

One word more. This has been a Christian nation during the century past. The great principles of divine truth have been wrought into the foundations and abide in the structure. The Word of God has been our sheet anchor in the past; it must be so in the future. Someone has said “Republicanism and freedom are but mere names for beautiful but impossible abstractions, except in the case of a Christainly, educated people.” Keep this thought in the minds of the young, in all their course of education, and they will rise up to bless the land, and possess her fair and large domain. It was [Alexis] De Tocqueville who said, “He who survives the freedom and dignity of his country, has already lived too long.

May none before us, or in the generations following, live thus long. Our Republic to the end of time.

See also: THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775
THE MARCH OF FREEDOM by Theodore Parker 1810-1860
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
A REPUBLIC! A LIVING BREATHING CONSTITUTION DEFINED! by Alphonse De Lamartine 1790-1869
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
RestoreTheConstitutionDotCom

THE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! by Hon. Theodore Bacon, New York 1876

RestoreTheConstitutionDotComTHE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! An Oration by Honorable Theodore Bacon, (1834-1900) of Rochester, New York. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Palmyra, New York, July 4th, 1876.

The occasion which we commemorate to-day, familiar as it is to us by its annual recurrence—fixed as it is in our national life—is in its very conception distinctive and American. It is not the birth-day of a reigning prince, however beloved; it is not the holiday of a patron saint, however revered; it is simply the the festival of our national existence. Unimaginative as we are, we have impersonated an idea—the idea of nationality; and the festival of that idea, instead of a man or a demi-god, we celebrate to-day.

And we do right to celebrate it. The fact of this national existence is a great fact. The act which first declared the nation’s right to exist was a great act—a brave act. If it was not indeed, as we have been ready enough to assert, a pivotal epoch in the world’s history, it was beyond question a decisive event in our own history. If it was not the birth-day of the nation— for the nation was born long before—it was the day the still growing youth became conscious of its young maturity, asserted its personality, and entered on equal terms into the community of nations. And whatever errors there may have been in our methods—whatever follies of mere deafening or nerve-distracting noise—whatever mad recklessness with deadly explosives, such as will make to-morrow’s newspapers like the returns of a great battle—whatever flatulence of vain glorious boasting from ten thousand platforms such as this—it is none the less a goodly and an honorable thing, that the one universal festival of this great nation should be the festival of its nationality alone. This, and this only, is the meaning of our being together to-day; that we are glad, and joyful, and grateful, that we are a nation; and that in unison with more than two-score millions of people, throughout the vast expanse of our imperial domains, we may give utterance to the joyful and thankful thought, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.

It is well then, to celebrate and rejoice. The many reasons we have for joy and pride are familiar enough to you. If there were any danger of your forgetting them, they are recalled annually to your remembrance. by addresses such as you have honored me by calling on me to deliver here to-day. And in considering how I could best respond to your request, in the few moments which you can spare from your better occupation of the day, I have thought it superfluous to repeat to you those glories of which your minds are already so full, deeming it a better service to you, and worthier of the day, I suggest certain imitations upon national self-laudation.

Let me recount to you summarily, the familiar and ordinary grounds of our boasting on such days as this. Then go over them with me, one by one; consider them soberly; and see whether we are in any danger of exalting ourselves unduly by reason of them.

1. We conquered our independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Consider them:

RevolutionaryWar1. We conquered our independence.

Beyond doubt, this was a grand thing to do, even in view of all the advantages that aided our fathers, and of all the difficulties that burdened their enemies. It was not, indeed, except in a certain limited and qualified sense, what it is commonly misnamed, a revolution. It was rather a movement of conservatism—of resistance to an innovating despotism, seeking to impose the bonds of distant authority on those who were free-born, and who had always governed themselves. This resistance to ministerial novelties was in the interest of all Englishmen, and, until this very day one hundred years ago, was in the name of King George himself, whom we still recognized as our rightful monarch, after more than a year of flagrant war against his troops. It was (do not forget) war of defence, against an invader from the paralyzing distance of 3,000 miles; yet that invader was the most powerful nation in Europe. It enlisted (remember) the active alliance of France, and stirred up Spain and Holland to separate wars against our enemy; yet even with these great helps, the persistency of the struggle, the hardships and discouragements through which it was maintained to its final success, were enough to justify the honor in which we hold the assertors of our national independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

We have inherited, it is true, by a descent through many generations, certain principles of government which recognize the people as the source of authority over the people. Yet not even the founders of this federal republic—far less ourselves, their century remote descendants, could claim the glory either of inventing these eternal principles or of first applying them in practice. Before Jefferson were Plato, and Milton, and Locke, and Rousseau. Before Philadelphia were Athens, and pre-Augustan Rome; Florence and Geneva; Ghent and Leydon; the Swiss Republics and the Commonwealth of England. Before the United States of America were the Achaean League, the Hanseatic League, and—closest pattern and exemplar—the United Provinces of the Low Countries. Beyond doubt, however, it is something to be glad of that our ancestors began the century which closes to-day, upon the solid foundations of a faith in the right of self-government, when so many other nations of the earth were to be compelled to labor and study toward the acceptance of that faith, or to legislate and fight and revolutionize toward the embodiment of it in institutions. But whether that prodigious advantage with which we began the century should be now the occasion of pride or of some different emotion, might depend on other questions: Whether, for example, that advantage has enabled us to maintain to this day the pre-eminence over other nations which it gave us a hundred years ago; whether, as they have advanced, we have only held our own, or gone backward; whether our ten talents, the magnificent capital with which we were entrusted, have been hid in a napkin and buried, while the one poor talent of another has been multiplied a hundred fold by diligence and skill. It is a great thing, no doubt, for a nation to govern itself, whether well or ill; but it is a thing to be proud of only when its self-government is capable and just. Let us look for a moment at the relative positions in this respect of our own and other nations a hundred years ago, and now.

GreatExperimentA century since, the idea of parliamentary or representative government, primitive as that idea had been in the earliest Teutonic communities, and embalmed as it might still be in the reveries of philosophers, had no living form outside of these colonies, and of that fatherland from which their institutions were derived, and with which they were at war. In Great Britain itself, a sodden conservatism, refusing to adapt institutions to changing circumstances, had suffered them to become distorted with inequalities; so that the House of Commons, while it still stood for the English People, and was already beginning to feel the strength which has now made it the supreme power in the nation, was so befouled with rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs, that ministers easily managed it with places, and pensions, and money. The whole continent of Western Europe was subjected to great or little autocrats, claiming to rule by divine right, uttering by decrees their sovereign wills for laws, despising even the pretense of asking the concurrence of the governed. In France, an absolute despot, a brilliant court, a gorgeous and vicious civilization of the few, were superposed upon a wretched, naked, underfed peasantry; tithe-oppressed, tax-ridden; crushed with feudal burdens upon the soil, or dragged from it to be slaughtered in foreign wars for matters they never heard of. Germany was either parceled out, like Italy, among countless princelings, maintaining every one his disproportionate army, and court, and harem, and squeezing out taxes and blood from his people utterly without responsibility; or was crushed beneath the iron despotism of the Great Frederick in the North, or of the less capable Empire in the South. To the East, the great plains of Russia were an unknown darkness, where a shameless fury maintained an Asiatic reign of force and terror. Here and there a philosophical recluse was evolving from his books and his invention, systems of government which denied and antagonized the claims of divine right on which every dynasty in Europe was founded; yet so remote from any practical application did these speculations seem that the most absolute monarchs took pride in sharing them and fostering them. There were, indeed, things called “republics;” there were the despotic aristocracies of Venice and Genoa; there were their High Mightinesses, the estates of the United Provinces; there were the confederated cantons of Switzerland, fenced in their mountain strongholds, but without influence upon European thoughts or institutions .

Over against that Europe of 1776, set the Europe of to-day. Nation after nation—call off their names: observe their systems of government, and say, when you have completed the tale, how many sovereigns there are who rest their title to supremacy upon divine right by inheritance; how many governments there are whose daily continuance—how many whose very birth and origin, are derived avowedly from no other source than “the consent of the governed.” There are indeed crowned heads to-day; heads wearing crowns which have descended by but two or three degrees from the most confident assertors of “the right divine of kings to govern wrong;“—right royal men and women—nay more, right manly men and right womanly women: yet of all these there is hardly one who pretends to be more than the mere executive of the national will, expressed through a representative legislature. The England which our fathers denounced as tyrant, and foe of freedom—let us not commit the anachronism of confounding her with the England of to-day. Ruled by a National Assembly chosen by a suffrage little short of universal, exercising final and absolute legislative authority with the merest advisory concurrence of an hereditary Senate; its executive body little more than a standing committee of the House of Commons, removable in an instant by a mere expression of the will of the House; and all under the nominal presidency of a quiet matron, to whom even the external ceremonies of her position are irksome; with a system of local and municipal administration, which, however its defects, may well invite our admiration and study; tho sturdiest proclaimer of the doctrines of our “Declaration” could hardly have figured to himself a future America which should more fully embody those doctrines than the realm of George the Third has come to embody them under his granddaughter. If we look across the channel, we find all Western Europe, from the Polar Sea to the Mediterranean, the undisputed domain of constitutional representative, elective government. It the name and state of King or Emperor are maintained, it is in effect but as a convenient instrument for the performance of necessary functions in the great, public organism, and with a tacit, or even an express acknowledgement on the part of the crown that” tho consent of the governed ” is the true source of its own authority. Over the feudal France which I have but just now pictured to you, has swept a flood which not only destroyed institutions, but extirpated their immemorial foundations; which not only leveled the hideous inequalities of medievalism, but leveled upward the Gallic mind itself; so that hardly less than the American citizen—far more than the British subject—is the Frenchman of to-day penetrated by the consciousness of the equal rights of all men before the law. His form of supreme administration may vary from time to time, in name, or even in substance; but for fifty years it has stood upon the basis of the public consent, or, when it has failed so to stand, has fallen. The France of Richelieu—the France of that Louis XIV who dared to say of the State, “It is I,” is the France whose latest king called himself no longer King of France, but King of the French; whose latest Emperor claimed no right to rule but from a popular election by universal suffrage—boasted of being “The Elect of seven millions“—and styled himself in the most solemn instruments, “By the Grace of God and the Will of the People, Emperor of the French;” and which now, dispensing with even the fiction of a Sovereign, administers its affairs with a prudence, wisdom and economy which have drawn the admiration of neighboring nations. In United Italy—in the two great empires which share between them Germany and Hungary—in the Scandinavian Kingdoms—and at last even in Spain, so long the distracted prey of hierarchy and absolutism, the autocracy of an hereditary monarch has given way to parliamentary government and ministerial responsibility. The successor of Catharine the Second, by conferring spontaneously upon the half-civilized subjects of his vast empire not only personal freedom, but such local autonomy as they are capable of, is educating them toward a higher participation in affairs. And now, most marvelous testimony to the prevalence of those opinions upon which our own institutions are based, the world has seen within a month, a new Sultan, a new chief of Islam, announced to Europe as succeeding to the chair and the sword of Mahomet, “by the unanimous will of the Turkish people!

