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 ILIAD OF PATRIOTISM by James G. M. Ramsey of the Tenn. Historical Society

James-gettys-mccready-ramsey-tn1The History and Role of Tennessee in the Revolutionary War:

THE ILIAD OF PATRIOTISM An Address By Hon. James Gettys Mcgready Ramsey, M D., President Of The Tennessee Historical Society. Read By Rev. T. A. Hoyt, At The Centennial Celebration At Nashville, Tenn., July 4th, 1876.

Mr. President And Gentlemen Of The Historical Society, Ladies And Gentlemen:—It gives me pleasure to comply with the request of the Historical society and of its honored President, Dr. Ramsey, I hold in my hand his contribution to this centennial occasion. It merits your attention. Its author is the head of this honorable body, whose labors are directed to preserve the memorials of your past history. He is the historian of Tennessee: he is venerable for age, for wisdom, for virtue; he is at once a patriot, a saint, a sage. Standing on the verge of life, he speaks to us with the authority of an ancient oracle. Let ingenuous youth imbibe freely the influence of his example ; let them ponder well the lessons of his life.

He imparts those lessons here not in the vagueness of theories of virtue, but by citing signal instances of it. This narrative he would have stored in your memories, and reproduced in the elevation of your sentiments. It may be entitled, “the Iliad of Patriotism.

This is the centennial year—the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of American Independence.

The question naturally arises, what part did Tennessee perform in gaining that independence? She was not one of the thirteen colonies; there were but two or three small white settlements within her borders.

He relates the struggles of the early settlers with the Indians; the steady growth of the infant colony; the formation of the two counties; their voluntary annexation to North Carolina, and then proceeds to recount as follows their prowess and fortunes in the Revolutionary war:

After the signal repulse of Sir Peter Parker from Charleston in 1776, the Southern States had a respite from British attack and invasion. The conquest of the States was thereafter attempted from the North to the South. The war continued ta rage with varied success. But in 1778 the order of invasion from this time was inverted, and his Majesty’s arms were directed against the most Southern States. On the 29th of December, Savannah, the capital of Georgia, was taken, and soon after British posts were established as far into the interior as Augusta. Gen. Lincoln, then the commandant of the Southern department, sent a detachment of fifteen hundred North Carolina militia under Gen. Ashe, to oblige the enemy to evacuate the upper part of Georgia. The detachment was surprised by Gen. Provost and entirely defeated. The Southern army was nearly broken up. The quiet possession of Georgia by the enemy brought to their aid many of the Indians and of the loyalists, who had fled from the Carolinas and Georgia and taken refuge among them. These were now emboldened to collect from all quarters and under cover of Provost’s army. It became evident that all that was wanting to complete British ascendency in the South, was the possession of Charleston. Should that metropolis, and the army that defended it, be captured, the reduction of the whole State, and probably North Carolina also, would ensue. An immense army with a large supply of ammunition invested Charleston. The defense was protracted, under every discouragement and disadvantage, from the 27th of March to the 12th of May, when Gen. Lincoln found himself obliged to capitulate. The fall of the metropolis was soon after succeeded by the rapid conquest of the interior country, and from the sea west to the mountains, the progress of the enemy was almost wholly an uninterrupted triumph. The inhabitants generally submitted, and were either paroled as prisoners, or took protection as British subjects. A few brave and patriotic men under gallant and indomitable leaders remained in arms, but were surprised and cut to pieces by Tarleton and Webster, or, for security from their pursuit, withdrew into North Carolina. The march of the enemy was continued toward the populous Whig settlements, and garrisons were established at prominent points of the country, with the view of pushing their conquests still further into the interior. In fine, South Carolina was considered a subdued British province rather than an American State.

revwarBut in the midst of the general submission of the inhabitants, there remained a few unconquerable spirits whom nothing but death could quell. These were Sumter, Marion and Williams in South Carolina, and Clark and Twiggs in Georgia. Some of these retired, with an inconsiderable number of men, into North Carolina, some of whom crossed the mountains and imparted to the Western settlers the first intelligence that had reached Watuga of the conquest and atrocities of the enemy. The frontiersmen had left parents and kindred and countrymen east of the Alleghenies, and their hearts yearned for their safety and deliverance. The homes of their youth were pillaged by the foreign soldiery, and the friends they loved were slain or driven into exile. Above all, the great cause of American freedom and independence was in danger, the country was invaded by a powerful foe, and the exigencies of Carolina called aloud for every absent son to return to her rescue and defence. The call was promptly obeyed, and the mountain men—the pioneers of Tennessee—were the first to resist the invaders of the South, and restrained not from the pursuit of the vanquished enemy till they reached the coast of the Atlantic.

1780.—Heretofore the military services of the Western soldiery had been limited to the defense and protection of their secluded homes in the wilderness, and to the invasion of the country of the hostile Cherokee and Shawnee Indian tribes. The riflemen from the backwoods had never seen a British soldier or met the discipline and skill of a foreign enemy. It remained to be demonstrated whether the success which had ever attended their encounters with the savage foe, would continue to crown their military operations with a civilized enemy, and upon the new theater now opening up before them where an opportunity occurred for the solution of the question.

1780.—Gen. Rutherford, of North Carolina, issued a requisition for the militia of that State to embody for the defense of their sister State. That order reached Watauga, and the following proceedings were immediately had in that patriotic and gallant community. They are copied from the original manuscript, almost illegible from the ravages of time and exposure, though still showing plainly the bold and characteristic chirography of Col. Sevier and the commissioned officers under him. There is no preamble, no circumlocution—nothing but action, prompt and decisive action, and the name of the actors. “At a meeting of sundry of the militia officers of Washington county, this 19th day of March, 1780, present John Sevier, colonel; Jonathan Tipton, major; Joseph Wilson, John M. Webb, Godfrey Isbell, William Trimble, James Stinson, Robert Sevier, captains; and Landon Carter, lieutenant in the absence of Valentine Sevier, captain.”

A similar requisition was made upon Isaac Shelby, the colonel of Sullivan county. He was then absent in Kentucky when the dispatch reached him June 16. He immediately returned home. His appeal to the chivalry of Sullivan county was met by a hearty response, and early in July he found himself at the head of two hundred mounted riflemen, whom he rapidly led to the camp of McDowell, near the Cherokee ford of Broad River in South Carolina. Col. Charles McDowell had, in the absence of Gen. Rutherford taken prisoner at Camden, succeeded that officer in command when he had forwarded to Sevier and Shelby a dispatch informing those officers of the capitulation of Charleston, and the capture of the whole Southern army, and that the enemy had overrun South Carolina and Georgia and was rapidly approaching the limits of North Carolina; and requesting them to bring to his aid all the riflemen that could be raised, and in as short time as possible. Sevier had already enrolled under the requisition of Gen. Rutherford one hundred of the militia of Washington county. At his call one hundred others immediately volunteered, and with these two hundred mounted riflemen he started at once across the mountain for the camp of McDowell, where he arrived a few days before the arrival of Shelby. Col. Clarke, of Georgia, with a command of refugee Whigs was at the same time at McDowell’s headquarters.

In the meantime the British army had taken post at NinetySix, Camden and Cheraw. At the former place Col. Nesbit Balfour, commandant, issued his proclamation, in which he gave notice “That every inhabitant of this Province who is not at his own house by the 24th instant, is hereby declared an outlaw, and is to be treated accordingly, and his property, of whatever kind, confiscated and liable to military execution.” This was a phase of tyranny and military usurpation at which the plain common sense of justice of the volunteer riflemen revolted. They had learned also in their conference with the refugee Whigs under Clark, something of the atrocious cruelties practiced by the Tories and their British leaders.

Lord Cornwallis, meeting with little obstruction in his victorious march, contemplated an extension of his conquest through North Carolina. He had instructed the loyalists of that State not to rise until his approach to its southern boundary would favor their concentration with his forces and at the same time intimidate the Whigs. As he approached Camden, Col. Patrick Moore appeared at the head of a large body of disaffected Americans, and erecting the royal standard, invited to it all the loyalists in that section. The rapid successes of the enemy and his near approach greatly encouraged the rising of the Tories, and Colonel Moore, after an uninterrupted march, took post in a strong fort built by Gen. Williamson four years before, during the Cherokee war. It was surrounded by a strong abattis and was otherwise well provided with defenses.

Such was the position of affairs when the Western riflemen arrived, as has been seen, at the camp of McDowell. They were, at their own request, immediately detached against Moore. His post was more than twenty miles distant The riflemen took up the line of march at sunset,, and at the dawn of day next morning surrounded the fort. Shelby sent in one of his men and made a peremptory demand of the surrender of the Fort. To this Moore replied that he would defend it to the last extremity. This suited exactly the mettle of the assailants and their lines were immediately drawn in, within musket-shot of the enemy all round, with a determination to make an assault upon the fort.

But before proceeding to extremities, a second message was sent in. To this Moore replied that he would surrender on condition that the garrison be paroled not to serve again during the war. The assailants were as humane as they were brave, and to save the effusion of the blood of the deluded loyalists, the terms were agreed to. The fort was surrendered. Ninety-three loyalists and one British Sergeant-Major were in the garrison, with two hundred and fifty stand of arms, all loaded with ball and buck-shot, and so disposed of at the port holes that double the number of the “Whigs might have been easily repulsed.

This bold and unexpected incursion of the mountain men, together with the capture of the garrison under Col. Moore, induced Lord Cornwallis to detach from his main army some enterprising officers, with a small command, to penetrate through the country, embody the loyalists and take possession of the strongest posts in the interior. This had become the more necessary as the advance of the American army under DeKalb, and afterward under Gates, began to inspirit the desponding Whigs, and at the same time restrained the vigorous co-operation of the Tories with the British troops . Measures were therefore adopted to embody and discipline the zealous loyalists, and for this purpose Col. Ferguson, an active and intelligent officer, possessing peculiar qualifications for attaching to him the marksmen of Ninety-six, was dispatched in that district. “To a corps of one hundred picked regulars he soon succeeded in attaching twelve or thirteen hundred hardy natives. This camp became the rendezvous of the desperate, the idle and the vindictive, as well as the youth of the loyalists, whose zeal or ambition prompted them to military service.”

revAstonished by the bold and unexpected incursion of the western volunteer riflemen under Shelby and Sevier, and apprehending that the contagion of the example and their presence might encourage the Whigs of Carolina to resume their arms, Ferguson and the loyalists took measures to secure the allegiance of the inhabitants by written agreements entered into and signed by disaffected American officers in the military service. By such and other means were the resident Whigs dispirited and the ranks of the British and Tories hourly enlarged.

As he advanced, Ferguson, increased his command till it amounted to above two thousand men, in addition to a small squadron of horse. To watch their movements and if possible to cut off their foraging parties, CoL McDowell soon after the surprise and capture of Col. Moore, detached Col. Shelby and Clarke with six hundred mounted riflemen. Several attempts were made by Ferguson to surprise this party, but, in every instance his designs were baffled. However, on the first of August 1780, his advance of six or seven hundred men came up with the American party under Shelby and Clarke at a place called Cedar Spring, where they had chosen to fight them. A sharp conflict of half an hour ensued, when Ferguson came up with his whole force and the Americans withdrew, carrying off with them from the field of battle twenty prisoners and two British officers. The killed of the enemy was not ascertained. The American loss was ten or twelve killed and wounded. Receiving information that a party of four or five hundred Tories were encamped at Musgrove’s Mills, on the South side of Enoree River, about forty miles from his camp, McDowell again detached Shelby and Clarke, together with Col. Williams who had joined his command, to surprise and disperse them. Ferguson lay, with his whole force at that time, exactly between. The detachment amounted to six hundred horsemen. These took up their line of march just before sundown, on the evening of the 18th of August. They went through the woods until dark, and then took a road leaving Ferguson’s camp some three or four miles to the left. They rode very hard all night, and at the dawn of day, about half a mile from the enemy’s camp, w ere met by a strong patrol party. A short skirmish followed, when the enemy retreated. At that moment a countryman living close at hand, came up and informed the party that the enemy had been reinforced the evening before with six hundred regular troops, under Col. Ennes, which were destined to join Ferguson’s army. The circumstances of this information were so minute that no doubt could be entertained of its truth. For six hundred men, fatigued by a night ride of forty miles, to march and attack the enemy thus reinforced, seemed rash and improper. ,

To attempt an escape by a rapid retreat, broken down as were both men and horses, as equally hopeless, if not impossible. The heroic determination was, therefore, instantly formed to make the best defence they could under the existing circumstances . A rude and hasty breastwork of brush and old logs was immediately constructed. Capt. Inman was sent forward with about twenty-five men to meet the enemy and skirmish with them as soon as they crossed the Enoree. The sound of their drums and bugles soon announced their movements, and induced the belief that they had cavalry. Inman was ordered to fire upon them, and retreat according to his own discretion. This stratagem drew the enemy forward in disorder, as they believed they had driven the whole party. When they came up within seventy yards a most destructive fire from the riflemen, who lay concealed behind their breastwork of logs, commenced. It was one whole hour before the enemy could force the Americans from their slender defence, and just as they began to give way in some points, the British commander, Colonel Ennes, was wounded.

All his subaltans [i.e. subordinates], except one, being previously killed or wounded, and Captain Hawsey, the leader of the loyalists on the left, being shot down, the whole of the enemy’s line began to yield . The riflemen pursued them close and drove them across the river. In this pursuit the gallant Inman was killed, bravely fighting the enemy, hand to hand. In this action Col. Shelby commanded the right, Col. Clarke the left, and Col. Williams the centre.

The battle lasted one hour and a half. The Americans lay so closely behind their little breastwork, that the enemy entirely overshot them, killing only six or seven, amongst whom the loss of the brave Captain Inman was particularly regretted. His stratagem of engaging and skirmishing with the enemy until the riflemen had time to throw up a hasty breastwork—his gallant conduct during the action and his desperate charge upon their retreat—contributed much to the victory. He died at the moment it was won. The number of the enemy killed and wounded was considerable. The Tories were the first to escape. Of the British regulars, under Col. Ennes who fought bravely to the last and prolonged the conflict, even against hope, above two hundred were taken prisoners.

The Americans returned immediately to their horses and mounted with the determination to be in Ninety-Six before night. This was a British post less than thirty miles distant, and not far from the residence of Col. Williams, one of the commanders. It was considered best to push their successes into the disaffected regions, before time would allow reinforcements to reach them. Besides by marching their scant expedition in the direction of Ninety-Six, they would avoid Ferguson’s army, near whose encampment they would necessarily have to pans on their return to McDowell’s headquarters, at Smith’s Ford. At the moment of starting an express from McDowell, rode up in great haste with a short letter in his hand from Gov. Casswell, dated on the battle ground, apprising McDowell of the defeat of the American grand army under Gates, on the sixteenth, near Camden, advising him to get out of the way, as the enemy would no doubt endeavor to improve their victory to the greatest advantage, by cutting up all the small corps of the American armies. The men and the horses were fatigued by the rapid march of the night as well as by the severe conflict of the morning. They were now encumbered with more than two hundred British prisoners and the spoils of victory. Besides these difficulties now surrounding the American party, there was an another that made extrication from them dangerous, if not impossible. A numerous army under an enterprising leader lay in their rear, and there was every reason to believe that Ferguson would have received intelligence of the daring incursion of the riflemen and of the defeat of his friends at the Enoree. The delay of an hour might have proved disastrous to the victors, the prisoners were immediately distributed among the companies, so as to have one to every three men, who carried them alternately on horseback. They rode directly towards the mountains, and continued the march all that day and night and the succeeding day, until late in the evening, without ever stopping to refresh. This long and rapid march—retreat it can hardly be called, as the retiring troops bore with them the fruits of a well-earned victory—saved the Americans, for, as was afterwards ascertained, they were pursued closely until late in the evening of the second day after the action by Maj. Dupoister and a strong body of mounted men from Ferguson’s army. These became so broken down by excessive fatigue in hot weather, that they despaired of overtaking the Americans, and abandoned the pursuit.

Shelby, having seen the party and its prisoners beyond the reach of danger, retired across the mountains, lie left the prisoners with Clarke and Williams to be carried to some place of safety to the North, for it was not known then that there was even the appearance of a corps of Americans anywhere south of the Potomac. So great was the panic after the defeat of Gen. Gates at Camden, and the subsequent disaster of Sumter, that McDowell’s whole army broke up. He, with several hundred of his followers, yielding to the cruel necessity of the unfortunate circumstances which involved the country, retired across the mountains, and scattered themselves among the hospitable settlers in the securer retreats of Nolichucky and Watauga.

1780.—At this period a deep gloom hung over the cause of American Independence, and the confidence of its most steadfast friends was shaken. The reduction of Savannah, the capitulation at Charleston and the loss of the entire army under Gen. Lincoln, had depressed the hopes of the patriot Whigs, and the subsequent career of British conquest and subjugation of Georgia and South Carolina, excited serious apprehension and alarm for the eventual success of the American cause. At the urgent appeal of the patriotic Gov. Rutledge, Virginia had sent forward reinforcements under Col. Buford. His command was defeated and his men butchered by the sabres of Tarleton. At Camden a second Southern army commanded by Gen. Gates, was dispersed, captured and signally defeated by Cornwallis.

