HISTORY IT HAS BEEN SAID, IS PHILOSOPHY TEACHING BY EXAMPLE; History is not simply a record of man's accomplishments. Even more, History is the story / record of God's interaction with man. It is indeed His Story ~ CJD
ELEMENTS OF OUR [American] PROSPERITY An Oration By Steven H. Carpenter, LLD., Professor In The University Of Wisconsin. Delivered At Madison, Wisconsin, July 4th, 1876.
Fellow-citizensâ€”We are met to day to celebrate the demonstration of a great truth; the truth that Liberty is not the baseless dream of visionary enthusiasts; that a government by the People may be stable and lasting. Tried by the vicissitudes of a century, this Republic has withstood every shock, and has passed from a dimly-seen hope to a magnificent reality. It has gathered under its protection men of every language, and proved that Freedom is the Right of man by uniting them into one People, by the firm bond of loyalty to the same great truth.
Youth has no Past. Its active energy sees only the Present. Age has a past, to which it fondly looks, when its waning strength seeks solace in recalling the prowess of its early years, and boasts of deeds no longer possible to its lessened vigor. We have no musty records to search, no far-reaching history to recall. Our heroic age has hardly passed. Our golden youth has not yet stiffened into the harshness of an iron present. The memory of those still living holds the fresh records of our progress. Men whose natural force has not yet abated have seen our weakness grow to power, have seen the wilderness transformed into a blooming garden, and stately cities rise as by the enchanter’s wand from the untamed soil. But shall not youth glory in his strength? Shall a just pride not lay hold of present achievement as well as past glory? Behind us are gathered the materials for our heroic history. Age is hastening after us, and to-day we turn the first century of our national existence.
There is a power in Antiquityâ€”in the feeling that behind us is a long line of noble ancestors, a solid inheritance in the glories of the Past. It curbs the wayward strength of youth, and adds dignity to the compacted vigor of manhood. This advantage is rapidly coming to us. We have a common inheritance in the heroism of the Revolution.
On an occasion like this when we stand at the summit of a century of unbroken success, our minds alternately follow the lead of Memory casting her proud glance backward over the brilliant past, and Hope casting her confident gaze into a future full of greater promise. “We look backward over the slow receding years of the century just closed, and we see a little band of heroes, jealous of their God given rights, seeing not the weakness of their numbers, but only the strength of their cause, with a sublime confidence in the ultimate victory of right, resolutely facing the foremost power of the world. Looking out into the deepening darkness that shrouded the coming years of almost hopeless struggle, they boldly, almost defiantly proclaimed not merely their own right to liberty, but the right of man to self-government. They struck a blow for humanity.
That contest was not the mere shock of contending armies; it was the fiercer shock of contending ideas. It was not the maneuvering of legions on the field of battle; it was the marshaling of principles in a struggle that should determine whether the world should go forward, and offer a new field for the enlarging powers of man, or whether it should stagnate on the dead level of old ideas, stupidly satisfied with the good it had gained.
At last, after eight years of struggle, of alternate victory and defeat, Freedom was secured, but their allotted work was not yet done. A nation was to be formed out of the discordant elements which the pressure of necessity had forced into a temporary union. Statesmanship was to complete the work of generalship, and unite into a compact whole the fragments thus far held together by a loose cohesion. Our revolutionary fathers proved equal to the task, and by this victory over passion, by succeeding where all other men had failed, they placed the world under everlasting obligation. Other patriots had fought as bravely, had endured as heroically; but no other patriots so conquered self, so vanquished prejudice, so laid the foundations of a nation in mutual concession for the general good.
God is a prompt paymaster. The reward was not long deferred. The period of unexampled prosperity followed. All the world claimed the privilege of sharing the benefit of our sacrifices. They swarmed in upon us from every nation of Europe, attracted by a fertile soil, a healthy climate, and the more alluring promise of a free government. At the close of the Revolution the entire population of the United States numbered but three millions. They were mostly confined to the narrow strip between the Allegheny Mountains and the sea. Here and there adventurous bands had crossed, over into the fertile plains beyond, only to find their advance stubbornly contested by the Indians who refused to leave, without a struggle, the hunting-grounds of their fathers. The valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi were still an unbroken wilderness, except where French traders or Missionaries had established their posts to seek the goods or the good of the red man, or where sturdy pioneers had made their precarious settlements. The great Lakes were almost unexplored, and the districts adjoining were still more unknown. Marquette, Allouez and La Salle, had pushed their daring discoveries into this remote region, but theirs was the genius of discovery, not of settlement. The French could discover and subdue, but they could not organize.
It is but eighty years since this vast region, stretching from the Allegheny Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, was opened to settlement. Men now living have seen the western line of civilization creep timidly from the boundaries of New York and Pennsylvania, push steadily westward through the forests of Ohio, cross the fertile prairies of Indiana and Illinois, sweep with hardly a perceptible check beyond the Mississippi, strike boldly across the vast plains of the West, climb the heights of the mountains, descend the further slope of the Sierras, to meet a resistless barrier only on the distant shores of the Pacific Ocean. Men now living have seen this waste wilderness converted into a blooming garden, covered with fruitful harvests, and dotted with the peaceful homes of more than ten millions of people. The Indian has retreated before his fate; barbarism has yielded to civilization. The niggardly gifts of Nature have been replaced by the wealth that plenty pours with a full hand into the lap of industry. Labor here reigns king, unvexed by any rival. The air hums with the busy whirr of machinery. The engine flashes by, weaving, like a gigantic shuttle, the bonds that bind distant States in one community of interest.