Christian republicLet us be quite sure, my fellow-citizens, before we boast oarselves immeasurably above other nations by reason of the excellence of our political institutions, not only that they are better than all others in the world, but that we have done something in these hundred years towards making them better; or at least that we have not suffered ours to become debased and corrupt, while those of other nations have been growing better and purer. Is our law-making and our conduct of affairs —national, state, and local—abler and honester now than then? Is the ballot-box cleaner, and a surer reflection of the public mind upon public men and measures? Or are we still in some small degree hampered by the tricks of politicians, so that we find ourselves voting into offices men whom we despise—giving support to measures which we abominate? Has public opinion grown so in that sensitive honor “which feels a stain like a wound,” that it compels public men to be not only above reproach, but above suspicion? Or has it rather come to content itself with weighing evidence, and balancing probabilities, and continuing its favor to any against whom the proofs may fall short of absolute conviction of felony? Is the vast organization of our public business contrived and controlled, as it is in every other civilized country, and as in every successful private business it must be, for the sole end of doing that business efficiently and cheaply? Or has it become a vast system for the reward of party services by public moneys—a vast mechanism for the perpetuation of party power by suppressing the popular will—with the secondary purpose of doing the public work as well as may be consistent with the main design? Have we, through dullness or feebleness, suffered methods to become customary in our public service, which if, attempted in the British post-office or custom-house, would overthrow a ministry in a fortnight—if in the French, might bring on a revolution? My fellow-citizens, I offer you no answers to these questions. I only ask them; and leave unasked many others which these might suggest. But when we have found answers to our satisfaction, we shall know better how far to exalt ourselves above the other nations of the earth.

3. We have enormously multiplied our numbers, and extended our boundaries.

A more indisputable support for national pride may be found, perhaps in our unquestioned and enormous multiplication of numbers and expansion of territory.

These have certainly been marvelous: perhaps unparalleled. It is a great thing that four millions of human beings, occupying in 1776 a certain expanse of territory, should be succeeded in 1876 by forty millions, occupying ten times that expanse. But let us be quite sure how much the increase of numbers is a necessary result of natural laws of propagation, working unrestrained in a land of amazing productiveness, unscourged by famine or pestilence, and burdened by but one great war during three generations of men; how much to the prodigious importation of involuntary immigrants from Africa during the last century, and of voluntary colonists, induced by high rewards for labor and enterprise, during this; and how much to any special virtue in our ancestors or ourselves. Let us be sure what degree and quality of glory it may be which a nation lays claim to for the extension of boundaries by mere mercantile bargain and purchase, or by strong armed conquest from its weaker neighbors. Let us remember, withal, that great as has been our growth in population and extent over this vacant continent which offered such unlimited scope for enlargement, other nations have not stood still. A century ago there was a little sub-alpine monarchy of two or three million subjects, which within these twenty years has so expanded itself by honorable warfare and the voluntary accession of neighboring provinces, that it now comprehends all the twenty-five millions of the Italian people. A century ago there was a little Prussian monarchy of three or four million subjects, which, sparing to us meanwhile millions of its increasing numbers, has grown until it has become the vast and powerful German Empire of forty millions. And, while we take a just pride in the marvelous growth of New York and Philadelphia, and the meteoric rise of Chicago and St. Louis, it is well not to forget that within the same century London has added three millions to its numbers; Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, have sprung from insignificance into the second rank of cities; and that dull Prussian town, which, as the Great Frederick’s capital, boasted but 100,000 inhabitants, has become a vast metropolis of nearly a million people, doubling its numbers in the last quarter of that period. If our own increase of population has indeed surpassed these marvelous examples—if our territorial expansion has in fact been larger and swifter than that of the Russian Empire in Europe and Asia, or of the British Empire in India, America and Australia, then the more are we justified in that manner of pride which is natural to the youth grown to a healthy maturity of strength and stature.

4. We have enormously increased our material wealth, and subdued the forces of nature.

Thus also, if we have not greatly surpassed the rest of the world in our growth in material wealth, and in our subjugation of natural forces to human use, we may fairly claim at least to have kept in the van of progress. Yet here, too, while we have great and just cause for pride, let us not err by confounding the positive merits of our nation with the adventitious advantages which have stimulated or created its successes. It has been a different task, though perhaps not an easier one, to take from the fresh fields and virgin soil of this vast continent, fruitful in all that is most useful for human food and raiment, the wealth that has been the sure reward of steadfast industry—from the task of stimulating the productive powers of lands exhausted by thousands of years of crop bearing, up to that exquisite fertility that makes an English wheat-field an astonishment even to a Western New York farmer. It is indeed a singular fortune which ours has been that every decade of years has revealed beneath our feet some new surprise of mineral wealth; the iron everywhere; the anthracite of Pennsylvania; the copper of Lake Superior; the gold of California; the bituminous coal of the western coal fields; the petroleum which now illuminates the world; and finally, the silver which has deluged and deranged the trade of the Orient. Let us not be slow to remember that such natural advantages impose obligations, rather than justify pride in comparison with those old countries where nature has spoken long ago her last word of discovery, and where labor and science can but glean in the fields already harvested. And when we look with wonder upon the vast public works, not disproportionate to the vastness of our territory, which the last half-century especially has seen constructed, let us not forget that the industry and frugality which gathered the capital that built our railroad system—not all of which certainly, was American capital—the trained intellect of the engineers who designed and constructed its countless parts—are a greater honor to any people than 70,000 miles of track: that the patient ingenuity of Fitch and Fulton are more to be boasted of than the ownership of the steam navies of the world: the scientific culture and genius of Morse, than 200,000 miles of telegraphic wire.

ReligionRepublic5. Education and intelligence are in an unequaled degree diffused throughout our population.

If I have thought it needless to enlarge upon other subjects, familiar upon such occasions, for public congratulation, especially will it be superfluous to remind such an audience as this how broad and general is the diffusion of intelligence and education through large portions of our country. But let us not be so dazzled by the sunlight which irradiates us here in New York, as to forget the darkness of illiteracy which overwhelms vast regions of our common country; that if New York, and Massachusetts, and Ohio, offer to all their children opportunities of learning, there exists in many states a numerous peasantry, both white and black, of besotted ignorance, and struggling but feebly, almost without aid or opportunity, toward some small enlightenment. Let us not overlook the fact, in our complacency, that while we, in these favored communities, content ourselves with offering education to those whom we leave free to become sovereign citizens in abject ignorance, other nations have gone beyond us in enforcing universal education; in not only throwing open the feast of reason, but in going into the highways and hedges, and compelling them to come in.

6. To crown all, we have but just now subdued a gigantic rebellion, and in doing so have incidentally suppressed the great national shame of human slavery.

Coming to the last of the familiar sources of national pride which I have suggested, we may fairly say that the emotions with which a patriot looks back upon the conclusions of the period beginning in 1860 must be of a most varied and conflicting sort. The glory of successful war must be tempered by shame that red-handed rebellion should ever have raised its head in a constitutional nation. If it was not permitted to a Roman general, so it is not becoming to us, to triumph over conquered fellow-citizens. If we rejoice, as the whole world does rejoice, that the conflict which, for four years distracted us, ended in the restoration of four million slaves to the rights of free manhood, the remembrance that neither our national conscience nor our statesmanship had found a better way out of the bondage of Egypt than through a Red Sea of blood, may well qualify our reasonable pride; the question, how these millions and their masters are yet to be lifted up into fitness for their new sovereignty over themselves and over us, may well sober our exultation.

If I have departed from the common usage of this occasion, in assuming that you know, quite as well as I do, the infinite causes that exist for pride, and joy, and common congratulation in being American citizens, I beg leave before I close to suggest one further reason for the emotions which are natural to all our hearts to-day. It has been common to us and to other nations, —to our friends alike and our detractors,—to speak of the institutions under which we live, as new, experimental, and of questionable permanency. Fellow-citizens, if we can learn nothing else from the comparative view of other nations to which I have been hastily recommending you, this fact at least presses itself home upon us: that of all the nations of the earth which are under the light of Christian and European civilization, the institutions of America are those which the vicissitudes of a century have left most unchanged; that, tested by the history of those hundred years, and by the experience of every such nation republican democracy, means permanency, not revolution; wise conservatism, not destruction; and that all other institutions are as unstable as water in comparison.

I believe that to-day this American “experiment” is the most ancient system in Christendom. Not a constitution in Europe but exists by grace of a revolution of far later date than the framing of our constitution, which stands now, immortal monument to the wisdom of its founders, almost unchanged from its pristine shape and substance. If the stable British monarchy seems to you an exception, reflect upon the silent revolution which in that time has annulled the power of the crown, and almost subverted its influence; remember the suppression of the Irish Parliament, the removal of the Catholic disabilities which for a century and a half had been a foundation stone of the constitution; remember the Reform Bill which prostrated the power of the aristocracy; the repeal of the Corn Laws, which reversed the economic policy of a thousand years; look at the audacious legislation which within two years has destroyed even the names of that judicial system which is identified with English monarchy—-at that which within a few weeks has dared to add a flimsy glitter to the immemorial title of the sovereign herself—and you may well be proud of the solidity and permanence of our institutions compared with the swift-dissolving forms of European systems.