But besides these general disasters, there were other circumstances that aggravated this discouraging condition of American affairs. The finances of Congress were low ; the treasuries of the States were exhausted and their credit entirely lost; a general financial distress pervaded the country; subsistence and clothing for the famishing and ill-clad troops were to be procured only by impressment; and the inability of the Government from the want of means to carry on the war, was openly admitted.

RevolutionBritish posts were established and garrisons kept up at numerous points in the very heart of the Southern country, and detachments from the main British army were with profane impudence rioting through the land in an uninterrupted career of outrage, aggression and conquest. Under the protection of these, the Tories were encouraged to rise against their Whig countrymen, to depredate upon their property, insult their families, seek their lives and drive them into exile upon the Western wastes. This was the general condition of American affairs in the South immediately after the defeat near Camden. Gen. Gates, endeavoring to collect together the shattered fragments of his routed army, made a short halt at Charlotte. He afterwards fell back further, and made his headquarters at Hillsborough.

Lord Cornwallis, on the 8th of September, marched towards North Carolina, and as he passed through the most hostile and populous Whig districts he sent Tarleton and Ferguson to scour the country to his right and left. Arrived at Charlotte, and considering it to be a favorable situation for further advances, his lordship made preparation for establishing a post at that place. While he was thus engaged, the commanders of his detachments were proceeding in their respective expeditions. That of Col. Ferguson, as has been already seen, was for several weeks on his left, watching the movements of McDowell, Sevier, Shelby, Williams and Clarke. His second in command, Dupoister, had followed the mountain men in close pursuit as they retired, after the victory at Enoree, to their mountain fastnesses.

Ferguson himself, with the main body of his army, followed close upon the heels of Dupoister, determined to retake the prisoners or support him if he should overtake and engage the escaping enemy. Finding that his efforts were fruitless, Ferguson took post at Gilbertown, near the present Rutherfordton, in North Carolina. From this place he sent a most threatening message, by a paroled prisoner, that if the officers west of the mountains did not lay down their opposition to the British arms he would march his army over, burn and lay waste their country and hang their leaders. “The pursuit by Ferguson of the retiring Americans brought him so far to the left as to seem to threaten the habitations of the hardy race that occupied and lived beyond the mountains. He was approaching the lair of the lion, for many of the families of the persecuted Whigs had been deposited in this asylum.”

The refugee Whigs received a hearty welcome from their hospitable but plain countrymen on Watauga and Nolichucky. The door of every cabin was thrown open and the strangers felt at once assured of kindness, sympathy and assistance. Among the neighbors of Sevier and Shelby the exiles from the Carolinas and Georgia were at home.

In this march of the riflemen to the sea we hear of no appropriation of private property, no incendiary-ism, no robbery, no insult to non-combatants. To the honor of the troops under Sevier and Shelby, their integrity was as little impeached as their valor. They came back to their distant homes enriched by no spoils, stained with no dishonor; enriched only by an imperishable fame, an undying renown, and an unquestionable claim to the admiration and gratitude of their countrymen and of posterity. The results of the campaigns of 1780 and 1781 sensibly affected the measures of the British Ministry, and rendered the American war unpopular in Great Britain, and on the 19th of April, 1783, peace was proclaimed in the American army by the Commander-in-chief, George Washington, precisely eight years from the first effusion of blood at Lexington. For more than that length of time the pioneers of Tennessee had been in incessant war. On the 10th of October, 1774, their youthful heroes, Shelby and Sevier, flashed their maiden swords at the battle of Keuhawa, and with little intermission thereafter were constantly engaged in guarding the settlements or attacking and invading the savage enemy. The gallant and patriotic participation of the mountain men in the Revolutionary struggle under the same men, now become leaders, has been just related. We embalm their memory and their heroic services; we bow down and do homage to their patriotism and to the majesty of their virtue. It is through them that on this centennial anniversary Tennessee claims an identity with the American Revolution and American independence. And to the Historical Society of our proud State, to the posterity of its pioneer soldiery and to their successors, I beg leave to add the injunction:

“Let no mean hope your souls enslave,
Be independent, generous, brave,
Your fathers such example gave
And such revere!”
See also: Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
THE TRIUMPHS OF THE REPUBLIC! by Hon. Theodore Bacon, New York 1876
History of the Battle of King’s Mountain and it’s Heroes: Part I 1765 to May, 1780
October 7, 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain

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)

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.

BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1The ideas of the American Republicanism of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America in the History of the World is essentially brand new. Never before in the history of mankind, nor in any other place on the globe has a government been founded on the principles of a government of the people, by the people been attempted. We are unique among nations and among civilizations in the history of mankind. When you hear politicians talk about the “failed policies of the past” they cannot be talking about the policies and principles on which these United States of America were founded. Since they cannot be talking about the policies and principles of our Founders then they must be talking about those that have so apparently failed in our present history.

See more about the failed policies of the past:
The Failure of Marxism and Socialism
Obama’s Nazi Youth Campaign Slogan “Forward”
The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini

Thomas_Gold_Alvord_IThe United States of America Jubilee An Oration By Hon. Thomas G. Alvord. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Syracuse, New York, July 4th 1876.

People Of The City Of Syracuse And County Of Onondaga.— We in common with every portion of our wide extended Union, have come together to recognize with suitable observance and commemoration the solemn act which one hundred years ago, gave form, shape and solidity to our government by declaring us a nation independent, self-reliant and free.

In the performance of this duty we might relate the political history of the unwise legislation, the oppressive execution of tyrannical laws, the coercive power of irresponsible government which compelled our fathers first to passive, next to armed resistance, and finally culminated in a severance of our political dependence on the mother country, and gave to us that Declaration of Independence whose one hundreth anniversary we have met to honor. We might rehearse the names and virtues of the patriots of the revolution in the forum and in the field, the courage, endurance and trials of those who participated in that protracted and bloody controversy which ended in making our Declaration of Independence a perfect deed, indefeasible, guaranteeing forever to those worthy to enjoy it, the rich inheritance of a free government. We might portray the battle fields of the past, brightening the dark gloom of defeat with the view of unflinching courage, indomitable endurance and an undying determination to struggle ever for success, and we might paint victory as it perched on the banner of our fathers with that halo of glory which time has not dimmed, neither will history forget the undying results of which, which in the final triumph (as we use them) may and we trust will endure for the benefit of all mankind, until the last trump shall summons the inhabitants of earth to another world, and this habitation of ours shall pass away forever. We might content ourselves with a plain and simple historical relation of all the events which clustered around, mingled with and made up the panorama of our revolutionary struggle, the intelligence of our people alive to all the minutiae of event, individuality and result of that memorable period, would lend a glow, kindle an ardor and inspire a joy palpable and demonstrative, making bare recital radiant, with all the fire of enthusiasm celebrating with mental and physical rejoicings, the dry record alone.

One of the marked features of this year is to be a full historical record of each town, city and county of the Union, embracing the geographical, municipal and personal history of each; of course more prominently relating of its earlier history, its marked and distinguished men and women—its pre-eminence or prominence in any direction of art, science, intellectual advantages or natural specialty; all these locally preserved in appropriate depositories, are to be duplicated and gathered in one mass at the seat of the general government to be an illuminated column upon which will be inscribed, “the one hundredth mile of our nation’s progress in the race of peoples toward the ultimate goal of humanity.”

The duty of performing our portion of that work has also been imposed upon me, but with the consent and approbation of your Committee, I have deemed best to postpone to another period the historical recital contemplated, and you must be content with my wearying you with an oration rather than history on the present occasion.

I am impressed with the belief that it would be better to treat the subject before us very briefly, but also in a manner different from the common acceptation of the necessities of a Fourth day of July celebration. I would not have us to lack in all or any of the essential demonstrations of a joyful acknowledgment of its great significance, and a ringing acceptation of its glorious results, but let us endeavor by a calm and conscientious consideration of our government and ourselves to learn more and better what there is for us to do, to preserve and keep alive all the benefits and advantages we have derived from the past, transmitting those great blessing undiminished to our immediate successors, aye, not alone to them but also how best we may by precept and example, pave the way to an indefinite prolongation and increased enjoyment, to the latest time of the legitimate results of the solved problem of our national declaration.

We are one hundred years old to-day; true that the mental strife of contention against and antagonism to aggression commenced earlier, true that organized and bloody opposition, antedated this day—April 19, 1775, and Lexington physically declared as July 4th, 1776, politically decreed the independence and freedom of America.

I repeat, we as a distinct people and nation are one hundred years old to-day, we have only to recollect for a moment to find however that while we are jubilant and rejoicing, that our eyes behold this day, yet in the light of the history of the nations of the world, our nation is an infant brought up in a school of our own, and setting forth to find our way among the nations of the earth in a new and untried pathway ; the peculiar and particular form of government which we enjoy, is in every essential particular now on trial for the first time; it is true, that theoretical republicanism, attempts at freedom have existed, but never in all human history has there been any other government so completely the government of the whole people such as ours.

Kingdoms, principalities and powers enduring for centuries have risen, flourished and fallen into decay ; governments to-day powerful and great in territorial extent, in wealth and physical power, have their record of birth in the “Dark Ages”—but we with a breadth of country surpassed by none—with a population in numbers exceeded by few, with an intellectual wealth as diffused and distributed among the masses enjoyed by no other people—with a physical power fearing no foe—we are but of yesterday.

The vivid memories of many still active and alive to the work of the day, reach back almost to the very beginning of our Republic, and here and there on our soil, men and women yet linger whose infant eyes opened to life ere the dawn of our nation’s morning; we depend not as others on tradition, on the lays of minstrels or the sayings of the wise men, to rescue from the shadowy and dim past, our country’s history—it is but of a day, and the scenes in cabinet, council and camp, are as familiar to all as household words.

Should we not then pause here and ask ourselves the significant question, why our fathers were successful in the establishment, and we so far fortunate in the present stability of the government of the people by the people, while a long list of futile attempts and terrible failures mark every spot wherever else the experiment has been tried; we have to-day among the kingdoms of the earth so-called republics, but we know they are so only in name—they lack the essential engredient of equality to all men before the law—their masses want an intelligent appreciation of their rights and duties—subject to popular frenzy or ambitious personal design, the republics of the past and (I am afraid) most of the present have no elements of either right, justice, or endurance.

No ignorant, no indolent, no irreligious people can ever be permanently a free people, and I hold that the foundations of our nation were laid wide and deep, by intelligence, industry and religion, and upon the adherence to and practice of those great cardinal virtues by our people depend wholly the stability and perpetuity of our government.

I do not wish to be understood when speaking of the intelligence, as meaning the mere learning of the school, nor that so far as such education is concerned, all should have the highest attainable—what I mean is, a practical and thorough knowledge of all necessary to make man and women useful—not useless—good citizens, understanding and practicing all the duties incumbent upon them for their own good and as parts of families, communities and States—above all else I would have every American citizen well grounded in a comprehensive knowledge of the theory, principles and by an honest, virtuous and continuous exercise of his knowledge and his duty as one of the government as well as one of the governed, so help to form, mould and cast public opinion—for upon public opinion alone the stability and efficacy of our people, stolidity, strength and endurance to our nation may be enjoyed and perpetuated.

Indolence engenders vice, disease, poverty, death—labor promotes virtue, health, wealth and long life—what is true of the individual holds good applied to the nation—show me a lazy, indolent, shiftless race, and I will show a nation of slaves; if not so practically, yet mentally slaves to vice and strangers to virtue.

Our fathers by hardy toil, by unwearied thought, calculation and invention, wrung from the wilderness the bright land you gaze on to-day—its great, almost miraculous advancement has boen owing to the combined action of intelligence and physical labor, but that labor, whether of the body or the mind has been persistent and unceasing.

The extent of our territory is greater by far than the whole continent of Europe, but our widely scattered population scarcely measures a tithe of its teeming multitudes; natnre while piling up our chains of mountains towards the sky, scooping out the habitations of our inland oceans, and scouring wide and deep throughout our land, our magnificent net-work of water highways, has planted everywhere for the use and enjoyment of educated as well as directed industry in no scanty store, the natural mineral riches of every clime and people, every known vegetable production is either indegenous, or owing to the variety of climate and soil under our control, can be transplanted and made to grow in sufficient abundance to feed the necessities and supply the luxuries of the world.

In this land of ours, with such a present inheritance and future prospect we are not only blessed above all other people, but we have evidently been chosen by an overruling Providence to do the great and final work for man’s elevation to and permanent enjoyment of the highest civilization to which human nature can attain, and it behooves us to shape our action and direct our energies towards the earliest realization and not the retardation of the completion of this evident design.

Independent of and radically separated from all other nations in our governmental policy, seeking no entangling alliance with powers, but opening wide our gates to all people who desire assimilation with us and enjoyment of our privileges,— I bold that we should be, as far as possible,—physically as well as politically,—independent of and separate from all other people, until at least the common right of a common humanity to equality of privilege and position, is universally acknowledged and accorded.

Would we keep our inheritance untarnished? Would we add to its worth the wealth of experience and invention? In this land of ours, where labor ennobles, docs not degrade, where the changes of worldly position depend upon individual action and are as variable as the waves of the restless sea—where the legitimate tendency of labor is to elevate and enlighten, and not to depress and keep down, let us and our children continue to labor to the end, that the blessings following its wise application will endure to the good of ourselves and our country.

Glance for a moment at one of the results of our comparative poverty coupled with our intelligence and willingness to labor —in all countries but ours labor ignorant is impoverished and helpless with us labor educated is well paid and commanding. Other countries through the ignorance of labor are comparatively non-inventive—we by the intelligence and independence of labor are incited to invention, and our record in the field of useful inventions is a prouder one than the annals of all other nations combined can show—it is the outgrowth of our independence of both political and physical need—cherish and foster labor, for it is a precious jewel in the diadem of our people’s sovereignty.

The body perishes—the soul is immortal. In discussing my third proposition—the need of religion in a community for the maintenance of perpetuation of republican institutions, I must be understood as firmly and conscientiously believing that a morality founded upon the belief in a future and higher life of the soul, to be more or less moulded by and dependent upon virtuous action in the body, is a necessary ingredient in the fitness for and possibility of man’s enjoyment of a free government.

I can not conceive what motive, beyond the sensuous enjoyment of the passing hour, with no thought for that higher and better life on earth, ennobling the individual and benefiting his kind, can ever inspire to virtuous deeds or heroic action the man or woman who believes death is an eternal sleep—the beauty and simplicity of our Constitution, which with proper regulations as to the rights of all, leaves to the conscience and judgment of each the matter of religious belief and observance, is one of the grandest and most noble precepts of its text and character—but with no proscription in its requirements, with no sectarian bias in its action, public opinion has so far demanded and had in our legislative halls, in our State and National gatherings upon all great public occasions, the recognition of the need of the countenance and support of an overruling Providence—sad for us, for our children, for our beloved country, will that day be when that “altar to an unknown God,” erected in pagan Athens, shall be overthrown in Christian America.

More than two hundred years ago on the banks of our beautiful lake Onondaga, the first banner of civilization was unfurled to the breeze—it was the banner of the Cross, and I pray that so long as the stars and stripes of our country shall wave over us as a nation, the hearts of our people may ding to the emblems of an immortal life.

I would not mar the pleasure or dampen the joy of this happy hour by any unkind allusion to the more immediate past, but it would seem proper while we are celebrating the birth, we should rejoice also over the preservation of our Union. Our recent internecine strife was a legitimate result of a want of the practical application of the written theory of our Declaration of Independence—in that instrument human rights were made as broad as humanity itself, and no clime, race, color or condition of men were excluded from the broad and sweeping declaration ” All men are created equal.” It was the practical departure from the annunciation of a political axiom which required our return to the allegiance due our creed, through the carnage and waste of civil war—that strife is over—the victory of principle over selfishness, though bloody, is won, and the nation rejoices through its wide extent at the solution is favor of freedom and right, but, like all wars, it has left wounds open, dangerous, unhealed— not, I trust the wounds of embittered and lasting hate between the contending masses, for God in his infinite mercy grant that this anniversary may bind Maine to Georgia.link Virginia with California, not alone with bands of iron, but with bonds of brotherly love and loyal submission to the rights of humanity individualized as well as compacted,and that long before another hundred or even any years shall have passed in oblivion, shall be buried all recolleotion of the struggle to maintain and preserve our Union, save the sweet and undying memory of brave deeds and heroic endurance, and the proud recollection, dear alike to sunny South and the warm-hearted North—our country is undivided and indivisible.

But we are suffering the wounds always inflicted by ruthless war—a lower scale of both public and private morality—an irksome feeling at lawful constraint—a distaste for honest labor —a reckless extravagance in living—a want of recognition of moral responsibility, not alone in the administration of public affairs, but in the transactions of ordinary business life, and in social relations of neighbors and families.