Let us not stand mute in stupid admiration of our present greatness, but let us in the spirit of true philosophy seek to discover the basis upon which our prosperity rests, and the laws and controlling forces by which our success has been wrought out. A true civilization rests upon a moral basis. The civilization of the old world had made physical well-being its highest ideal, but it did not prove capable of indefinite expansion: it could not rise; it could not advance. Here civilization laid hold of moral forces, and pressed forward with a power well-nigh resistless. Physical good soon reaches its limit. Even that art that aims only at material beauty soon attains its highest ideal, and falls back upon itself to minister to passion and to hasten the ruin of the glittering culture which it has created, that conception of the true nature of man that considers him as a moral force, and not a mere intelligent machine, that looks at nature from its spiritual side, that fixes the ideal of civilization not on the low level of mere physical improvement, but on the higher plane of intellectual and moral culture, that aims at perfect manhood, and rates birth or wealth below character, affords the only ground for a safe and steady advance. This great truth was emphasized on every battle-field of our late war. The idea of freedom won. That conception of human society that graded men according to physical accidents yielded to the superior power of that idea which, ignoring all physical differences, upon the broad basis of human equality, organized society according to the theory of equal rights and equal and exact justice to all.
Three steps led to our present unexampled prosperity.
The first was the Declaration of Independence which first distinctly enunciated to the world the doctrine of Equal Rights. It was a decided step in advance to ignore all accidental differences, and to unify all mankind on the single principle of absolute equality. The Declaration was a defiant challenge of the old theory of government; it called in question principles quietly acquiesced in for centuries. To assert the rights of the people was a great step, but it was a step that might lead downwards to anarchy, and through anarchy to despotism, as in France, as well as upward to Liberty and free government. The other half of the truth must be told in the equally definite assertion of the absolute and inherent need of governmentâ€”thus accurately adjusting the political relations of the citizen. Man demands government no less imperatively than liberty; he demands government, because only through it can he secure liberty.
The presence of a common enemy, and the manifest need of union held the States together until the close of the revolutionary war. When the compulsion of this necessity was no longer felt, the need of a closer bondâ€”one originating from within, and knit from well-defined principles, securing a union by the recognition of ends yet to be gained in common, beyond the mere acquisition of libertyâ€”soon became evident. Liberty is only a condition of good government rendering it possible; it is not a cause compelling it. The yoke of foreign domination had been thrown off; the yoke of self-government must yet be put on. The need for something more than had yet been gained was shown by a loss of public respect for the general government, disordered finance, depreciated currency, with all the evils incident, mutual jealousies, conflict of jurisdiction between the States themselves; between States and the general government, threats of armed collision; the most alarming systems of anarchy threatened the public weal, until all that had been gained by eight years of war seemed on the point of being lost for want of a far-sighted statesmanship to resolutely grapple with and solve the problem now presented. There was but one way out of these difficultiesâ€”to go forward, to assert as clearly the right of the nation to protection against anarchy as the Declaration had asserted the right of man to protection against tyranny; to build upon the foundation that had been so heroically laid in times of war and trial; to sow the vacant field with ideas that promised a fruitful harvest, and no longer leave it to grow up to thorns that promised only increasing irritation. Happily for us, the men of that day were not wanting in the great crisis. Upon the firm basis of Equal Rights as laid down in the Declaration of Independence, they built the solid superstructure of Constitutional government. From scattered, discordant fragments, they compacted a new nation.
The second step towards the prosperity of this people was taken in the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. This was not simply an alliance between States. That had already been secured by the Articles of Confederation, the utter inadequacy of which could no longer be concealed. This was a union of the peopleâ€”the birth of a nationâ€”an assertion of the right of man to government, as the Declaration of Independence was an assertion of his right to liberty.
The greatest victories of those days that “tried men’s souls” were not won on the field of battle, where man meets man in the rude shock of brute force, but in the senate chamber, where mind meets mind in the conflict of principles, where inveterate prejudice gives way to the calm pressure of reason, where narrow selfishness yields to the demands of enlarged patriotism. The adoption of the Constitution was such a triumph. To have been the first to take this step in advance is glory enough for any nation. Speaking of the Constitution, Lord Brougham says: “The regulation of such a union upon pre-established principles, the formation of a system of government and legislation in which the different subjects shall not be individuals, but States, the application of legislative principles to such a body of States, and the devising means for keeping its integrity as a [Con]Federacy, while the rights and powers of the individual States are maintained entire, is the very greatest refinement in social policy to which any state of circumstances has ever given rise, or to which any age has ever given birth.” Says De Tocqueville: “This theory was wholly novel, and may be considered as a great discovery in modern political science.“ It was not only because she had championed the Rights of Man that America placed the world under lasting obligation; it was also because she established Freedom upon rational principles, had harmonized Liberty and Law, and thus made a durable democracy possible, that the world looks to her example to learn the way to lasting liberty.
