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
AMERICA AND JUDAISM An Address By Rabbi N. I. Benson, D. D. Delivered At The Jewish Temple, Jackson, Mississippi, July 4, 1876.
When the hoary hand of time passed the hour of midnight in the preceding day, America had passed a century, and entered upon a new one; and in consequence the same enthusiastic millions of people inhabiting its free soil and enjoying the liberty and energy’s reward sent forth to the King of all kings, Ruler of all nations, a thanksgiving which was appropriate for past dispensations, and an earnest solicitation for future grace. The enthusiasm manifested to-day by America’s children is one of no idle clamor or noisy shoutingâ€”it is the voice of the people, acknowledging the gifts of their divine Ruler. If anything in the wide world should call forth a national, and in fact, a universal enthusiasm, it is the celebration of this anniversary, in which a grateful people can behold the realization of what were but hopes, one hundred years ago. The grievances stated by a suffering people in the Declaration of Independence, one of which alone were sufficient to impede the progress and cultivation of any class of people, when the freedom of speech was not tolerated, when the chains of despotism were around their necks, when the yoke of oppression by the tyrannical laws of an unscrupulous tyrant, as the then King of Great Britain was, where the germs of greatness could not be developed, â€”then I say it was a time to revolt-and throw off the yoke of oppression, and to endeavor to show to that tyrannical monarch, that man has no master, save one, their Creator. And they rallied! they harmonized! and with one unanimous voice the representatives of 40,000,000 people proclaimed themselves free and independent. With one unanimous struggle they threw off the yoke of despotism, and laid before the world their pent-up grievances which gave cause to their revolt. And they succeeded! and what, my friends, think you was the cause of their success? – Perhaps you may think it was physical strength which produced these wonders! Oh no! for we are well aware that the English army outnumbered the Americans vastly in equipments, in regularity, in military tactics and maneuvers. What then was the secret spring of success? Ah, my friends, it was right against might! Yes, my friends, America had a most noble ally right in its ranks; that ally was right arrayed against might; and thank God, in this instance, right won the day. Behold, was it not Providential during the war, where a handful of ragged men drives out from its soil a well-regulated army! Yes, my friends, it was the hand of God. and America is much likened to my beloved creed Judaism. For behold, were we not slaves in Egypt under a tyrannical Pharaoh, and by the goodness of the Almighty God, He sent unto us Moses, who carried out the word of God according to revelation. Even so was America in bondage to Britain’s despotic monarch, and God hearing the voice of the oppressed, sent unto you George Washington, America’s Moses, who, inspired by God, led the ragged and suffering men entrusted to him by Congress, to the field of glory and triumph; and as the children of Israel went out of the land of Egypt unto perpetual liberty, and finally entered into the promised land in glory and triumph, even so did Washington by his patriotism finally and eventually conquer his opponents, and America became the beacon of perpetual liberty, the wonder of the world, a land which we may indeed call the land of milk and honey.
In no country is labor so highly respected, and so well remunerated as in the United States; and in none therefore are the laboring class so happy, and we may add enlightened. No restrictions are laid on industry; political privileges are extended to all. and the humblest citizen may raise himself to the proudest position in the Republic.
Our mechanics have brought a high degree of ingenuity as well as skill to their work; and through their means America has become justly famous for her inventions and improvements. Among a host of things that might be mentioned, it is undeniable that the best locks, life-boats, printing presses and agricultural implements, come from America.
The labor of building up the resources of a new country has as yet left the people of the United States little time and opportunity for cultivating literature and the arts. Yet we point with pride to our meta-physician Edwards; our lexicographer, Noah Webster; our mathematicians, Bodwitch and Rittenhouse; our naturalists, the Audubon’s; our novelists, Irving and Cooper; our poets, Bryant and Longfellow; our sculptors, Powers and Greenough; our painters, Copely, Stuart, Trumbull, Vanderlyn, Allston, Peale and Sully. If there is one thing on which, more than all others, America may pride herself, and found high hopes of stability for her glorious institutions, it is her system of common schools ; she offers the advantage of education to the young without money and without price, convinced that their enlightenment is her best safeguard. Now, having thus enumerated the results of a hundred years’ growth, let us see what could be the cause of this prosperity. In reviewing back the history of other nations, we cannot behold the same results. Instead of progress and amelioration, decay and strife hath proved its career. The secret upon which these noble results are based, is framed in a very few words in the Constitution, wherein is quoted the following words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Ah, noble words! upon these rests the progress of the nation. To how many countries has the non-observance of these words proved a downfall and ruin? How many millions of people have been put to death in the universe on account of the non-adoption of this noble principle; but America, prosperous and fortunate country, thou hast taken unto thee a precept which will eventually develop itself; and the world will look upon thee with admiration and respect. Never will there be in this soil a governor as Appeles, in the days of the Maccabees, who endeavored to enforce conformity in the religious observances and to abolish the laws of Moses; nor will there nestle in thy bosom tyrants like Syro Grecians, [Syrian-Greek mix] who having discovered the fact that the Jews would not use any arms on the Sabbath, even in self-defense, and taking advantage of this scrupulous observance of the holy day of the Lord, attacked a cave near Jerusalem wherein secreted themselves a thousand pious worshippers of God, and slaughtered them without mercy ; nor will there ever be on this soil a madman like Antiochus, who, because they would not renounce their ancestral faith caused, a mother and her seven sons to be put to a death the most ignominious by tortures the most revolting.
The spirit of libertyâ€”liberty of conscience, liberty of thought and speech, the inalienable right of man, has made rapid progress upon the free soil of this vast and blessed Republic, which has been inhabited by human beings hailing hither from all parts of the globe; and Israelites too have sought and found shelter and protection under the banner of the stars and stripes, and settled themselves also in the State of Mississippi. Pursuing the annals of this State we discover traces of Jewish steps in your midst as far back as at least a half a century ago. Most of the early Jewish inhabitants of this State have already long since departed from this world of sorrow and woe for the unknown regions of eternity. But some of them by their constant adherence to the laws of equity and justice, of loyalty and benevolence, left behind them imprints more lasting than monuments of cold marble, and which will never be erased from the memory of Jew or Gentile.
Judaism teaches the equality of person and universal salvation. And it is but just to acknowledge that you, my Christian friends, have tacitly expressed your acknowledgment that the Jew is as good as any other man, that we all have but one Father; one God created us all; and by that acknowledgment, which to us speaks louder than words, you have expressed your belief that in the kingdom of Heaven, there is no distinction made between the Jew and Gentile.
Then indeed, may I uplift my hands to Providence and thank Him, upon this anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, that He, in his benign grace, caused the day to dawn at last, when Jew and Gentile shall walk hand in hand in life, to see at last, that they are indispensable to each other, and I trust that the Creator of the Universe shall strengthen and cement these filial bonds of brotherhood, that when our children shall celebrate one hundred years hence, that this bond of brotherhood shall have become so strong and mutual, that no false doctrines, nor sectarian dogmas, shall be able to sever not even the smallest link.
See also: The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
Constitution of the United States and itâ€™s Governmental Operations (In PlainÂ English)
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the SimpleÂ Truth
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of AmericanÂ Education
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John IrelandÂ 1894
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis SmithÂ 1808-1895
THE MEANING OF THE DECLARATION An Oration By Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Peoria, Illinois, July 4, 1876.
Fellow-citizens.â€”You have just heard read the grandest, the bravest, and the profoundest political document that was ever signed by man. It is the embodiment of physical and moral courage and of political wisdom. I say of physical courage, because it was a declaration of war against the most powerful nation then on the globe; a declaration of war by thirteen weak, unorganized colonies; a declaration of war by a few people, without military stores, without wealth, without strength, against the most powerful kingdom on the earth; a declaration of war made when the British navy, at that day the mistress of every sea, was hovering along the coast of America, looking after defenseless towns and villages to ravage and destroy. It was made when thousands of English soldiers were upon our soil, and when the principal cities of America were in the possession of the enemy. And so, I say, all things considered, it was the bravest political document ever signed by man. And if it was physically brave, the moral courage of the document is almost infinitely beyond the physical. They had the courage not only, but they had the almost infinite wisdom to declare that all men are created equal. Such things had occasionally been said by some political enthusiasts in the olden time, but for the first time in the history of the world, the representatives of a nation, the representatives of a real living, breathing, hoping people, declared that all men are created equal. With one blow, with one stroke of the pen, they struck down all the cruel, heartless barriers that aristocracy, that priestcraft, that kingcraft had raised between man and man. They struck down with one immortal blow, that infamous spirit of caste that makes a god almost a beast, and a beast almost a god. With one word, with one blow, they wiped away and utterly destroyed all that had been done by centuries of warâ€”centuries of hypocrisyâ€”centuries of injustice.
“What more did they do? They then declared that each man has a right to live. And what does that mean? It means that he has the right to make his living. It means that he has the right to breathe the air, to work the land, that he stands the equal of every other human being beneath the shining stars; entitled to the product of his laborâ€”the labor of his hand and of his brain.
What more? That every man has the right; to pursue his own happiness in his own way. Grander words than these have never been spoken by man.
And what more did these men say? They laid down the doctrine, that governments were instituted among men for the purpose of preserving the rights of the people. The old idea was that people existed solely for the benefit of the stateâ€”that is to say, for kings and nobles.
And what more? That the people are the source of political power. That was not only a revelation, but it was a revolution. It changed the ideas of the people with regard to the source of political power. For the first time it made human beings men. What was the old idea? The old idea was that no political power came from, nor in any manner belonged to, the people. The old idea was that the political power came from the clouds; that the political power came in some miraculous way from heaven; that it came down to kings, and queens, and robbers. That was the old idea. The nobles lived upon the labor of the people; the people had no rights; the nobles stole what they had and divided with the kings, and the kings pretended to divide what they stole with God Almighty. The source, then, of political power was from above. The people were responsible to the nobles, the nobles to the kings, and the people had no political rights whatever, no more than the wild beasts of the forest. The kings were responsible to God: not to the people. The kings were responsible to the clouds; not to the toiling millions they robbed and plundered.
And our forefathers, in this declaration of independence, reversed this thing, and said, No; the people, they are the source of political power, and their rulers, these presidents, these kings, are but the agents and servants of the great, sublime people. For the first time, really, in the history of the world, the king was made to get off the throne and the people were royally seated thereon. The people became the sovereigns, and the old sovereigns became the servants and the agents of the people. It is hard for you and me now to imagine even the immense results of that change. It is hard for you and for me at this day to understand how thoroughly it had been ingrained in the brain of almost every man, that the king had some wonderful right over him; that in some strange way the king owned him; that in some miraculous manner he belonged, body and soul, to somebody who rode on a horse, with epaulettes on his shoulders and a tinsel crown upon his brainless head.
Our forefathers had been educated in that idea, and when they first landed on American shores they believed it. They thought they belonged to somebody, and that they must be loyal to some thief, who could trace his pedigree back to antiquity’s most successful robber.
It took a long time for them to get that idea out of their heads and hearts. They were three thousand miles away from the despotisms of the old world, and every wave of the sea was an assistant to them. The distance helped to disenchant their minds of that infamous belief, and every mile between them and the pomp and glory of monarchy helped to put republican ideas and thoughts into their minds. Besides that, when they came to this country, when the savage was in the forest and three thousand miles of waves on the other side, menaced by barbarians on the one side and by famine on the other, they learned that a man who had courage, a man who had thought, was as good as any other man in the world, and they built up, as it were, in spite of themselves, little republics. And the man that had the most nerve and heart was the best man, whether he had any noble blood in his veins or not.