We know, however, that institutions, even the best of them, cannot long exist without change. As in physical life, there must be either growth or decay; when growth has ceased, decay cannot long be postponed. How shall it be with those institutions which a noble ancestry has bequeathed to us, and in which we rejoice to-day? Let us not forget that the day is the beginning of a new century, as well, as the close of an old one. Not one of us is to see the close of the coming age, as none of us saw the opening of the last. And while it is given to none to discern the future, we know well that institutions, whether civil or social, cannot long continue better than the people who enjoy them. Be it ours, therefore, so far as lies in us, to perpetuate for our remote offspring the benefits which have come own from our ancestors. Let us cultivate in ourselves—let us teach to our children—those virtues which alone make our free institutions possible or desirable. Thus, and only thus, shall we make this day not merely the commemoration of departed glories, but the portal to that Golden Age which has been the dream of poets and the promise of prophets, and toward which, as we dare to hope, the event which we now celebrate has so mightily impelled mankind. Our eyes shall not behold it; but woe to us if we cease to hope for it and to labor towards it It may be hard—it is hard—for us, surrounded by the green graves and the desolated homes which within a dozen years a ghastly civil war has made in this religious and enlightened nation,— for us here, in the very presence of the tattered yet venerated symbols of that strife,(1) to believe that the day can ever shine upon the earth

When the war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle-fags are furled
In the parliament of man, the federation of the world:
When the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall dumber, lapt in universal law.

The reign of ” Peace on Earth—Good Will towards Men”— the dominion of Reason and Justice over Force and Fraud—it may be far off, but it shall surely come.

Down the dark future, through long generations,
The sounds of strife grow fainter, and then cease;
And like a bell, in solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say,” Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its ‘brazen portals,
The blast of war’s great organ shakes the skies:
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of Love arise.

Footnote(s): 1. The worn-out regimental colors of the 33d New York Volunteers, a regiment which went to the war from Wayne County, were carried in the procession and set up in front of the speaker’s stand.

See also: Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876

AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC

AFBetsyross1776America! Our Success-Our Future! An Oration By Rev. John P. Gulliver, D.D., Delivered At Binghampton, New York, July 4, 1876.

We celebrate to-day one hundred years of Democratic Government. We flatter ourselves, not without some show of reason, that our experiment has been, on the whole, a successful one.

See also: 
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)

It is true that in other days “the name of commonwealth has past and gone,” over many “fractions of this groaning globe.” It is true that our Republic has only attained the slight venerableness of a single century. It is true that other democracies, far more ancient have at last “deigned to own a scepter and endure a purple robe.” Still we live, and we console ourselves with the thought that our one century has been equal in actual development to many centuries of Venice or Rome.

It is true we have had our enemies, foreign and domestic, and we may have them again. But in two wars, one of them of vast proportions, we have not only gained victory, but increased strength, while in the war of 1812, we certainly lost nothing. We have now convinced the world, what our best friends in Europe have seriously doubted, that a democracy is capable of being converted, in a day, into a military despotism, as effective for all warlike purposes, as the citizen-soldiery of Germany or the soldier-tenantry of Russia. A government, however loose it may seem to the eye of a monarchist, which out of a nation of civilians, can summon more than a million of men into the field at one time, which can create a navy at call, and in so doing, can revolutionize the whole system of maritime and defensive warfare, which can originate amidst the confusion of a struggle for national existence, such improvements in firearms as to make obsolete the arsenals of the civilized world, and, in four years can terminate in complete success, a struggle whose dimensions parallel the Napoleonic wars of Europe—a democracy capable of such a military metamorphosis, is at least not to be despised as an unwieldy and ungovernable mob.

It is true that our own body politic has not been at any time in a state of perfect health. As a democracy, it has had its diseases, some hereditary and chronic and some the result of temporary indiscretions and excesses. We began our republican organization with a large infusion of the ideas of class-aristocracy from the Northern Colonies, with all the institutions and social usages of a race aristocracy at the South, and with the crude, wild doctrines of French Red Republicanism strangely mingled with both. Our history during the century has been almost exclusively the record of the throes of the Republic under the antagonism of these morbid agents. The extraordinary force of vitality which our democracy has developed in eliminating these internal tendencies to disease and dissolution, is not the least among the occasions of our solemn exultation today. Our remedies have, some of them, been constitutional and gentle; others of them, heroic and painful. But they certainly have been efficacious. We have diseases still. But just at this moment they are of the prurient, disgusting sort, mortifying and annoying enough, but only skin deep.

PrecedentSurely a nation that found means to eradicate the slow consumption of social aristocracy, to quell the fiery fever of a brigand communism, and to cut out the cancer of slavery, will contrive some method of exterminating the insect parasites that are now burrowing over our whole civil service. If the heart of the Republic is sound, we need not greatly fear for its cuticle. Only, fellow-citizens, let us be prompt in our treatment, for the disease is contagious, and it is very irritating!

Besides the ills we have or have had, there maybe latent tendencies to disease and decay, that we know not of. But we will borrow no trouble to-day. We will hope that the same constitutional vigor, and the same skill of treatment which have served us so well in the past, will, by God’s blessing, prove sufficient for our future needs. Only let us draw largely upon the sources of national nourishment—let us keep in vigorous exercise all our organic functions; let us become a manly nation, instinct in every part with the highest attributes of national life; then we may defy the inroads of disease; then the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, shall grow into a perfect state—a state which God shall honor and man shall fear. We rejoice in the health of the Nation on its hundredth birthday!

It is also true, to change our figure, that there has been not a little occasion for anxiety concerning the frame-work of our Ship of State. The model of a ship and the adjustment of its various parts to each other, the balance between its breadth of beam and its length of spars, tho ratio to be observed between steadiness and crankness, the precise point where the “clump” may blend into the “clipper,” is a great nautical problem. The blending of all our local sovereignties, from the school district and the town meeting, through the counties and the states, into one national sovereignty, while yet each retains its distinct and characteristic autonomy, I have often compared, in my own mind, to that admirable and exquisitely beautiful adjustment, which, before the prosaic age of steam, gave us the many-winged birds of the ocean—the swift eagles of commerce—skimming every sea, and nestling in every harbor. You have seen them, with their pyramid of sails, rising with geometrical exactness from main to royal, swelling in rounding lines from the foremost jib to the outmost point of the studding-sail boom, and retreating again, pear-shaped, to the stern, each holding to its full capacity the forceful breeze, all drawing in harmony, and yet each hanging by its own spar, and each under the instant control of the master on the deck. Behold, I have said, the Ship of a Republican State! What absolute independence of parts! What perfect harmony of all! What defined distinction of function! What complete unity of action! What an unrestricted individual freedom! What a steady contribution of all to the general result! and as the graceful hull, courteously bending in response to the multifarious impulse, has ploughed proudly through the waters, the exclamation has risen to my lips, “Liberty and Union; now and forever; one and inseparable!

But the actual existence of this exact balance between the National and local Governments, was not always as well established as it is to-day. At the very outset the Southern States, from the fear that the National Government would forbid a protective tariff, denied the supremacy of the National over the State Government, except during the consent of the latter.

In the later days of Calhoun, by one of the strangest transmutations ever known in politics, the same doctrine was maintained,by the same States.for the purpose of resisting a protective tariff. Throttled by the strong hand of Andrew Jackson, at that time, the monster drew back into his den, only to appear under the feeble administration of Buchanan as the champion of slavery. The doctrine that the National Government may be left at any moment, a floating hulk without canvas, rigging or rudder, the statesmanship which would launch a nation into the great ocean of human affairs, under the command of some two score of independent local governments, may now be laid away in our cabinets of moral monstrosities, as a fossil of the past. De Tocqueville, the philosopher of Democracy, prophesied forty years ago, in this wise: “It appears to me unquestionable, that if any portion of the Union seriously desired to separate itself from the other States, they would not be able, nor indeed would they attempt to prevent it, and that the present Union will last only as long as the States which compose it choose to remain members of the confederation.” That this sagacious and most friendly writer on American institutions has in this case proved to be a false prophet, is not the least among our many causes for congratulation to-day.

AmericanFlagAndCrossA century of rapid movement and of revolution; a century which has changed the political condition of nearly every nation on the face of the earth; a century during which we have twice met the whole power of the British Empire in arms, and once sustained the shock of assault from the combined power of slavery at home and in Europe; a century during which we have eliminated from the body politic the most insidious and dangerous diseases; a century during which we have determined questions concerning the relations and functions of our concentric cluster of independent democracies of the most radical and vital nature; a century during which our population has grown from three millions to fifty millions, our area of territory extended from one million to four millions of square miles, our manufactures advanced from twenty millions to forty-two hundred millions, our agriculture, mining and commerce increased in a ratio which sets all figures at defiance; a century which has raised us from insignificance, to a position as the fifth of the great empires of the world; a century which in educational and religions progress has more than kept pace with our material advancement, giving us a proportion of church members to the whole population four times greater than it was at the close of the Revolution, and a much larger increase in the ratio of liberally educated and well-educated persons; such a century we celebrate to-day. Who shall say that we do not well to rejoice. Who can fail to exclaim with devout and fervent gratification, What hath God wrought?

What Does The Future Promise? But we should make an unworthy use of this great occasion should we confine ourselves to a mere childish exultation over accomplished facts. A great future is extending out before us. What does this experiment prove, and how much does it promise? It is a time for study and thought. This centennial year, with its accomplished past just rolling out of view, with its present exciting and absorbing duty in the election of a chief magistrate, with an immediate future promising an unexampled reaction of prosperity, should be a year in which men should make great progress in the science of society and government.

We must not fail therefore to note and to admit freely, that our experiment has been in some respects an indecisive one. It does not prove that a Democratic form of government is necessarily and everywhere the best form. We are isolated from all the leading powers of the world by the intervention of great oceans. We entered upon an unoccupied continent. The rivalries of mankind, and their strifes have been adjusted upon other fields. While Russia, our comrade and contemporary in national growth, has been advancing upon the line of effete human civilizations, we have assailed only the forces of the wilderness. She has fought with men, we with nature. She has conquered by the sword; we by the plowshare. She has flourished by diplomacy; we by enterprise. She is a consolidated military despotism; we an extended Democratic Republic. Yet a philosophical statesmanship has often declared that we are approaching the same goal of empire and power. The comparison is full of interest and challenges our closest scrutiny. Russia, primarily the soldier, never out of uniform, her villages but military camps, her cities vast garrisons, her railroads and chausses only lines of army communication, is yet an inventing, manufacturing, agricultural and emphatically a commercial nation. America, primarily a land of peace and thrift, has been transformed in a day, into one vast battle field, and its rustic as well as its civic population have left the shop and furrow at night to appear in the morning assembled in armies of Titanic size, armed with the weapons of the Titans, while the thunder of their encounter has shaken the astonished world. Russia has exalted autocracy and punished democracy as a crime against God and man. America has proclaimed universal liberty and held the despot to be the enemy of the human race. Yet within the shell of imperial absolution, Russia holds to-day, as its inheritance from the depths of a Slavic antiquity, a communal organization which is almost a facsimile of a New England township; while America, beneath its outward freedom of thought, speech and act, covers a force of public opinion, both national and local, which few men have the courage to defy, and still fewer the strength to resist.