The last, and no less important step, was taken when the Ordinance of 1787 was adopted for the government of the North-west territory.. The adoption of this Ordinance antedates the adoption of the Constitution, but its influence in national affairs was subsequent to the immediate influence of that instrument. This document shows an enlarged and advanced view of the powers and duties of government. It enunciates several principles which were also incorporated into the Constitution of the United States. It laid down the broad and then quite novel principle of absolute religious toleration; it asserted the inviolability of contracts, thus placing the authority of integrity above that of legislatures; it first clearly uttered the sentiment now so familiar that “Religion, Morality and Knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged;” it insisted upon keeping good faith with all men, and demanded justice even for the Indians, who had for ten years been waging a cruel and bloody war against the settlers in this very territory; it at once and forever prohibited slavery, and thus led the way to its final eradication from this country.
We need trace our history no further. Here we find the grand secret of this unexampled prosperity and the conditions of our future success. In this triple recognition of the rights of man, the just limits of government, and the paramount claims of Religion, Morality and Education, we find an ample explanation. Upon the foundation of Equal Rights, as laid in the Declaration of Independence, a Constitutional government was erected upon the immovable pillars of Religion, Morality and Knowledge, based not on arbitrary enactment and secured by force, but resting still more firmly in the conscientious regard of the people. We have no religion defined by the State and enforced by law; we have what is better, Religion voluntarily practiced by the people. We do not have an education thrust upon the people by compulsion; we have what is better, a people who do not need the coarse stimulus of this coercion. In the recognition of these moral forces as determining the condition of mankind, we may find the reason why we have succeeded in securing at the same time liberty for the people and stability for the government. Until taught by our example, the world believed that liberty was but another name for license and lawless anarchy; that stability was the prerogative of despotism. But the tottering thrones and fleeing kings of the Old World have proved that the arm of Force is not strong enough to hold a kingdom stable, and that the government is most firmly seated that rests upon conceded rights, and guards the rights of the people with a sleepless jealousy.
The nations of the world are met in the City of Peace to offer us their heartfelt congratulations, bringing the accumulated treasures of art and industry to grace this glad occasion. Fit place for such a gathering, fit occasion for such a celebration! It is the Festival of Peace, as well as the birthday of Freedom. Industry bends its tireless energies to lighten the pressure of wearisome labor. Art, hand in hand with Toil, brings her treasures to grace our holiday. Even grim-visaged War puts on the garb of Peace, and with an awkward smile displays his death-dealing enginery in bloodless repose. The sword-girt, mail-clad warrior is no longer the world’s hero. The conqueror is no longer the ideal man. The hero of to-day is the Inventor who elevates mind by freeing muscle, who bends his blest endeavors to lift the yoke of labor from the bowed necks of the toiling millions.
The nations are all here, and this friendly gathering utters anew the greeting of Heaven, “Peace on Earth, goodwill to Men.” We do not celebrate this day alone. Others share in our joy. Every nation on the globe above the lowest level of barbarism gives us a hearty God-speed, for there is not a people that does not feel the beneficent impulse which our example has given the world. Liberty has a new meaning since man has proved that a king is not a necessary evil; that the majesty of right is above the majesty of man; that the sway of justice is more enduring than the rule of force. This grand truth, first proclaimed by the heroes of the elder days, first demonstrated by our convincing example, has been wrought into the convictions of men by the steady pressure of our advancing prosperity. Well may the world join us in celebrating this peaceful triumph, for all men have part in our glory and share our gain. Our Declaration of Independence gave a voice to the half-formed thoughts of humanity, and brought to man a-knowledge of his inalienable rights. Our Constitution has made true liberty possible not only for this nation, but for all mankind.
The Dead too are here:â€”not dead, but living in the deeds which they wrought and in the affectionate remembrance of their fellowmen. Their immortal spirits see the fruits of their labors, and today they rejoice with us. From Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill; from the stubborn contest with cold and hunger at Valley Forge; from Cowpens, King’s Mountain; from Saratoga and Yorktown; from every nameless battle-field of the Revolution; from the fresher graves of our last and sternest war, their jubilant spirits throng in upon us to-day, and join in the gladness of the grand chorus of praise that swells up before the throne of the God of Nations. The sea, too, gives up its dead. From every ocean grave, from the quiet depths of Erie and Champlain, those who sunk to their peaceful rest amidst the noise and tumult of battle rise to join us in the celebration of this day which their valor and devotion bequeathed to us. They are all here: I need not speak their names. Time would fail me to mention the surrounding cloud of exulting witnesses. The Golden Gates stand wide open to-day, and well may Heaven join Earth in celebrating a day like this. We do not exult over the blood-stained triumphs of War; we rejoice in the victories of Peace. We boast not of conquest; we glory in Freedom. We count not the struggle; we see the gain.
Then let us celebrate this day with glad rejoicing, for it is a day fit to be remembered through all time. Through a frail infancy, through a wayward youth, Freedom has passed forward to the full strength and the maturer powers of a vigorous manhood. The nation has attained its majority. Let all the World join in our rejoicing. Let all Nature, from the heights of Summer, crowned with her most gorgeous beauty, with every inarticulate symbol, voice the universal joy, as she joins man in his jubilant chorus of praise to the Giver of all good.
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in AmericanÂ Legislation
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt ParkerÂ 1876
AMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND by Dr. J. SellmanÂ 1876
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810-Â 1897
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876Â NYC
THE MEANING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by Col Robert GÂ Ingersoll
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States AndÂ Nation
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed inÂ 1876
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876Â NYC
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4Â 1876
The Betrayal Of â€?We The American Peopleâ€™ Our Nation! OurÂ Birthright!