It has been a favorite idea with me that our forefathers were educated by Nature; that they grew grand as the continent upon which they landed; that the great riversâ€”the wide plainsâ€”the splendid lakesâ€”the lonely forestsâ€”the sublime mountainsâ€”that all these things stole into and became a part of their being, and they grew great as the country in which they lived. They began to hate the narrow, contracted views of Europe. They were educated by their surroundings, and every little colony had to be, to a certain extent, a republic. The kings of the old world endeavored to parcel out this land to their favorites. But there were too many Indians. There was too much courage required for them to take and keep it, and so men had to come here who were dissatisfied with the old country, who were dissatisfied with England, with France, with Germany, with Ireland and Holland. The kings’ favorites stayed at home. Men came here for liberty, and on account of certain principles they entertained and held dearer than life. And they were willing to work, willing to fell the forests, to fight the savages, willing to go through all the hardships, perils and dangers of a new country, of a new land, and the consequence was that our country was settled by brave and adventurous spirits; by men who had opinions of their own and were willing to live in the wild forest for the sake of expressing those opinions, even if they expressed them only to trees, rocks, and savage men. The best blood of the old world came to the new.
When they first came over they did not have a great deal of political philosophy, not the best ideas of liberty. “We might as well tell the truth. When the Puritans first came, they were narrow. They did not understand what liberty meantâ€”what religious liberty, what political liberty, was; but they found out in a few years. There was one feeling among them that rises to their eternal honor like a white shaft to the cloudsâ€”they were in favor of universal education. Wherever they went they built school houses, introduced books, and ideas of literature. They believed that every man should know how to read and how to write, and should find out all that his capacity allowed him to comprehend. That is the glory of the Puritan fathers.
They forgot in a little while what they had suffered, and they forgot to apply the principal of universal libertyâ€”of toleration. Some of the colonies did not forget it, and I want to give credit where credit should be given. The Catholics of Maryland were the first people on the new continent to declare universal religious toleration. Let this be remembered to their eternal
honor. Let this be remembered to the disgrace of the Protestant government of England, that it caused this grand law to be repealed. And to the honor and credit of the Catholics of Maryland let it be remembered that the moment they got back into power they re-enacted the old law. The Baptists of Rhode Island also, led by Roger Williams, were in favor of universal religious liberty. And these were the only colonies that were in favor of religious freedom. Yet it may truthfully be said that they did not understand the idea of religious liberty as we understand it, to-day.
But the people finally met in congress in the old city of Philadelphia. They had become tired of being colonistsâ€”of writing and reading and signing petitions, and presenting them on their bended knees, to an idiot king. They began to have an aspiration to form a new nation, to be citizens of a new republic instead of subjects of an old monarchy. They had the ideaâ€”the Puritans, the Catholics, the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Quakers, and a few Free Thinkers, all had the ideaâ€”that they would like to form a new nation.
Now, do not understand that all of our fathers were in favor of independence. Do not understand that they were all like Jefferson; that they were all like Adams or Lee; that they were all like Thomas Paine or John Hancock. There were thousands and thousands of them who were opposed to American independence. There were thousands and thousands who said, “When you say men are created equal, it is a lie; when you say the political power resides in the great body of the people, it is false.” Thousands and thousands of them said, “We prefer Great Britain.” But the men who were in favor of independence, the men who knew that a new nation must be born, went on in full hope and courage, and nothing could daunt or stop or stay these heroic, fearless men.
They met in Philadelphia; and the resolution was moved by Lee of Virginia, that the colonies ought to be independent states, and ought to dissolve their political connection with Great Britain.
They made up their minds that a new nation must be formed. All nations had been, so to speak, the wards of some church. The religious idea as to the source of power had been at the foundation of all governments, and had been the bane and curse of man.
Happily for us, there was no church strong enough to dictate to the rest. Fortunately for us, the colonists not only, but the colonies differed widely- in their religious views. There were the Puritans who hated the Episcopalians, and Episcopalians who hated the Catholics, and the Catholics who hated both, while the Quakers held them all in contempt. There they were, of every sort, and color, and kind, and how was it that they came together? They had a common aspiration. They wanted to form a new nation. More than that, most of them cordially hated Great Britain; and they pledged each other to forget these religious prejudices, for a time at least, and agreed that there should be only one religion until they got through, and that was the religion of patriotism. They solemnly agreed that the new nation should not belong to any particular church, but that it should secure the rights of all.
Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights, and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; that it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence. You might as well have a state united by force with art or with property, or with oratory, as with religion. Religion should have the influence upon mankind that its goodness, that its morality, its justice, its charity, its reason, and its argument give it, and no more. Religion should have the effect upon mankind that it necessarily has, and no more. The religion that has to be supported by law is without value, not only, but a fraud and curse. The argument that has to be supported by a musket, is no argument. A prayer that must have a cannon behind it, had better never be uttered.
So, our fathers said, ” We will form a secular government, and under the flag with which we are going to enrich the air we will allow every man to worship God as he thinks best. They said, “Religion is an individual thing between each man and his Creator, and he can worship as he pleases and as he desires.” And why did they do this? The history of the world warned them that the liberty of man was not safe in the clutch and grasp of any church. They had read of and seen the thumb-screws, the racks and the dungeons of the inquisition. They knew all about the hypocrisy of the olden time. They knew that the church had stood side by side with the throne; that the high priests were hypocrites, and that kings were robbers. They also knew that if they gave to any church power, that power would corrupt the best church in the world. And so they said, power must not reside in a church or in a sect, in a few or in a nobility, but power must be wherever humanity is, in the great body of the people; and the officers and servants of the people must be responsible to them. And so I say again, as I said in the commencement, this is the wisest, the profoundest, the bravest political document that ever was written and signed by man. They turned, as I tell you, everything squarely about. They derived all their authority from the people. They did away forever with the theological idea of government.
And what more did they say? They said that whenever the rulers abused this authority, this power, incapable of destruction, returned to the people. How did they come to say this? I will tell you. They were pushed into it. How? They felt that they were oppressed; and whenever a man feels that he is the subject of injustice, his perception of right and wrong is wonderfully quickened. Nobody was ever in prison wrongfully who did not believe in the writ of habeas corpus. Nobody ever suffered wrongfully without instantly having ideas of justice.
And they began to inquire what rights the king of Great Britain had. They began to search for the charter of his authority. They began to investigate and dig down to the bed rock upon which society must be founded, and when they got down there, forced thereto by their oppressors, forced against their own prejudices and education, they found at the bottom of things, not lords, not nobles, not pulpits, not thrones, but humanity and the rights of men. And so they said we are men; we are men. They found out they were men. And the next thing they said, was, we will be free men; we have got weary of being colonists; we are tired of being subjects; we are men; and these colonies ought to be states; and these states ought to be a nation; and that nation ought to drive the last British soldier into the sea. And so they signed that brave Declaration of Independence.
I thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart for signing that sublime declaration. I thank them for their courage â€”for their patriotismâ€”for their wisdomâ€”for the splendid confidence in themselves and in the human race. I thank them for what they were, and for what we areâ€”for what they did and, for what we have receivedâ€”for what they suffered, and for what we enjoy.
What would we have been if we had remained colonists and subjects? What would we have been to-day? Nobodies,â€”ready to get down on our knees and crawl in the very dust at the sight of somebody that was supposed to have in him some drop of blood that flowed in the veins of that mailed marauderâ€” that royal robber, William the Conqueror.
They signed that Declaration of Independence, although they knew that it would produce a long, terrible, and bloody war. They looked forward and saw poverty, deprivation, gloom, and death. But they also saw on the wrecked clouds of war, the beautiful bow of freedom. These grand men were enthusiasts; and the world has only been raised by enthusiasts. In every country there have been a few enthusiasts who have always given a national aspiration to the people. The enthusiasts of 1776 were the builders and framers of this great and splendid government; and the enthusiasts there saw, although others did not, the golden fringe of the mantle of glory that will finally cover this world. They knew it and they felt it; and they said, notwithstanding the horrors of war, notwithstanding the privations of war, we will give a new constellation to the political heavens ; we will make the Americans a grand people,â€”grand as the continent upon which they live.
The war commenced. There was no money, no credit. The new nation had no means and but few friends. To a great extent each soldier of freedom had to clothe and feed himself.
What did the soldier leave when he went? He left his wife and and children. Did he leave them in a beautiful home, surrounded by civilization, in the security of a great and powerful republic? No. He left his wife and children on the edge, on the fringe of the boundless forest, in which crouched and crept the red savage, who was at that time the ally of the still more savage Briton. He left his wife to defend herself, and he left the prattling babes to be defended by their mother and by nature. The mother made the living; she planted the corn and the potatoes, and hoed them in the sun, raised the children, and in the darkness of night, told them upon what a sacred expedition their brave father had gone.
The soldiers of 1776 did not march away with music and banners. They went in silence, looked at and gazed after by eyes filled with tears. They went not to meet an equal, but a superior â€”to fight five times their numberâ€”to make a desperate standâ€”to stop the advance of the enemy, and then, when their ammunition gave out, seek the protection of rocks, of rivers and of hills.
Let me say here: The greatest test of courage on the earth is to bear defeat without losing heart. That army is the bravest, that can be whipped the greatest number of times and fight again.
Over the entire territory, so to speak, then settled by our forefathers, they were driven again and again. Now and then they would meet the English with something like equal numbers, and then the eagle of victory would proudly perch upon the stripes and stars. And so they went on as best they could, hoping and fighting until they came to the dark and somber gloom of Valley Forge. There were very few hearts then beneath that flag that did not begin to think that the struggle was useless; that all the blood and treasure had been spent in vain. But there were some men gifted with that wonderful prophecy that fulfills itself, and with that wonderful magnetic power that makes heroes of everybody they come in contact with.
And so our fathers went through the gloom of that terrible time, and still fought on. Brave men wrote grand words, cheering the despondent, brave men did brave deeds, the rich man gave his wealth, the poor man gave his life, until at last, by the victory at Yorktown, the old banner won its place in the air, and became glorious forever.
Seven long years of warâ€”fighting for what? For the principle that all men are created equalâ€”a truth that nobody ever disputed except a scoundrel; nobody, nobody in the entire history of this
world. No man ever denied that truth who was not a rascal, and at heart a thief, never, never, and never will. What else were they fighting for? Simply that in America every man should have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nobody ever denied that except a villain; never, never. It has been denied by kingsâ€”they were thieves. It has been denied by statesmenâ€” they were liars. It has been denied by priests, by clergymen, by cardinals, by bishops and by popesâ€”they were hypocrite’s.
What else were they fighting for? For the idea that all political power is vested in the great body of the people. The great body of the people make all the money; do all the work. They plow the land, cut down the forests; they produce everything that is produced. Then who shall say what shall be done with what is produced except the producer? Ts it the non-producing thief, sitting on a throne, surrounded by vermin?
Those were the things they were fighting for; and that is all they were fighting for. They fought to build up a new, a great nation; to establish an asylum for the oppressed of the world everywhere. They knew the history of this world. They knew the history of human slavery.