Under these curiously opposite conditions is the problem of the State being wrought out, for the Golden Age which is to come. From these diametrically opposite stand points, are the two most youthful nations of mankind advancing to the possession of the Earth.

freedomThe Democratic idea and the Democratic ideal. Such a comparison between two opposite civilizations serves to show us that democracy, as a form of government may or may not contain the elements of  freedom and the assurance of stability. In other words, the democratic idea, as men have conceived it and embodied it in governments, may or may not accord with the democratic ideal as it is enunciated in the royal law of Christ, and as it will one day be seen, embodied in the governments of men. Democracies may hide within themselves the seeds of despotism. Autocracies may nourish the germs of liberty. A democracy, which is administered in the interests of individuals, or of a party, or one in which the majority deprive the minority of freedom of speech and act, through the action of law or the terrorism of public opinion, is essentially despotic. There is despotism enough exercised within the Republic to-day, which if it had occurred in a monarchy would have cost a king his throne, and perhaps his life. On the other hand absolutionism may be so administered that the highest good of every subject shall be sought, and all his rights secured, according to the law. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and thy neighbor as thyself.

There is then a political democracy, and there is a moral democracy. The slow and reluctant translation of the abstract ideal into the actual idea, and its expression in governmental institutions, is of surpassing interest and importance.

The Question of the Day. It is this history which concerns us on this centennial anniversary. The inquiries which are being discussed to-day from ten thousand rostrums, and which are pressing upon the thoughts of millions of men are these and such as these.

What is democracy, as distinct alike from the mob and the despot? What is liberty, as limited by law, and contrasted with license?

What progress had been made up to the fourth of July, 1776, in translating this ideal democracy into the thoughts and institutions of men?

What did the assembly over which John Hancock presided, on that memorable morning, achieve for this great thought of the ages?

How has this imperial gem, inherited from our fathers—the Koh-i-noor of our political treasures—been cared for by us?

US flag and bible crossOur first answer to these questionings is a radical and sweeping answer.

We assert that this perfect ideal of liberty, this basal principle of a Democratic State, this Minerva embodying all temporal good for man, sprang full armed and perfect from Christianity.

In the image of God made He man, male and female created He them,” was the first announcement of this seed principle of political and social happiness. While the rights and needs of the sexes vary, as do those of all individual men and of all classes of men, the image of God gives a grandeur of dignity and consequence to every human being, be his descent, or rank, or abilities what they may. While the king inscribes upon the seal of his authority, “By the grace of God, a monarch over men,” while the magistrate, the parent, the master, the wife, the husband, and child, may each claim a special divine statute as the basis of his rights; the man, as a man, wears the very signet of Jehovah. Like the incarnate Son, he has “on his vesture and on his thigh ” a name written: A King among kings is he, a Lord among lords.

The inference is direct and clear. A man despised, is God blasphemed. A man enslaved, is the glory of God changed into a thing of wood, or stone, or into a beast, or creeping thing. A man wronged, is God insulted. To hold a man in ignorance, is the crime of not retaining God in the knowledge. “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it not to me,” is the malediction, written by an invisible hand upon all the banners of war, and over the bloodred skies of every battle-field of history. This is the answer to the question, “Whence comes wars and fightings among yon?” The Nemesis of the nations has been no other than the loving Father of all, avenging his outraged children who have cried day and night unto him. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” is the interpretation given by the Son of God himself to the dispensations of war, and agonies, and, blood, which has been to wondering philanthropists only a mystery of iniquity, from the first murder to the last battle. To the ideal humanity, to the man stamped with the divine image, God declares, “The nation and the kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea it shall be utterly wasted;” and in that word is the whole philosophy of the civil state. The state that God perpetuates and blesses is not the state that merely worships God, but it is the state that also honors the image of God in man. Devotion without humanity may be found in every idol temple and Mohammedan mosque on earth. But devotion without humanity never exalted a nation or saved a single human being. The hell of perished nations, like the hell of lost souls, is crowded with the peoples who have cried “Lord, Lord,” who have even prophesied in his name, and reared their temples like the trees of the forest, and sent up their orisons like the sons of the forest birds; but because a man was ahungered and they gave him no land, because a man thirsted and they gave him no springs of water, because man was a stranger and they made him a slave, because a man was naked and they kept back his wages by fraud, because a man was sick and they left him, as the North American savage leaves his worn out father, to perish by the roadside, because a man was in prison and they visited him only to add scorn to his sorrow, for these things, and such as these, the sentence has gone out against the nations—among them, some of the grandest and greatest, ” Depart from me, ye cursed!”

A True Democracy. What then is a true Democracy? It is the Government which honors man as man. It is the Government which protects all his God-given rights—the right to do right, as God may teach him, the right to do good, as God may give him opportunity, the right to be good, as God may give him grace, and the right to be happy, as God may bestow the means of happiness.

It is a Government which avenges all his wrongs—the wrong oft attempted of forcing him into sin; the wrong of forbidding him to do good in the name of Christ; the wrong of leading him, in self-defence, into all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor; the wrong of robbing him of his Heavenly Father’s gifts and excluding him from the Heavenly Father’s home.

It is the Government which provides for the development of all his faculties, which educates him, not merely so that he may be a money maker, a wages earner, but to be as much of a man as God-like a man as he is able and willing to become.

It is the Government which recognizes and honors all his capacities for happiness in every feasible way, making this earth beautiful for him, filling his cup with innocent pleasures, uncontaminated by vileness and sin.

It is the Government which writes on all its banners, which engraves on its seal of State, which re-enacts in the legislative hall and administers in the court of justice, the great law of human weal. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.

And “Liberty,” what is that? It is full encouragement, both by negative permission and positive aid, to do that which is God-like, and it is equally the utmost possible restraint upon whatever is degrading and evil. Any other liberty is the liberty given to a child to burn itself in the fire. It is the license which is the worst form of cruelty and slavery.

1God’s plan in history. This is the work of God in history. Toward such a democracy has all the discipline of the race been tending. De Tocqueville says, “The development of equality of conditions, is a providential fact, and it possesses all the characteristics of a Divine decree. My book (Democracy in America) he adds, has been written under the impression of a kind of religious dread, in contemplation of so irresistible a revolution. To attempt to check democracy would be to resist the will of God.

Steadily, though often slowly, has the race been led on to this grand consummation. This is the meeting of war, and conquest and revolution. The progress of democracy has in it the might of omnipotence. The gravitation of matter which directs rivers in their courses, is a feeble agent, compared with the gravitation of love, which directs all the streams of human society toward the great ocean of universal order and purity and joy.

The history of the gradual introduction of this conception of government into men’s minds and of its consolidation into actual institutions must be followed by the careful student in the quiet of private investigation.

Suffice it here to say that the first governments of which we have any knowledge, were constructed for protection and restraint. They took a defensive attitude against evil rather than a positive position in the promotion of good. This defensive and aggressive idea has followed government in the family and in the State, and very largely in the church down to our day. Its gradual elimination and the substitution of the Christian thought, that evil should be prevented rather than punished, that men need to be encouraged to be good, rather than be restrained from becoming bad, has proved to be one of the most difficult lessons which the race has had to learn.

Primitive Government. We know little of society before the flood. It was probably, however, a grand experiment of the power of mere law and authority in conflict with evil The chief impression which survived the deluge seems to have been that the wickedness of man was great on earth. The history of liberty through these decades of centuries which followed seems to be the record of a series of struggles to relax the unjust and cruel rigor with which this system of resistance to evil was pursued. In these struggles the subject was in a state of chronic rebellion against the sovereign, the plebeian against the patrician. Each dynasty and each class, as it gained power, used it for itself. Little by little humanity asserted its rights. The introduction of the Mosaic code was an immense advance which we now fail fully to appreciate. Its democratic features were in fact the chief study of the founders of this Republic in political science.

FlagsBibleThe American Republic. The institutions under which we are now living were slowly elaborated, in the devout study of the word of God, long before the separation from the mother country occurred. The Church of Christ, as founded by the Apostles, was strongly democratic, and the whole spirit of its administration tended powerfully to a revolution in civil government. Its doctrines all went to exalt the responsibility and dignity of the individual soul. Their religion gradually undermined, in the case of our fathers, their preconceived ideas of social order and civil government . When the new circumstances of their colonial condition compelled them to act on new lines. They found their convictions antagonism with their prejudices. It is said that the compact of the Mayflower seemed almost the result of an accident. The ideas of the colonists were strongly aristocratic and inclined them to put the whole power into the hands of a few. But the men of muscle saw that now they were of as much consequence as the men of brains and of culture and gentle birth. They firmly put in their claims and the leaders, considering the demand, saw that it was just. Set the spirit of the infant colonies was-strongly aristocratic. In manners this was seen much more plainly than in laws. The story of the punctilious etiquette which was observed in the court (as it was called) of Washington, the seating of the New England congregations according to social rank, and numerous quaint and almost ludicrous customs of the same sort show sufficiently the spirit of the age.

But all this was a matter chiefly of taste and decorum. Deep in their hearts these men loved their fellowmen. For humanity and for God, they were ready at any moment to lay down their lives. Their churches were the real morn of the State. These were formed upon the strictest model of the pattern given in the New Testament. They were local democracies of which the motto was “One is your master, and all ye are brethren.” Even churches formed upon the pattern of European usage, caught the same spirit, and became fountains of a real, if not of a nominal democracy.

It was this tendency to a sort of aristocracy, which was the conservative element in the formation of the government. This made us a constitutional Republic instead of a Greek or Polish Democracy. This was the Federalism of the early days, in which the Puritan of New England found himself in hearty sympathy with the Episcopalian of Virginia, and the Presbyterian of New York. This whole party was violently assaulted by the men, whose conception of democracy was that of a government in which every man should have equal authority, instead of one in which every man should be equally protected and cared for. The Republican party (as the ultra Democrats of that day termed themselves,) were bent simply on power for the masses. The Federalists were enlisted, with all their heart and soul, in the effort to secure order, justice, virtue and happiness for the masses.

