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)
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