The history of civilization is the history of the slow and painful enfranchisement of the human race. In the olden times the family was a monarchy, the father being the monarch. The mother and children were the veriest slaves. The will of the father was the supreme law. He had the power of life and death. It took thousands of years to civilize this father, thousands of years to make the condition of wife and mother and child even tolerable. A few families constituted a tribe; the tribe had a chief; the chief was a tyrant; a few tribes formed a nation; the nation was governed by a king, who was also a tyrant. A strong nation robbed, plundered, and took captive the weaker ones. This was the commencement of human slavery.
It is not possible for the human imagination to conceive of the horrors of slavery. It.has left no possible crime uncommitted, no .possible cruelty unperpetrated. It has been practiced and defended by all nations in some form. It has been upheld by all religions. It has been defended by nearly every pulpit. From the profits derived from the slave trade churches have been built, cathedrals reared and priests paid. Slavery has been blessed by bishop, by cardinal and by pope. It has received the sanction of statesmen, of kings and of queens. It has been defended by the throne, the pulpit and the bench. Monarchs have shared in the profits. Clergymen have taken their part of the spoil, reciting passage of scripture in its defense at the same time, and judges have taken their portion in the name of equity and law.
Only a few years ago our ancestors were slaves. Only a few years ago they passed with and belonged to the soil, like coal under it and rocks on it. Only a few years ago they were treated like beasts of burden, worse far than we treat our animals at the present day. Only a few years ago it was a crime in England for a man to have a Bible in his house, a crime for which men were hanged, and their bodies afterwards burned. Only a few years ago fathers could and did sell their children. Only a few years ago our ancestors were not allowed to speak or write their thoughts that being a crime. Only a few years ago to be honest, at least in the expression of your ideas, was a felony. To do right was a capital offense; and in those days chains and whips were the incentives to labor, and the preventives of thought. Honesty was a vagrant, justice a fugitive, and liberty in chains.
As soon as our ancestors began to get free, they began to enslave others. With an inconsistency that defies explanation, they practiced upon others the same outrages that had been perpetrated upon them. As soon as white slavery began to be abolished, black slavery commenced. In this infamous traffic nearly every nation of Europe embarked. Fortunes were quickly realized; the avarice and cupidity of Europe were excited; all ideas of justice were discarded; pity fled from the human breast; a few good, brave men recited the horrors of the trade; avarice was deaf; religion refused to hear; the trade went on; the governments of Europe upheld it in the name of commerceâ€”in the name of civilization and of religion.
Our fathers knew the history of caste. They knew that in the despotisms of the old world it was a disgrace to be useful. They knew that a mechanic was esteemed as hardly the equal of a hound, and far below a blooded horse. They knew that a nobleman held a son of labor in contemptâ€”that he had no rights the royal loafers were bound to respect. The world has changed.
The other day there came shoemakers, potters, workers in wood and iron from France, and they were received in the city of New York as though they had been princes. They had been sent by the great republic of France to examine into the arts and manufactures of the great republic of America. They looked a thousand times better to me than the Edward Alberts and Albert Edwardsâ€”the royal vermin, that live on the body politic. And I would think much more of our government if it would fete and feast them, instead of wining and dining the miserable imbeciles of a rotten royal line.
Our fathers devoted their lives and fortunes to the grand work of founding a government for the protection of the rights of man. The theological idea as to the source of political power had poisoned the web and woof of every government in the world, and our fathers banished it from this continent forever.
What we want to-day is what our fathers wrote down. They did not attain to their ideal; we approach it nearer, but have not reached it yet. We want, not only the independence of a State, not only the independence of a nation, but something far more gloriousâ€”the absolute independence of the individual. That is what we want. I want it so that I, one of the children of Nature, can stand on an equality with the rest; that I can say this is my air, my sunshine, my earth, and that I have a right to live, and hope, and aspire, and labor, and enjoy the fruit of that labor, as much as any individual or any nation on the face of the globe.
We want every American to make to-day, on this hundredth anniversary, a declaration of individual independence. Let each man enjoy his liberty to the utmostâ€”enjoy all he can; but be sure it is not at the expense of another. The French convention gave the best definition of liberty I have ever read: “The liberty of one citizen ceases only where the liberty of another citizen commences.”‘ I know of no better definition. I ask you to-Â«lay to make a declaration of individual independence. And if you are independent, be just. Allow everybody else to make his declaration of individual! independence. Allow your wife, allow your husband, allow your children to make theirs. Let everybody be absolutely free and! independent, knowing only the sacred obligation of honesty and affection. Let us be independent of party, independent- of everybody and everything except our own consciences and our own brains. Do not belong to any clique. Have the clear title deeds in fee simple to yourselves, without any mortgage on the premises to anybody in the world.
Only a few days ago I stood in Independence Hallâ€”in that little room where was signed the immortal paper. A little room, like any other; and it did not seem possible that from that room went forth ideas, like cherubim and seraphim, spreading their wings over a continent, and touching, as with holy fire, the hearts of men.
In a few moments I was in the park, where are gathered the accomplishments of a century. Our fathers never dreamed of the things I saw. There were hundreds of locomotives, with their nerves of steel and breath of flameâ€”every kind of machine, with whirling wheels and curious cogs and cranks, and the myriad thoughts of men that have been wrought in iron, brass, and steel. And going out from one little building were wires in the air, stretching to every civilized nation, and they could send a shining messenger in a moment to any part of the world, and it would go sweeping under the waves of the sea with thoughts and words within its glowing heart. I saw all that had been achieved by this nation, and I wished that the signers of the Declarationâ€”the soldiers of the revolutionâ€”could see what a century of freedom has produced. That they could see the fields we cultivateâ€”the rivers we navigateâ€”the railroads running over the Alleghenies, far into what was then the unknown forestâ€”on over the broad prairiesâ€” on over the vast plainsâ€”away over the mountains of the West, to the Golden Gate of the Pacific.
All this is the result of a hundred years of freedom.
Are you not more than glad that in 1776 was announced the sublime principle that political power resides with the people? That our fathers then made up their minds nevermore to be colonists and subjects, but,that they would be free and independent -citizens of America?
I will not name any of the grand men who fought for liberty. All should be named, or none. I feel that the unknown soldier who was shot down without even his name being rememberedâ€”who was included only in a report of “a hundred killed,” or “a hundred missing,” nobody knowing even the number that attached to his august corpseâ€”is entitled to as deep and heartfelt thanks as the titled leader who fell at the head of the host.
Standing here amid the sacred memories of the first, on the golden threshold of the second, I ask: Will the second century be as grand as the first? I believe it will, because we are growing more and more humane. I believe there is more human kindness, more real, sweet human sympathy, a greater desire to help one another, in the United States, than in all the world besides.
We must progress. We are just at the commencement of invention. The steam engineâ€”the telegraphâ€”these are but the toys with which science has been amused. Wait; there will be grander things; there will be wider and higher cultureâ€”a grander standard of character, of literature, and art.
We have now half as many millions of people as we have years, and many of us will live until a hundred million stand beneath the flag. We are getting more real solid sense. The school-house is the finest building in the village. We are writing and reading more books, we are painting and buying more pictures; we are struggling more and more to get at the philosophy of life, of things â€”trying more and more to answer the questions of the eternal sphinx; we are looking in every directionâ€”investigating ; in short, we are thinking and working. Besides all this, 1 believe the people are nearer honest than ever before. A few years ago we were willing to live upon the labor of four million slaves. Was that honest? At last, we have a national conscience. At last, we have carried out the Declaration of Independence. Our fathers wrote itâ€”we have accomplished it. The black man was a slaveâ€”we made him a citizen. We found four million human beings in manacles, and now the hands of a race are held up in the free air, to-day, without a chain.
I have had the supreme pleasure- of seeing a manâ€”once a slave â€”sitting in the seat of his former master in the Congress of the United States. I have had that pleasure, and when I saw it, my eyes were filled with tears. I felt that we had carried out the Declaration of Independence,â€”that we had given reality to it, and breathed the breath of life into its every word. I felt that our flag would float over and protect the colored man and his little childrenâ€”standing straight in the sun, just the same as though he were white and worth a million. I would protect him more, because the rich white man can protect himself.
All who stand beneath our flag are free. Ours is the only flag that has in reality written upon it: Liberty, Fraternity, Equality â€”the three grandest words in all the languages of men.
Liberty: Give to every man the fruit of his own laborâ€”the labor of his hands and of his brain.
Fraternity: Every man in the right is my brother.
Equality: The rights of all are equÂ«il: Justice, poised and balanced in eternal calm, will shake from the golden scales, in which are weighed the acts of men, the very dust of prejudice and caste: No race, no color, no previous condition, can change the rights of men.
The Declaration of Independence has been carried out in letter and in spirit.
The second century will be grander than the first.
Fifty millions of people are celebrating this day. To-day, the black man looks upon his child and says: The avenues to distinction are open to youâ€”upon your brow may fall the civic wreathâ€”this day belongs to you.
We are celebrating the courage and wisdom of our fathers, and the glad shout of a free people, the anthem of a grand nation, commencing at the Atlantic, is following the sun to the Pacific, across a continent of happy homes.
We are a great people. Three millions have increased to fifty â€”thirteen States to thirty-eight. We have better homes, better clothes, better food and more of it, and mjre of the conveniences of life, than any other people upon the globe.
The farmers of Peoria county live better than did the kings and princes two hundred years agoâ€”and they have twice as much sense and heart. Liberty and labor have given us all. I want every person here to believe in the dignity of laborâ€”to know that the respectable man is the useful manâ€”the man who produces or helps others to produce something of value, whether thought of the brain or work of the hand.
I want you to go,away with an eternal hatred in your breast of injustice, of aristocracy, of caste, of the idea that one man has more rights than another because he has better clothes, more land, more money, because he owns a railroad, or is famous and in high position. Remember that all men have equal rights. Remember that the man who acts best his partâ€”who loves his friends tho bestâ€” is most willing to help othersâ€”truest to the discharge of obligation â€”who has the best heartâ€”the most feelingâ€”the deepest sympathiesâ€”and who freely gives to others the rights that he claims for himself, is the best man. I am willing to swear to this.
What has made this country? I say again, liberty and labor. What would we be without labor? I want every farmer, when plowing the rustling corn of Juneâ€”while mowing in the perfumed fieldsâ€”to feel that he is adding to the wealth and glory of the United States. I want every mechanicâ€”every man of toil, to know and feel that he is keeping the cars running, the telegraph wires in the air; that he is making the statues and painting the pictures; that he is writing and printing the books; that he is helping to fill the world with honor, with happiness, with love and law.
Remember that our country is founded upon the dignity of labor and the equality of man. Remember this, and the second century will be grander than the first.
America! Our Success-Our Future! An Oration By Rev. John P. Gulliver, D.D., Delivered At Binghampton, New York, July 4, 1876.
We celebrate to-day one hundred years of Democratic Government. We flatter ourselves, not without some show of reason, that our experiment has been, on the whole, a successful one.
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
Constitution of the United States and itâ€™s Governmental Operations (In PlainÂ English)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio SeymourÂ (1810â€“1886)
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von MullerÂ (1832)
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824Â â€“1892)
It is true that in other days “the name of commonwealth has past and gone,” over many “fractions of this groaning globe.” It is true that our Republic has only attained the slight venerableness of a single century. It is true that other democracies, far more ancient have at last “deigned to own a scepter and endure a purple robe.” Still we live, and we console ourselves with the thought that our one century has been equal in actual development to many centuries of Venice or Rome.