Republican and Federalist. The contest was intense and bitter beyond any party strife of which we have any recent experience. The Republicans saw in the Federalists a reproduction of their oppressors in Europe. The Federalists saw in their opponents, the devils incarnate, who had just then closed the reign of terror in France. Both were wrong, so wrong that only this tremendous antagonism could have restrained either from making a wreck, of the new ship of state. The result was, that a substantial triumph was with the Federalists, who really created the Constitution, while the seeming victory was with the Republicans, who after the administrations of Washington and Adams gained undisputed possession of the Government. Thenceforward it became an offense akin to treason to question tho perfection of the Constitution, while it was little short of a personal insult for a politician to charge his opponent with having been a Federalist.

It was the fashion fifty years ago to speak of this Constitution as almost a miracle of human wisdom. Of late there seems to be a disposition to regard it a very common place affair. The estimate of fifty years ago is much more nearly correct. It was a miracle not only of human wisdom, but of Divine teaching. It was the fruit of centuries of the teaching and training of mankind. It was the product of no one mind or class of minds. It was the result of Providential circumstances quite as much as of human thought. It was the work of many centuries and of many men. It was the work of God as well as of men. It was the practical embodiment of the great law of love, in the civil state. It was by far the best translation the world had ever seen, or has seen as yet, the great ideal of democracy —the Utopia of Christianity—into actual institutions and practicable government.

The next great advance of democracy in this country is seen in the overthrow of the institution of slavery. If I pass by this whole history with a mere mention here, you will understand that it is because of the familiarity of the subject to the men of our day, and not because it was not a most extraordinary, a most instructive, a most important victory for the rights, both of master and slave, and for the weal and progress of mankind.

Now we stand on the mount of vision. The past extends back, reaching into the farthest depths of history, studded more and more thickly as we approach our modern era, with the monuments of victory for justice, law and freedom. It is a magnificent and an inspiring spectacle. It is well that we celebrate this anniversary of freedom, as John Adams predicted we should do, “with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires and illuminations.

patriotismThe Present Duty.
But we should be unworthy sons of heroic sires, if we did not look about us, in the surroundings of the present, and inquire if there is not something to be done, as well as something to be enjoyed.

Men and brethren, I do but follow the example of the men of a hundred years ago, when I bid you pause in the midst of your rejoicings to-day; when I ask you to consider whether an instant and a deadly peril be not concealed, like a worm in the rose, beneath the fair blossoming of this hour; when I ask you if it is not certain that, unless there be radical, sweeping, uncompromising reform in the administration of our Government, if it is not certain that we are celebrating the first and the last centennial of the American democracy. Such, fellow-citizens, is my profound conviction, and out of the abundance of my heart I speak to you to-day.

The time was, in the days of Washington and the elder Adams, and the same continued to be substantially true to the close of the administration of the younger Adams, that an officer of the Government, employed in its administration, who should actively engage in its construction, through the elections, would have been regarded as guilty of an impropriety—a misdemeanor, a dishonorable unworthy act, similar to that judge in our day who should appear as an advocate or a client in a court over which he presides. Even at so late a date as the impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson, it was charged as a crime that he had given civil appointments for the purpose of strengthening his own political position.

We look back to the otherwise creditable administration of Andrew Jackson, and find the first open and acknowledged departure from this principle. Adams had refused a re-election on terms which he regarded subsersive of the government. Jackson seems to have yielded with reluctance to a demand which the rapacity of many of his supporters forced upon him with a fury which marked a complete revolution in public feeling. To the horror of all right minded men of all parties, Mr. Marcy, of New York, on the occasion of the nomination of Martin Van Buren as minister to England, declared in his place in the Senate, the revolutionary doctrine, “We practice as we preach. To the victors belong the spoils” The horror of the opposing party and of all good citizens, gradually changed to acquiescence, and on all sides the principle was accepted as a practical necessity.

The heroic struggle with slavery, which lifted the nation to a moral elevation, of the grandest sublimity for the moment, checked this downfall in the lowest slums of knavery and peculation. But with the close of the war came a temptation and an opportunity such as never had been dreamed of, and with them an entire absence both of moral principle and of legal restraint to meet the evil.

How we stand to-day, how humiliated before our own consciences and before mankind, I need not pain you by describing. You know it all, and you feel it deeply.

Now what is to be done? What have I to do, and what have you to do?

The two great parties have so far recognized the evil and the danger, that they have both nominated men who are representatives of honesty and reform.

But neither of them has laid down any principles of reform. It is not their place to do it. Parties can represent and give voice to the principles of the people. But they cannot create them. It is for the pulpit, the press, the school, the private citizen, to solve the problem, and to hand over its execution to the politicians.

What, then, is the solution of this perplexing problem? I hesitate not for an answer. Go back to the ancient traditions of the Republic! Make it a disgrace, and as far as possible a legal misdemeanor, for any officer engaged in administering the Government to interfere with an election. Forbid the legislative and judicial departments to have any voice whatever in the appointment of an officer of the Executive Department, except in a few cases of confirmation by the Senate, acting in its executive capacity.

Make it a high crime and misdemeanor for any executive officer to remove a subordinate, except for cause. Let a man’s politics have nothing to do with the giving or retaining of office. Make it a State’s prison offense for a legislator to engage in any legislation in which his own interests are directly or indirectly concerned.

9781587366543The time is propitious for such a reform. The people are ripe for it. All the indications are that within ten years they will have it. For this let us all labor, Republicans and Democrats alike. We are just entering on a Presidential canvass, under candidates against whom not a word of reproach can be breathed. Let us thank God for so much to-day. It is likely to be a respectable canvass, in which foul-mouthed abuse will be little used.

Let this Centennial year be distinguished for a victory over the most dangerous, but most contemptible foe that ever menaced the Republic. Let the watchword of the next three months be—Honesty! Truth! Patriotism! Down with party machines and machinists! Up with the reign of purity, honor and integrity!

Thus shall the victory of this one hundredth year be worthy of the companionship of the victories, of the birthday of the Republic.

Thus shall the men of this generation stand proudly by the side of the men of 1776 and the men of 1865.

Thus shall the Republic, established by the wisdom and sacrifices of the one, and saved by the heroism and blood of the other, be handed down to our children, to be incorporated with the great empire of liberty and love, which is at last to fill the whole earth.

Power of History2

THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)

HoriatoSeymourTHE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE, An Oration By Ex-Gov. Horatio Seymour, Delivered At Rome, New York, July 4th, 1876.

The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, in order to strengthen his character thereby. ~ John Milton

I Do not come before you merely to take part in a holiday affair, nor to excite a passing interest about the occasion which calls us together. While my theme is the History of the Valley of the Mohawk, in speaking of it the end I have in view is as practical as if I came to talk to you about agriculture, mechanics, commerce or any other business topic.

There is in history a power to lift a people up and make them great and prosperous. The story of a nation’s achievements excites that patriotic pride which is a great element in vigor, boldness and heroism. He who studies with care the jurisprudence of the Old Testament, will see that this feeling of reverence for forefathers and devotion to country is made the subject of positive law in the command that men should honor their fathers and their mothers. But sacred poetry is filled with appeals to these sentiments, and the narratives of the Bible abound with proofs of the great truth, that the days of those who fear them shall be long in the land which God has given them. All history, ancient and modern, proves that national greatness springs in no small degree from pride in their histories, and from the patriotism cherished by their traditions and animated by their examples. This truth shines out in the annals of Greece and Rome. It gives vitality to the power of Britain, France, Germany and other European nations. The instincts of self-preservation led the American people in this centennial year to dwell upon the deeds of their fathers and by their example to excite our people to a purer patriotism, to an unselfish devotion to the public welfare.

The power of history is not confined to civilized races. The traditions of savage tribes have excited them to acts of self sacrifice and heroism, and of bold warfare, which have extorted the admiration of the world. The Valley of the Mohawk gives striking proofs of this. The Iroquois, who lived upon the slopes of the hills which stretch from the Hudson to the shores of Lake Erie, called themselves by a name which asserted that they and their fathers were men excelling all other men. Animated by this faith which grew out of their legends, they became the masters of the vast region stretching from the coast of the Atlantic to the banks of the Mississippi, from north of the great Lakes to the land of the Cherokees.

Unaided by arts, without horses or chariots, or implements of war, save the rudest form of the spear and the arrow, they traversed the solitary forest pathways, and carried their conquests over regions, which in extent have rarely been equaled by civilized nations with all the aids of fleets, or the terrible engines of destruction which science has given to disciplined armies. History gives no other example of such great conquest over so many enemies or difficulties, as were won by the Iroquois, when we take into account their limited numbers. Does any man think that all this would have been true if they had not been stirred up to a savage but noble heroism by the traditions of their tribes?

governorhoratio-seymourThe power of history over our minds and purposes is intensified when we stand amid the scenes of great events. Men cross the ocean and encounter the fatigues, dangers of a journey to the other side of the earth, that they may walk through the streets of Jerusalem, or look out from the hill of Zion, or wander amid sacred places. These scenes bring to* their minds the story of the past in a way that thrills their nerves. Or, if we visit the fields of great battles, the movements of armies, the thunder of artillery, the charge, the repulse, the carnage of war, the ground strewed with dead or dying and slippery with blood, are all presented to our imaginations in a way they can not elsewhere be felt or seen.

If beyond the general interest of history which incites to national patriotism, and in addition to the scenes of events which stir our blood when we move among them, we know that the actors were our fathers whose blood flows in our veins, we then have acting upon us, in its most intense form, the power of the past. Patriotism, and love of the land in which we live; a pious reverence for our fathers, all unite to lift us up upon the highest plane of public and of private virtue.

The men and the women of the valley of the Mohawk meet here to-day not only to celebrate the great events of our country, but to speak more particularly about deeds their ancestors have done on these plains and hillsides, and then to ask themselves if they have been true to their country, to their fathers and themselves by preserving and making known to the dwellers in this valley and to the world at large its grand and varied history. Have they been made household words? Have they shaped the ambitions and virtues of those growing up in the fireside circle? Have they been used to animate all classes in the conduct of public and private affairs?

Just so far as the dwellers in the valley of the Mohawk have failed in these respects, they have cheated and wronged themselves. They have failed to use the most potent influence to elevate their morals, intelligence and virtue. They have not brought themselves within the scope of that promise which religion, reason and experience show, is held out to those who honor their fathers, and incite themselves to acts of patriotism and lives of public and private devotion, by keeping in their minds the conduct of the good and great who have gone before them.