I warn you, my countrymen, that we must return to the primitive virtues of our fathers—education, labor, religion, must again take the places of greed, speculation, corruption, indolence and vice? We may talk of the corruption of our chosen rulers—we may stand at th6 street corners, and publicly proclaim the venality and crime in high places; this availeth not, what we must first do is—” Physician heal thyself,” “Remove the beam from thine own eye ere you cast out the mote from your brother.” “Purify the fountain that the stream may be pure.” Under the theory and practice our system of government, when administered with the spirit and intent of its founders, our rulers are the people’s servants, and if the people are indifferent and corrupt, so likewise will be their rulers—if the constituency is active and honest, the government will reflect it .

A desire by the voter to profit pecuniarly and socially by the prostitution of political principles to personal ends; the indiscriminate trade by all classes in the enactments of municipality, State and nation, engendered by base cupidity either pecuniary or personal—above and beyond all the utter neglect by the enlightened, educated and wealthy of their sacred miner as well as higher political duties—all combine not only to make our politics disreputable—but to demoralize and will finally destroy our government unless we speedily return more nearly to the dimple habits, rigid morality, and conscientious respect to all political duty which characterized our fathers.

I have thus very briefly discussed our position and our duty on this our hundredth anniversary—I have not considered it wise or profitable to rehearse the familiar story of our struggle for and success in the achievement of a national existence. I have not in studied words painted the rapid strides in our progress as a people. You know it all, and memory would not be quickened nor patriotism intensified by any recital of mine.

But I deem it appropriate, before I shall have concluded the discharge of the duty imposed upon me, to address more particularly the people of my city and my native county.

On the 4th of July, 1776, our county was the abode of the hostile savages, an unbroken wilderness, within whose borders no white man had found a home—it remained so until four years after our revolutionary struggle, when the first white settler, Ephraim Webster, sojourned with the Indian, and following in his path others slowly settled within our present borders—while true that no hostile army has ever invaded our soil—no hearths desolated—no roof-tree obliterated—no historic battle-field marked or distinguished our territorial limits, yet still it is sacred ground.

As early as 1792, a grateful State, reserving a small portion of the land adjoining and surrounding our celebrated salt springs, dedicated and allotted the remainder to the surviving soldiers of its contingent in the armies of the Revolution; many of those war-worn veterans with their surviving households found in long, wearisome and dangerous journey their way highther and entered upon the lands alike the recognition of and reward for their services, and the records of not a few of the towns of our county, show to-day among their worthiest citizens, the honored names of their descendants.

“Beating their swords into plough shares—their spears into pruning hooks,” they attacked with the same unyielding courage, determination and endurance of labor, toil and privation, which had marked their struggle for liberty, the native ruggedness of our unbroken soil—the lonely cabin of logs their dwelling—the biased but tangled wood path their highway, they battled with forest-crowned hill and wooden glen, until peaceful pasture and yielding grain-field displaced the lair of the wild beast and the hunting grounds of the wilder savage.

We cannot now linger to detail the progress of each passing year, to name the conspicuous actor in each scene, but we can for a moment contrast the extremes of 1776 and 1876, look at the pictures before us—1776 the wigwam of the savage and his trackless path in the unbroken forest—1876, six score thousand human souls basking in the sunshine of a free civilization enjoying all the social, intellectual and political advantages ever yet allotted to humanity.

Compared with the huts of our fathers—our habitations are palaces—they dot every hill top, they nestle in every valley— they stand in the seried ranks in our beautiful and growing city, and cluster together around the school and the church, in all our smiling and thriving villages—our thrifty husbandmen look upon countless herds of lowing cattle—on seas of waving grain —on graneries bursting with the rich and bounteous yield of their fertile acres; our merchants in their stately marts of commerce gather from the ends of the earth, the produce of every soil—the handiwork of savage and civilized—all creations of nature and art to satisfy the wants or gratify the tastes of our people—the unceasing hum of the manufacturers’ wheel, the continuous blow of the sturdy artisan and stalwart laborer chase solitude from all our borders—our water highways link us with the ocean lakes of our own West, and give us peaceful entrance to that great sea which rolls between us and the land of our father’s fathers—highways of iron rib our country North, West, South, and East—broad avenues run by the door of the humblest, and commerce with its white wings of peace, has blotted out forever the warpath of the savage and the tree-marked way of the hardy pioneer. Religion dwells in more than an hundred temples of beauty dedicated to the service of the living God. Education from the lordly towers of the princely university to the more humble school-house at the cross roads, boasts its many habitations. We are the central county of the Empire State, which ranks first in wealth, first in population, first in representation among her sister States of our Union. Of sixty, our county is seventh in population and wealth, and in the fifth rank in State representation.

The pioneers of our country and their sons have been distinguished on every stage of life in all the years of our history —side by side with them, many who have here sought a new home, a new country, have over and again reflected honor and glory on the home of their adoption. Distinction in the pulpit at the bar, in the forum, on battle field, in the broad field of human endeavor—wherever honor, distinction, wealth and place were to be gained—high rank, deserved places of merit and worth have been won by many whose earliest training for usefulness and busy life, was by the fireside of their homes among the beautiful hills and smiling valleys of our beloved Onondaga.

I cannot speak to-day of battle scenes or individuals, but we know that on many a well stricken field, in many a still and silent city of the dead, lie to-day the mortal remains of hundreds of Onondaga’s bravest sons, who battling for the right, from Bull Run to Appomattox, left their record of bravery and patriotism in all the conflicts of the late struggle for national existence. We rejoice in the life and presence to-day of the brave survivors of that terrible conflict. From the Generals with title won on the field, to the private soldier whose unflinching valor and great endurance fought and won the contest for our second independence—all have reflected honor upon and won undying glory for the country of their nativity and adoption.

Children of the soil—adopted sons and daughters of old Onondaga—is this noble heritage of our fathers, this free and equal government given us to enjoy by the brave, good and wise men of an hundred years ago worth preserving another hundred years? No human being I now address will witness the scene at that celebration; the voice of him who now addresses you will be silent in the grave, the beating hearts and active limbs of this vast multitude will have gone to their last quiet mortal sleep forever. The men of the revolution gave us and our children this day at the cost of suffering and tears, wounds and death. Where are they? The lasb surviving warrior and statesman who stood on the battlements of freedom’s citadel and conquered for us the banded hordes of tyranny and oppression, has gone to join the hosts of heaven’s freemen in another and a better world. Can we not take their finished work—keep and preserve it untarnished, unbroken, beautiful enlarged, and more glorious and endearing, for our children’s children? Though dead in the body yet living in the spirit, we may then hear, mingling with the rejoicings of 1976, and blessings and praise to our names as well as to the deeds of our fathers, in that we have made of the talent committed to our charge other talents of honor, glory and prosperity for our country.

Let us to this end from this day practice economy, industry —cultivate intelligence, make virtue the rule and guide of our private and public life.

Triumphant armies inscribe their banners with the names of their victorious fields of battle. May we give as our legacy to the next great anniversary of our country’s birth, the stars of our nation’s banner undimmed—its stripes untarnished, rightfully inscribing thereon as our faith kept pure and unsullied— our motto, won by our acts—Religion, Education, Free Labor, the only sure foundation on which to build, for perpetuity, Republican Institutions.

See also: THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
AMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND by Dr. J. Sellman 1876
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
Political Evils and the Remedy for them by Noah Webster 1834
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
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 SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
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)

OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876

betsy_ross_flag1OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins 1834-1899.  Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Washington Heights, New York City, July 4, 1876.

Mr. Chairman:—One of the most conspicuous and pleasing objects in our broad land to-day, is the starry emblem of freedom—our dear old flag. We see it, a centennial spectacle, floating everywhere, as we never saw it before, and as we never shall see it again. It is unfurled along our highways, it adorns our public and private dwellings, it floats over our temples of worship, our halls of learning and courts of justice, and waves as grandly and gracefully over the lowest cottage in the land, as over the proud dome of the capital itself. It is our flag, with sweet centennial memories clinging to every fold, our flag along whose stripes we may trace the triumphant march of one hundred years, and from whose stars we see the light of hope and liberty still flashing upon the nations.

AFBetsyross1776The origin of our flag is, to some extent, involved in mystery and controversy. It has been claimed by some that its stars and stripes were first taken from the shield of the Washington family, which was distinguished by colored lines and stars; and if this be so, it is not at all improbable, though by no means certain, that Washington himself may have suggested the peculiar form of the flag. The first distinctively American flag was unfurled to the breeze on the first day of January, 1776. It consisted of “seven white and seven red stripes,” and bore upon its front the “red and white crosses of St. George and St. Andrew,” and was called “The Great Union Flag.” This flag quickly displaced all other military devices, and became the battle-banner of the American Army. In 1777, however, it was greatly changed. The crosses were omitted and thirteen red and white stripes were used to denote the thirteen States, and thirteen stars were used to represent the union of those States. And our flag still retains its stars occasionally adding one to the number, and, as traitors know to their sorrow, it also still retains its stripes, well laid on. We have never found it necessary to ask true American citizens to respect and honor our flag. When Gen. Dix, on the 29th of January, 1861, penned those terse memorable words: “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot;” the loyal people of the nation said, “Amen. So let it be.

We do not wonder that our people, and especially our soldiers love the flag. It is to them both a history and a prophecy. No wonder that brave soldier as he fell on the field of battle said, “Boys, don’t wait for me; just open the folds of the old flag and let me see it once more before I die.

bald_eagle_head_and_american_flag1No wonder that Massachusetts soldier boy, dying in the gory streets of Baltimore, lifted up his glazing eyes to the flag and shouted, “All hail, the stars and the stripes!!!” Our flag is a power everywhere. One has justly said, “It is known, respected and feared round the entire globe. Wherever it goes, it is the recognized symbol of intelligence, equality, freedom and Christian civilization. Wherever it goes the immense power of this great Republic goes with it, and the hand that touches the honor of the flag, touches the honor of the Republic itself. On Spanish soil, a man entitled to the protection of our government was arrested and condemned to die. The American consul interceded for his life, but was told that the man must suffer death. The hour appointed for the execution came, and Spanish guns, gleaming in the sunlight, were ready for the work of death. At that critical moment the American consul took our flag, and folded its stars and stripes around the person of the doomed man, and then turning to the soldiers, said: “Men, remember that a single shot through that flag will be avenged by the entire power of the American Republic.” That shot was never fired. And that man, around whom the shadows of death were gathering, was saved by the stars and the stripes. Dear old flag! Thou art a power at home and abroad. Our fathers loved thee in thine infancy, one hundred years ago; our heroic dead loved thee, and we loved thee, and fondly clasp thee to our hearts today. All thy stars gleam like gems of beauty on thy brow, and all thy stripes beam upon the eye like bows of promise to the nation.

Wave on, thou peerless, matchless banner of the free! Wave on, over the army and the navy, over the land and the sea, over the cottage and the palace, over the school and the church, over the living and the dead; wave ever more, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

See also: 
Founders on the 2nd Amendment
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
Once a Marine, always a Marine! Salute! Semper Fidelis!
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS! A Poem By Charles G. Halpine 1861-1865
THE OATH! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
THE RISING, 1776! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4, 1876
We The People Never Forget September 11, 2001
hand_of_god_by_afina_energy

THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC

Morgan Dix3The Hand Of God In American History. A Discourse By Rev. Morgan Dix, D. D., Delivered At Trinity Church, New York, July 4th, 1876.

Glory be to God! and here, throughout the land, far and near, through all our homes, be peace, good will and love. As one family, as one people, as one nation, we keep the birthday of our rights, our liberty, our power and strength. Let us do this with eyes and hearts raised to the Fountain of all life, the Beginning of all glory and might; with words of praise and thanks to God who rules on high; for He is the living God and steadfast power, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. Wherefore as He is our strength and hope, let all begin and all go on, first and ever, with glory to God Most High. There are great things to think about to-day; the growth of the people, unparalleled in history; the vastness of their empire, a wonder of the latter days; the bands by which the mighty frame is held together—so slight to the eye, so hard to break; the many races welded into one; the marvelous land, with its oceans on all sides, its lakes themselves like lesser oceans, its icebergs and glaciers, its torrid deserts, its mountain ranges and rich, fat valley land, its climates of all kinds, its rivers, which would have seemed of all but fabulous length, its wealth in all that rock, and earth, and water can supply; and then the people—active, able, full of enterprise and force, acting with the power of a myriad of giants, speaking one language, living under one flag, bound by common interests, and, as to-day, kindled by one common feeling of devotion, pride, joy, hope, sure there is enough to think about to-day, enough to fill the soul and almost make the head giddy. But let these things be spoken of elsewhere; let others dwell upon them. We have a definite share in the national celebration: let us not forget our part, which is to lift to God a great voice which He shall hear amid all the other voices of the hour. Why do we gather here? Is it to recount the praises of men and their mighty achievements? Is it to make display of our national greatness, to tell over our victories and conquests in divers scenes of conflict, to celebrate the names and acts of chieftains, statesmen, and rulers of the land, of brave and patient people who gave fortune, life, and sacred honor to the State, of any of those who deserve remembrance to-day? Let this be done elsewhere, as is right and fitting; let men stand up when it is convenient, and set oration and address do honor to the dead and the living, point the moral of our history, hold up the ideals of patriotism, virtue, and unselfish love of home and native land.

Morgan Dix2But we must be about our Father’s business; we have other words to speak, deeper, further-reaching; our work here is to offer praise and glory to God; to bless Him in His relations to the nation as its Lord and King, as Ruler and Governor, as Providence, law-giver, and Judge. Without God nothing of what we properly value to-day could have been. Without God there could have been no nation, nor nation’s birthday. It is He that hath made us and kept us one. The office of the Church is to bless and sanctify the nation’s feast day. She cannot be indifferent nor unmoved. We are citizens of the earthly house as well as of the heavenly. We act in that double capacity in praising God Almighty, while with our brethren we keep the feast. And oh! what ground for thankfulness to-day. Think of the mighty hand that hath led us and upheld us through these hundred years—what it has done for us—what that right hand of the Most High hath wrought I look back to the humble beginnings—to the poor little Colonists with their scant store, and their modest ambitions; think of their long-suffering patience, and also of their honorable resolve not to submit to oppression and injustice; remember the band of men who met together, just one hundred years ago, to sign the Declaration, how they did it—not, as popular legends tell us, with transports of enthusiasm and amid bell-ringing and general jubilation, but in secret session of Congress. With an awful sense of what it meant. With a vision of the gibbet and the axe before their eyes, and well aware of the toil, and blood, and grief that it must cost to maintain their manly attitude before the world. Think with what dread and sinking of heart, with what tears and partings, with what conflicts of spirit, and what doubts as to the duty of the hour, the foundations were laid; and let us have a tender heart toward the old fathers of the State, the men who took their lives in their hands, and so brought the new nation to the birth, and then amid what untold trials and sufferings they carried on their war! Think of the great hearts ready to break, of the starved and ragged armies with that mighty spirit under their hunger-worn ribs, more frequently retreating than advancing, wasted by sickly summer heat, and often in winter standing barefoot in snow; that squalid, sorrowful, anxious force working their sure way through cloud, and storm, and darkness to the victory, perfect and finished, at the end. It is touching to read the memorials of those days, and to think of all that has come since then; how we are entered into their labors, and are at peace because they went through all that; they sowed in tears and we reap in joy. So then let there be thanks to God for the past, out of which He has evoked the present grandeur of our State, and let us remember what we owe to those who went before, for a part of that debt is obvious; to imitate the virtues and return to the simple mind, the pure intention, the unselfish devotion to the public weal which marked the founders of the Republic. It is a far cry to those days, but there still shine the stars which guided them on their way, the light of heaven illuminating the earth, the bright beacons of honesty, truth, simplicity, sincerity, self-sacrifice, under which, as under an astrological sign, the little one was born. Pray heaven those holy lights of morality and public virtue may not, for us, already have utterly faded away. Surely it. is a marvelous thing to see how nations rise and grow; how they gather strength; how they climb to the meridian of their noonday light and glory; how they blaze awhile, invested with their fullest splendors at that point, and thence how they decline and rush downward into the evening, and the night, and the darkness of a long, dead sleep, whence none can awake any more. This history is not made without God. His hand is in it all. His decrees on nation and State are just, in perfect justice, as on each one of us men. And must it all be told over again in our case? Is there no averting the common doom? Must each people but repeat the monotonous history of those who went before? God only knows how long the course will be till all shall be accomplished. But certainly we, the citizens, may do something; we may live pure, honest, sober lives, for the love of country also, as well as for the love of Christ. We may, by taking good heed to ourselves, help to purify the whole nation, and so obtain a lengthening of our tranquility. We want much more of this temper; we need to feel that each man helps, in his own way, to save or to destroy his country. Every good man is a reason in God’s eyes why He should spare the nation and prolong its life; every bad man, in his vicious, selfish, evil life, is a reason why God should break up the whole system to which that worthless, miserable being belongs.