Public Servants Who Fasten Themselves on the Public Treasury LikeÂ Leeches
OUR REPUBLIC! By Jeremiah Taylor at Providence, R. I., July 4thÂ 1876
THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4thÂ 1876
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824Â â€“1892)
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4,Â 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4thÂ 1876
DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICANÂ FLAG
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE! An Oration by the Honorable George William Curtis, Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Northfield, Staten Island, New York, July 4th, 1876
Mr. President, Fellow-citizens, Neighbors, And Friends:â€” On the 19th of April, 1775, when Samuel Adams well called the father of the Revolution, heard the first shots of the British upon Lexington Green, he knew that war had at last begun, and full of enthusiasm, of hope, of trust in America, he exclaimed with rapture, “Oh? what a glorious morning.” And there is no fellow-citizen of ours, wherever he may be to-dayâ€”whether sailing the remotest seas or wandering among the highest Alps, however far removed, however long separated from his home, who, as his eyes open upon this glorious morning, does not repeat with the same fervor the words of Samuel Adams, and thank God with all his heart, that he too is an American. In imagination he sees infinitely multiplied the very scene that we behold. From every roof and gable, from every door and window of all the myriads of happy American homes from the seaboard to the mountains, and from the mountains still onward to the sea, the splendor of this summer heaven is reflected in the starry beauty of the American flag. From every steeple and tower in crowded cities and towns, from the village belfry, and the school-house and meeting-house on solitary country roads, ring out the joyous peals. From countless thousands of reverend lips ascends the voice of prayer. Everywhere the inspiring words of the great Declaration that we have heard, the charter of our Independence, the scripture of our liberty, is read aloud in eager, in grateful ears. And above all, and under all, pulsing through all the praise and prayer, from the frozen sea to the tropic gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the great heart of a great people beats in fullness of joy, beats with pious exultation, that here at last, upon our soilâ€”here, by the wisdom of our fathers and the bravery of our brothers, is founded a Republic, vast, fraternal, peaceful, upon the divine corner- stone of liberty, justice and equal rights.
There have indeed been other republics, but they were founded upon other principles. There are republics in Switzerland to-day a thousand years old. But Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden are pure democracies not larger than the county in which we live, and wholly unlike our vast, national and representative republic. Athens was a republic, but Marathon and Salamis, battles whose names are melodious in the history of liberty, were won by slaves. Rome was a republic, but slavery degraded it to an empire. Venice, Genoa, Florence, were republican cities, but they were tyrants over subject neighbors, and slaves of aristocrats at home. There were republics in Holland, honorable forever, because from them we received our common schools, the bulwark of American liberty, but they too were republics of classes, not of the people. It was reserved for our fathers to build a republic upon a declaration of the equal rights of men; to make the Government as broad as humanity; to found political institutions upon faith in human nature. “Tho sacred rights of mankind,” fervently exclaimed Alexander Hamilton, “are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records; they are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself.” That was the sublime faith in which this century began. The world stared and sneered â€”the difficulties and dangers were colossal. For more than eighty years that Declaration remained only a Declaration of faith. But, fellow-citizens, fortunate beyond all men, our eyes behold its increasing fulfillment. The sublime faith of the fathers is more and more the familiar fact of the children. And the proud flag which floats over America to-day, as it is the bond of indissoluble union, so it is tho seal of ever enlarging equality, and ever surer justice. Could the men of that earlier day, could Samuel Adams and all his associates have lived through this amazing century to see this glorious morning, as they counted these teeming’ and expanding States, as they watched the advance of republican empire from the Alleghenies through a country of golden plenty, passing the snowy Sierras and descending to the western sea of peace, as they saw the little spark of political liberty which they painfully struck, blown by the eager breath of a century into a flame which aspires to heaven and illuminates the earth, they would bow their reverend heads at this moment, as Adams and Jefferson bowed theirs fifty years ago to-day; and the happy burden of their hearts would tremble from their expiring lips, “Now, oh Lord, let thy servants depart in peace, for their eyes have seen thy salvation.”
But we have learned, by sharp experience, that prosperity is girt with peril. In this hour of exultation we will not scorn the wise voices of warning and censure, the friendly and patriotic voices of the time. We will not forget that the vital condition of national greatness and prosperity is the moral character of the people. It is not vast territory, a temperate climate, exhaustless mines, enormous wealth, amazing inventions, imperial enterprises, magnificent public works, a population miraculously multiplied ; it is not busy shops and humming mills, and flaming forges, and commerce that girdles the globe with the glory of a flag, that makes a nation truly great. These are but opportunities. They are like the health and strength and talents of a man, which are not his character and manhood, but only the means of their development. The test of our national greatness is the use we make of our opportunities. If they breed extravagance, wild riot and licenseâ€”if they make fraud plausible and corruption easyâ€”if they confuse private morality, and debauch the public conscience, beware, beware! for all our prosperity is then but a Belshazzar’s feast of splendor, and while we sit drunken with wine and crowned with flowers, the walls of our stately palace are flaming and crackling with the terrible words of our doom.