It is true we have had our enemies, foreign and domestic, and we may have them again. But in two wars, one of them of vast proportions, we have not only gained victory, but increased strength, while in the war of 1812, we certainly lost nothing. We have now convinced the world, what our best friends in Europe have seriously doubted, that a democracy is capable of being converted, in a day, into a military despotism, as effective for all warlike purposes, as the citizen-soldiery of Germany or the soldier-tenantry of Russia. A government, however loose it may seem to the eye of a monarchist, which out of a nation of civilians, can summon more than a million of men into the field at one time, which can create a navy at call, and in so doing, can revolutionize the whole system of maritime and defensive warfare, which can originate amidst the confusion of a struggle for national existence, such improvements in firearms as to make obsolete the arsenals of the civilized world, and, in four years can terminate in complete success, a struggle whose dimensions parallel the Napoleonic wars of Europeâ€”a democracy capable of such a military metamorphosis, is at least not to be despised as an unwieldy and ungovernable mob.
It is true that our own body politic has not been at any time in a state of perfect health. As a democracy, it has had its diseases, some hereditary and chronic and some the result of temporary indiscretions and excesses. We began our republican organization with a large infusion of the ideas of class-aristocracy from the Northern Colonies, with all the institutions and social usages of a race aristocracy at the South, and with the crude, wild doctrines of French Red Republicanism strangely mingled with both. Our history during the century has been almost exclusively the record of the throes of the Republic under the antagonism of these morbid agents. The extraordinary force of vitality which our democracy has developed in eliminating these internal tendencies to disease and dissolution, is not the least among the occasions of our solemn exultation today. Our remedies have, some of them, been constitutional and gentle; others of them, heroic and painful. But they certainly have been efficacious. We have diseases still. But just at this moment they are of the prurient, disgusting sort, mortifying and annoying enough, but only skin deep.
Surely a nation that found means to eradicate the slow consumption of social aristocracy, to quell the fiery fever of a brigand communism, and to cut out the cancer of slavery, will contrive some method of exterminating the insect parasites that are now burrowing over our whole civil service. If the heart of the Republic is sound, we need not greatly fear for its cuticle. Only, fellow-citizens, let us be prompt in our treatment, for the disease is contagious, and it is very irritating!
Besides the ills we have or have had, there maybe latent tendencies to disease and decay, that we know not of. But we will borrow no trouble to-day. We will hope that the same constitutional vigor, and the same skill of treatment which have served us so well in the past, will, by God’s blessing, prove sufficient for our future needs. Only let us draw largely upon the sources of national nourishmentâ€”let us keep in vigorous exercise all our organic functions; let us become a manly nation, instinct in every part with the highest attributes of national life; then we may defy the inroads of disease; then the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, shall grow into a perfect stateâ€”a state which God shall honor and man shall fear. We rejoice in the health of the Nation on its hundredth birthday!
It is also true, to change our figure, that there has been not a little occasion for anxiety concerning the frame-work of our Ship of State. The model of a ship and the adjustment of its various parts to each other, the balance between its breadth of beam and its length of spars, tho ratio to be observed between steadiness and crankness, the precise point where the “clump” may blend into the “clipper,” is a great nautical problem. The blending of all our local sovereignties, from the school district and the town meeting, through the counties and the states, into one national sovereignty, while yet each retains its distinct and characteristic autonomy, I have often compared, in my own mind, to that admirable and exquisitely beautiful adjustment, which, before the prosaic age of steam, gave us the many-winged birds of the oceanâ€”the swift eagles of commerceâ€”skimming every sea, and nestling in every harbor. You have seen them, with their pyramid of sails, rising with geometrical exactness from main to royal, swelling in rounding lines from the foremost jib to the outmost point of the studding-sail boom, and retreating again, pear-shaped, to the stern, each holding to its full capacity the forceful breeze, all drawing in harmony, and yet each hanging by its own spar, and each under the instant control of the master on the deck. Behold, I have said, the Ship of a Republican State! What absolute independence of parts! What perfect harmony of all! What defined distinction of function! What complete unity of action! What an unrestricted individual freedom! What a steady contribution of all to the general result! and as the graceful hull, courteously bending in response to the multifarious impulse, has ploughed proudly through the waters, the exclamation has risen to my lips, “Liberty and Union; now and forever; one and inseparable!”
But the actual existence of this exact balance between the National and local Governments, was not always as well established as it is to-day. At the very outset the Southern States, from the fear that the National Government would forbid a protective tariff, denied the supremacy of the National over the State Government, except during the consent of the latter.
In the later days of Calhoun, by one of the strangest transmutations ever known in politics, the same doctrine was maintained,by the same States.for the purpose of resisting a protective tariff. Throttled by the strong hand of Andrew Jackson, at that time, the monster drew back into his den, only to appear under the feeble administration of Buchanan as the champion of slavery. The doctrine that the National Government may be left at any moment, a floating hulk without canvas, rigging or rudder, the statesmanship which would launch a nation into the great ocean of human affairs, under the command of some two score of independent local governments, may now be laid away in our cabinets of moral monstrosities, as a fossil of the past. De Tocqueville, the philosopher of Democracy, prophesied forty years ago, in this wise: “It appears to me unquestionable, that if any portion of the Union seriously desired to separate itself from the other States, they would not be able, nor indeed would they attempt to prevent it, and that the present Union will last only as long as the States which compose it choose to remain members of the confederation.” That this sagacious and most friendly writer on American institutions has in this case proved to be a false prophet, is not the least among our many causes for congratulation to-day.
A century of rapid movement and of revolution; a century which has changed the political condition of nearly every nation on the face of the earth; a century during which we have twice met the whole power of the British Empire in arms, and once sustained the shock of assault from the combined power of slavery at home and in Europe; a century during which we have eliminated from the body politic the most insidious and dangerous diseases; a century during which we have determined questions concerning the relations and functions of our concentric cluster of independent democracies of the most radical and vital nature; a century during which our population has grown from three millions to fifty millions, our area of territory extended from one million to four millions of square miles, our manufactures advanced from twenty millions to forty-two hundred millions, our agriculture, mining and commerce increased in a ratio which sets all figures at defiance; a century which has raised us from insignificance, to a position as the fifth of the great empires of the world; a century which in educational and religions progress has more than kept pace with our material advancement, giving us a proportion of church members to the whole population four times greater than it was at the close of the Revolution, and a much larger increase in the ratio of liberally educated and well-educated persons; such a century we celebrate to-day. Who shall say that we do not well to rejoice. Who can fail to exclaim with devout and fervent gratification, What hath God wrought?
What Does The Future Promise? But we should make an unworthy use of this great occasion should we confine ourselves to a mere childish exultation over accomplished facts. A great future is extending out before us. What does this experiment prove, and how much does it promise? It is a time for study and thought. This centennial year, with its accomplished past just rolling out of view, with its present exciting and absorbing duty in the election of a chief magistrate, with an immediate future promising an unexampled reaction of prosperity, should be a year in which men should make great progress in the science of society and government.
We must not fail therefore to note and to admit freely, that our experiment has been in some respects an indecisive one. It does not prove that a Democratic form of government is necessarily and everywhere the best form. We are isolated from all the leading powers of the world by the intervention of great oceans. We entered upon an unoccupied continent. The rivalries of mankind, and their strifes have been adjusted upon other fields. While Russia, our comrade and contemporary in national growth, has been advancing upon the line of effete human civilizations, we have assailed only the forces of the wilderness. She has fought with men, we with nature. She has conquered by the sword; we by the plowshare. She has flourished by diplomacy; we by enterprise. She is a consolidated military despotism; we an extended Democratic Republic. Yet a philosophical statesmanship has often declared that we are approaching the same goal of empire and power. The comparison is full of interest and challenges our closest scrutiny. Russia, primarily the soldier, never out of uniform, her villages but military camps, her cities vast garrisons, her railroads and chausses only lines of army communication, is yet an inventing, manufacturing, agricultural and emphatically a commercial nation. America, primarily a land of peace and thrift, has been transformed in a day, into one vast battle field, and its rustic as well as its civic population have left the shop and furrow at night to appear in the morning assembled in armies of Titanic size, armed with the weapons of the Titans, while the thunder of their encounter has shaken the astonished world. Russia has exalted autocracy and punished democracy as a crime against God and man. America has proclaimed universal liberty and held the despot to be the enemy of the human race. Yet within the shell of imperial absolution, Russia holds to-day, as its inheritance from the depths of a Slavic antiquity, a communal organization which is almost a facsimile of a New England township; while America, beneath its outward freedom of thought, speech and act, covers a force of public opinion, both national and local, which few men have the courage to defy, and still fewer the strength to resist.
Under these curiously opposite conditions is the problem of the State being wrought out, for the Golden Age which is to come. From these diametrically opposite stand points, are the two most youthful nations of mankind advancing to the possession of the Earth.
The Democratic idea and the Democratic ideal. Such a comparison between two opposite civilizations serves to show us that democracy, as a form of government may or may not contain the elements ofÂ freedom and the assurance of stability. In other words, the democratic idea, as men have conceived it and embodied it in governments, may or may not accord with the democratic ideal as it is enunciated in the royal law of Christ, and as it will one day be seen, embodied in the governments of men. Democracies may hide within themselves the seeds of despotism. Autocracies may nourish the germs of liberty. A democracy, which is administered in the interests of individuals, or of a party, or one in which the majority deprive the minority of freedom of speech and act, through the action of law or the terrorism of public opinion, is essentially despotic. There is despotism enough exercised within the Republic to-day, which if it had occurred in a monarchy would have cost a king his throne, and perhaps his life. On the other hand absolutionism may be so administered that the highest good of every subject shall be sought, and all his rights secured, according to the law. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and thy neighbor as thyself.”
There is then a political democracy, and there is a moral democracy. The slow and reluctant translation of the abstract ideal into the actual idea, and its expression in governmental institutions, is of surpassing interest and importance.
The Question of the Day. It is this history which concerns us on this centennial anniversary. The inquiries which are being discussed to-day from ten thousand rostrums, and which are pressing upon the thoughts of millions of men are these and such as these.
What is democracy, as distinct alike from the mob and the despot? What is liberty, as limited by law, and contrasted with license?
What progress had been made up to the fourth of July, 1776, in translating this ideal democracy into the thoughts and institutions of men?
What did the assembly over which John Hancock presided, on that memorable morning, achieve for this great thought of the ages?
How has this imperial gem, inherited from our fathersâ€”the Koh-i-noor of our political treasuresâ€”been cared for by us?
Our first answer to these questionings is a radical and sweeping answer.
We assert that this perfect ideal of liberty, this basal principle of a Democratic State, this Minerva embodying all temporal good for man, sprang full armed and perfect from Christianity.
“In the image of God made He man, male and female created He them,” was the first announcement of this seed principle of political and social happiness. While the rights and needs of the sexes vary, as do those of all individual men and of all classes of men, the image of God gives a grandeur of dignity and consequence to every human being, be his descent, or rank, or abilities what they may. While the king inscribes upon the seal of his authority, “By the grace of God, a monarch over men,” while the magistrate, the parent, the master, the wife, the husband, and child, may each claim a special divine statute as the basis of his rights; the man, as a man, wears the very signet of Jehovah. Like the incarnate Son, he has “on his vesture and on his thigh ” a name written: A King among kings is he, a Lord among lords.