If we love our country with a true, real love we shall show it by contributing in ourselves to the sum of collective righteousness what it may be in our power, aided by God’s grace, to give. They are not true men who have no thanks to bring to the Lord this day. They are not true men who simply shout and cry, and make noisy demonstration, and speak great swelling words, without reason, or reflection, or any earnest thought to duty, to God, and the State. From neither class can any good come; not from the senselessly uproarious, not from the livid and gloomy children of discontent. They were thoughtful, patriotic, self-sacrificing men who built this great temple of civil and religious liberty. By such men only can it be kept in repair and made to stand for ages and ages. No kingdom of this world can last forever, yet many endure to a great age. The old mother country, England, in her present constitutional form, is more than 800 years old—a good age, a grand age, with, we trust and pray, many bright centuries to come hereafter, as good, as fair. Let us remember that for us, as for all people, length of days and long life and peace depend on the use we make of our gifts, on the fidelity with which we discharge our mission. And that is the reason why every one of us has, in part, his country’s life in his own hands. But I detain you from the duty of the hour. We meet to praise not man, but God; to praise Him with a reasonable and devout purpose; to bless him for our first century, for this day which He permits us to see, for our homes, our liberties, our peace, our place among the powers of the earth. It is all from him, whatever good we have, and to him let us ascribe the honor and the glory. And let us say, with them of old time.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

And Blessed is Thy glorious and holy name; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thine holy glory; and to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou that beholdest the depths and sittest upon the cherubims; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the glorious throne of thy kingdom; to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the firmament of heaven; and above all to be praised and glorified forever.

Yea, let us bless the Most High, and praise and honor Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.

See also: The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
INDIVIDUAL PURITY THE HOPE OF FREEDOM’S BLESSINGS by Charles Sprague 1791-1875
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC A CHRISTIAN STATE by Cardinal James Gibbons 1834-1921
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775

THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4th 1876

The Perpetuity Of The Republic: An Address By Joseph Kidder, Esq, (1813 – 1901) Delivered At Manchester, N. H., July 4th, 1876.

Mr. President, Ladies And Gentlemen:—I will say to you that I shall keep you but a very brief space of time. It is natural for any people, on so great a day as the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the nation’s existence, to dwell largely upon reminiscences of the past, and glorify those whose fortune it was to shape the government that came into being through their agency. Especially is this true where national existence has proved to be in a particular sense a national blessing. Under such circumstances it would not be wise to check the outburst of patriotic hearts, or restrain in narrow compass the national joy that finds expression in any national form of jubilation. Hence this day, which rounds the full period of one hundred years in the history of the Republic, millions of happy people celebrate the deeds of honored fathers, and enjoy the blessings of a government to which history furnishes the world no parallel. Truly it is a day of which we may well be proud, and poets and orators may exhaust the English language in speaking words of praise on this memorable event. But while we rejoice that the events of the century have culminated in this grand work of human progress and freedom; and while we congratulate ourselves on our escape from the numerous perils along the pathway of the Republic, we are admonished that the past alone is no guarantee for the future. True it is that history cannot be recalled. It stands immutable as the rocks of the granite State. No fiat of power, no scheme of human ingenuity, can recall it. Call as we will, or lament as we may, there it is, written or unwritten, and it helps to contribute to the record of generations passed forever from the face of the earth. It is for us who live to treasure in our hearts the letters written for our instruction, and press forward to the future with earnest endeavors to increase the sum of human happiness in every proper way. In view of these sentiments we might well ask if we are assured that it is a fact that coming years will find the people of America still in possession of the enlightened government and the social and moral comforts that are now the glory of her people.

Do our hearts all exult in firm faith that the ship of state shall sail on over the unseen sea that heaves with calm and steady flow, or do they deem the shadows that here and there obscure the horizon proclaim that rocks and whirlpools and storms may sooner or later send her down to untold depths with all the precious freight of human souls on board?

On such a day as this I would not check the festivities of the hour, or cause a shadow to rest like a pall upon a single heart, but wisdom admonishes us that those only are wise who discern the evil in the distance and adopt measures to resist her fatal advances. Our Government was founded in patriotism and in a spirit of religious trust. It was not a venture depending upon chance for success or failure, but on the deep and earnest conviction of men.

With firm reliance upon divine providence for successful preservation in the hazardous enterprise in which they were about to engage, no step did they take or measure did they inaugurate without assuring themselves that the God of political freedom would crown their efforts with the divine approbation. And in this connection it might be proper to say that notwithstanding the perils of the past, there are some things upon which the continued peace and prosperity of our government must depend. Many of these I would discuss if I had time. I might speak of the school system of our country and the advantages which education would bring to us; also of patriotism, without which no people shall ever hold existence for any period of time. I might also allude to the purity of the ballot as absolutely essential to free and successful reform. I might also allude to that Christian integrity without which all onward progress is impossible. But these things I pass. I congratulate the multitude here assembled to-day on the future prospect of our country. The skies are bright; prosperity is cheering; and I believe that, while occasionally we have doubt and fear, occasionally look upon the dark side of life; yet I firmly believe that the perpetuity of this government is fixed and established so that it cannot be overturned, and so that, if we are true to the application of the principles on which our fathers founded these United States, we shall continue to be the bulwark of freedom.

See also:Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC A CHRISTIAN STATE by Cardinal James Gibbons 1834-1921
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
Divine Heredity
Judge Isaac W Smith

THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876

Judge Isaac W SmithAn Address by Judge Isaac William Smith (1825 – 1898) Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Manchester, N. H., July 4th, 1876.

My Fellow Countrymen: Our republic has reached a halting place in the grand march of nations, where the wheels of time seem for a moment to stop ere they commence again to turn in the perpetual circuit of the centuries. We pause this day in our journey as a nation to look back upon the past and gird ourselves anew for still further upward progress.

Shall we glance at the heroic age of New England, the eventful story of the Puritans? They were indeed burning and shining lights amid persecution, sealing with their lives their faith in an over-ruling God. At Delfthaven they knelt on the seashore, commending themselves with fervent prayer to the protection of heaven: friends, home, native land, they left behind them forever, and encountered the dangers of unknown seas in search of a place where they might worship the living God according to the dictates of conscience.

We admire the firm faith in which they met the horrors of Indian warfare, the privations of cold, disease and death, “lamenting that they did not live to see the glories of the faithful.” The story of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock, of heroes more noble than Greek or Roman, of conflicts more sublime and victories more important than any recorded in history —is it not written in our hearts? And do we not contemplate this day with affectionate remembrance the debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women who laid so broad and deep the foundations of civic and religious liberty?

This day, the joyful shout “America is free!” spreads from state to state, from city to city, from house to house, till the whole land rings with the glad voice, and echo upon echo comes back from every mountain and hill-side, “America is free!” On our mountains and on the great plains of the West, forty millions of voices unite in sending from the shores of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific the songs of freedom. Shady groves resound with the merry voices of innocent children. Busy streets are filled with throngs of freemen. Eloquence portrays with glowing tongue and burning lips those struggles and triumphs in which the nation was born, and to-day stands forth a mighty one in the great family of governments. The early dawn was ushered in with ringing of bells and every demonstration of joy. It is celebrated by every class, society and organization, by civic processions, floral gatherings, orations, military reviews, each and all with the joy and enthusiasm which Americans only can feel. The going down of the sun will be the signal for the gathering of thousands upon thousands to close the festivities of the day amid the blazing of rockets and the glittering of fireworks, rivaling the stars in splendor and beauty.

We to-day look back through a period of one hundred years upon the men in congress assembled who proclaimed thirteen infant colonies a free and independent nation. Lexington, and Concord, and Bunker Hill had demonstrated that men could fight, and men could die in defence of liberty. The illustrious men who composed that memorable congress, in support of the Declaration of Independence ; “pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honors”—their all. Lives and fortunes were sacrificed in its defence but not honor.

Scarcely three millions of people were scattered along the Atlantic coast from New Hampshire to Georgia—a narrow fringe of settlements hardly extending beyond the Alleghenies; while beyond the vast expanse of this mighty continent was an unknown wilderness—the abode of savages ready to press down upon the unguarded settlements with the arrow and tomahawk. Through seven long years war raged throughout the land. Men of the same blood and language faced each other in hostile array.

But darkness and doubts at length passed away, and day dawned upon the long night of the revolution. The roll of musketry and the clash of arms were hushed. To-day we have become a nation of forty-four millions. Westward the star of empire has taken its way, till cities mighty and influential have risen, flourishing on either seaboard and on the vast plains through which the “Fathers of “Waters ” cuts his way from the Great Lakes of the North to the Gulf that washes our Southern borders. “The busy town, the rural cottage, the lowing herd, the cheerful hearth, the village school, the rising spire, the solemn bell, the voice of prayer, and the hymn of praise, brighten and adorn American life and privileges.”

What mighty changes have these one hundred years witnessed! The seed of liberty sown by our fathers has germinated and flourished even in the monarchies of Europe. Napoleon made all tremble with his hostile legions. Forty centuries looked down on his conquering armies from the pyramids of Egypt. France, the scene of so many revolutions, has become enrolled in the list of republics. Other nations, catching the shouts of freemen, have compelled the loosening of the reins of power. Thrones that have stood firmly for ages have been made to tremble upon their foundations. Austria, the land of tyranny and oppression, has compelled her emperor to abdicate. The Pope, whose election was hailed by the whole civilized world as the harbinger of a better administration, was hardly seated upon his throne before he fled in disguise from his pontifical halls, and St. Peter’s and the Vatican resounded with the triumphal shouts of an awakened nation. Hungary struggled for independence as a nation, and practically achieved it, so that to-day it lives under laws enacted by its own parliament, and accepts the emperor of Austria as king. Russia has emancipated her serfs and taken vast strides in her progress as a nation. China is no longer a walled nation, shut Up from the rest of the world. With Japan she has opened her gates to the commerce of the world, and civilization has began to loosen the scales from the eyes of hundreds of millions of people in these two nations, whose origin as well as their knowledge is the arts and sciences, is lost in the dim ages of antiquity.

On the Western Continent we have in the war of 1812-15 asserted our right against England to travel the highways of the seas unmolested. The Saxons have conquered and dismembered Mexico. The most gigantic rebellion the world ever saw has been suppressed, and with it fell the institution of slavery. That foul blot upon the otherwise fair face of our constitution, less than a score of years ago seemed firmly and irreversibly fastened upon the body politic. So steadily was it entrenched behind constitutional guaranties that there seemed no way by which it could be cured; and hence it was endured. But God in his mysterious providence permitted those whose rights were thus protected by constitutional guaranties, to make war upon the government which protected them, and in the fratricidal struggle the shackles fell from the limbs of every slave. To-day the sun does not shine in all this mighty republic upon a single bondman. The same constitution and the same laws alike declare the equality of all men before the law without reference to previous condition of servitude, race or color.

In the physical world, the progress in the arts and sciences has surpassed any conception which we were able to form. California outshines the wealth of India. We traverse the ocean in ships propelled by steam. The vast expanse of our land is covered by a network of iron rails reaching out in every direction. The hourly rate of speed has increased from five miles to thirty, and even to sixty. The world has been girdled with the electric wire. It reposes in safety on the bed of the great deep. On the wings of the lightning it conveys from land to land and shore to shore every moment the intelligence of man’s thoughts and man’s actions. Each new year has opened up some new improvement or discovery in the world of inventions, which time fails me even to enumerate. And who shall say that a century hence the historian of that day will not be called upon to record the further discovery of wonders far surpassing any conception which we are able to form?

I should hardly be excused if I failed to mention our advance as a nation in the cause of education, but a glance only must suffice.

The men who settled New England had been schooled in adversity. They had a true estimate of human greatness and human power. They knew that knowledge is power. As fast as the forest was cleared the school was established. With the establishment of the common school system have come self reliance, intelligence, enterprise, till our sails whiten every sea, our commerce extends to the most distant ports, our fabrics complete successful with those of more favored lands; our glorious Union itself has withstood the assaults of foes without, and traitors within, and stands immovably founded upon the intelligence and wisdom of the people. Caesar was the hero of three hundred battles, the conqueror of three millions of people, one million of whom he slew in battle. But long after the influence of his deeds shall have ceased to be felt, will the wisdom of our fathers, through the schools and colleges of our land, move the unnumbered masses that shall come after us.

The foundation of prosperity is in an enlightened community. An ignorant people, though inheriting the most favored land on earth, soon sinks into insignificance. Our extended seacoast invites commerce with every clime. Our fertile valleys and prairies bring forth the fruits of the earth in rich abundance. Her numerous waterfalls and rivers have been harnessed to wheels that turn thousands and tens of thousands of spindles. Cities have sprung up like exhalations under the magic touch of the magician’s wand, and the hum of machinery rises out of the midst of a thrifty, industrious and happy people. The majestic plains and rivers of the West have collected adventurers from every part of the world. The country to-day exhibits to other nations the unexampled rise and prosperity of a free, self-governed and educated people. To the wisdom of our fathers we are indebted for this rich legacy. With what care should we cherish our institutions of learning, that those who come after us may have reason to bless their fathers as we bless ours .

Happily our fathers did not attempt the union of the church and state. It was no mercenary motive that led them to leave old England’s shores. Theirs was a strong and enduring love of God, a perfect faith in his promises; accordingly they hesitated not to sever the ties of kindred and nation, to find in the unbroken wilderness of New England a place to worship God “according to the dictates of their own consciences.” It does not excite our wonder, but our admiration—that every infant settlement had its sanctuary—the ten thousand church spires reaching upward toward heaven point with unerring accuracy to the source of our prosperity as a nation. Centuries to come will approve and applaud our fathers who worshipped in square pews, and the ministers who preached with subduing power from high pulpits.

Such was the first century of the Republic. It has been one of struggle, but one of prosperity. Upon us and our children devolves the privilege and duty of carrying the nation forward to still greater prosperity. Shall we be behind our fathers in declaring for intelligence as against ignorance; for honesty and ability in our rulers; and for religion against irreligion? Our backward look should be but an inspiration to future progress. As we stand to-day, in the presence of the fathers of the republic, may we receive, as men receive fife from God, the inspiration which animated them to do and to die.

“Thanks he to God alone
That our whole land is one.
As at her birth!
Echo the grand refrain,
From rocky peak to main,
That rent is every chain,
From south to north.”

See also:
THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC A CHRISTIAN STATE by Cardinal James Gibbons 1834-1921
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 Part 1
Non Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of Jesus Christ by Johannes von Müller 1832
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1
The Greatest Speech in American History (Give me Liberty or Give me Death)
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
The Truth about the current political parties in America and their origins by Thomas Jefferson
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
Celtic Prayer of the Lorica or Breastplate prayer
The Relationship Between a Man and Woman
History of the Cross in America
Divine Heredity
republic

THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire

Lewis Whitehouse Clark“Equal rights to all, means equal rights to each State, to each community, and to each citizen; and no State, community or individual has a right, under the constitution, to trespass upon or abridge the rights of any other. Can this Union long exist when the people of one State shall attempt to interfere with and control the people of another State, in violation of the constitution?”

The Destiny Of The Republic An Oration By Hon. Lewis Whitehouse Clark. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Manchester, N. H., July 4th, 1876.

An inspired writer hath said, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It is well to remember, as the years wear away, the anniversary of one’s birth to union, as that advancing age is bringing us nearer to “that bourne from whence no traveler returns.” It is well to keep in memory the valor, the sacrifices and the patriotism of those who fought and fell at Lexington and Bunker Hill in the great struggle for liberty, by a proper observance of the annual return of the 19th of April and the 17th of June. If it is well to observe the anniversary of these events, how much more appropriate to observe this day—the birth-day of a nation—and that nation ours ; the anniversary of the birth of that government which not only declares that all are born free and equal, but affords to all equal rights, and affords to all equal protection in the enjoyment of those rights, without regard to age, sex, color or condition in life.

We are assembled here to celebrate by appropriate exercises the one hundredth anniversary of American independence, and it is good that we should be here. Auspicious day! ever memorable in the history of the world and in the annals of civilization. We have no need to build tabernacles to commemorate this event. They are already built,—founded by the patriotism of our fathers,—erected on soil drenched with the blood which has made every battle field of the revolution from Lexington to Yorktown memorable, and sustained by that unfaltering faith in free institutions, and that love of civil and religious liberty that inspired our forefathers at Delft Haven, starting on their perilous voyage on the Mayflower; at Plymouth Rock; amid the snow of mid winter at Valley Forge, when, with frozen feet, starving stomachs, and scantily clad bodies, under the leadership of Washington and his noble compeers, all sufferings were endured, obstacles overcome, and finally, at the cost of blood, privation and life, the right for us to assemble here to-day in peace was secured. Blessed be the memory of those who, at so great a sacrifice, purchased these blessings for us! Fortunate will it be for our children’s children if we have the virtue and wisdom to transmit to them unimpaired the glorious heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers.

A. century! It extends beyond the period of the life of man, and yet it comprises but the infancy of a nation. What changes have been wrought, aud what a multitude of marvellous events have been crowded into that period of time! Not one of all this vast assemblage saw the sunlight of heaven on the 4th of July, 1776 ; and not one of us here to-day will participate in the exercises of the next centennial.