But with all faults confessed, and concessions made, with all dangers acknowledged and difficulties measured, I think we may truly say that, upon the whole, we have used our opportunities well. The commanding political fact of the century that ends to-day, is the transcendent force and the recuperative power of republican institutions. Neither the siren of prosperity, nor the red fury of civil war, has been able to destroy our Government or to weaken our faith in the principles upon which it is founded. We have been proud, and reckless, and defiant; we have sinned, and have justly suffered, but I say, in your hearing, as, had I the voice, I would say in the hearing of the world to-day, . that out of the fiery furnace of our afflictions, America emerges at this moment greater, better, truer, nobler, than ever in its history before.
I do not forget how much is due to the political genius of the race from which we are so largely sprung. Nine-tenths of the revolutionary population of the country was of English stock. The Declaration of Independence was a fruit of Magna Charta, and Magna Charta grew from seed planted before history in the German forest. Our friend, the historian of the island, in the interesting sketch of this town that he read us, tells us that Northfield was the most patriotic town in the county during the Revolution, and that the original settlers were, in great part, of German stock. The two facts naturally go together. The instinct of individual liberty and independence is the germ of the political development of that race from which also our fathers sprung. They came from England to plant, as they believed, a purer England. Their new England was to be a true England. At last they took arms reluctantly to defend England against herself, to maintain the principles and traditions of English liberty. The farmers of Bunker Hill were the Barons of Runnymede in a later day, and the victory at Yorktown was not the seal of a revolution so much as the pledge of continuing English progress. This day dawns upon a common perception of that truth on both sides of the ocean. In no generous heart on either shore lingers any trace of jealousy or hostility. It is a day of peace, of joy, of friendship. Here above my head, and in your presence, side by side with our own flag, hangs the tri-color of France, our earliest friend, and the famous cross of England, our ally in civilization. May our rivalry in all true progress be as inspiring as our kinship is close! In the history of the century, I claim that we have done our share. In real service to humanity, in the diffusion of intelligence, and the lightening of the burden of labor, in beneficent inventionsâ€”yes, in the education of the public conscience, and the growth of political morality, of which this very day sees the happy signs, I claim that the act of this day a hundred years ago is justified, and that we have done not less, as an Independent State, than our venerable mother England.
Think what the country was that hundred years ago. Today the State of which we are citizens contains a larger population than that of all the States of the Union when Washington was President . Yet, New York is now but one of thirty eight States, for to-day our youngest sister, Colorado, steps into the national family of the Union. The country of a century ago was our father’s small estate. That of to-day is our noble heritage. Fidelity to the spirit and principles of our fathers will enable us to deliver it enlarged, beautified, ennobled, to our children of the new century. Unwavering faith in the absolute supremacy of the moral law; the clear perception that well-considered, thoroughly-proved, and jealously-guarded institutions, are the chief security of liberty; and an unswerving loyalty to ideas, made the men of the Revolution, and secured American independence. The same faith and the same loyalty will preserve that independence and secure progressive liberty forever. And here and now, upon this sacred centennial altar, let us, at least, swear that we will try public and private men by precisely the same moral standard, and that no man who directly or indirectly connives at corruption or coercion to acquire office or to retain it, or who prostitutes any opportunity or position of public service to his own or another’s advantage, shall have our countenance or our vote.
The one thing that no man in this country is so poor that he cannot own is his vote; and not only is he bound to use it honestly, but intelligently. Good government does not come of itself; it is the result of the skillful co-operation of good and shrewd men. If they will not combine, bad men will; and if they sleep, the devil will sow tares. And as we pledge ourselves to our father’s fidelity, we may well believe that in this hushed hour of noon, their gracious spirits bend over us in benediction. In this sweet summer air, in the strong breath of the ocean that beats upon our southern shore; in the cool winds that blow over the Island from the northern hills; in these young faces and the songs of liberty that murmur from their lips; in the electric sympathy that binds all our hearts with each other, and with those of our brothers and sisters throughout the land, lifting our beloved country as a sacrifice to God, I see, I feel the presence of our fathers: the blithe heroism of Warren, and the unsullied youth of Quincy: the fiery impulse of Otis and Patrick Henry: the serene wisdom of John Jay and the comprehensive grasp of Hamilton: the sturdy and invigorating force of John and of Samuel Adamsâ€”and at last, embracing them all, as our eyes .at this moment behold cloud and hill, and roof and tree, and field and river, blent in one perfect picture, so combining and subordinating all the great powers of his great associates, I feel the glory of the presence, I bend my head to the blessing of the ever-living, the immortal Washington.
Benediction by Rev. S. G. Smith, Delivered at the close of the Centennial Celebration, Northfield, Staten Island, New York, July 4th, 1876.
May the blessing of our father’s God now rest upon us. As in time past, so in time to come, may He guard and defend our land. May He crown the coming years with peace and prosperity. May He ever clothe our rulers with righteousness, and give us a future characterized by purity of life and integrity of purpose. May He everywhere shed forth the benign influence of His spirit, and to the present and coming generations vouchsafe the inspiring hopes of His gospel, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
See also:Â The History and Events that Led to the Founding of the United States by Courtlandt ParkerÂ 1876
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References PartÂ 1
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 PartÂ 1
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
Non Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of Jesus Christ by Johannes von MĂĽllerÂ 1832
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the SimpleÂ Truth
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience toÂ God
The National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century. An Oration By Prof. John Mercer Langston, L.L.D. Delivered At Portsmouth, Virginia, July 4th, 1876.