The inference is direct and clear. A man despised, is God blasphemed. A man enslaved, is the glory of God changed into a thing of wood, or stone, or into a beast, or creeping thing. A man wronged, is God insulted. To hold a man in ignorance, is the crime of not retaining God in the knowledge. “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it not to me,” is the malediction, written by an invisible hand upon all the banners of war, and over the bloodred skies of every battle-field of history. This is the answer to the question, “Whence comes wars and fightings among yon?” The Nemesis of the nations has been no other than the loving Father of all, avenging his outraged children who have cried day and night unto him. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” is the interpretation given by the Son of God himself to the dispensations of war, and agonies, and, blood, which has been to wondering philanthropists only a mystery of iniquity, from the first murder to the last battle. To the ideal humanity, to the man stamped with the divine image, God declares, “The nation and the kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea it shall be utterly wasted;” and in that word is the whole philosophy of the civil state. The state that God perpetuates and blesses is not the state that merely worships God, but it is the state that also honors the image of God in man. Devotion without humanity may be found in every idol temple and Mohammedan mosque on earth. But devotion without humanity never exalted a nation or saved a single human being. The hell of perished nations, like the hell of lost souls, is crowded with the peoples who have cried “Lord, Lord,” who have even prophesied in his name, and reared their temples like the trees of the forest, and sent up their orisons like the sons of the forest birds; but because a man was ahungered and they gave him no land, because a man thirsted and they gave him no springs of water, because man was a stranger and they made him a slave, because a man was naked and they kept back his wages by fraud, because a man was sick and they left him, as the North American savage leaves his worn out father, to perish by the roadside, because a man was in prison and they visited him only to add scorn to his sorrow, for these things, and such as these, the sentence has gone out against the nationsâ€”among them, some of the grandest and greatest, ” Depart from me, ye cursed!”
A True Democracy. What then is a true Democracy? It is the Government which honors man as man. It is the Government which protects all his God-given rightsâ€”the right to do right, as God may teach him, the right to do good, as God may give him opportunity, the right to be good, as God may give him grace, and the right to be happy, as God may bestow the means of happiness.
It is a Government which avenges all his wrongsâ€”the wrong oft attempted of forcing him into sin; the wrong of forbidding him to do good in the name of Christ; the wrong of leading him, in self-defence, into all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor; the wrong of robbing him of his Heavenly Father’s gifts and excluding him from the Heavenly Father’s home.
It is the Government which provides for the development of all his faculties, which educates him, not merely so that he may be a money maker, a wages earner, but to be as much of a man as God-like a man as he is able and willing to become.
It is the Government which recognizes and honors all his capacities for happiness in every feasible way, making this earth beautiful for him, filling his cup with innocent pleasures, uncontaminated by vileness and sin.
It is the Government which writes on all its banners, which engraves on its seal of State, which re-enacts in the legislative hall and administers in the court of justice, the great law of human weal. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.”
And “Liberty,” what is that? It is full encouragement, both by negative permission and positive aid, to do that which is God-like, and it is equally the utmost possible restraint upon whatever is degrading and evil. Any other liberty is the liberty given to a child to burn itself in the fire. It is the license which is the worst form of cruelty and slavery.
God’s plan in history. This is the work of God in history. Toward such a democracy has all the discipline of the race been tending. De Tocqueville says, “The development of equality of conditions, is a providential fact, and it possesses all the characteristics of a Divine decree. My book (Democracy in America) he adds, has been written under the impression of a kind of religious dread, in contemplation of so irresistible a revolution. To attempt to check democracy would be to resist the will of God.”
Steadily, though often slowly, has the race been led on to this grand consummation. This is the meeting of war, and conquest and revolution. The progress of democracy has in it the might of omnipotence. The gravitation of matter which directs rivers in their courses, is a feeble agent, compared with the gravitation of love, which directs all the streams of human society toward the great ocean of universal order and purity and joy.
The history of the gradual introduction of this conception of government into men’s minds and of its consolidation into actual institutions must be followed by the careful student in the quiet of private investigation.
Suffice it here to say that the first governments of which we have any knowledge, were constructed for protection and restraint. They took a defensive attitude against evil rather than a positive position in the promotion of good. This defensive and aggressive idea has followed government in the family and in the State, and very largely in the church down to our day. Its gradual elimination and the substitution of the Christian thought, that evil should be prevented rather than punished, that men need to be encouraged to be good, rather than be restrained from becoming bad, has proved to be one of the most difficult lessons which the race has had to learn.
Primitive Government. We know little of society before the flood. It was probably, however, a grand experiment of the power of mere law and authority in conflict with evil The chief impression which survived the deluge seems to have been that the wickedness of man was great on earth. The history of liberty through these decades of centuries which followed seems to be the record of a series of struggles to relax the unjust and cruel rigor with which this system of resistance to evil was pursued. In these struggles the subject was in a state of chronic rebellion against the sovereign, the plebeian against the patrician. Each dynasty and each class, as it gained power, used it for itself. Little by little humanity asserted its rights. The introduction of the Mosaic code was an immense advance which we now fail fully to appreciate. Its democratic features were in fact the chief study of the founders of this Republic in political science.
The American Republic. The institutions under which we are now living were slowly elaborated, in the devout study of the word of God, long before the separation from the mother country occurred. The Church of Christ, as founded by the Apostles, was strongly democratic, and the whole spirit of its administration tended powerfully to a revolution in civil government. Its doctrines all went to exalt the responsibility and dignity of the individual soul. Their religion gradually undermined, in the case of our fathers, their preconceived ideas of social order and civil government . When the new circumstances of their colonial condition compelled them to act on new lines. They found their convictions antagonism with their prejudices. It is said that the compact of the Mayflower seemed almost the result of an accident. The ideas of the colonists were strongly aristocratic and inclined them to put the whole power into the hands of a few. But the men of muscle saw that now they were of as much consequence as the men of brains and of culture and gentle birth. They firmly put in their claims and the leaders, considering the demand, saw that it was just. Set the spirit of the infant colonies was-strongly aristocratic. In manners this was seen much more plainly than in laws. The story of the punctilious etiquette which was observed in the court (as it was called) of Washington, the seating of the New England congregations according to social rank, and numerous quaint and almost ludicrous customs of the same sort show sufficiently the spirit of the age.
But all this was a matter chiefly of taste and decorum. Deep in their hearts these men loved their fellowmen. For humanity and for God, they were ready at any moment to lay down their lives. Their churches were the real morn of the State. These were formed upon the strictest model of the pattern given in the New Testament. They were local democracies of which the motto was “One is your master, and all ye are brethren.” Even churches formed upon the pattern of European usage, caught the same spirit, and became fountains of a real, if not of a nominal democracy.
It was this tendency to a sort of aristocracy, which was the conservative element in the formation of the government. This made us a constitutional Republic instead of a Greek or Polish Democracy. This was the Federalism of the early days, in which the Puritan of New England found himself in hearty sympathy with the Episcopalian of Virginia, and the Presbyterian of New York. This whole party was violently assaulted by the men, whose conception of democracy was that of a government in which every man should have equal authority, instead of one in which every man should be equally protected and cared for. The Republican party (as the ultra Democrats of that day termed themselves,) were bent simply on power for the masses. The Federalists were enlisted, with all their heart and soul, in the effort to secure order, justice, virtue and happiness for the masses.
Republican and Federalist. The contest was intense and bitter beyond any party strife of which we have any recent experience. The Republicans saw in the Federalists a reproduction of their oppressors in Europe. The Federalists saw in their opponents, the devils incarnate, who had just then closed the reign of terror in France. Both were wrong, so wrong that only this tremendous antagonism could have restrained either from making a wreck, of the new ship of state. The result was, that a substantial triumph was with the Federalists, who really created the Constitution, while the seeming victory was with the Republicans, who after the administrations of Washington and Adams gained undisputed possession of the Government. Thenceforward it became an offense akin to treason to question tho perfection of the Constitution, while it was little short of a personal insult for a politician to charge his opponent with having been a Federalist.
It was the fashion fifty years ago to speak of this Constitution as almost a miracle of human wisdom. Of late there seems to be a disposition to regard it a very common place affair. The estimate of fifty years ago is much more nearly correct. It was a miracle not only of human wisdom, but of Divine teaching. It was the fruit of centuries of the teaching and training of mankind. It was the product of no one mind or class of minds. It was the result of Providential circumstances quite as much as of human thought. It was the work of many centuries and of many men. It was the work of God as well as of men. It was the practical embodiment of the great law of love, in the civil state. It was by far the best translation the world had ever seen, or has seen as yet, the great ideal of democracy â€”the Utopia of Christianityâ€”into actual institutions and practicable government.
The next great advance of democracy in this country is seen in the overthrow of the institution of slavery. If I pass by this whole history with a mere mention here, you will understand that it is because of the familiarity of the subject to the men of our day, and not because it was not a most extraordinary, a most instructive, a most important victory for the rights, both of master and slave, and for the weal and progress of mankind.
Now we stand on the mount of vision. The past extends back, reaching into the farthest depths of history, studded more and more thickly as we approach our modern era, with the monuments of victory for justice, law and freedom. It is a magnificent and an inspiring spectacle. It is well that we celebrate this anniversary of freedom, as John Adams predicted we should do, “with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires and illuminations.”
The Present Duty. But we should be unworthy sons of heroic sires, if we did not look about us, in the surroundings of the present, and inquire if there is not something to be done, as well as something to be enjoyed.
Men and brethren, I do but follow the example of the men of a hundred years ago, when I bid you pause in the midst of your rejoicings to-day; when I ask you to consider whether an instant and a deadly peril be not concealed, like a worm in the rose, beneath the fair blossoming of this hour; when I ask you if it is not certain that, unless there be radical, sweeping, uncompromising reform in the administration of our Government, if it is not certain that we are celebrating the first and the last centennial of the American democracy. Such, fellow-citizens, is my profound conviction, and out of the abundance of my heart I speak to you to-day.
The time was, in the days of Washington and the elder Adams, and the same continued to be substantially true to the close of the administration of the younger Adams, that an officer of the Government, employed in its administration, who should actively engage in its construction, through the elections, would have been regarded as guilty of an improprietyâ€”a misdemeanor, a dishonorable unworthy act, similar to that judge in our day who should appear as an advocate or a client in a court over which he presides. Even at so late a date as the impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson, it was charged as a crime that he had given civil appointments for the purpose of strengthening his own political position.
We look back to the otherwise creditable administration of Andrew Jackson, and find the first open and acknowledged departure from this principle. Adams had refused a re-election on terms which he regarded subsersive of the government. Jackson seems to have yielded with reluctance to a demand which the rapacity of many of his supporters forced upon him with a fury which marked a complete revolution in public feeling. To the horror of all right minded men of all parties, Mr. Marcy, of New York, on the occasion of the nomination of Martin Van Buren as minister to England, declared in his place in the Senate, the revolutionary doctrine, “We practice as we preach. To the victors belong the spoils” The horror of the opposing party and of all good citizens, gradually changed to acquiescence, and on all sides the principle was accepted as a practical necessity.