One hundred years ago to-day at Philadelphia, in Independence Hall, or rather on the steps of the Hall, at two o’clock in the afternoon was published to the world the Declaration of our national Independence, framed by Thomas Jefferson. And when, after the terrible struggle of the Revolution had secured the acknowledgment of that independence among the nations of the earth, a constitution was framed and submitted to the people of all the States for adoption, it was the vote of New Hampshire, given in convention, June 21,1788, which secured the requisite number of States (a two-thirds) as required by the Constitution, and it became the Constitution of the United States of America which formed the Union of the States which exists to-day, and which we trust will continue to exist through all the ages to come.

In the contest for freedom New Hampshire was among the foremost, and we may well to-day have a just pride in the names of Stark, Poor, Goffe, and Sullivan, and all those who stood shoulder to shoulder during those trying years of the infant republic. We revere their memories. The hero of Bennington sleeps on the banks of our beautiful river. His body may turn to dust again, “old time with his chisel small ” may consume the unassuming granite shaft that marks his last resting place, but the name of Stark will be remembered as long as the waters of the Merrimack flow by his grave to the sea.

It is proper, after the lapse of a century, upon looking over the events of the past, to inquire what progress has been made. As a nation we have, from a comparatively small population, increased to forty-four millions of people; schools and churches all over the land; a great advancement has been made in art and in science; we have the telegraph, the railroad, the steamboat, vast improvement in machinery of all kinds, wonderful inventions for the saving of human labor which were unknown one hundred years ago. Then, where our city now stands, was but a sparse population—a few scattered farm-houses, and the vast waterpower of the Merrimack was undeveloped; to-day we have a beautiful city, with a population of thirty thousand people, with superior educational and religious advantages, and the hum of machinery and the sound of busy labor are continually to be heard.

But after all these seeming evidences of prosperity and improvement, has there been any real advancement in our civilization of a higher type? Are the people more intelligent and virtuous? Is there more honesty in public men, in the administration of the various departments of the government, and public justice in the execution of the laws? And are the people more obedient to them than they were one hundred years ago? If not, where is the progress and improvement?

But yet, let us hope that we have made some advance; and that the world is better for the existence of the American nation during the century just closed.

And now, as we look forward to the future, and enter upon another century of our national existence, let us profit by the experience of the past, that we may avoid a recurrence of the difficulties and conflicts through which we have passed.

In a faithful obedience to tho requirements of the constitution lies our only hope of safety for the perpetuity of our institution.

Equal rights to all, means equal rights to each State, to each community, and to each citizen; and no State, community or individual has a right, under the constitution, to trespass upon or abridge the rights of any other. Can this Union long exist when the people of one State shall attempt to interfere with and control the people of another State, in violation of the constitution? Can it long exist when the majority shall attempt to disregard entirely all the rights of the minority? Does it tend to the maintenance of the constitution and the preservation of the Union, that honest and capable public officers shall be set aside for a conscientious discharge of a public duty, to give place to others who will, perhaps, be the pliant tools of a particular faction or a particular party? or that one man shall be allowed to control the right of suffrage of another? or that the right of suffrage shall be sold like merchandise in the market? These evils if they exist, are contrary to the institutions founded by the fathers, and let every citizen in the State and nation aim to secure the purity of the ballot, and a faithful and impartial administration of the government, the constitution and the laws. Then the stars shall not fade from our glorious flag as the words of the declaration of independence have faded upon the parchment, nor shall its folds trail in the dust, but it shall continue to float as the emblem of our national sovereignty, protecting every American citizen over whom it floats, in every land, and on every sea.

Let us hope and believe that this shall be the destiny of the Republic, and with nobler aims and a more exalted patriotism, endeavor to discharge our duties as citizens, then we can say in the beautiful words of Longfellow—

“Thou, too, sail on, O ship of State.
Sail on, O Union, strong and great.
Humanity, with all its fears.
With all its hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate.
We know what master laid thy keel,
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel;
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope.
Fear not each sudden sound and shook,
‘Tis of the wave and not the rock;
Tis but the napping of a sail,
And not a rent made by the gale.

In spite of rock and tempest’s roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore—
Sail on! nor fear to breast the sea;
Oar hearts, our hopes are all with thee,
Oar hearts, oar hopes, oar prayers, oar tears-
Oar faith triumphant o’er our fears—
Are all with thee, are all with thee!

See also: The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876

A CENTENNIAL RETROSPECT. A Poem by Dr Fred A Palmer July 4th 1876

AmericanFlagAndCrossA CENTENNIAL RETROSPECT. A POEM BY DR. FRED. A. PALMER of Montmorenci, S.C. Delivered at the Centennial Celebration in Aiken, S.C. July 4th, 1876

A noble band of patriots with faces all aglow
Stood in the Halls of Congress one hundred years ago;
Stood side by side, as they had stood upon the battle-field,
When they compelled the troops of England’s King to yield.

The enemies of Liberty sat silent, pale and still
While these brave men prayed God to know and do his will;
It was an hour when Justice was trembling in the scales,
When God from man the future in tender mercy veils.

These brave men knew that they must act for children yet unborn,
They sealed the Nation’s destiny upon that glorious morn,
When each man pledged his all for Right, for Liberty and Peace,
Forever sacred to our hearts shall be such men as these.

Tis true they left a stain upon our banner fold,
But we have wiped it out with blood and paid for it in gold;
These patriots fought for Liberty, and pledged themselves to stand
For Freedom, Right, and Justice, a firm unbroken band.

But while they threw their own chains off, they bound in bonds more strong
The bands that held the colored man in misery and wrong;
But soon or late all wrong comes right, for such is God’s decree,
And in His own good time He set the black man free.

It was not some one favored State, North, South, East or West,
That gave the true brave signers of that Declaration bleat:
No; each State gave her patriots who bore their noble share,
And when the Nation’s work was done, each State had proud names there.

Let us clasp hands, to work as one, for all the Nation’s good
And stand together as one man, as once our fathers stood;
Behold, how short the time has been, but one brief hundred years,
To plant the tree of Liberty and water it with tears.

Brave men have fallen on the field, to guard that sacred tree,
To save it from all vandal hands our aim shall ever be;
Altho’ we still have many faults, our Nation yet is young;
And we will carry out the work which these brave men begun.

We live in freedom; let us clasp each other by the hand;
In love and unity abide, a firm, unbroken band;
We cannot live divided; the Union is secure;
God grant that while men live and love this Nation may endure.

See also: OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
COURAGE! A Poem by Bryan Waller Procter 1787-1874
A PETITION TO TIME: A Poem by Bryan Waller Procter 1787-1874
THE MIGHTY WORD “NO.” by Theodore L. Cuyler, 1822-1909
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
AMERICA! A Poem by Bayard Taylor, July 4, 1876

OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876

Ferdinand C. Latrobe III [1916-1987] & Katharine [1920-2003] - 1960OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by General Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe (October 14, 1833 – January 13, 1911) served seven terms as the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. A speech given in Maryland on Independence Day 1876

Gentlemen :—On behalf of the Commissioners of Harlem Park, I accept the beautiful flag which you have this day presented. Our country’s flag, the most fitting gift to be made on her one hundredth birthday. What recollections crowd upon us on this Fourth of July, 1876! One hundred years ago on this most blessed day, there assembled in Independence Hall, in the City of Philadelphia, a band of patriots, who bravely, fearlessly proclaimed to the world that immortal declaration, written by Jefferson, which created a new nation among the powers of the earth. A century has elapsed, and from those original thirteen States has grown this mighty confederation known as the United States of America. The flag thrown to the breeze in 1776 has withstood the battle and the storm; and now triumphantly waves over thirty-eight great States, and fifty millions of free and independent citizens. Based upon free institutions, free speech, free thought, and free schools, our Union rests upon an imperishable rock foundation, that only hardens with the test of a century. “What a triumph for Republican institutions.

latrobeThe birth of our country was not peaceful. One could suppose on reading the words of the declaration that the expression of such sentiments, such “self-evident truths,” would have brought forth shouts of gladness and congratulations from the enlightened nations of the world; but the greeting received was from mouths of shotted cannon, the rattling of steel ramrods, the sharpening of swords, and the whitening of the ocean with the sails of transports, bearing armed men across the sea to stamp out the bursting bud of liberty before it should bloom into the flower of eternal life.

During seven long years of trial and suffering the American patriots under the leadership of the immortal Washington, struggled for a free existence. At times the fortunes of the colonies were at so low an ebb, that the great leader himself almost despaired of final triumph, and contemplating a possibility of failure had determined to rally around him those who preferred death to submission, retreat to the fastnesses of the mountains in the interior, and there maintain a desperate struggle for liberty until the end. But the God of battles had willed it otherwise, the darkness of the storm was followed by the bursting light of the day of freedom, and the nation nursed in a cradle of blood and war for seven years after its birth, sprung into manhood in the triumph of victory in 1773.

Gen. Ferdinand C. LatrobeAnd now one hundred years have passed. We had our trials and troubles, wars, foreign and domestic, but the Providence that so tenderly watched over us in our infancy has not neglected us in our prime. To-day the Republic is at peace with all the world, our flag respected at home and abroad, our people prosperous and happy, and our example already liberalizing those very governments which looked with horror and dread at the growth of free institutions. And when another century rolls around, may future generations be as devoted to these great principles of freedom, and as determined to maintain them as the generations that have passed. And in 1976, as now, may the star spangled banner in triumph still wave, ” o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

I accept in the name of the Commissioners of Harlem Park this beautiful flag, and assure you upon their part that it shall be cherished as it deserves. And when hereafter it floats from your tall staff, may the mothers of Baltimore, pointing their children to its gorgeous folds, teach them to love, honor and revere that starry banner, as the proud emblem of this great Republic!

See also: WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NEW HAVEN CT, ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO by Leonard Bacon July 4, 1876

AMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND by Dr. J. Sellman 1876

Constitutional-RepublicAMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND; AN ADDRESS BY Dr. J. J. M. SELLMAN, DELIVERED AT THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, BALTIMORE, MD., JULY 4th, 1876

My Fellow Citizens, could there be anything more expressive and so eminently fitting than to see the people gathering together in their respective neighborhoods at the early dawn of the Centennial anniversary of our national independence? Does it not evince a profound reverence and love for the great fundamental principles that underlie the foundation of this free republic? Esteeming our inheritance as the richest that was ever bequeathed to mankind, we cannot but most tenderly and lovingly remember what heroism and extreme suffering those noble men and women of the revolutionary period were required to have and endure in nurturing that spirit of independence for which we as a nation are so characteristic and preeminently distinguished.

We might recall names, depict in stirring words the patriotic deeds, and portray in glowing pictures the spirit that animated them in making such a sacrifice upon their part, in behalf of that freedom, that was the precursor of such transcendent glory and renown to the remotest generations. But my friends, I am prescribed by the want of time from pursuing this most interesting course under present circumstances. Fully appreciating the noble work and unparalleled sacrifices of our illustrious sires of revolutionary fame, it will be no disparagement to say that others in later generations have also helped to mold our institutions and shape the policy of the government, and that we too have our part in this beneficent work commenced by the noble men of 1776.

Lewis CourageIt is well, my friends, to continue our accustomed Fourth of July celebration, and endeavor to increase, if possible, the public interest in that most sacred day. To feel otherwise than joyous upon such an occasion would not be in consonance with the inherent sentiment of the genius of the American people, who are so well-grounded and settled in the faith and spirit so eloquently set forth in the incomparable declaration of principles enunciated and proclaimed a century ago. The spirit of our devotion to the sacred principles of Constitutional Free Government does not grow cold and indifferent or less vivacious by the lapse of time, though it be a century, but is ever increasing by the development of the transcendent beauty, beneficent designs of the patriotic architects of our great inheritance.

We all know how our hearts glow with patriotic ardor at the bare mention of the day which marks our Nation’s birth—fathers and mothers teach their little ones to lisp and revere the day sacred to the American Independence, and the pallid cheek of age flushes with enthusiasm, and the dim eye kindles with patriotic fire, when memory brings the scenes of other days around them, and pass in review the hallowed names of our illustrious sires, who dedicated their lives and fortunes to secure, preserve and maintain the immortal principles of representative self-government, which had been enunciated by the protest of a gallant people determined to be free. My friends, the fourth day of July is and should always be a festal day which we as a nation might joyfully commemorate.

The custom of reading the Declaration of Independence ought to have real practical value, but it has become somewhat common-placed, and is regarded only as a primary lesson of constitutional government, having grown from infancy to maturity, does not lessen the value of keeping those essential principles ever fresh in our hearts and memories. I do not, however, propose to read that sound and practical lesson before breakfast, my friends, but there are times when it might be read with great profit.

A recurrence to first principles sometimes is most important, and cannot it be said with emphasis that of late years both government and people have drifted far away from the essential rudiments of republican education, and that a return to those elementary principles of constitutional government would have a very salutary effect upon the political tone of the republic. Political safety and happiness, my friends, depends largely upon a strict adhesion to the immortal principles of a free and independent government.

So resplendent and promising are our possessions and prospects, we must not permit human ambition and treacherous baseness to despoil our precious and dear-bought inheritance.

I am confident it is in keeping with this sound sentiment that we come here to welcome in this Centennial birthday of our nation, and to give some public expression to the ardor of our hearts and minds in relation to this interesting epoch in our national history.

It was this holy sentiment that developed into action the mighty energies of the men who secured the liberties we now so richly enjoy, and from which, by wise and ardent devotion, the glorious edifice upon which rest the pillars of the rights of self-government and the inestimable prerogative of freedom of conscience. Those noble men who came out of the Revolutionary struggle for Independence, with a holy love for freedom erected and dedicated this beautiful temple to liberty and free conscience, whose foundation is a mighty continent, the boundaries of which shall reach and extend from ocean to ocean.

American free institutions is this beautiful temple, and stands this day in all its majestic beauty, the pride of history, the joy and glory of mankind; tenderer and more devoted, higher and. holier than aught on earth save a mother’s love, is the almost divine sentiment which makes us love and cherish the land of our birth. And now at this auspicious time, at the very beginning of this, the second century of our political experience, let us, if we would have the same patriotic and fraternal feeling that distinguished the period of the event which we this day commemorate, draw nearer and nearer to a higher appreciation of the true principles of constitutional government . If the spirit of the nation be entirely directed towards wise ends and purposes, what an endless source of happiness would be felt throughout the wide extent of this great republic. The noble superstruction erected by the agonizing struggles of the Revolutionary sires, and baptized with their patriotic blood, can only be preserved and kept secure by pristine authority and respect for those immortal principles whereby every human being in the land, of every race and condition, may enjoy equal protection and privilege. In lieu of discord and distrust, we should have more fraternal feeling between all sections of the country, every element of disturbance should be removed, that all may share in an undimmed glory of American institutions. Ours should be a government that all can love and revere, from the pure motive of reverence and love.

We want a patriotism, my friends, that will knit together all the people in one loving brotherhood, that shall have no limit other than the wide domain over which the nation’s flag so proudly floats. It is the sentiment thus acting upon free institutions, and again reacting through them upon the people that constitute their public spirit and political genius. My fellow-citizens, are we not confronted at this very moment with a crisis freighted with great responsibility, and what shall be the result, if we fail to improve the opportunity and rise to the full measure of these responsibilities? The public mind and morals of the nation has become sordid and reckless, the innocent and confiding people, nauseated and disgusted, until at last the moral goodness of the masses have become alarmed in the interest of republican institutions and of a pure government.

This land of religious, civil and political freedom can only be preserved by a strict adherence to the sacred principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. To me the most hopeful sign of the times is the evident desire in the public mind to purify the political atmosphere, and to eradicate all taint of corruption that now pervades it, and get back to the better principles of the early days of the Republic. Corruption has grown stronger and stronger, until it has permeated every avenue of public and private life, resulting chiefly from the apathy and indifference of the people in choosing their representative men.

If we would have a pure National, State or Municipal government, we must insist upon putting into places of honor and responsibility, none other than men of recognized probity and integrity. In no other way may you expect to see disseminated throughout the land those broad, deep, and lofty sentiments, whereby the moral sense of the Republic may be restored. We must ignore to a great extent this party fealty, that is the barrier to a full and faithful expression of the better judgment. If we would strictly adhere to the inflexible rule laid down by the early Fathers, in the choosing of our public servants, we should soon realize a change for the better. Is he honest? is he competent? was their test.

All the vague and unmeaning promises and political platforms avail nothing for good, but only serve the purposes for which they are intended—namely, to mystify and delude the honest public sentiment. It is in the strength and moral goodness of the people that we can look with confidence for the regenerating and revivifying power whereby the national Constitution may be restored to pristine soundness. My hope for the prosperity and perpetuity of this nation is anchored upon this strong tower of strength. The platform of an intelligent mind, and an honest heart that can rise above all political chicanery, is of infinite more value than aught else beside.

I speak plainly, my friends, because of the magnitude of our responsibilities. Each generation has its part to perform in the extension and promotion of the free institutions of this great republic. It is true the foundation laid by the skillful hands of the early Fathers is broad, deep and strong, and cemented with patriotic blood. But it is for each generation in its turn to contribute its best material, that they may add beauty to beauty and strength to strength, until its magnetic proportions and resplendent glory shall reach out and over all the countless ages to come.