Mr. President Of The Banneker Lyceum And Fellow-citizens: I congratulate you upon the name which your association bears. In giving title to your association you honor one who largely unaided, by his own efforts distinguished himself as a scholar, while he made himself in no insignificant sense conspicuous as a philanthropist; certainly so far as a free and bold advocacy of freedom for his own race discovered his love for mankind.
Benjamin Banneker cultivated in his studies those matters of science which pertain to astronomical calculations; and so thorough and exact were his calculations, as they respected the different aspects of the planets, the motions of the sun and moon, their risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of planetary systems, as to excite and command the commendation of Pitt, Fox, Wilberforce, and other eminent men of his time.
In 1791 Banneker sent to Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, a manuscript copy of his first almanac, enclosing it in a letter, in the closing portions of which he uses the following words: “Suffer me to recall to your mind that time, in which the arms of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude; look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that period in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation; you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of heaven. This, sir, was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was then that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly help forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
“Here was a time in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare ; you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature; but, sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of His equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges which He hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract His mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence, so numerous a party of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”
In a very few days after receiving this letter the President made the following reply: “Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter, and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men; and that the appearance of a want of them, is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising their condition, both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected well admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condozett, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document to which your whole color had a right for their justification, against the doubts which have been entertained of them.”
I make no apology for making this allusion, in this connection, to the man whose memory you honor in the phraseology “Banneker Lyceum;” nor for referring to his eminence as a scholar, and his bold advocacy in addressing even the author of the Declaration of American Independence, then President of the United States, in such words as to provoke the earnest and manly reply just presented. Let the colored American contemplate with pride this brief but interesting chapter which brings the name of the scholarly negro Banneker, in such juxtaposition to that of the eminent American statesman, Thomas Jefferson.
I also congratulate you upon this vast assembly, brought together under those instincts and promptings of patriotism, admiration and gratitude, with which from one end to the other of our country, from sea to sea, our fellow-countrymen meet this day, in hall, in church, like ourselves beneath the green foliage of God’s own temple, to call to mind and note the magnificent utterances, the splendid achievements and marvelous progress of our nation made within the first hundred years of its existence.
On this occasion, I may not tarry to dwell upon the utterances of individuals, however eminent and distinguished. It is only of those great national utterances, those judgments of the nation itself, so expressed in that majestic and thrilling voice of a’ great people, that its echoes never die, that I may speak on this interesting and memorable day; and of these in the briefest manner.
On the 4th day of July 1776, one hundred years ago, thirteen colonies with an insignificant population boldly made declaration of their independence of the British crown and their sovereignty as a free and independent nation, and to the maintenance of this declaration and their independence, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. The annals of one hundred years radiant with proofs of the sincerity of this pledge of our Fathers, attest how well, how manfully, how successfully, and triumphantly, our country has maintained herself among the great nations of the earth.
Perhaps the history of the world furnishes no document in which individual equality, the first powers of government; the conditions upon which a people may alter or abolish one government and institute another, laying its foundations and organizing its powers in such form and upon such principles as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness, with such clearness and force, as our own declaration, the masterpiece of American State papers. Upon its very words, could we separate them from the sentiments and doctrines which they embody we would dwell with a sort of superstitious pride and pleasure. But upon the doctrines, the principles, the sentiments they contain, we dwell justly with veneration and grateful approval. How the school boy, the clergyman, the statesman, all classes with equal pride and emotion repeat the words “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths self-evident : that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
How often these words have been quoted on occasions like this, how thoroughly they have become a part of every American’s very being, inhaled with the moral atmosphere of every house, no one of us can tell. Nor is it material. It is enough for us to know that as they shape in their influence every act of our nation so they influence and determine largely the conscientious conviction and judgment of every elector of our country through whose vote our institutions are supported and maintained.
On the 10th day of June, 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a declaration, that these colonies are of right and ought to be, free and independent states.”
This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. As the declaration was presented by this committee in its original form, it contained among other charges against the King of Great Britain the followingâ€”” He has waged war against nations itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and 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 and sold. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to 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 also obtruded them : thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”
This clause, formidable indeed in the charge presented, but far reaching and significant in favor of the abolition of slavery was stricken from the declaration, on the suggestion of the state of Georgia. The declaration, however, as a whole is none the less emphatic in favor of the inalienability of man’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and Garrison, Phillips, Smith, Sumner, and their associates, the great apostles of the American abolition movement did well to plead the cause of the slave, and to claim the equality of the rights of the negro before American law in the name of its principles and teachings.
With regard to the courage and heroism, which distinguished the American soldier of our revolutionary period, and the triumphs which attended our armies, I need not speak, ah are acquainted with these and to-day as we go back in memory to our-struggle at Lexington, at Bunker Hill, and to the surrender of Burgoyne, our souls are filled with gratitude that the God of battles brought victory to those arms wielded in a struggle for freedom, independence and free institutions.
Eight years of conflict, brought us a victory which settled forever our independence and sovereignty, no longer a dream, but a solemn, abiding reality.
I wish to bring to your attention and emphasize two things with regard to the articles of confederation, approved the 9th day of July, 1778, in the 3d year of the Independence of America. 1st. These articles are entitled articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, &c, and in the concluding article thereof, the 2d clause contains these words, “and whereas it has pleased the great Governor of the world to incline the hearts of the Legislatures, we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union: know ye, that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to use given for that purpose, do, by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained; and we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which, by the said confederation, are submitted to them; and that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent; and, that the union be perpetual.