The heroic struggle with slavery, which lifted the nation to a moral elevation, of the grandest sublimity for the moment, checked this downfall in the lowest slums of knavery and peculation. But with the close of the war came a temptation and an opportunity such as never had been dreamed of, and with them an entire absence both of moral principle and of legal restraint to meet the evil.
How we stand to-day, how humiliated before our own consciences and before mankind, I need not pain you by describing. You know it all, and you feel it deeply.
Now what is to be done? What have I to do, and what have you to do?
The two great parties have so far recognized the evil and the danger, that they have both nominated men who are representatives of honesty and reform.
But neither of them has laid down any principles of reform. It is not their place to do it. Parties can represent and give voice to the principles of the people. But they cannot create them. It is for the pulpit, the press, the school, the private citizen, to solve the problem, and to hand over its execution to the politicians.
What, then, is the solution of this perplexing problem? I hesitate not for an answer. Go back to the ancient traditions of the Republic! Make it a disgrace, and as far as possible a legal misdemeanor, for any officer engaged in administering the Government to interfere with an election. Forbid the legislative and judicial departments to have any voice whatever in the appointment of an officer of the Executive Department, except in a few cases of confirmation by the Senate, acting in its executive capacity.
Make it a high crime and misdemeanor for any executive officer to remove a subordinate, except for cause. Let a man’s politics have nothing to do with the giving or retaining of office. Make it a State’s prison offense for a legislator to engage in any legislation in which his own interests are directly or indirectly concerned.
The time is propitious for such a reform. The people are ripe for it. All the indications are that within ten years they will have it. For this let us all labor, Republicans and Democrats alike. We are just entering on a Presidential canvass, under candidates against whom not a word of reproach can be breathed. Let us thank God for so much to-day. It is likely to be a respectable canvass, in which foul-mouthed abuse will be little used.
Let this Centennial year be distinguished for a victory over the most dangerous, but most contemptible foe that ever menaced the Republic. Let the watchword of the next three months beâ€”Honesty! Truth! Patriotism! Down with party machines and machinists! Up with the reign of purity, honor and integrity!
Thus shall the victory of this one hundredth year be worthy of the companionship of the victories, of the birthday of the Republic.
Thus shall the men of this generation stand proudly by the side of the men of 1776 and the men of 1865.
Thus shall the Republic, established by the wisdom and sacrifices of the one, and saved by the heroism and blood of the other, be handed down to our children, to be incorporated with the great empire of liberty and love, which is at last to fill the whole earth.
OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins 1834-1899.Â Delivered At The Centennial Celebration, Washington Heights, New York City, July 4, 1876.
Mr. Chairman:â€”One of the most conspicuous and pleasing objects in our broad land to-day, is the starry emblem of freedomâ€”our dear old flag. We see it, a centennial spectacle, floating everywhere, as we never saw it before, and as we never shall see it again. It is unfurled along our highways, it adorns our public and private dwellings, it floats over our temples of worship, our halls of learning and courts of justice, and waves as grandly and gracefully over the lowest cottage in the land, as over the proud dome of the capital itself. It is our flag, with sweet centennial memories clinging to every fold, our flag along whose stripes we may trace the triumphant march of one hundred years, and from whose stars we see the light of hope and liberty still flashing upon the nations.
The origin of our flag is, to some extent, involved in mystery and controversy. It has been claimed by some that its stars and stripes were first taken from the shield of the Washington family, which was distinguished by colored lines and stars; and if this be so, it is not at all improbable, though by no means certain, that Washington himself may have suggested the peculiar form of the flag. The first distinctively American flag was unfurled to the breeze on the first day of January, 1776. It consisted of “seven white and seven red stripes,” and bore upon its front the “red and white crosses of St. George and St. Andrew,” and was called “The Great Union Flag.” This flag quickly displaced all other military devices, and became the battle-banner of the American Army. In 1777, however, it was greatly changed. The crosses were omitted and thirteen red and white stripes were used to denote the thirteen States, and thirteen stars were used to represent the union of those States. And our flag still retains its stars occasionally adding one to the number, and, as traitors know to their sorrow, it also still retains its stripes, well laid on. We have never found it necessary to ask true American citizens to respect and honor our flag. When Gen. Dix, on the 29th of January, 1861, penned those terse memorable words: “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot;” the loyal people of the nation said, “Amen. So let it be.”
We do not wonder that our people, and especially our soldiers love the flag. It is to them both a history and a prophecy. No wonder that brave soldier as he fell on the field of battle said, “Boys, don’t wait for me; just open the folds of the old flag and let me see it once more before I die.”
No wonder that Massachusetts soldier boy, dying in the gory streets of Baltimore, lifted up his glazing eyes to the flag and shouted, “All hail, the stars and the stripes!!!” Our flag is a power everywhere. One has justly said, “It is known, respected and feared round the entire globe. Wherever it goes, it is the recognized symbol of intelligence, equality, freedom and Christian civilization. Wherever it goes the immense power of this great Republic goes with it, and the hand that touches the honor of the flag, touches the honor of the Republic itself. On Spanish soil, a man entitled to the protection of our government was arrested and condemned to die. The American consul interceded for his life, but was told that the man must suffer death. The hour appointed for the execution came, and Spanish guns, gleaming in the sunlight, were ready for the work of death. At that critical moment the American consul took our flag, and folded its stars and stripes around the person of the doomed man, and then turning to the soldiers, said: “Men, remember that a single shot through that flag will be avenged by the entire power of the American Republic.” That shot was never fired. And that man, around whom the shadows of death were gathering, was saved by the stars and the stripes. Dear old flag! Thou art a power at home and abroad. Our fathers loved thee in thine infancy, one hundred years ago; our heroic dead loved thee, and we loved thee, and fondly clasp thee to our hearts today. All thy stars gleam like gems of beauty on thy brow, and all thy stripes beam upon the eye like bows of promise to the nation.
Wave on, thou peerless, matchless banner of the free! Wave on, over the army and the navy, over the land and the sea, over the cottage and the palace, over the school and the church, over the living and the dead; wave ever more, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Founders on the 2ndÂ Amendment
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29,Â 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing TaylorÂ 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4thÂ 1876
Once a Marine, always a Marine! Salute! SemperÂ Fidelis!
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of AmericanÂ Education
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience toÂ God
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came fromÂ God
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS! A Poem By Charles G. HalpineÂ 1861-1865
THE OATH! By Thomas Buchanan ReadÂ 1822-1872
THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John IrelandÂ 1894
THE RISING, 1776! By Thomas Buchanan ReadÂ 1822-1872
THE BEACON FIRES OF LIBERTY by Hon. George Lear July 4,Â 1876
We The People Never Forget September 11,Â 2001
In the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, the fourth of July fell on Thursday. On that day, the Continental congress at Philadelphia gave notice to all nations that the political communities which it represented had ceased to be colonies, were absolved from their allegiance to the British Crown, and had become Independent States. The news that such a Declaration had been made was not flashed along electric wires; it was not conveyed by steam car or steam boat; nor can I learn that it was sent in all directions by an extraordinary express. But we may assume that as early as Tuesday morning, July 9th, the people of New Haven heard the news, and that such news reported by neighbor to neighbor, was talked about everywhere, with every variety of opinion as to whether the Independence that had been declared could be maintained; some rejoicing in the Declaration and sure that it would stand; others doubting; here and there one indignant, but not daring to express his indignation. All knew that the decisive step had been taken, and that the country was committed to a life and death struggle, not for the recovery of chartered and inherited rights as provinces included in the British empire, but for an independent nationality and a place among acknowledged sovereignties.
It is difficult for us to form in our minds any just conception of what New Haven was a hundred years ago. But let us make the attempt. At that time, the town of New Haven included East Haven, North Haven, Hamden, West Haven, and almost the entire territory of what are now the three towns of Woodbridge, Beacon Falls and Bethany. What is now the city of New Haven was then “the town plat”â€”the nine original squares â€”with the surrounding fields and scattered dwellings, from the West river to the Quinnipiac, and between the harbor and the two sentinel cliffs which guard the beauty of the plain. Here was New Haven properâ€”the territorial parish of the First Ecclesiastical Society, all the outlying portions of the township having been set off into distinct parishes for church and school purposes. In other words, the town of New Haven, at that time was bounded on the cast by Branford, on the north by Wallingford (which included Cheshire), on the west by Derby and Milford; and all the “freemen” within those bounds were accustomed to assemble here in town meeting.
A hundred years ago, there was a very pleasant village here at the “town-plat,” though very little had been done to make it beautiful. This public square had been reserved, with a wise forethought for certain public uses; but in the hundred and thirty-eight years that had passed since it was laid out by the proprietors who purchased these lands from the Indians, it had never been enclosed, nor planted with trees, nor graded; for the people had always been too poor to do much for mere beauty. Here, at the centre of their public square, the planters of New Haven built a plain, rude house for public worship, and behind it they made their gravesâ€”thus giving to the spot a consecration that ought never to be forgotten. At the time which we are now endeavoring to recall, that central spot (almost identical with the site of what is now called Centre church) had been reoccupied about eighteen years, by the brick meeting-house of the First church; and the burying-ground, enclosed with a rude fence, but otherwise neglected, was still the only burial-place within the parochial limits of the First Ecclesiastical Society. A little south of the burying-ground, was another brick edifice, the state house, so called even while Connecticut was still a colony. Where the North church now stands, there was a framed meeting-house, recently built by what was called the Fair Haven Society, a secession from the White Haven, whose house of worship (colloquially called “the old Blue Meetinghouse”) was on the corner now known as St. John Place. Beside those three churches there was another from which Church street derives its name. That was per-eminently “the church”â€”those who worshipped there would have resented the suggestion of its being a meeting-house. It was, in fact, a missionary station or outpost of the Church of England, and as such was served by a missionary of the English “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.” The budding, though of respectable dimensions (58×38), was smaller than the others, yet it had one distinction,â€”its steepleâ€”a few feet south of Cutler comer, and in full view from the Green, though somewhat less aspiring than the other threeâ€”was surmounted by the figure of a crown signifying that, whatever might be the doctrine or the sentiment elsewhere, there the king’s ecclesiastical supremacy was acknowledged, and loyalty to his sacred person was a conspicuous virtue’ Only a few householders worshipped there, for the Church of England was an exotic in the climate of New England. Not till the Episcopal church had become (in consequence of the event which this day commemorates) an organization dependent on no king but Christ, an American church, and therefore no longer English, did it begin to strike its roots deep into the soil and to flourish as if it were indigenous. Two other public buddings adorned this “market-place;” one a little school-house just behind the Fair Haven meeting-house and not unlike the old-time wayside school-houses in the country; the other a county jail, which was a wooden structure fronting on College street about half way from Elm to Chapel.
Beside all these public buddings, representative of religion, of government and justice, and of provision by the commonwealth against popular ignorance, there was the college, then as now, the pride of New Haven, but very different then from what we now see. The college buddings at that time were only three. First there was the original college edifice, to which, at its completion, in 1718, the name of Yale had been given in honor of a distinguished benefactor, and from which that name had been gradually, and at last authoritatively, transferred to the institution which has made it famous. That original Yale College was close on the comer of College and Chapel streets, a wooden budding, long and narrow, three stories high, with three entries, and cupola and clock.
Next in age was the brick chapel with its tower and spire, the building now called the Athenaeum and lately transformed into recitation rooms. More glorious yet was the new brick college (then not ten years old), which had been named Connecticut Hall, and which remains (though not unchanged) the “Old South Middle.”