With all the grievous mistakes of the past century (and there have been many), it is a source of pride and satisfaction to every lover of his country to witness the unparalleled progress made in science, literature and mechanic arts; and when coupled with the wonderful agricultural and mining products of the republic, we can have some faint idea and appreciate the immeasurable stores of wealth that is yet to flow into our already well filled cup. O, my friends, America’s free institutions and her rich agricultural soil and mineral wealth is without a counterpart. It is only in yonder Exposition building where the products of the soil and the skillful industry of all nations are brought into comparison, that any delicate idea can be found of the mighty power that is felt, and what a transcendent hale of glory encircles the very name of American institutions. The effulgent rays of freedom’s light are penetrating far and wide into the heretofore dark and misty minds of other nations, yet unblessed with free institutions and political privileges as we are. I pray we may now, at the beginning of this the second century, take a long step forward in the true path of progress, which must necessarily connect us with all advanced ideas that tend to the further development of knowledge, that leads to the discovery of all truth.

I extend my hearty centennial congratulations, and invite you to join me in one more thought that is suggestive of my own feelings upon this interesting occasion which I have embodied in the following words:

Unfold the nation’s flag, fling its folds to the breeze,
Let it float o’er these hills, as well as the seas;
Let the old and the young unitedly stand
To defend and protect the flag of the land.
Lift it up. wave it high, ’tis as bright as of old,
Not a stain on its parity, not a blot on its fold;
Lift it up, ’tis the old banner of red, white and blue,
‘Tis the sunburst resplendent, far flashing its hue.
Look aloft look aloft, lo! the sunbeams coming down
Are its folds not emblazoned with deeds of renown,
Through triumph and victory for one hundred long years;
Beautiful banner, baptized with blood and with tears.
Behold, behold, the clouds passing by,
Are we not reminded how time has to die;
Let we then, while we can, render homage and love
To the flag of the nation and the God that’s above.

See also: 
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
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
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
Founders & forefathers pledged their Sacred Honor, what did they mean?

THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876

Brooks_Adams,_c._1910THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY, A SPEECH BY BROOKS ADAMS, ESQ., DELIVERED AT THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION AT BINGHAM, MASS., JULY 4th, 1876. Youngest son of Charles Francis Adams, also great grandson of John Adams.

Fellow-citizens: On this solemn anniversary we do not come together—if I understand our feelings rightly—to indulge in vainglorious self-praise of our fathers or ourselves. Nor do we come here to lash ourselves once more into anger over the well known story of the wrongs our fathers suffered at the hands of the English people. We come here neither in pride nor bitterness. We bear malice towards none. We are at peace with all the world. What we do come for is to celebrate what we believe to have been a great era in the world’s history, to call to mind the principles which were declared one hundred years ago to-day, to rejoice over the blessings which this people have inherited through the patriotism and the wisdom of our forefathers, and above all to ask ourselves on this Centennial day whether we have been acting up to the standard they laid down for us, and whether we are doing our duty by our country and our age. That three millions of people should have been able to contend with the whole power of Great Britain, and to wring from her an acknowledgment of their independence, is indeed surprising, but that alone would throw but a comparatively feeble light upon the early patriots. Other colonies have also gained their independence, whose people have little reason to celebrate their nation’s birthday. What makes this day remarkable is not so much that on it our independence was declared as that on its birth was given to popular government, and the glory of our ancestors lies not so much in having waged a successful war as in having been the first to teach the lesson to mankind that institutions resting safely on the popular will can endure. Yet the men of that day were neither dreamers nor enthusiasts. They did not want independence for its own sake. They would have been perfectly content to have remained English subjects had they been allowed to manage their little governments as they had been accustomed, and to enjoy the rights they had always enjoyed. But they were not a race of men to endure oppression patiently. They loved liberty as they understood it, and as we understand it, more than anything on earth, and to preserve it they were willing to brave the greatest power of the world.

II. The Beginning of Government

We all know the history of the war, how it begun at Lexington and Concord and dragged through seven, bloody, weary years, and until it closed on the day when Gen. Lincoln, of Hingham, received the sword of Lord Cornwallis on the surrender of Yorktown. During those years this State and this town did their part, as they have always done in the time of trial, and as they probably always will do so long as the old Puritan stock remains. Meanwhile the colonies, having thrown off their old Government, went on to organize a new one. Peace found the country ravaged, war-worn, ruined, and under Confederation. The Declaration of Independence had boldly declared not only the right but the capacity of the people for self-government. The task yet remained before them of reconstructing their Government and thus redeeming the boast that had been made. For the first time in the world’s history popular institutions were really upon trial, and it seemed as though they were doomed to meet with disastrous failure. How can I describe that wretched interval, the gloomiest years in American history. The confederation hardly deserved the name of Government. There were enemies abroad, there was dissension at home. Congress had no power to levy taxes, so that not only the interest on the public debt, but the most ordinary expenses remained unpaid. There was a debased currency, there were endless jealousies between the States, there was mutiny in the army, imbecility in Congress—the people were poor and discontented, and at length a rebellion broke at her in Massachusetts which threatened to overthrow the foundation of society. The greatest and best of men—Washington, himself, was in despair. It was then that the intelligence and power of the American people showed itself, it was then that they justified the boast of the Declaration of Independene, it was then that they established Government.

No achievement of any people is more wonderful than this. “Without force or bloodshed, but by means of fair agreement alone difficulties were solved which had seemed to admit of no solution. At this distance of time we can look back calmly, and we can appreciate the wisdom and self-control of men who could endure such trials and pass through action without an appeal to arms. And they had their awards. Nothing has ever equaled the splendor of their success. From the year 1789 to the year 1860, no nation has ever known a more unbounded prosperity, a fuller space of happiness. In the short space of 70 years, within the turn of a single life, the nation, poor, weak and despised, raised itself to the pinnacle of power and of glory.

At the outbreak of the Revolution 3,000,000 of people, a far smaller number than the population of New York now, were scattered along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Georgia. There were no interior settlements. Where the great cities of Buffalo and Rochester now are there were then only Indians and deer. Boston had but 14,000 inhabitants, there were no manufactures, everything was imported from abroad. Within those 70 or 80 years all changed as if by magic. Population increased ten-fold, cities sprang up in the wilderness, manufactures were established, wealth grew beyond all computation. And better than mere material prosperity, our history was stainad by no violence. We had no State executions, no reigning terror, no guillotine, no massacre. We tolerated all religious beliefs. There was perfect liberty and security for all men. Nor is this the highest praise to which our people are justly due. No purer men or greater statesmen ever lived than those whose lives adorn the early history of the Republic. Men who had never seen a great city, men whose whole experience had not extended further than the local assembly of their colony or the provincial corn-fields, wrote the Declaration of Independence, and framed the Constitution of our States. We read their writings now, we wonder at them, but we do not dream equaling them ourselves. There seemed no end to them. Orators, statesmen, judges, Washington and Jefferson, Franklin and Marshall, men who will be remembered and honored so long as our language shall endure.

III. Slavery

But with all the blessings we inherited from our ancestors we, inherited a curse also—the curse of negro slavery. It is easy now to see how the bitterness of the South as we should wish to be received were we Southerners. Let us rather remember that they fought by our fathers’ side through seven long years in the war of the Revolution, and that a year ago Southern soldiers marched through the streets of Boston under the old flag to celebrate with us the victory of Bunker Hill. And now on this our nation’s birthday, in the midst of peace, with our country more wealthy and more populous than ever before, are we content? Can we look over the United States and honestly tell ourselves that all things are well within us? We cannot conceal from ourselves that all things are not well. For the last ten years a shameless corruption has gone on about us. We see it on every side. We read of it daily in the newspapers until we sicken with disgust. It has not been confined to any section or state, or city, to either political party, or to any department of Government. It has been all-pervading.

IV. Political Party

One hundred years ago to-day birth was given to this nation in its struggle for the rights of men. On this day, if on n0 other we can rise above our party ties, we can feel that we are all citizens of a common country striving for a common cause, members of a common party, all Republicans, all Democrats. We may differ as to the means but we agree upon the end. We all long for a great and respected country, for a happy and united people between the North and South slowly grew until it burst into civil war. And truly that war did continue until every drop of blood drawn by the lost had been repaid by another drawn by the sword. Though years have passed by, which of us does not remember the awful agony of that struggle, the joy at the news of victory, the gloom after defeat. Even now when we recall those days we feel the old rage arise within us, the old bitterness return. Not far from these doors stands the statue of Massachusetts’ greatest Governor—Mr. Andrews. Truly his life should teach us that as men are good and brave, so are they kind and forgiving. Surely he would not have cherished resentment toward a conquered foe. Surely he would have been the last to preach the doctrine of internal hate. Surely Mr. Lincoln was full of kindness toward the South. If ever we are again to have a united people, we must learn to feel as he felt. We must remember men will never be good citizens who are treated with suspicion and distrust. We must, above all things, teach ourselves to be just. We must remember that the foundation of this government is equal laws for all, and that there cannot be one law for Massachusetts and another for Virginia.

The issues of the war are dead; Slavery is abolished, never to be revived; it is forbidden by the Constitution, and we have the means to enforce obedience should any disobey. No State will ever again support the cause which has been trampled in the dust by national armies. Let us then remember this Centennial year by forgetting sectional differences. Let us receive them as brothers. There are certain duties which the citizen owes this country that cannot be thrown aside, and the first of these duties is to see that the Government is pure. The struggles of the Democrats and Federalists of three-quarters of a century ago no longer excites us. Yet we see two parties, each believing in themselves in the right, and each fighting fiercely for what they believe. We know what the Democrats were. “We know that under their will the country was prosperous and happy, and we are justified in believing that had victory been reversed, the country would have prospered still. What matters it to us to which political party Washington, Jefferson, Madison, or Jay belonged? We know that they were great and wise, and we honor them and love them as American citizens. What does it matter to us if the people and the men they chose to govern them were intelligent and honest, and made the American name feared and respected throughout the world.

There may not be among us men equal to the early patriots, men whose names will still be remembered when this nation has passed away, but we have men whose honor is as stainless, whose lives are as pure, and who, if they cannot bring genius, can at least bring integrity and devotion to the public service. We have no standing army, no aristocracy. The whole future of our society rests on the respect the people feel for law. Laws can only be respected when the laws themselves, the men who make them, and the men who administer them command our respect. If the time shall ever come when American judges shall habitually sell justice, when American legislators shall sell their votes, and the public servants the nation’s honor, all respect for our institutions will die in the minds of our people, and the Government born one hundred years ago to-day will be about to pass away.

V. Official corruption

The question even now forces itself upon us, what do the things that are about us portend? Is all that we have seen and heard, only the sign of a passing evil, which we may hope to cure, or does it show that we are already the victims of that terrible disease which has so often been the ruin of republics? Is the very glory and splendor of the nation to prevent its ruin, and do its wealth and prosperity bear out, then, the seeds of decay? Our fathers were small and scattered people—sober, frugal and industrious. There was no great wealth, nor was their extreme poverty. Most men were farmers, and had that best and most practical of all education —the management of their own property, the process of government comparatively simple, and the temptations comparatively small. In a century all this has changed; we are forty millions of people instead of three millions; we are crowded together in great cities; we have railways and manufactures; we have huge aspirations, vast wealth. But side by side with our beautiful churches and rich colleges there exists, where the population is dense, much poverty and ignorance. On the other hand, men are assailed by all the tempations of a rich and complex society. In the history of the past few years that evil has slowly gained strength; a class of men are beginning to hold office, with the approbation of the people, whose object is plunder; a class who look upon the public revenues as a fund from which to steal—nay, more, who seek public offices for motives of private gain by using their influence to make money for themselves.

VI. Necessity of Change

There we already see the beginning of the end. No popular government can endure which does not do justice, a much less one which is systematically perverted. No government can endure which allows the property of its citizens to be taken from them under the guise of taxes, not for profitable purposes, but to satisfy private greed. These abuses came with ring rule, and there is hardly a rich city or a great State in the Union which does not know the meaning of government by rings(1). Corrupt courts, enormous taxes, ruinous debts, impure politics, are the consequences, and the consequences we have seen. If we have now arrived at the point where we feel ring government gradually closing in upon us; if the majority of the people has not the power or the intelligence, or the will, not only to protect themselves against fresh assaults, but to purify society from taint, this is for us indeed a gloomy anniversary, and our hope can be but small. In such a struggle to stand still is to be conquered. Nothing in the world is stationary, and if government does not diminish it will assuredly increase.

I do not believe there is excuse for gloom. We know the people with whom we have always lived, and we know that they are neither dishonest nor ignorant, and I do not believe that the people of the other States in the Union are behind the people of Massachusetts. But there are also other better reasons for confidence. This the generation which carried through the war; no sterner test could be applied to any people. There was no constraint upon them; peace was always within their reach; it could have been attained at any time had the majority desired it.

After brief allusions to the prominent causes for hope, the speaker concluded as follows: Fellow-citizens, believing as I do that our institutions are wise and good, believing as I do that, properly administered, they yield to us the fullest measure of happiness, believing that our people are essentially the same as the people of one hundred years ago—equally honest, equally intelligent, equally self-sacrificing—I see no cause for despondency in the future, I see reason for brightest hope. Provided we remember that our responsibilities are as great now as they ever have been during our history—provided we keep in mind the warning of Washington, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance—provided we are awake to the knowledge that abuses which are tolerated may in time overpower us—there lies before this Republic the happiest future which any nation has ever been permitted to enjoy; a future as happy and as glorious as its past. Let us then, in this centennial year, putting aside all personal ambition and all selfish aims, firmly resolve that we will strive honestly, patiently, humbly, in the position in which God has placed us, to regain that noble purity in which our nation was born, preeminent to the end that our children, at another centennial, may say of us that they too had their ink well in the world’s history, and through them this Government of the people for the people by the people still endureth.

“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” – Samuel Adams

Footnotes
(1) Government by rings definition: Also called government by lottery, or convention system of government. That government where political bosses are in control and we the people have no real say in who is chosen to represent us, whether it be in the political offices and bureaucracies of nation, state or local. It is also where the seats of bureaucracy are filled by the winner of elections as in political appointees, where the reins of society and government are given over to lobbyists and special interests who have more sway with legislation than we the people do.

From the Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, Volume 2 (1879)

As illustrating the operations of the ring, I quote from the Buffalo Express, one of the ablest papers published in the United States:

“Books have been multiplied to serve the profits of publishers rather than the training of scholars, and every large city, where tens of thousands of children must have each a half-dozen or more of books, has become a gold-mine, to be worked to the utmost by the publishers who hold it, and to be strenuously fought for by the publishers whose works are now excluded. Any fair and unbiased opportunity to judge of text-books solely upon their merits, and adopt them because of those merits, is prevented by the manipulations of book agents, who push the works published by the houses in whose pay they are, in season and out of season, and too often bring to the notice of the officials interested arguments quite apart from any consideration of the contents of the book. According to the Detroit Free Press, the matter took this shape in a southern city:

“The Louisville, Ky., school-men have been grievously tempted by a geography agent. One member resigned because he had been offered $75 to vote for a particular geography,and he did not wish the offense repeated. Another said that §200 had been offered him to vote for the same work. Thus doth the great cause of education stride along.”

Who knows how soon such bribery may be resorted to in Buffalo and other cities? Could there be a grosser scandal than this making merchandise of the training, and therefore, to no trilling extent, of the future happiness of one’s children, the dearest interests that can appeal to the heart of man and woman?

Is it not about time that the people of this State, if not of the country, should adopt some settled, uniform, legalized method as to school-books which might better serve the training of pupils, might lessen the cost to parents, and might put an end to a great and growing scandal? Must it be admitted that no such plan can be devised, and that public education has become the foot-ball of the mercantile interests of publishers, beyond all remedy? That would be a humiliating confession—a confession, indeed, which would go far to cast doubt upon the boasted capacity of the American people for self-government. If we cannot protect ourselves from imposition and intrigue, in a matter as to which our love for our children and our regard for the future welfare of the country—two of the strongest sentiments of our being —conspire to quicken our invention and give decision to our action, then we might as well confess that government by rings is the normal condition of American society, and that we are helplessly given over to the spoiler.”

Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”- Thomas Paine

See also: 
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John Hancock 1770
Political Evils and the Remedy for them by Noah Webster 1834
Founders on the 2nd Amendment
 
ConstitutionDay

The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams

Charles Francis AdamsThe practical advance of human freedom under the trumpet call made one hundred years ago, and the Example of George Washington, by Charles Francis Adams 1876, US Congressman, US Diplomat. The son of 6th United States President John Quincy Adams and grandson of 2nd United States President John Adams. Continued from WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876

“I come now to a fourth and more stupendous measure following that call. The world-wide famous author of it [The Declaration of Independence] had not been slow to grasp the conception that the abolition of all trade in slaves must absolutely follow as a corollary from’ his general principle. The strongest proof of it is found in the original draft of his paper, wherein he directly charged it as one of the greatest grievances inflicted upon liberty by the king, that he had countenanced the trade. The passage is one of the finest in the paper, and deserves to be repeated to-day. It is in these words:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the person of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death on their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian [As King of England, George III was the supreme head of the Church of England, this is one of the reasons for Amendment 1 of the Constitution] King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain the execrable commerce.(1)

There is no passage so fine as this in the Declaration. Unfortunately it hit too hard on some interests close at home which proved strong enough to have it dropped from the final draft. But though lost there, its essence almost coeval with the first publication of Granville Sharp in England on the same subject undoubtedly pervaded the agitation which never ceased in either country until legislation secured a final triumph The labors of Sharp and Wilberforce, of Clarkson and Buxton, and their companions, have placed them upon an eminence of honor throughout the world.

Freedom5 But their struggle which began in 1787, was not terminated for a period of twenty years. On the other hand, it appears in the statute book in 1794, that it was enacted by the Congress of the United States: “That no vessel shall be fitted for the purpose of earning on any traffic in slaves to any foreign country, or for procuring from any foreign country the inhabitants thereof to be disposed of as slaves.” This act was followed in due course by others, which, harmonizing with the action of foreign nations, is believed to have put an effective and permanent stop to one of the vilest abominations, as conducted on the ocean, that was ever tolerated in the records of time.

But all this laborious effort had been directed only against the cruelties practiced in the transportation of negro slaves over the seas. It did not touch the question of his existing condition or of his right to be free.

This brings me to the fifth and greatest of all fruits of the charter of Independence, the proclamation of liberty to the captive through a great part of the globe.

The seed that had been sown broadcast over the world fell much as described in the Scripture, some of it sprouting too early, as in France, and yielding none but bitter fruit, but more, after living in the ground many years, producing results most propitious to the advancement of mankind. It would be tedious for me to go into details describing the progress of a movement that has changed the face of civilization. The principle enunciated in our precious scroll has done its work in Great Britain and in France, and most of all in the immense expanse of the territories of the Autocrat of all the Russias, who of his own mere motion proclaimed that noble decree which liberated from serfdom at one stroke twenty-three millions of the human race. This noble act will remain forever one of the grandest steps toward the elevation of mankind ever taken by the will of a sovereign of any race in any age.

But though freely conceding the spontaneous volition of the Czar in this instance, I do not hesitate to affirm that but for the subtle essence infused into the political conscience of the age by the great Declaration of 1776, he would never have been inspired with the lofty magnanimity essential to the completion of so great a work.

i-prefer-dangerous-freedom-over-peaceful-slaveryI come next and last to the remembrance of the fearful conflict for the complete establishment of the grand principle to which we had pledged ourselves at the very outset of our national career, and out of which we have, by the blessing of the Almighty, come safe and sound. The history is so fresh in our minds that there is no need of recalling its details, neither would I do so if there were, on a day like this consecrated wholly to the harmony of the nation. Never was the first aspect of any contention surrounded by darker clouds; yet viewing as we must its actual issue, at no time has there ever been more reason to rejoice in the present and look forward with confidence to a still more brilliant future. Now that the agony is over, who is there that will not admit that he is not relieved by the removal of the ponderous burden which weighed down our spirits in earlier days? The great law proclaimed at the beginning has been at last fully carried out. No more apologies for inconsistency to caviling and evil-minded objectors. No more unwelcome comparisons with the superior liberality of absolute monarchs in distant regions of the earth. Thank God, now there is not a man who treads the soil of this broad land, void of offense, who in the eye of the law does not stand on the same level with every other man. If the memorable words of Thomas Jefferson, that true Apostle of Liberty, had done only this it would alone serve to carry him aloft, high up among the benefactors of mankind. Not America alone, but Europe and Asia, and above all Africa, nay the great globe itself, move in an orbit never so resplendent as on this very day.

Let me then sum up in brief the results arrived at by the enunciation of the great law of liberty in 1776:

1. It opened the way to the present condition of France.

2. It brought about perfect security for liberty on the broad and narrow seas.

3. It set the example of abolishing the slave trade, which in its turn, prompted the abolition of slavery itself by Great Britain, France, Russia, and last of all, by our own country too.

Standing now on this vantage ground, gained from the severe straggle of the past, the inquiry naturally presents itself, What have we loft for us to do? To which I will frankly answer much. It is no part of my disposition, even on the brightest of our festival days, to deal in indiscriminate laudation, or even to cast a flimsy veil over the less favorable aspects of our national position. I will not deny that many of the events that have happened since our escape from the last great peril, indicate more forcibly than I care to admit, some decline from that high standard of moral and political purity for which we have ever before been distinguished. The adoration of Mammon, described by the poet as the

“least erected spirit that fell
From Heaven; for e’en in Heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent.”

has done something to impair the glory earned by all our preceding sacrifices. For myself, while sincerely mourning the mere possibility of stain touching our garments, I feel not the less certainty that the heart of the people remains as pure as ever.

One of the strongest muniments to save us from all harm it gives me pride to remind you of, especially on this day—I mean the memory of the example of Washington.

Whatever misfortunes may betide us, of one thing we may be sure that the study of that model by the rising youth of our land can never fail to create a sanative force potent enough to counteract every poisonous element in the political atmosphere.

Permit me for a few moments to dwell upon this topic, for I regard it as closely intertwined with much of the success we have hitherto enjoyed as an independent people. Far be it for me to raise a visionary idol. I have lived too long to trust in mere panegyric. Fulsome eulogy of any man raises with me only a smile. Indiscriminate laudation is equivalent to falsehood. Washington, as I understand him was gifted with nothing ordinarily defined as genius, and he had not had great advantages of education. His intellectual powers were clear, but not much above the average men of his time. What knowledge he possessed had been gained from association with others in his long career, rather than by study. As an actor he scarcely distinguished himself by more than one brilliant stroke; as a writer, the greater part of his correspondence discloses nothing more than average natural good sense; on the field of battle his powers pale before the splendid strategy of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Yet, notwithstanding all these deductions, the thread of his life from youth to age displays a maturity of judgment, a consistency of principle, a firmness of purpose, a steadiness of action, a discriminating wisdom and a purity of intention hardly found united to the same extent in any other instance I can recall in history. Of his entire disinterestedness in all his pecuniary relations with the public it is needless for me to speak. Who ever suspected him of a stain? More than all and above all, he was throughout master of himself. If there be one quality more than another in his character which may exercise a useful control over the men of the present hour, it is the total disregard of self, when in the most exalted positions for influence and example.

In order to more fully illustrate my position, let me for one moment contrast his course with that of the great military chief I have already named. The star of Napoleon was just rising to its zenith as that of Washington passed away. In point of military genius Napoleon probably equaled if he did not exceed any person known in history. In regard to the direction of the interests of a nation he may be admitted to have held a very high place. He inspired an energy and a vigor in the veins of the French people which they sadly needed after the demoralizing sway of generations of Bourbon kings With even a small modicum of the wisdom so prominent in Washington, he too might have left a people to honor his memory down to the latest times. But it was not to be. Do you ask the reason? It is this. His motives of action always centered in self. His example gives a warning but not a guide. For when selfishness animates a ruler there is no cause of wonder if he sacrifice, without scruple, an entire generation of men as a holocaust to the great principle of evil, merely to maintain or extend his sway. Had Napoleon copied the example of Washington he might have been justly the idol of all later generations in France. For Washington to have copied the example of Napoleon would have been simply impossible.

Let us then, discarding all inferior strife, hold up to our children the example of Washington as the symbol not merely of wisdom, but of purity and truth.

Let us labor continually to keep the advance in civilization a3 it becomes us to do after the struggles of the past, so that the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which we have honorably secured, may be firmly entailed upon the ever enlarging generations of mankind.

And what is it, I pray you tell me, that has brought us to the celebration of this most memorable day? Is it not the steady cry of Excelsior up to the most elevated regions of political purity, secured to us by the memory of those who have passed before us and consecrated the very ground occupied by their ashes? Glorious indeed may it be said of it in the words of the poet:

What’s hallow’d ground? ‘Tis what gives birth
To sacred thoughts in souls of worth—
Peace! Independence! Truth! go forth
Earth’s compass round,
And your high priesthood shall make earth
All Hallowed Ground

end quote

Footnotes:
(1) Jefferson (Thomas) Included this in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. The delegations from slave-holding states of George and South Carolina objected, and the offending passage was removed. The complete text is:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

See also: American Statesman: Tribute to President George Washington Part 1
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 Part 1
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876

NEW HAVEN CT, ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO by Leonard Bacon July 4, 1876

Leonard BaconIn the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, the fourth of July fell on Thursday. On that day, the Continental congress at Philadelphia gave notice to all nations that the political communities which it represented had ceased to be colonies, were absolved from their allegiance to the British Crown, and had become Independent States. The news that such a Declaration had been made was not flashed along electric wires; it was not conveyed by steam car or steam boat; nor can I learn that it was sent in all directions by an extraordinary express. But we may assume that as early as Tuesday morning, July 9th, the people of New Haven heard the news, and that such news reported by neighbor to neighbor, was talked about everywhere, with every variety of opinion as to whether the Independence that had been declared could be maintained; some rejoicing in the Declaration and sure that it would stand; others doubting; here and there one indignant, but not daring to express his indignation. All knew that the decisive step had been taken, and that the country was committed to a life and death struggle, not for the recovery of chartered and inherited rights as provinces included in the British empire, but for an independent nationality and a place among acknowledged sovereignties.

It is difficult for us to form in our minds any just conception of what New Haven was a hundred years ago. But let us make the attempt. At that time, the town of New Haven included East Haven, North Haven, Hamden, West Haven, and almost the entire territory of what are now the three towns of Woodbridge, Beacon Falls and Bethany. What is now the city of New Haven was then “the town plat”—the nine original squares —with the surrounding fields and scattered dwellings, from the West river to the Quinnipiac, and between the harbor and the two sentinel cliffs which guard the beauty of the plain. Here was New Haven proper—the territorial parish of the First Ecclesiastical Society, all the outlying portions of the township having been set off into distinct parishes for church and school purposes. In other words, the town of New Haven, at that time was bounded on the cast by Branford, on the north by Wallingford (which included Cheshire), on the west by Derby and Milford; and all the “freemen” within those bounds were accustomed to assemble here in town meeting.

A hundred years ago, there was a very pleasant village here at the “town-plat,” though very little had been done to make it beautiful. This public square had been reserved, with a wise forethought for certain public uses; but in the hundred and thirty-eight years that had passed since it was laid out by the proprietors who purchased these lands from the Indians, it had never been enclosed, nor planted with trees, nor graded; for the people had always been too poor to do much for mere beauty. Here, at the centre of their public square, the planters of New Haven built a plain, rude house for public worship, and behind it they made their graves—thus giving to the spot a consecration that ought never to be forgotten. At the time which we are now endeavoring to recall, that central spot (almost identical with the site of what is now called Centre church) had been reoccupied about eighteen years, by the brick meeting-house of the First church; and the burying-ground, enclosed with a rude fence, but otherwise neglected, was still the only burial-place within the parochial limits of the First Ecclesiastical Society. A little south of the burying-ground, was another brick edifice, the state house, so called even while Connecticut was still a colony. Where the North church now stands, there was a framed meeting-house, recently built by what was called the Fair Haven Society, a secession from the White Haven, whose house of worship (colloquially called “the old Blue Meetinghouse”) was on the corner now known as St. John Place. Beside those three churches there was another from which Church street derives its name. That was per-eminently “the church”—those who worshipped there would have resented the suggestion of its being a meeting-house. It was, in fact, a missionary station or outpost of the Church of England, and as such was served by a missionary of the English “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.” The budding, though of respectable dimensions (58×38), was smaller than the others, yet it had one distinction,—its steeple—a few feet south of Cutler comer, and in full view from the Green, though somewhat less aspiring than the other three—was surmounted by the figure of a crown signifying that, whatever might be the doctrine or the sentiment elsewhere, there the king’s ecclesiastical supremacy was acknowledged, and loyalty to his sacred person was a conspicuous virtue’ Only a few householders worshipped there, for the Church of England was an exotic in the climate of New England. Not till the Episcopal church had become (in consequence of the event which this day commemorates) an organization dependent on no king but Christ, an American church, and therefore no longer English, did it begin to strike its roots deep into the soil and to flourish as if it were indigenous. Two other public buddings adorned this “market-place;” one a little school-house just behind the Fair Haven meeting-house and not unlike the old-time wayside school-houses in the country; the other a county jail, which was a wooden structure fronting on College street about half way from Elm to Chapel.

Yale UniversityBeside all these public buddings, representative of religion, of government and justice, and of provision by the commonwealth against popular ignorance, there was the college, then as now, the pride of New Haven, but very different then from what we now see. The college buddings at that time were only three. First there was the original college edifice, to which, at its completion, in 1718, the name of Yale had been given in honor of a distinguished benefactor, and from which that name had been gradually, and at last authoritatively, transferred to the institution which has made it famous. That original Yale College was close on the comer of College and Chapel streets, a wooden budding, long and narrow, three stories high, with three entries, and cupola and clock.

Next in age was the brick chapel with its tower and spire, the building now called the Athenaeum and lately transformed into recitation rooms. More glorious yet was the new brick college (then not ten years old), which had been named Connecticut Hall, and which remains (though not unchanged) the “Old South Middle.”

Such was New Haven, a hundred years ago, in its public buildings and institutions. Its population, within the present town limits was, at the largest estimate, not more than 1800 (including about 150 students) where there are now more than thirty times that number. If you ask, what were the people who lived here then, I may say that I remember some of them. Certainly they were, at least in outward manifestation, a religious people. Differences of religious judgment and sympathy had divided them, within less than forty years, into three worshiping assemblies beside the little company that had gone over to the Church of England. Their religious zeal supported three ministers; and I will venture to say that the houses were comparatively few in which there was not some form of household religion. Compared with other communities in that age (on either side of the ocean) they were an intelligent people. With few exceptions, they could read and write; and though they had no daily newspapers, nor any knowledge of the modern sciences, nor any illumination from popular lectures, nor that sort of intelligence and refinement which comes from the theater, they knew some things as well as we do. They knew something about the chief end of man and man’s responsibility to God; something about their rights as freeborn subjects of their king; something about their chartered freedom; and the tradition had never died out among them. There were graves in the old burial ground which would not let them forget that a king may prove himself a traitor to his people, and may be brought to account by the people whom he has betrayed. There were social distinctions then, as now. Some families were recognized as more intelligent and cultivated than others. Some were respected for their ancestry, if they had not disgraced it. Men in official stations—civil, military, or ecclesiastical— were treated with a sort of formal deference now almost obsolete; but then, as now, a man, whatever title he might bear, was pretty sure to be estimated by bis neighbors at bis real worth, and nothing more. Some men were considered wealthy, others were depressed by poverty, but the distinction between rich and poor was not just what it is to-day. There were no great capitalists, nor was there anything like a class of mere laborers with no dependence but their daily wages. The aggregate wealth of the community was very moderate, with no overgrown fortunes and hardly anything like abject want. Almost every family was in that condition—”neither poverty nor riches “—which a wise man of old desired and prayed fox as most helpful to right living. Such a community was not likely to break out into any turbulent or noisy demonstrations. Doubtless the Declaration of Independence was appreciated as a great fact by the people of New Haven when they heard of it . Perhaps the church bells were rung (that would cost nothing); perhaps there was some shouting by men and boys (that would also cost nothing): perhaps there was a bonfire on the Green or at the “Head of the Wharf” (that would not cost much); but we may be sure that the great fact was not greeted with the thunder, of artillery nor celebrated with fireworks; for gunpowder was just then too precious to be consumed in that way. The little newspaper, then published in this town every Wednesday, gives no indication of any popular excitement on that occasion. On “Wednesday, July 10th, 1776,” the Connecticut Journal had news, much of it very important, and almost every word of it relating to the conflict between the colonies and the mother country; news from London to the date of April 9; from Halifax to June 4 ; from Boston to July 4; from New York to July 8, and from Philadelphia to July 6. Under the Philadelphia date the first item was “Yesterday the Congress unanimously resolved to declare the United Colonies Free And Independent States.” That was all, save that, in another column, the printer said, “To-morrow will be ready for sale ‘The Resolves of the Congress declaring the United Colonies Free And Independent States.”’ What the printer, in that advertisement, called “The Resolves of Congress,” was a handbill, 8 inches by 9, in two columns, with a rudely ornamented border, and was reproduced in the Journal for July 17. It was the immortal state paper with which we are so familiar, and we may be sure that everybody in New Haven, old enough to know the meaning of it had read it, or beard it read, before another seven days had been counted.

The Declaration of Independence was not at all an unexpected event. It surprised nobody. Slowly but irresistibly the conviction bad come that the only alternative before the United Colonies was absolute subjection to a British Parliament or absolute independence of the British crown. Such was the general conviction, but whether independence was possible, whether the time had come to strike for it, whether something might not yet be gained by remonstrance and negotiation, were questions on which there were different opinions even among men whose patriotism could not be reasonably doubted.