Although each State under these Articles retained its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right not expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled thus forming as the articles of confederation import, simply a confederacy under the style of the “United States of America,’ the union, formed thus was to be perpetual, lading forever, as is abundantly shown from the words of t.hia document already quoted.
The union of these articles, a compact of sovereign States, was to be perpetual. It was not long, however, before the sovereignty of the States was merged, under the Constitution of the United States, in the higher and grander sovereignty of the nation. And thus our Union was made more perfect and perpetual. Let it stand forever!
Concerning the 4th Article of these Articles there is a matter of history which must prove especially interesting to all of us, when, now, our constitutional law has been so amended as to tolerate no discrimination with regard to citizenship predicated upon complexion.
When this Article was under consideration a proposition was made to qualify the phrase “free inhabitants,” occurring therein, by the insertion of the word; “white,” so as to make it read “free while inhabitants,” etc. Upon due consideration, eleven States voting upon the proposition, it was lostâ€”eight States voting against it, two States in favor of it, while the vote of one State was divided. Early thus in the history of our nation the fathers decided to allow no discrimination among our countrymen as to citizenship based upon complexional differences, and nowhere either in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Articles of Confederation is the word white used except in the latter, it is found in the following connection, in Article 9th, “The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority among other things, to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of while inhabitants in such State.”
Why the word white is used in this connection, I am at a loss to know. It was not certainly because of the color of citizens of African descent . It was certainly not because they were not patriotic, brave, and enduring soldiers. In the revolutionary struggles they early demonstrated their fidelity and courage. One of the four first Americans falling, in the Boston massacre of 1770, being a mulatto, Crispus Attucks, whose name is one famous in the annals of that struggle. This word white was certainly not used to discriminate against citizens of African descent prejudicially as to the matter of citizenship. For generally at this time, when emancipated, they became citizens and voters without qualification or condition in the States where they resided. The distinction made here then must have been in the interest of slavery, an institution which from the very first proved itself utterly at war with every interest of the people.
Occupying, as we do this day, a high moral plain from which we may retrospect our past, we can appreciate the ordinance of 1787, which, establishing a form of government for our Western territories, concludes with six Articles of compact between the original States and the people of the territories, the same to be unalterable, except by common consent.
The first secures entire religious freedom, the second, trial by jury, the writ of habeas corpus, together with other fundamental rights usually inserted in Bills of Eights; the third provides for the encouragement and support of schools, and enjoins good faith towards the Indians; the fourth places the new States to be formed out of the territory upon an equal footing with the old ones; the fifth authorizes the future division of the territory into not less than three nor more than five States, each to be admitted into the Union when it should contain 60,000 free inhabitants; and the sixth contains the celebrated anti-slavery proviso introduced by Jefferson, “That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, other than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
Thousands of noble sons, inhabitants of the States formed of such territory, rejoice this day that no curse of slavery has blighted their toilâ€”that no footsteps of the bondman ever pressed the pathway of their industry. The shouts of other millions, former slaves, uniting with those once their owners and masters, send back the echo of such rejoicing this day in a glad refrain of thanksgiving and joy, that no slave now breathes the air of our country.
Chief among the moral triumphs of our age and country stands that act of our nation which emancipates four million of bondsmen; and inducting them into the body-politic, throws over them the investiture of an equal and impartial citizenship.
All honor is duo him whose name is written first among the company of noble men, the chief work of whom, the glory of their endeavors, culminates in the emancipation of the American slave. All honor is due the great captain of our forces, who established through the sword, as the fixed law of our nation, the emancipation proclamation of the first day of January, 1863. Henceforth the names of Lincoln and Grant, are justly emblazoned in our history as the emancipator and defender of our enslaved race.
The Constitution of the United States, a document of rare, in many respects matchless, excellence, prior to its modification by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, is now certainly without parallel in the history of mankind, as an enunciation of organic law; and every American, whatever his political bias or party affiliations, must experience special pleasure in knowing that no other nation of ancient or modern times has been given, the genius or the heart to produce such a document, and to establish in accordance therewith a government which in its forms and results realizes so nearly our idea of that perfect government, the subjects of which, while they enjoy the amplest possible freedom, pursue their several occupations, assured of the largest protection to life, liberty and property.
As we read and study the great State papers of our nationâ€” The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Ordinance of 1787, and the Constitution of the United Statesâ€”and consider the workings of the Government organized in accordance therewith, in none of its departments, discriminating against any of our citizens, native or naturalized, with regard to birthplace, nationality, complexion, or former condition of life, but inviting all to partake alike of the benefits and blessings of free institutions, our hearts swell with gratitude to that beneficent Dispenser of human affairs, who gave our fathers wisdom, courage, and success, and who has abundantly blessed their sons in national unity, prosperity and happiness:
Of the material greatness of our countryâ€”its development of the great industries which distinguish its progress and civilization, I can do little more than make a passing allusion. Did I tarry to name simply our achievements in steam navigation, shipbuilding, the building of railroads, the manufacture of railroad cars, improvements in all kinds of machinery, telegraphy, and printing, I would detain you beyond your patience and endurance. I content myself and trust I satisfy you by saying, the first century of our existence as a nation has witnessed such triumphs in art, science, and industry in our land as has not been vouchsafed in the history of mankind to any other people within such period.