Such was New Haven, a hundred years ago, in its public buildings and institutions. Its population, within the present town limits was, at the largest estimate, not more than 1800 (including about 150 students) where there are now more than thirty times that number. If you ask, what were the people who lived here then, I may say that I remember some of them. Certainly they were, at least in outward manifestation, a religious people. Differences of religious judgment and sympathy had divided them, within less than forty years, into three worshiping assemblies beside the little company that had gone over to the Church of England. Their religious zeal supported three ministers; and I will venture to say that the houses were comparatively few in which there was not some form of household religion. Compared with other communities in that age (on either side of the ocean) they were an intelligent people. With few exceptions, they could read and write; and though they had no daily newspapers, nor any knowledge of the modern sciences, nor any illumination from popular lectures, nor that sort of intelligence and refinement which comes from the theater, they knew some things as well as we do. They knew something about the chief end of man and man’s responsibility to God; something about their rights as freeborn subjects of their king; something about their chartered freedom; and the tradition had never died out among them. There were graves in the old burial ground which would not let them forget that a king may prove himself a traitor to his people, and may be brought to account by the people whom he has betrayed. There were social distinctions then, as now. Some families were recognized as more intelligent and cultivated than others. Some were respected for their ancestry, if they had not disgraced it. Men in official stationsâ€”civil, military, or ecclesiasticalâ€” were treated with a sort of formal deference now almost obsolete; but then, as now, a man, whatever title he might bear, was pretty sure to be estimated by bis neighbors at bis real worth, and nothing more. Some men were considered wealthy, others were depressed by poverty, but the distinction between rich and poor was not just what it is to-day. There were no great capitalists, nor was there anything like a class of mere laborers with no dependence but their daily wages. The aggregate wealth of the community was very moderate, with no overgrown fortunes and hardly anything like abject want. Almost every family was in that conditionâ€””neither poverty nor riches “â€”which a wise man of old desired and prayed fox as most helpful to right living. Such a community was not likely to break out into any turbulent or noisy demonstrations. Doubtless the Declaration of Independence was appreciated as a great fact by the people of New Haven when they heard of it . Perhaps the church bells were rung (that would cost nothing); perhaps there was some shouting by men and boys (that would also cost nothing): perhaps there was a bonfire on the Green or at the “Head of the Wharf” (that would not cost much); but we may be sure that the great fact was not greeted with the thunder, of artillery nor celebrated with fireworks; for gunpowder was just then too precious to be consumed in that way. The little newspaper, then published in this town every Wednesday, gives no indication of any popular excitement on that occasion. On “Wednesday, July 10th, 1776,” the Connecticut Journal had news, much of it very important, and almost every word of it relating to the conflict between the colonies and the mother country; news from London to the date of April 9; from Halifax to June 4 ; from Boston to July 4; from New York to July 8, and from Philadelphia to July 6. Under the Philadelphia date the first item was “Yesterday the Congress unanimously resolved to declare the United Colonies Free And Independent States.” That was all, save that, in another column, the printer said, “To-morrow will be ready for sale ‘The Resolves of the Congress declaring the United Colonies Free And Independent States.”’ What the printer, in that advertisement, called “The Resolves of Congress,” was a handbill, 8 inches by 9, in two columns, with a rudely ornamented border, and was reproduced in the Journal for July 17. It was the immortal state paper with which we are so familiar, and we may be sure that everybody in New Haven, old enough to know the meaning of it had read it, or beard it read, before another seven days had been counted.
The Declaration of Independence was not at all an unexpected event. It surprised nobody. Slowly but irresistibly the conviction bad come that the only alternative before the United Colonies was absolute subjection to a British Parliament or absolute independence of the British crown. Such was the general conviction, but whether independence was possible, whether the time had come to strike for it, whether something might not yet be gained by remonstrance and negotiation, were questions on which there were different opinions even among men whose patriotism could not be reasonably doubted.
[Here followed some of the facts intended to give a better understanding of “what were the thoughts, and what the hopes and fears of good men in New Haven a hundred years ago.”]
Having at last undertaken to wage war in defense of American liberty, the Continental Congress proceeded, very naturally, to a formal declaration of war, setting forth the causes which impelled’ them to take up arms.
That declaration preceded by a year the Declaration of Independence; for at that time only a few sagacious minds had seen clearly the impossibility of reconciliation. Declaring to the world that they had taken up arms in self-defense and would never lay them down till hostilities should cease on the part of the aggressors, they nevertheless disavowed again the idea of separation from the British empire. “Necessity,” said they, “has not yet driven us to that desperate measure;” “we have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain and establishing independent states.” That was an honest declaration. Doubtless a few prophetic souls had seen the vision of a separate and independent nationality, and knew to what issue the long controversy had been tending; but the thought and sentiment of the people throughout the colonies, at that timeâ€”the thought and sentiment of thoughtful and patriotic men in every colonyâ€”was fairly expressed in that declaration. They were English colonies, proud of the English blood and name; and as young birds cling to. the nest when the mother trusts them out half-fledged, so they clung to their connection with Great Britain notwithstanding the unmotherly harshness of tho mother country. They were English as their fathers were; and it was their English blood that roused them to resist the invasion of their English liberty. The meteor flag of England
“Had braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze,”
and it was theirs; its memories of Blenheim and Ramillies, of Crecy and Agincourt, were theirs; and they themselves had helped to plant that famous banner on the ramparts of Louisburg and Quebec. Because they were English they could boast
“That Chatham’s language was their mother-tongue,
And Wolfe’s great name compatriot with their own.”
Because they were English, Milton was theirs, and Shakespeare, and the English Bible. They still desired to be included in the great empire whose navy commanded the ocean, and whose commerce encircled the globe. They desired to be under its protection, to share in its growth and glory, and enjoying their chartered freedom under the imperial crown, to maintain the closest relations of amity and mutual helpfulness with the mother country and with every portion of the empire.
All this was true in July, 1775. When Washington consented to command the Continental armies “raised or to be raised,” he thought that armed resistance might achieve some adequate security for the liberty of the colonies without achieving their independence. When, in his journey from Philadelphia to New York, hearing the news from Bunker Hill and how the New England volunteers had faced the British regulars in battle, he said, “Thank God! our cause is safe;” he was not thinking of independence, but only of chartered liberty. When, on his journey from New York to New Haven, he said to Dr. Bipley, of Green’s Farms, who dined with him at Fairfield, “If we can maintain the war for a year we shall succeed,” his hopes was that by one year of unsuccessful war the British ministry and parliament would be brought to some reasonable terms of reconciliation. When (in the words of our historian Palfrey), “the roll of the New England drums at Cambridge announced the presence there of the Virginian, George Washington,” he knew not, nor did Putnam know, nor Prescott, nor Stark, nor the farmers who had hastened to the siege of Boston, that the war in which he then assumed the chief command was, what we now call it, the war of independence. With all sincerity the Congress, four days later, while solemnly declaring “before God and the world,” “The arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unbating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die freeman rather than to live slaves “â€”could also say, at the same time, to their “friends and fellow subjects in every part of the empire,” “We assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to be restored.” The declaration on the 6th of July, 1775, was a declaration of war, but not of independence.
Yet, from the beginning of the war, there was in reality only one issueâ€”though a whole year must pass before that issue could be clearly apprehended by the nation and proclaimed to the world. From the first clash of arms the only possible result was either subjection or separation; either the loss of liberty or the achievement of independence. The first shot from Major Pitcairn’s pistol on the village green at Lexington, at the gray dawn of April 19th, 1775, was fatal to the connection between these colonies and their mother country. That was “the shot that echoed round the world,” and is echoing still along “the corridors of time.” That first shot, with the slaughter that followed and the resistance and repulse of the British soldiery that day at Concord, was felt by thousands who knew in a moment that it meant war in defense of chartered liberty, but did not yet know that, for colonies at war with their mother country, independence was the only possible liberty. As the war proceeded, its meaning, and the question really at issue became evident. The organization of a Continental army, the expulsion of the king’s regiments and the king’s governor from Boston, the military operations in various parts of the country, the collapse of the regal governments followed by the setting up of popular governments under the advice of the Continental Congressâ€”what did such things mean but that the colonies must be thenceforward an independent nation or provinces conquered and enslaved?
It came, therefore, as a matter of course, that from the beginning of 1876, the people in all the colonies began to be distinctly aware that the war in progress was and could be nothing less than a war for independence. The fiction fundamental to the British Constitution, that the king can do no wrong, and that whatever wrong is done in his name is only the wrongdoing of his ministers, gave way before the harsh fact that they were at war, not with Parliament nor with Lord North, but, with king George III. So palpable was the absurdity of professing allegiance to a king who was waging war against them, that as early as April in that year, the Chief Justice of South Carolina under the new government just organized there, declared from his official seat in a charge to the grand jury, “The Almighty created America to be independent of Great Britain, let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act as instruments in the Almighty hand now extended to accomplish His purpose.”
When the public opinion of the colonies, north and south, was thus declaring itself, the time had come for action on the part of the Continental Congress. Accordingly on the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, in behalf of the delegation from Virginia, proposed a resolution “that the united colonies are and ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.” It was agreed that the resolution should be considered the next day, and every member was enjoined to be present for that purpose. The next day’s debate was earnest, for the Congress was by no means unanimous. Nobody denied or doubted that liberty and independence must stand or fall together, but some who had been leaders up to that point could not see that the time had come for such a declaration. Some were embarrassed by instructions given the year before and not yet rescinded. The debate having been continued through the day (which was Saturday) was adjourned to Monday, June 10. On that day the resolution was adopted in committee of the whole by a vote of seven colonies against five, and so was reported to the house. Hoping that unanimity might be gained by a little delay, the house postponed its final action for three weeks, but appointed a committee to prepare a formal declaration of independence. Meanwhile, though the sessions of the congress were always with closed doors, these proceedings were no secret, and public opinion was finding distinct and authentic expression. I need not tell what was done elsewhere; but I may say what was done, just at that juncture, in our old commonwealth.
On the 14th of June there came together at Hartford, in obedience to a call from Jonathan Trumbull, governor, “a General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the English colony of Connecticut, in New England, in America “â€”the last that was to meet under that name. It put upon its record a clear though brief recital of the causes which had made an entire separation from Great Britain the only possible alternative of slavery, and thenâ€”what? Let me give the words of the record: “Appealing to that God who knows the secrets of all hearts for the sincerity of former declarations of our desire to preserve our ancient and constitutional relation to that nation, and protesting solemnly against their oppression and injustice which have driven us from them, and compelled us to use such means as God in His providence hath put in our power for our necessary defence and preservation, resolved, unanimously, by this Assembly, that the delegates of this colony in General Congress be and they are hereby instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the United American colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and to give the assent of this colony to such declaration.”
It was amid such manifestations of the national will coming in from various quarters, that the Congress, on Monday, July 1, took up the postponed resolution declaring the colonies independent, discussed it again in committee of the whole and passed it, so bringing it back for a final decision. The vote in the house was postponed till the next day, and then, July 2, the resolution was adopted and entered on the journal. In anticipation of this result, the formal Declaration of Independence had been reported by the special committee on the preceding Friday (June 28), and it was next taken up for consideration. After prolonged discussion in committee of the whole and various amendments (some of which were certainly changes for the better), it came before the house for final decision, and was then adopted, in the form in which we have heard it read to-day, the most illustrious state paper in the history of nations.