Let the events in this valley during the past three centuries now pass in review before us. Its Indian wars, the missionaries’ efforts, animated by religious zeal, which sought to carry religion into its unbroken forests and wild recesses; the march of the armies of France and England, with their savage allies, which for a hundred years made this valley the scenes of warfare and bloodshed; the struggle of the revolution, which brought with it not only all the horrors ever attendant upon war, added to them the barbarities of the savage ferocity that knows no distinction of age, sex or condition, but with horrible impartiality inflicted upon all alike the tortures of the torch and tomahawk. When these clouds had rolled away through the pathways of this valley, began the march of the peaceful armies of civilization which have filled the interior of our country with population, wealth and power. The world has never elsewhere seen a procession of events more varied, more dramatic, more grand in their influences.

The grounds upon which we stand have been wet with the blood of men who perished in civilized and savage war. Its plains and forests have rung with the war cry of the Iroquois, and have echoed back the thunder of artillery. Its air has been filled with the smoke of burning homes, and lighted up by the flames of the products of industry, kindled by the torch of enemies. Let this scene impress your minds while I try to tell the story of the past. With regard to the savages who lived in this valley, I will repeat the statements which I made on a recent occasion, and the evidence which I then produced in regard to their character.

Power of History1We arc inclined to-day to think meanly of the Indian race, and to charge that the dignity and heroism imputed to them was the work of the novelist rather than the proof of authentic history. A just conception of their character is necessary to enable us to understand the causes which shaped our civilization. But for the influence exerted by the early citizens of this place upon the Iroquois, it is doubtful if the English could have held their ground against the French west of the Alleghenies.

In speaking of them the colonial historian Smith says:

These of all those innumerable tribes of savages which inhabit the northern part of America, are of more importance to us and the French, both on account of their vicinity and warlike disposition.

In the correspondence of the French colonial officials with Louis the Great, it is said:

That no people in the world, perhaps, have higher notions than these Indians of military glory. All the surrounding nations have felt the effects of their prowess, and many not only become their tributaries, but are so subjugated to their power, that without their consent they dare not commence either peace or war.

Colden, in his history, printed in London, in 1747, says:

The Five Nations think themselves by nature superior to the rest of mankind, and call themselves “Onguekonwe,” that is, men surpassing all others.

This opinion, which they take care to cultivate in their children, gives them that courage which has been so terrible to all nations of North America, and they have taken such care to impress the same opinion of their people on all their neighbors, that they on all occasions yield the most submissive obedience to them. He adds; I have been told by old men of New England, who remembered the time when the Mohawks made war on their Indians, that as soon as a single Mohawk was discovered in the country, these Indians raised a cry from hill to hill, A Mohawk! a Mohawk! upon which they all fled like sheep before wolves, without attempting to make the least resistance, whatever odds were on their side. All the nations round them have for many years entirely submitted to them, and pay a yearly tribute to them in wampum.

We have many proofs of their skill in oratory and of the clearness and logic of their addresses. Even now, when their power is gone, and their pride broken down, they have many orators among them. I have heard in my official life speeches made by them, and I have also listened to many of the distinguished men of our own lineage. While the untutored man could not arm himself with all the facts and resources at the command of the educated, yet I can say that I have heard from the chiefs of the Five Nations as clear, strong and dignified addresses as any I have listened to in legislative halls or at the bar of our judicial tribunals. Oratory is too subtle in its nature to be described, or I could give to you some of the finest expressions in Indian addresses.

They did not excel merely in arms and oratory, they were a political people. Monsieur D. La Protiere, a Frenchman and an enemy, says in his history of North America:

When we speak of the Five Nations in France, they are thought, by a common mistake, to be mere barbarians, always thirsting for blood, but their characters are very different. They are indeed the fiercest and most formidable people in North America, and at the same time are as politic and judicious as well can be conceived, and this appears from their management of all affairs which they have not only with the French and English but likewise with almost all the Indians of this vast continent.

As to their civil polity, Colden says in 1747:

Each of these nations is an absolute republic by itself, and every castle in each nation is governed in all public affairs by its own sachems or old men. The authority of these rulers is gained by and consists wholly in the opinion the rest of the nation have of their integrity and wisdom. Their great men, both sachems and captains, are generally poorer than the common people, and they affect to give away and distribute all the presents or plunder they get in their treaties or in wars, so as to leave nothing to themselves. There is not a man in the members of the Five Nations who has gained his office otherwise than by merit. There is not the least salary or any sort of profit annexed to any office to tempt the covetous or sordid, but on the contrary every unworthy action is unavoidably attended with the forfeiture of their commissions, for their authority is only the esteem of the people, and ceases the moment that esteem is lost.

In the history of the world there is no other instance where such vast conquests were achieved with such limited numbers without superiority of arms. More than two hundred years ago, when the New England colonies were engaged in King Phillip’s war, commissioners were sent to Albany to secure the friendship of the Mohawks. Again, in 1684, Lord Howard, Governor of Virginia, met the sachems of the Onondagas and Cayugas in the Town Hall of Albany. These councils by the governors and agents of the colonies became almost annual affairs. The power of Colonel Peter Schuyler with the Iroquois at this day was deemed of the utmost importance by the crown. Perhaps no other man in our history exerted so great an influence over the course of events which shaped the destinies of our country. For he was a great man who lived and acted at a time when it was uncertain if French or English civilization, thoughts and customs would govern this continent. He and the chiefs who went with him to England were received with marks of distinction and unusual honor by Queen Anne.

The Hollanders were the first Europeans who were brought in contact with this people.

Before the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth Rock, they had made a settlement on the Hudson, where the capital of our State now stands. At that time, the most commercial people of the world, their ships visited every sea, and they were accustomed to deal with all forms of civilized and savage life. In pursuit of the fur trade they pushed their way up the stream of the Mohawk, and by their wisdom and prudence made relationship with the Indians along its banks, which was of the utmost importance in the future history of our country.

The influence which the Hollanders gained while they held the territories embraced in New York and New Jersey was exerted in behalf of the British Government, when the New Netherlands, as they were then called, were transferred to that power. In the long contest, running through a century, known as the French war, the Dutch settlers rendered important service to the British crown. The avenues and rivers which they had discovered penetrating the deep forest which overspread the country now became the routes by which the armies of France and England sought to seize and hold the strongholds of our land. The power which could hold Fort Stanwix, the present site of Rome, the carrying place between the Mohawk and the waters which flowed through Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, would control the great interior plains of this continent. If France could have gained a foothold in this valley, the whole region drained by the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi reaching from the Alleghenies to the Rocky Mountains, would have been her’s. Our history, usages, government and laws would have been changed.

He who will study European events for a hundred years before our revolution will be struck as to the uncertainties, as to the result. For a century the destinies of this continent vibrated with the uncertainties of the battle-fields of Europe. The crisis of our fate was during the reign of Louis the Great, when that ambitious and powerful monarch sought to extend his dominion over two continents. When Marlborough won victories at Blenheim, Ramilies and Malblaquet, or when Prince Eugene swept the French from Italy and crippled the power of France, they did more than they dreamed of. They fought for the purpose of adjusting the balance of the nations of Europe; they shaped the customs, laws and conditions of a continent. But the war was not confined to the Old World.

Standing upon the spot where we now meet we could have seen a long successien of military expeditions made up of painted warriors, of disciplined soldiers, led by brave, adventurous men, pushing their way through deep forest paths or following, with their light vessels and frail canoes, the current of the Mohawk. But arms were not the only power relied upon to gain control.

The missionaries of France, with a religious zeal which outstripped the traders greed for gold, or the soldiers love for glory, traversed this continent far in advance of war or commerce. Seeking rather than shunning martyrdom; they were bold, untiring in their efforts to bring over the savage tribes to the religion to which they were devoted, and to the government to which they were attached. Many suffered tortures and martyrdom, in the interior of our State, and on the banks of the Mohawk. There are not in the world’s history pages of more dramatic interest than those which tell of the efforts of diplomacy, the zeal of religion, or the heroism in arms of this great contest, waged so many years in the wilds of this country. If I could picture all the events that have happened here, they would invest this valley with unfading interest. Its hillsides, its plains, its streams are instinct with interest to the mind of him who knows the story of the past. It should be familiar in every household. But the grand procession of armies did not stop with the extinction of Indian tribes, or of French claims.

When the revolutionary contest began, the very structure of our country made the State of New York the centre of the struggle, and the valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk, the great avenues through which war swept in its desolating course. It was most destructive here, for it brought all the horrors of Indian warfare. It is said that there was not one home in all this region which did not suffer from the torch or the tomahawk. Fortunately it was inhabited by a brave, hardy and enduring race, trained to meet and overcome the hardships of life. The homes of their fathers had been destroyed in Europe by the armies of France. The Germans brought here by the British Government during the reign of Queen Anne were placed between the English settlements and the savage tribes, because, among other reasons, it was said that their trials and sufferings had fitted them to cope with all the dangers of border life.

When we have thus had passed in review before us the bands of painted savages, the missionary armed only with religious zeal, and shielded alone with the insignia of his sacred calling; the gallant armies of France and Britain; the hasty array of our Revolutionary fathers as they rallied in defence of their liberties, we have then only seen the forerunners of the greatest movement of the human race.

With our independence and the possession and the mastery of this great continent began a struggle unparalleled in the history of the world. Peaceful in its form, it has dwarfed in comparison the mightiest movements of war. Its influence upon the civilization of the people of the earth, has thrown into insignificance all that modern victories and invasions have done. During the past hundred years there has been a conflict between the nations of Europe on the one hand, and our broad land and political freedom on the other- It has been a contest for men and women—for those who could give us labor skill and strength. We count our captives by millions. Not prisoners of war, but prisoners of peace. Not torn by force, but won by the blessings which the God of nature has enabled us to hold out to them in our fertile hills and valleys and plains. What were the hordes of the Persians? What were the array of the crusaders? What the armies of earth’s greatest conquerors, in comparison with the march of the multitudes of immigrants from the Atlantic, States or from Europe who have moved through the valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk, the very gateways of our country seeking homes in the interior of our continent? Ours is a double victory, unlike war, which kills or enchains. It draws our opponents to our side, and makes them co-workers in building up our greatness and glory. As the men of every civilized race are pouring through our valley, we see before us the mightiest elements which are shaping the future of the human race.