In all departments of businessâ€”in banking, commerce, agricultureâ€”we witness improvement of method, implement, and the use of power and skill.
In politics, legislation and general reform, our national triumphs have been splendid; not less so, however, in the various departments of industry.
Of our improvement in all those things that pertain to a well organized system of free common schools, supported by public tax, levied and collected by the general and cordial assent of property holders, I speak with pride. Generally our common school system is so valued, its good results so appreciated, that no considerations pecuniary or other would induce the people to consent to any reduction of taxes, or the doing of anything the tendency of which would be to curtail and destroy the influence of such system. We all value the free common school as at present organized as indispensable to the education and training of the youth of all classes. Many without academic, or collegiate instruction, if not fully, measurably fitted for the pursuit of business or professional walks of life enter thereupon directly from our common schools and achieve therein commendable success. Indeed, our common schools may be properly enough regarded as the college of the people. No tuition may here be collected; no incidental fees charged; and yet, an education which furnishes excellent mental discipline, considerable knowledge, general and various, together with sound moral training may be secured.
Of improvements in methods of instruction, buildings, furniture, apparatus, text-books, treatment of pupils, character of teachers, and modes of preparing teachers for their work, I can not speak in detail . Improvements in all these respects are abundant, transcending our most sanguine expectations, of the largest advantage and most satisfactory kind.
Contrasting the system and condition of public instruction in France, Holland, Prussia, Germany, Great Britain and other countries with those of the United States of America, J. W. Hoyt, Esq., one of the Commissioners of the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867, in his report on education, under the title United States of America, says:
“From the earliest settlement of this country by those brave men and women who landed on the rocks of Massachusetts Bay, no less imbued with the spirit of freedom and popular education than the love of God and liberty of conscience, the cause of education has been one of primary interest both to Colonial and Federal governments. A history of the sacrifices and toils by which were established and maintained the schoolhouses of the ante-revolutionary times of the Colonial period, and a summing up of the truly munificent contributions of the Federal and State authorities since the adoption of the Constitutional Government, to the great end of creating a citizenship worthy of our free institutions are sufficient to awaken the ambition and enthusiasm of the dullest soul.”
Continuing, he says, “All in all, the original provisions of the government for the education of the people are more liberal than those of any other; and in connection with the additions arising from regular taxation, and from appropriations made by the States themselves, present the most magnificent financial school basis of the world. The pride with which the American citizen regards this support of common-school instruction is amplified by contemplating the scarcely less abundant endowment by which individual wealth has built up the higher grades noticed under the head of Secondary Education.”
Upon the higher grades of education, the academies, colleges, universities and professional schools, I may not dwell. The special character, claims and achievements of such schools we all appreciate. Their growth within the past fifty years has been marked, and through their instrumentality education has received decided impulse and noteworthy educational advantages have been gained.
Fellow-citizens of Virginia, and by this appellation in this regenerated hour of American freedom I designate all classes and complexions, the class formerly masters, and that formerly slaves, I congratulate you upon the change in an educational point of view which has taken place in your own State during the past ten years. Instead of leaving your sons and daughters in ignorance, to a heritage of crime and degradation, you are establishing a common school system whose advantages and benefits will compensate in popular knowledge, wisdom, and virtue an hundred fold all labor, outlay and sacrifice connected therewith. To-day your schools, a double system, white and black, I trust the day is not distant when they will be oneâ€”a common school, stand open, and provision, if not yet ample and entirely satisfactory, has been made measurably for the accommodation of the children of your State. Your people are showing already a wise appreciation of the advantages shown their children in your schools. And I but voice the feeling of your fellow-citizens throughout the country when I bid you a hearty God-speed in your noble work in this behalf.
You may rest assured that in so far forth as any schools built and conducted in your State, upon northern liberality, shall hereafter need pecuniary assistance to support and maintain them in their special work, that assistance will not be wanting, when proper appeal is made for it . The people of the north, not more in New England than the great northwest, are deeply interested in the educational welfare of your humbler classes
But I must conclude. The progress of our nation during the past’ one hundred years, in all those things which concern national greatness and glory is truly wondrous. In social, moral, and industrial growth she has no superior among the great nations of the earth. In statesmanship, jurisprudence, literature, science, arts, and arms, she compares favorably with the foremost of these great nations.
If her achievements and progress have been so great in the past, we may contemplate with confidence and pride her advancement in the future. Remaining true to the lessons of freedom, equal rights, justice, humanity and religion taught us by the fathers, the wise men of our country, and the experience of the past, so fraught with warning and admonition, relying upon the God who has so signally blest her, our nation may hope to reach even a larger growth, to show a more splendid progress; to attain a future more beautiful and magnificent than anything which distinguishes the century which this day closes the first hundred years of our national life.
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in AmericanÂ Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States AndÂ Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W SmithÂ 1876
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 NewÂ Hampshire
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt ParkerÂ 1876
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4,Â 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4,Â 1876
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed inÂ 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles FÂ Adams
Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John HancockÂ 1770
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis SmithÂ 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in NewÂ York
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4thÂ 1876
“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 dayâ€”the birth-day of a nationâ€”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,â€”founded by the patriotism of our fathers,â€”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 populationâ€”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 Longfellowâ€”
“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 shoreâ€”
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 fearsâ€”
Are all with thee, are all with thee!
See also: The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in AmericanÂ Legislation
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4,Â 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4,Â 1876
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4,Â 1876