[Here followed some of the facts intended to give a better understanding of “what were the thoughts, and what the hopes and fears of good men in New Haven a hundred years ago.”]

Having at last undertaken to wage war in defense of American liberty, the Continental Congress proceeded, very naturally, to a formal declaration of war, setting forth the causes which impelled’ them to take up arms.

That declaration preceded by a year the Declaration of Independence; for at that time only a few sagacious minds had seen clearly the impossibility of reconciliation. Declaring to the world that they had taken up arms in self-defense and would never lay them down till hostilities should cease on the part of the aggressors, they nevertheless disavowed again the idea of separation from the British empire. “Necessity,” said they, “has not yet driven us to that desperate measure;” “we have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain and establishing independent states.” That was an honest declaration. Doubtless a few prophetic souls had seen the vision of a separate and independent nationality, and knew to what issue the long controversy had been tending; but the thought and sentiment of the people throughout the colonies, at that time—the thought and sentiment of thoughtful and patriotic men in every colony—was fairly expressed in that declaration. They were English colonies, proud of the English blood and name; and as young birds cling to. the nest when the mother trusts them out half-fledged, so they clung to their connection with Great Britain notwithstanding the unmotherly harshness of tho mother country. They were English as their fathers were; and it was their English blood that roused them to resist the invasion of their English liberty. The meteor flag of England

“Had braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze,”

and it was theirs; its memories of Blenheim and Ramillies, of Crecy and Agincourt, were theirs; and they themselves had helped to plant that famous banner on the ramparts of Louisburg and Quebec. Because they were English they could boast

“That Chatham’s language was their mother-tongue,
And Wolfe’s great name compatriot with their own.”

Because they were English, Milton was theirs, and Shakespeare, and the English Bible. They still desired to be included in the great empire whose navy commanded the ocean, and whose commerce encircled the globe. They desired to be under its protection, to share in its growth and glory, and enjoying their chartered freedom under the imperial crown, to maintain the closest relations of amity and mutual helpfulness with the mother country and with every portion of the empire.

All this was true in July, 1775. When Washington consented to command the Continental armies “raised or to be raised,” he thought that armed resistance might achieve some adequate security for the liberty of the colonies without achieving their independence. When, in his journey from Philadelphia to New York, hearing the news from Bunker Hill and how the New England volunteers had faced the British regulars in battle, he said, “Thank God! our cause is safe;” he was not thinking of independence, but only of chartered liberty. When, on his journey from New York to New Haven, he said to Dr. Bipley, of Green’s Farms, who dined with him at Fairfield, “If we can maintain the war for a year we shall succeed,” his hopes was that by one year of unsuccessful war the British ministry and parliament would be brought to some reasonable terms of reconciliation. When (in the words of our historian Palfrey), “the roll of the New England drums at Cambridge announced the presence there of the Virginian, George Washington,” he knew not, nor did Putnam know, nor Prescott, nor Stark, nor the farmers who had hastened to the siege of Boston, that the war in which he then assumed the chief command was, what we now call it, the war of independence. With all sincerity the Congress, four days later, while solemnly declaring “before God and the world,” “The arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unbating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die freeman rather than to live slaves “—could also say, at the same time, to their “friends and fellow subjects in every part of the empire,” “We assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to be restored.” The declaration on the 6th of July, 1775, was a declaration of war, but not of independence.

Yet, from the beginning of the war, there was in reality only one issue—though a whole year must pass before that issue could be clearly apprehended by the nation and proclaimed to the world. From the first clash of arms the only possible result was either subjection or separation; either the loss of liberty or the achievement of independence. The first shot from Major Pitcairn’s pistol on the village green at Lexington, at the gray dawn of April 19th, 1775, was fatal to the connection between these colonies and their mother country. That was “the shot that echoed round the world,” and is echoing still along “the corridors of time.” That first shot, with the slaughter that followed and the resistance and repulse of the British soldiery that day at Concord, was felt by thousands who knew in a moment that it meant war in defense of chartered liberty, but did not yet know that, for colonies at war with their mother country, independence was the only possible liberty. As the war proceeded, its meaning, and the question really at issue became evident. The organization of a Continental army, the expulsion of the king’s regiments and the king’s governor from Boston, the military operations in various parts of the country, the collapse of the regal governments followed by the setting up of popular governments under the advice of the Continental Congress—what did such things mean but that the colonies must be thenceforward an independent nation or provinces conquered and enslaved?

It came, therefore, as a matter of course, that from the beginning of 1876, the people in all the colonies began to be distinctly aware that the war in progress was and could be nothing less than a war for independence. The fiction fundamental to the British Constitution, that the king can do no wrong, and that whatever wrong is done in his name is only the wrongdoing of his ministers, gave way before the harsh fact that they were at war, not with Parliament nor with Lord North, but, with king George III. So palpable was the absurdity of professing allegiance to a king who was waging war against them, that as early as April in that year, the Chief Justice of South Carolina under the new government just organized there, declared from his official seat in a charge to the grand jury, “The Almighty created America to be independent of Great Britain, let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act as instruments in the Almighty hand now extended to accomplish His purpose.”

When the public opinion of the colonies, north and south, was thus declaring itself, the time had come for action on the part of the Continental Congress. Accordingly on the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, in behalf of the delegation from Virginia, proposed a resolution “that the united colonies are and 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.” It was agreed that the resolution should be considered the next day, and every member was enjoined to be present for that purpose. The next day’s debate was earnest, for the Congress was by no means unanimous. Nobody denied or doubted that liberty and independence must stand or fall together, but some who had been leaders up to that point could not see that the time had come for such a declaration. Some were embarrassed by instructions given the year before and not yet rescinded. The debate having been continued through the day (which was Saturday) was adjourned to Monday, June 10. On that day the resolution was adopted in committee of the whole by a vote of seven colonies against five, and so was reported to the house. Hoping that unanimity might be gained by a little delay, the house postponed its final action for three weeks, but appointed a committee to prepare a formal declaration of independence. Meanwhile, though the sessions of the congress were always with closed doors, these proceedings were no secret, and public opinion was finding distinct and authentic expression. I need not tell what was done elsewhere; but I may say what was done, just at that juncture, in our old commonwealth.

On the 14th of June there came together at Hartford, in obedience to a call from Jonathan Trumbull, governor, “a General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the English colony of Connecticut, in New England, in America “—the last that was to meet under that name. It put upon its record a clear though brief recital of the causes which had made an entire separation from Great Britain the only possible alternative of slavery, and then—what? Let me give the words of the record: “Appealing to that God who knows the secrets of all hearts for the sincerity of former declarations of our desire to preserve our ancient and constitutional relation to that nation, and protesting solemnly against their oppression and injustice which have driven us from them, and compelled us to use such means as God in His providence hath put in our power for our necessary defence and preservation, resolved, unanimously, by this Assembly, that the delegates of this colony in General Congress be and they are hereby instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the United American colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and to give the assent of this colony to such declaration.”

It was amid such manifestations of the national will coming in from various quarters, that the Congress, on Monday, July 1, took up the postponed resolution declaring the colonies independent, discussed it again in committee of the whole and passed it, so bringing it back for a final decision. The vote in the house was postponed till the next day, and then, July 2, the resolution was adopted and entered on the journal. In anticipation of this result, the formal Declaration of Independence had been reported by the special committee on the preceding Friday (June 28), and it was next taken up for consideration. After prolonged discussion in committee of the whole and various amendments (some of which were certainly changes for the better), it came before the house for final decision, and was then adopted, in the form in which we have heard it read to-day, the most illustrious state paper in the history of nations.

We may be sure, therefore, that whatever diversity of opinion there may have been in New Haven on the 4th of July, 1776, about the expediency of declaring independence at that time, news that such a declaration had been made by the Congress caused no great astonishment or excitement here. The General Assembly of Connecticut, had already made its declaration, and instructed its delegates in the Congress. One of those delegates was Roger Sherman (or as his neighbors called him, “Squire Sherman”) ; and nobody in this town, certainly, could be surprised to hear that the Continental Congress had done what Roger Sherman thought right and expedient to be done. The fact that Roger Sherman had been appointed on a committee to prepare the Declaration may have been unknown here, even in his own house; but what he thought about the expediency of the measure was no secret. We, to-day, I will venture to affirm are more excited about the Declaration of Independence than they were to whom the news of it came, a hundred years ago.

[Here followed a large number of records, or extracts from records, principally from the town clerk’s office in New Haven, to show that our fathers on all proper public occasions were firmly, perhaps unconsciously, pursuing those steps which when taken by a brave and high-spirited people inevitably lead to their complete independence.]

I have exhausted your patience, and must refrain from tracing even an outline of the war, as New Haven was concerned in it, after that memorable day a hundred years ago. Especially must I refrain from a description of the day when this town was invaded and plundered, and was saved from conflagration only by the gallant resistance of its citizens keeping the enemy at bay till it was too late for him to do all he designed. The commemoration of that day will be more appropriate to its hundredth anniversary, July 4th, 1876. From the day of that invasion to this time, no footstep of an enemy in arms has pressed our soil—no roll of hostile drums or blare of hostile trumpet has wounded the air of beautiful New Haven. So may it be through all the centuries to come!

But before I sit down, I may yet say one word, suggested by what I have just been reading to you from the records of 1775. At the time of that conflict with Great Britain—first for municipal freedom, and then for national independence as the only security of freedom, the people of these colonies, and eminently the people of New England, were, perhaps, in proportion to their numbers, the most warlike people in Christendom. From the day when Miles Standish, in the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth, was chosen “Captain” and invested with “authority of command” in military affairs, every settlement had its military organization. The civil order, the ecclesiastical, and the military, were equally indispensable. In every town, the captain and the trained militia were as necessary as the pastor and the church, or the magistrate and the town meeting. When the founders of our fair city came to Quinnipiack, 238 years ago, they came not only with the leaders of their unformed civil state, Eaton and Goodyear—not only with their learned minister of God’s word, Davenport, to be the pastor of the church they were to organize—but also with their captain, Turner, who had been trained like Standish in the wars of the Dutch Republic, and who in the Pequot war of the preceding year had seen the inviting beauty of the Quinnipiack bay and plain. Who does not know how, in those early times,

“Our grandsires bore their guns to meeting,
Each man equip’d, on Sunday morn,
With psalm-book, shot, and powder-horn,”

and that, in the arrangements of the house of worship, a place for “the soldiers,” near the door, was as much a matter of course as the place for “the elders” at the other side of the building? Who does not know that every able-bodied man (with few exceptions) was required to bear arms and to be trained in the use of them? What need that I should tell how a vigorous military organization and the constant exhibition of readiness for self-defense, not less than justice and kindness in dealing with the Indians, were continually the indispensable condition of safety? What need of my telling the story of King Philip’s war, just two hundred years ago? Let it suffice to remind you of the long series of inter-colonial wars, contemporaneous with every war between England and her hereditary enemies, France and Spain—beginning in 1689 and continued with now and then a few years’ interruption till the final conquest and surrender of the French dominion on this continent in 1762. It was in the last war of that long series that the military heroes of our war for independence had their training, and it was in the same war that the New England farmers and Virginia hunters, fighting under the same flag and under the same generals with British red-coats, learned how to face them without fear. That war which swept from our continent the Bourbon lillies and the Bourbon legions made us independent and enabled us, a few years later, to stand up as independent, and, in the ringing proclamation of July 4th, 1776, to inform the world that where the English colonies had been struggling for existence, a nation had been born.

Fellow citizens! We have a goodly heritage—how came it to be ours? God has given it to us. How? By the hardships, the struggles, the self-denial, the manifold suffering of our fathers and predecessors on this soil; by their labor and their valor, their conflicts with rude nature and with savage men; by their blood shed freely in so many battles; by their manly sagacity and the Divine instinct guiding them to build better than they knew. For us (in the Eternal Providence) were their hardships, their struggles, their sufferings, their heroic self denials. For us were the cares that wearied them and their conflicts in behalf of liberty. For us were the hopes that cheered in labor and strengthened them in battle. For us—no not for us alone, but for our children too, and for the unborn generations. They who were here a hundred years ago, saw not what we see to-day (oh! that they could have seen it), but they labored to win it for us, and for those who shall come after us. In this sense they entered into God’s plan and became the ministers of his beneficence to us. We bless their memory to-day and give glory to their God. He brought a vine out of Egypt when ho brought hither the heroic fathers of New England. He planted it and has guarded it age after age. We are now dwelling for a little while under its shadow and partaking of its fruit. Others will soon be in our places, and the inheritance will be theirs. As the fathers lived not for themselves but for us, so we are living for those who will come after us. Be it ours so to live that they shall bless God for what we have wrought as the servants of his love ; and that age after age, till time shall end, may repeat our fathers’ words of trust and of worship, Latin Motto: Qui Transtulit Sustinet. (English translation: He who transplanted sustains)

See also:
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1

Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1

Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by Daniel Webster

THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876

rev_joseph_h_twichellTHE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA. AN ADDRESS BY REV. JOSEPH H. TWITCIIELL 1838-1918, A Lincoln Republican and the reported best friend of Samuel L. Clemens i.e. Mark Twain. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Hartford, Conn., July 4th, 1876.

This republic was ordained of God who has provided the conditions of the organization of the race into nations by the configuration of land and the interspaces of the sea. By these national organizations the culture and development of the race are secured. We believe that our nation is a creature of God— that he ordained it for an object, and we believe that we have some comprehension of what that object is. He gave us the best results of the travail of ages past for an outfit, separating us from the circumstances that in the existing nations encumbered these results, and sent us forth to do his will. We built on foundations already prepared a new building. Other men had labored and we entered upon their labors. God endowed and set us for a sign to testify the worth of men and the hope there is for man. And we are rejoicing to-day that in our first hundred years we seem to have measurably—measurably—fulfilled our Divine calling. It is not our national prosperity, great as it is, that is the appropriate theme of our most joyful congratulations, but it is our success in demonstrating that men are equal as God’s children, which affords a prophecy of better things for the race. That is what our history as a lesson amounts to.

There have been failures in particulars, but not on the whole; though we fall short, yet still, on the whole, the outline of the lesson may be read clearly. The day of remembrance and of recollection is also the day of anticipation. We turn from looking back one hundred years to looking forward one hundred. It is well for some reasons to dwell upon to-day, but the proper compliment of our memories, reaching over generations, is hope reaching forward over a similar period of time. Dwelling on to-day—filling our eyes with it—we can neither see far back nor far on. We are caught in the contemplation of evils that exist and that occupy us with a sense of what has not been done and of unpleasing aspects. True there are evils, but think what has been wrought in advancing the work of the grand mission of America. Do we doubt that the work is to go on? No! There are to be strifes and contending forces. But as out of strife has come progress, so will it be hereafter. Some things that we have not wanted, as well as some things that we have wanted have been done, yet on the whole the result is progress. It is God’s way to bring better things by strife. (The speaker here alluded to the battle of Gettysburg, where he officiated as chaplain in the burial of the dead—the blue and the gray often in the same grave—and said that the only prayer that he could offer was “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come on earth as it . is in heaven.”

The republic is to continue on in the same general career it has hitherto followed. The same great truths its history has developed and realized in social and civil life are to still farther emerge. The proposition that all men are created equal is to be still further demonstrated. Human rights are to be vindicated and set free from all that would deny them—Is any law that asserts the dignity of human nature to be abrogated? Never. The Republic is to become a still brighter and brighter sign to the nations to show them the way to liberty. We have opened our doors to the oppressed. Are those doors to be closed? No; a thousand times no. We have given out an invitation to those who are held in the chains of wrong. Is that invitation to be recalled? No, never. The invitation has been accepted; and here the speaker alluded to the fact—which shows how homogenous we finally become as a nation, though heterogeneous through immigration—that the Declaration of Independence is read here to-day by a man whoso father was born in Ireland; the national songs are sung by a man who was himself born in Ireland; and the company of singers here, nearly all, were born in Germany. Then he passed to the subject of Chinese education in this country and spoke of Yung Wing and his life-work, alluding to him as the representative of the better thought and hope of China, and then paid his respects to that part of the Cincinnati platform which alludes to this race. So long as he had voted he had given his support to this political party whose convention was held at Cincinnati, but that platform wherein it seems on this point to verge toward un-American doctrine, he repudiated; “I disown it; I say woe to its policy; I bestow my malediction upon it.” Now, if there is any one here who will pay like respect to the platform of the other party the whole duty will be done. We are urged to-day in view of our calling, and of the fulfillment of the past to set our faces and hearts toward the future in harmony and sympathy with the hope we are to realize. Let every man make it a personal duty and look within himself. God save the Republic! May it stand in righteousness and mercy ; so only can it stand. If we forsake our calling, God will take away the crown He has given us. The kingdom of God will be taken from us and given to another nation which shall bring forth the fruits thereof.

See also:
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
COURAGE! A Poem by Bryan Waller Procter 1787-1874
AIM HIGH! An Address by President Benjamin Harrison 1893
A GOOD NAME by Joel Hawes 1789-1867