What are all the problems of European diplomacy compared with these movements passing before us? All their recent wars, in the changes they have made are insignificant in comparison with the power we have gained by immigration alone. That procession of events, beginning with Indian warfare, and stretching through three centuries of battles for the possession, and the wars for the independence of our country, grows in importance and magnitude; and we see no end to its column as we look down into the dim future. The courses of the Mohawk and Hudson will ever be its greatest avenues. For here commerce pours its richest streams, and immigration leads its greatest armies. We are bewildered when we try to trace out the growth of the future. Each rolling year adds more than a million; each passing day more than three thousand; each fleeting hour more than one hundred to our numbers. The tide will swell still higher in the future.

I was once asked by a distinguished Englishman if we did not make a mistake when we severed our relationship from the British people? I told him that we were sometimes sorry that we let them go; that our mere increase in twenty-five years would exceed in numbers the population of Great Britain; that the British Isles would make glorious States of our Union; and that we needed them as outposts on the European shores. I was able to say this under the circumstances without violation of courtesy, and it was pleasantly received by a man whose mind was large enough not to take offense at the remark, which served to place the progress of our country in a strong light,

I have thus hastily sketched the interest which attaches to the whole course of the Mohawk Valley, with the view of throwing light upon the question which I put at the outset. Have we who live amid these scenes been true to ourselves, and true to our forefathers, by making this history an animating influence to promote the public welfare; to instill honorable pride in family circles, or quicken the minds with generous thoughts, which otherwise would have been dull and cold and sordid? The characters of men depend upon the current of thoughts which are passing through their minds. If these are ennobling, the man is constantly lifted up; it matters not what his condition may be in other respects.

If these are debasing, he will constantly sink in the scale of morals and intellect; it matters not what wealth or learning he may have. What men think not only in the hours study, but at all times and places, in the field, in the workshop, in the counting-room, makes their characters, their intelligence and their virtue. Men’s thoughts form and shape them. And those which relate to the past are most ennobling. For they are unstained by prejudice, and unweakened by sentiments which incline to detract from merits of living actors. We instinctively think and speak well of the dead. This of itself makes us better men. We can so learn the, histories of this valley, that its scenes shall recall them as clearly and as vividly as the pictures upon our walls. We can so stamp them upon our minds that its hills and plains and streams will be instinct with the actions of those who have gone before us that man has done himself a wrong who can look down upon the Mohawk; and not see the drifting along its current the savage, the missionary, or the soldier of the past. He who dwells upon its traditions; who can point out where men died in the struggles of war, where men suffered martyrdom for their faith—the spot where some bold stand was taken for the the rights of man and the liberties of country; he who feels the full import of the great movements of commerce and of men passing through this valley, certainly has an education that will always lift him up mentally and morally. You can not imagine a people living here with all these events stamped upon their minds, ever present to give food for thought and reflection, who will not be animated by a zeal for the public welfare, by generous impulses, by a self-sacrificing devotion for honor, for religion, for country. There is no teaching so powerful as that which comes invested with the forms of nature. It is that which reaches and tells upon the young and the old, the learned and the unlearned alike. Imagine two men living in this valley, both familiar with all its features, one well informed and the other ignorant of its events; then tell me if you believe that they can be alike in their moral natures or their value as citizens. In view of what I have thus said we can see why history is so potent. We can now see the wisdom, and the mercy too, of that command which tells us to honor our fathers and our mothers, though for many years and through many generations they have slept in their graves.

There are some reasons why the history of New York is not as well-known to the American people as that of other States. It has not excited the interest which justly attaches to it. The first settlers were Hollanders. When the Dutch made their settlement on this continent they were superior to other European nations, in learning, in arts, in commerce, and in just views of civil and religious liberty. Our country is indebted to them for many of the best principles of our goverment. But their language is no longer spoken here. In-comers from other States and nations exceed their descendants in numbers, and many of the traditions and events of its colonial period have been lost. This is true also of the German settlers in the valley of the Mohawk. The settlers who came into our State after the revolution, brought with them the ideas and sentiments of the places from which they came, and which, for a long time, have been cherished with more zeal than has been shown for the history of the State, where they have made their homes. These things created an indifference to the honor of New York. So far from preserving what relates to its past, in many instances old monuments have been destroyed, and names obliterated, which, if they had been preserved, would have recalled to men’s minds the most important incidents in the progress of our country. Nothing could have been more unfortunate than the acts which changed the name of Fort Stanwix to that of Rome, and that of Fort Schuyler to Utica. The old names would have suggested the circumstances of the French and Revolutionary wars. Of themselves they would have educated our people, and would have turned their attention to facts which they ought to know, but which have been thrown into the shade by terms which mislead. The existing designations, with their absurd and incongruous associations, divert the mind from these honorable memories.

The time has come when the people of New York owe it to themselves and to their country to bring forward their records, to incite a just measure of State pride, and to elevate our standard of public and private virtue by the influence of our grand history.

This should be taught in our schools, discussed, in our journals and made the subject of public lectures and addresses. Monuments should be put up to mark the spots where battles were fought and victories won, which have shaped the destinies of our country. When this is done, our own citizens, and the multitudes who traverse our valley, will see that within its limits all forms of warfare—that of Indian barbarism, disciplined armies, and of naval power have occurred within its boundaries. These prove the truth of the remark of General Scott, “that the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson has ever been the strategic point in all the wars in which our country has been engaged with foreign powers.

This work of making the details of our history known and felt by our people should begin in the heart of our State, in the valley of the Mohawk. Associations should be formed to preserve records and traditions that will otherwise be lost. Its old churches, which date back to the existence of our government, should be held sacred. The minor incidents of personal adventure, of individual heroism, should be preserved, for these show the character of the men and times in which they occur.

In no other quarter were the rights of the people asserted against the crown more clearly, or at an earlier day. It is not certain if the blood shed in the Revolution commenced at the battle of Lexington, or when the sturdy Germans were beaten down and wounded while defending their liberty pole against Sir John Johnson and his party.

I have refrained from want of time from presenting many facts and incidents which would give more interest to my address than the general statements I have made. Mr. Simms, to whom we are deeply indebted for long-continued and zealous researches into the history of this valley, has frequently given to the public sketches and narratives of great value. I trust the time has come when he and others who have labored in the same direction, will receive the sympathy and applause to which they are entitled.

Shall this centennial year be made the occasion for organizing societies in this valley, with a view, among other things, to the erection of monuments at different points along the Mohawk? I do not urge this as a mere matter of sentiment, but because I believe they will promote material welfare as well as mental activity and moral elevation. For these are ever found in close relationship. This whole region is marked for its fertility. It abounds with the material for varied industry, and is filled with streams with abundant power to drive all forms of machinery. It is in the heart of a great State, close by the leading markets of our country, and with cheap transportation to those of the world. Many millions in search of homes and for places to pursue their varied industry have passed by all these. I believe if we had shown the same pride in our State that has been exhibited elsewhere; if the minds of our people had been quickened, and their patriotism kept bright and burning by the examples of our fathers, that the Mohawk valley today would show a larger measure of power and prosperity than now blesses it. These things make a system of education, in some respects more active and pervading than that of books and schools. Subtle in their influences, they are not easily described, but they are felt and seen in all the aspects of society. Many years ago Congress made a grant to put up a monument over the grave of Herkimer. Attempts have been made to have the Legislature of our own State to mark in some suitable way the battle field of Oriskany. At the last session of the Legislature, the senator from Otsego and other members of that body made efforts to have something done in these directions. For one, I am grateful to them for their patriotism and the interest they have shown in these subjects. They did their duty when we neglected ours. And yet I rejoice in their failure. This pious work should be done by the people of this valley. They should not wait for strangers to come in to honor their fathers. There would be little value in monuments put up by mere legislative action, and at the cost of the State or national treasury. We want on the part of the people the patriotism which prompts, the intelligence which directs, the liberality which constructs such memorials. We want the inspiring influence which springs from the very efforts to honor the characters of those who have gone before us.

We want that which will not only remind us of the glorious acts of the past, but which will incite them in the future. Will the descendants of the Hollanders in the county of Schenectady be indifferent to this subject? Are the men of German descent, living in Montgomery and Herkimer, willing to have the services and sacrifices of their fathers pass into oblivion? Does no honorable pride move them to let our countrymen know that their homes suffered beyond all others, through the Indian wars and revolutionary struggles? Will they not try to keep alive in the minds of their countrymen the fact that the battle of Oriskany, which was the first check given to the British power in the campaign of Burgoyne, was fought by their ancestors and that its shouts and war-cries were uttered in the German language? Have they less public spirit than the Germans who have lately come to our country, and who have put up a monument to Baron Steuben? By doing so they honored one whose relationships to them were comparatively remote. Is it not true that men born in the valley of the Mohawk neglect the graves of their fathers, and forget the battle fields which have been made wet with the blood of those of their own lineage? The county of Oneida bears the name of one of the conquering tribes of the Iroquois. Upon the banks of the upper Mohawk, which flows through its territory, stood Fort Stanwix and Fort Schuyler. The former was for a hundred years during the wars between France and England, and at the time of our national independence, one of the most important military positions in our country. Near by was fought the battle of Oriskany, which was a part of the contest at Saratoga which won our national independence.

It was my purpose to give more value to this address, and to fortify its positions by presenting many incidents of a nature to interest and convince. But my health has not allowed me to refer to the proper books and documents for this purpose. I have therefore been compelled to speak more in general terms than I intended . What I have said is also weakened by the fact that I have not been able to take up and follow out my subject continuously and with clearness.

In particular, I wished to speak at some length of Fort Stanwix, Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer, but I am unable to do so. Much also could be said about the old church at German Flats. Built before the revolution, for the Germans of the Palatinates, it has associations with the great political and religious struggles of Europe and America. Standing upon the site of a fort still more ancient, for it was built at an early period of the French war, it was for a long time the outpost of the British power on this continent. It has been the scene of Indian warfare; of sudden and secret attack by stealthy savages; of sudden forays which swept away the crops and cattle of feeble settlements; of assaults by the French; of personal conflicts which mark contests on the outskirts of civilization. It was the stronghold of our fathers during the revolution. The missionary and the fur trader more than three hundred years ago floated by its position in bark canoes, and in these later days millions of men and women from our own country and from foreign lands, on canals or railroads, have passed by on their way to build up great cities and States in the hear t of our continent. There is no spot where the historian can place himself with more advantage when he wishes to review in his mind the progress of our country to greatness, than the Old Church at German Flats. Looking from this point his perspectives will be just; all facts will take their due proportions; local prejudices will not discolor his views, and he will be less liable here than elsewhere in falling into the common error of giving undue prominence to some events, while overlooking the full significance of others more important. I hope the subjects of local histories will be taken up by our fellow citizens of this region, and the facts relating to them brought out and made familiar to us all.

I said at the outset that I did not come here to-day merely to appeal to your imaginations, or only to take part in a holiday affair. I come to speak upon subjects which I deem of practical importance to my hearers. If I have succeeded in making myself understood, I am sure, if you will look into these subjects you will find that all history, all jurisprudence, all just reasonings, force us to the conclusion that not only does a Divine command, but that reason and justice call upon us to honor our ancestors, and that there is a great practical truth which concerns the welfare, the prosperity, and the power of all communities in the words, “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

See also: 
The History and Events that Led to the Founding of the United States by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)
American Republic2

OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)

George_William_CurtisOUR NOBLE HERITAGE! An Oration by the Honorable George William Curtis, Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Northfield, Staten Island, New York, July 4th, 1876

Mr. President, Fellow-citizens, Neighbors, And Friends:— On the 19th of April, 1775, when Samuel Adams well called the father of the Revolution, heard the first shots of the British upon Lexington Green, he knew that war had at last begun, and full of enthusiasm, of hope, of trust in America, he exclaimed with rapture, “Oh? what a glorious morning.” And there is no fellow-citizen of ours, wherever he may be to-day—whether sailing the remotest seas or wandering among the highest Alps, however far removed, however long separated from his home, who, as his eyes open upon this glorious morning, does not repeat with the same fervor the words of Samuel Adams, and thank God with all his heart, that he too is an American. In imagination he sees infinitely multiplied the very scene that we behold. From every roof and gable, from every door and window of all the myriads of happy American homes from the seaboard to the mountains, and from the mountains still onward to the sea, the splendor of this summer heaven is reflected in the starry beauty of the American flag. From every steeple and tower in crowded cities and towns, from the village belfry, and the school-house and meeting-house on solitary country roads, ring out the joyous peals. From countless thousands of reverend lips ascends the voice of prayer. Everywhere the inspiring words of the great Declaration that we have heard, the charter of our Independence, the scripture of our liberty, is read aloud in eager, in grateful ears. And above all, and under all, pulsing through all the praise and prayer, from the frozen sea to the tropic gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the great heart of a great people beats in fullness of joy, beats with pious exultation, that here at last, upon our soil—here, by the wisdom of our fathers and the bravery of our brothers, is founded a Republic, vast, fraternal, peaceful, upon the divine corner- stone of liberty, justice and equal rights.

There have indeed been other republics, but they were founded upon other principles. There are republics in Switzerland to-day a thousand years old. But Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden are pure democracies not larger than the county in which we live, and wholly unlike our vast, national and representative republic. Athens was a republic, but Marathon and Salamis, battles whose names are melodious in the history of liberty, were won by slaves. Rome was a republic, but slavery degraded it to an empire. Venice, Genoa, Florence, were republican cities, but they were tyrants over subject neighbors, and slaves of aristocrats at home. There were republics in Holland, honorable forever, because from them we received our common schools, the bulwark of American liberty, but they too were republics of classes, not of the people. It was reserved for our fathers to build a republic upon a declaration of the equal rights of men; to make the Government as broad as humanity; to found political institutions upon faith in human nature. “Tho sacred rights of mankind,” fervently exclaimed Alexander Hamilton, “are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records; they are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself.” That was the sublime faith in which this century began. The world stared and sneered —the difficulties and dangers were colossal. For more than eighty years that Declaration remained only a Declaration of faith. But, fellow-citizens, fortunate beyond all men, our eyes behold its increasing fulfillment. The sublime faith of the fathers is more and more the familiar fact of the children. And the proud flag which floats over America to-day, as it is the bond of indissoluble union, so it is tho seal of ever enlarging equality, and ever surer justice. Could the men of that earlier day, could Samuel Adams and all his associates have lived through this amazing century to see this glorious morning, as they counted these teeming’ and expanding States, as they watched the advance of republican empire from the Alleghenies through a country of golden plenty, passing the snowy Sierras and descending to the western sea of peace, as they saw the little spark of political liberty which they painfully struck, blown by the eager breath of a century into a flame which aspires to heaven and illuminates the earth, they would bow their reverend heads at this moment, as Adams and Jefferson bowed theirs fifty years ago to-day; and the happy burden of their hearts would tremble from their expiring lips, “Now, oh Lord, let thy servants depart in peace, for their eyes have seen thy salvation.

BAmerican Republicut we have learned, by sharp experience, that prosperity is girt with peril. In this hour of exultation we will not scorn the wise voices of warning and censure, the friendly and patriotic voices of the time. We will not forget that the vital condition of national greatness and prosperity is the moral character of the people. It is not vast territory, a temperate climate, exhaustless mines, enormous wealth, amazing inventions, imperial enterprises, magnificent public works, a population miraculously multiplied ; it is not busy shops and humming mills, and flaming forges, and commerce that girdles the globe with the glory of a flag, that makes a nation truly great. These are but opportunities. They are like the health and strength and talents of a man, which are not his character and manhood, but only the means of their development. The test of our national greatness is the use we make of our opportunities. If they breed extravagance, wild riot and license—if they make fraud plausible and corruption easy—if they confuse private morality, and debauch the public conscience, beware, beware! for all our prosperity is then but a Belshazzar’s feast of splendor, and while we sit drunken with wine and crowned with flowers, the walls of our stately palace are flaming and crackling with the terrible words of our doom.

But with all faults confessed, and concessions made, with all dangers acknowledged and difficulties measured, I think we may truly say that, upon the whole, we have used our opportunities well. The commanding political fact of the century that ends to-day, is the transcendent force and the recuperative power of republican institutions. Neither the siren of prosperity, nor the red fury of civil war, has been able to destroy our Government or to weaken our faith in the principles upon which it is founded. We have been proud, and reckless, and defiant; we have sinned, and have justly suffered, but I say, in your hearing, as, had I the voice, I would say in the hearing of the world to-day, . that out of the fiery furnace of our afflictions, America emerges at this moment greater, better, truer, nobler, than ever in its history before.

I do not forget how much is due to the political genius of the race from which we are so largely sprung. Nine-tenths of the revolutionary population of the country was of English stock. The Declaration of Independence was a fruit of Magna Charta, and Magna Charta grew from seed planted before history in the German forest. Our friend, the historian of the island, in the interesting sketch of this town that he read us, tells us that Northfield was the most patriotic town in the county during the Revolution, and that the original settlers were, in great part, of German stock. The two facts naturally go together. The instinct of individual liberty and independence is the germ of the political development of that race from which also our fathers sprung. They came from England to plant, as they believed, a purer England. Their new England was to be a true England. At last they took arms reluctantly to defend England against herself, to maintain the principles and traditions of English liberty. The farmers of Bunker Hill were the Barons of Runnymede in a later day, and the victory at Yorktown was not the seal of a revolution so much as the pledge of continuing English progress. This day dawns upon a common perception of that truth on both sides of the ocean. In no generous heart on either shore lingers any trace of jealousy or hostility. It is a day of peace, of joy, of friendship. Here above my head, and in your presence, side by side with our own flag, hangs the tri-color of France, our earliest friend, and the famous cross of England, our ally in civilization. May our rivalry in all true progress be as inspiring as our kinship is close! In the history of the century, I claim that we have done our share. In real service to humanity, in the diffusion of intelligence, and the lightening of the burden of labor, in beneficent inventions—yes, in the education of the public conscience, and the growth of political morality, of which this very day sees the happy signs, I claim that the act of this day a hundred years ago is justified, and that we have done not less, as an Independent State, than our venerable mother England.

Think what the country was that hundred years ago. Today the State of which we are citizens contains a larger population than that of all the States of the Union when Washington was President . Yet, New York is now but one of thirty eight States, for to-day our youngest sister, Colorado, steps into the national family of the Union. The country of a century ago was our father’s small estate. That of to-day is our noble heritage. Fidelity to the spirit and principles of our fathers will enable us to deliver it enlarged, beautified, ennobled, to our children of the new century. Unwavering faith in the absolute supremacy of the moral law; the clear perception that well-considered, thoroughly-proved, and jealously-guarded institutions, are the chief security of liberty; and an unswerving loyalty to ideas, made the men of the Revolution, and secured American independence. The same faith and the same loyalty will preserve that independence and secure progressive liberty forever. And here and now, upon this sacred centennial altar, let us, at least, swear that we will try public and private men by precisely the same moral standard, and that no man who directly or indirectly connives at corruption or coercion to acquire office or to retain it, or who prostitutes any opportunity or position of public service to his own or another’s advantage, shall have our countenance or our vote.

The one thing that no man in this country is so poor that he cannot own is his vote; and not only is he bound to use it honestly, but intelligently. Good government does not come of itself; it is the result of the skillful co-operation of good and shrewd men. If they will not combine, bad men will; and if they sleep, the devil will sow tares. And as we pledge ourselves to our father’s fidelity, we may well believe that in this hushed hour of noon, their gracious spirits bend over us in benediction. In this sweet summer air, in the strong breath of the ocean that beats upon our southern shore; in the cool winds that blow over the Island from the northern hills; in these young faces and the songs of liberty that murmur from their lips; in the electric sympathy that binds all our hearts with each other, and with those of our brothers and sisters throughout the land, lifting our beloved country as a sacrifice to God, I see, I feel the presence of our fathers: the blithe heroism of Warren, and the unsullied youth of Quincy: the fiery impulse of Otis and Patrick Henry: the serene wisdom of John Jay and the comprehensive grasp of Hamilton: the sturdy and invigorating force of John and of Samuel Adams—and at last, embracing them all, as our eyes .at this moment behold cloud and hill, and roof and tree, and field and river, blent in one perfect picture, so combining and subordinating all the great powers of his great associates, I feel the glory of the presence, I bend my head to the blessing of the ever-living, the immortal Washington.

Benediction by Rev. S. G. Smith, Delivered at the close of the Centennial Celebration, Northfield, Staten Island, New York, July 4th, 1876.

May the blessing of our father’s God now rest upon us. As in time past, so in time to come, may He guard and defend our land. May He crown the coming years with peace and prosperity. May He ever clothe our rulers with righteousness, and give us a future characterized by purity of life and integrity of purpose. May He everywhere shed forth the benign influence of His spirit, and to the present and coming generations vouchsafe the inspiring hopes of His gospel, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

See also: The History and Events that Led to the Founding of the United States by Courtlandt Parker 1876
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 Part 1
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
Non Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of Jesus Christ by Johannes von Müller 1832
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Divine Heredity