We may be sure, therefore, that whatever diversity of opinion there may have been in New Haven on the 4th of July, 1776, about the expediency of declaring independence at that time, news that such a declaration had been made by the Congress caused no great astonishment or excitement here. The General Assembly of Connecticut, had already made its declaration, and instructed its delegates in the Congress. One of those delegates was Roger Sherman (or as his neighbors called him, “Squire Sherman”) ; and nobody in this town, certainly, could be surprised to hear that the Continental Congress had done what Roger Sherman thought right and expedient to be done. The fact that Roger Sherman had been appointed on a committee to prepare the Declaration may have been unknown here, even in his own house; but what he thought about the expediency of the measure was no secret. We, to-day, I will venture to affirm are more excited about the Declaration of Independence than they were to whom the news of it came, a hundred years ago.
[Here followed a large number of records, or extracts from records, principally from the town clerk’s office in New Haven, to show that our fathers on all proper public occasions were firmly, perhaps unconsciously, pursuing those steps which when taken by a brave and high-spirited people inevitably lead to their complete independence.]
I have exhausted your patience, and must refrain from tracing even an outline of the war, as New Haven was concerned in it, after that memorable day a hundred years ago. Especially must I refrain from a description of the day when this town was invaded and plundered, and was saved from conflagration only by the gallant resistance of its citizens keeping the enemy at bay till it was too late for him to do all he designed. The commemoration of that day will be more appropriate to its hundredth anniversary, July 4th, 1876. From the day of that invasion to this time, no footstep of an enemy in arms has pressed our soilâ€”no roll of hostile drums or blare of hostile trumpet has wounded the air of beautiful New Haven. So may it be through all the centuries to come!
But before I sit down, I may yet say one word, suggested by what I have just been reading to you from the records of 1775. At the time of that conflict with Great Britainâ€”first for municipal freedom, and then for national independence as the only security of freedom, the people of these colonies, and eminently the people of New England, were, perhaps, in proportion to their numbers, the most warlike people in Christendom. From the day when Miles Standish, in the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth, was chosen “Captain” and invested with “authority of command” in military affairs, every settlement had its military organization. The civil order, the ecclesiastical, and the military, were equally indispensable. In every town, the captain and the trained militia were as necessary as the pastor and the church, or the magistrate and the town meeting. When the founders of our fair city came to Quinnipiack, 238 years ago, they came not only with the leaders of their unformed civil state, Eaton and Goodyearâ€”not only with their learned minister of God’s word, Davenport, to be the pastor of the church they were to organizeâ€”but also with their captain, Turner, who had been trained like Standish in the wars of the Dutch Republic, and who in the Pequot war of the preceding year had seen the inviting beauty of the Quinnipiack bay and plain. Who does not know how, in those early times,
“Our grandsires bore their guns to meeting,
Each man equip’d, on Sunday morn,
With psalm-book, shot, and powder-horn,”
and that, in the arrangements of the house of worship, a place for “the soldiers,” near the door, was as much a matter of course as the place for “the elders” at the other side of the building? Who does not know that every able-bodied man (with few exceptions) was required to bear arms and to be trained in the use of them? What need that I should tell how a vigorous military organization and the constant exhibition of readiness for self-defense, not less than justice and kindness in dealing with the Indians, were continually the indispensable condition of safety? What need of my telling the story of King Philip’s war, just two hundred years ago? Let it suffice to remind you of the long series of inter-colonial wars, contemporaneous with every war between England and her hereditary enemies, France and Spainâ€”beginning in 1689 and continued with now and then a few years’ interruption till the final conquest and surrender of the French dominion on this continent in 1762. It was in the last war of that long series that the military heroes of our war for independence had their training, and it was in the same war that the New England farmers and Virginia hunters, fighting under the same flag and under the same generals with British red-coats, learned how to face them without fear. That war which swept from our continent the Bourbon lillies and the Bourbon legions made us independent and enabled us, a few years later, to stand up as independent, and, in the ringing proclamation of July 4th, 1776, to inform the world that where the English colonies had been struggling for existence, a nation had been born.
Fellow citizens! We have a goodly heritageâ€”how came it to be ours? God has given it to us. How? By the hardships, the struggles, the self-denial, the manifold suffering of our fathers and predecessors on this soil; by their labor and their valor, their conflicts with rude nature and with savage men; by their blood shed freely in so many battles; by their manly sagacity and the Divine instinct guiding them to build better than they knew. For us (in the Eternal Providence) were their hardships, their struggles, their sufferings, their heroic self denials. For us were the cares that wearied them and their conflicts in behalf of liberty. For us were the hopes that cheered in labor and strengthened them in battle. For usâ€”no not for us alone, but for our children too, and for the unborn generations. They who were here a hundred years ago, saw not what we see to-day (oh! that they could have seen it), but they labored to win it for us, and for those who shall come after us. In this sense they entered into God’s plan and became the ministers of his beneficence to us. We bless their memory to-day and give glory to their God. He brought a vine out of Egypt when ho brought hither the heroic fathers of New England. He planted it and has guarded it age after age. We are now dwelling for a little while under its shadow and partaking of its fruit. Others will soon be in our places, and the inheritance will be theirs. As the fathers lived not for themselves but for us, so we are living for those who will come after us. Be it ours so to live that they shall bless God for what we have wrought as the servants of his love ; and that age after age, till time shall end, may repeat our fathers’ words of trust and of worship, Latin Motto: Qui Transtulit Sustinet. (English translation: He who transplanted sustains)
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors PartÂ 1
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References PartÂ 1
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in NewÂ York
Eulogy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by DanielÂ Webster
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA. AN ADDRESS BY REV. JOSEPH H. TWITCIIELL 1838-1918, A Lincoln Republican and the reported best friend of Samuel L. Clemens i.e. Mark Twain. Delivered At The Centennial Celebration At Hartford, Conn., July 4th, 1876.
This republic was ordained of God who has provided the conditions of the organization of the race into nations by the configuration of land and the interspaces of the sea. By these national organizations the culture and development of the race are secured. We believe that our nation is a creature of Godâ€” that he ordained it for an object, and we believe that we have some comprehension of what that object is. He gave us the best results of the travail of ages past for an outfit, separating us from the circumstances that in the existing nations encumbered these results, and sent us forth to do his will. We built on foundations already prepared a new building. Other men had labored and we entered upon their labors. God endowed and set us for a sign to testify the worth of men and the hope there is for man. And we are rejoicing to-day that in our first hundred years we seem to have measurablyâ€”measurablyâ€”fulfilled our Divine calling. It is not our national prosperity, great as it is, that is the appropriate theme of our most joyful congratulations, but it is our success in demonstrating that men are equal as God’s children, which affords a prophecy of better things for the race. That is what our history as a lesson amounts to.
There have been failures in particulars, but not on the whole; though we fall short, yet still, on the whole, the outline of the lesson may be read clearly. The day of remembrance and of recollection is also the day of anticipation. We turn from looking back one hundred years to looking forward one hundred. It is well for some reasons to dwell upon to-day, but the proper compliment of our memories, reaching over generations, is hope reaching forward over a similar period of time. Dwelling on to-dayâ€”filling our eyes with itâ€”we can neither see far back nor far on. We are caught in the contemplation of evils that exist and that occupy us with a sense of what has not been done and of unpleasing aspects. True there are evils, but think what has been wrought in advancing the work of the grand mission of America. Do we doubt that the work is to go on? No! There are to be strifes and contending forces. But as out of strife has come progress, so will it be hereafter. Some things that we have not wanted, as well as some things that we have wanted have been done, yet on the whole the result is progress. It is God’s way to bring better things by strife. (The speaker here alluded to the battle of Gettysburg, where he officiated as chaplain in the burial of the deadâ€”the blue and the gray often in the same graveâ€”and said that the only prayer that he could offer was “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come on earth as it . is in heaven.”
The republic is to continue on in the same general career it has hitherto followed. The same great truths its history has developed and realized in social and civil life are to still farther emerge. The proposition that all men are created equal is to be still further demonstrated. Human rights are to be vindicated and set free from all that would deny themâ€”Is any law that asserts the dignity of human nature to be abrogated? Never. The Republic is to become a still brighter and brighter sign to the nations to show them the way to liberty. We have opened our doors to the oppressed. Are those doors to be closed? No; a thousand times no. We have given out an invitation to those who are held in the chains of wrong. Is that invitation to be recalled? No, never. The invitation has been accepted; and here the speaker alluded to the factâ€”which shows how homogenous we finally become as a nation, though heterogeneous through immigrationâ€”that the Declaration of Independence is read here to-day by a man whoso father was born in Ireland; the national songs are sung by a man who was himself born in Ireland; and the company of singers here, nearly all, were born in Germany. Then he passed to the subject of Chinese education in this country and spoke of Yung Wing and his life-work, alluding to him as the representative of the better thought and hope of China, and then paid his respects to that part of the Cincinnati platform which alludes to this race. So long as he had voted he had given his support to this political party whose convention was held at Cincinnati, but that platform wherein it seems on this point to verge toward un-American doctrine, he repudiated; “I disown it; I say woe to its policy; I bestow my malediction upon it.” Now, if there is any one here who will pay like respect to the platform of the other party the whole duty will be done. We are urged to-day in view of our calling, and of the fulfillment of the past to set our faces and hearts toward the future in harmony and sympathy with the hope we are to realize. Let every man make it a personal duty and look within himself. God save the Republic! May it stand in righteousness and mercy ; so only can it stand. If we forsake our calling, God will take away the crown He has given us. The kingdom of God will be taken from us and given to another nation which shall bring forth the fruits thereof.
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in AmericanÂ Legislation
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. KinnerneyÂ 1876
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt ParkerÂ 1876
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4,Â 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4,Â 1876
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of AmericanÂ Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
COURAGE! A Poem by Bryan Waller ProcterÂ 1787-1874
AIM HIGH! An Address by President Benjamin HarrisonÂ 1893
A GOOD NAME by Joel HawesÂ 1789-1867
An Oration By Hon. George Lear (1818-1884), Delivered At Doylestown, Pa., July 4th, 1876.
Ladies And Gentlemen: When the merchant turns his attention to foreign commerce, he designs a craft for ocean navigation, and addresses himself to the task of procuring sound materials and the most approved plans of naval architecture. The skeleton of a ship is erected on the stocks, and its ribs covered with oak or iron, well secured with bolts, having neither flaw nor blemish. The hull is finished with all the qualities of strength and symmetry, and, upon an appointed day, in the presence of invited guests, with a virgin stationed on the bow with a bottle containing something similar “to the nectar which Jupiter sips,” the hawsers are cast loose, the blocks and wedges are removed, and as the ponderous craft glides down the inclined plane, the bottle is broken as the name is pronounced in baptismal solemnity, and, with a rush and a plunge, she enters the water, and floats high upon its surface, uncontrolled and uncontrollable except by extrinsic agencies.
But being in its proper element, the next care is to fit it for navigation by the addition of masts and spars, booms and yards, ropes and sails, until the unmanageable hulk becomes a full rigged ship, with her sails bent and her pennons flying, and “she walks the water like a thing of life.” Friends are again invited, viands are prepared, and the trial excursion takes place. She sails gaily down the bay to the strains of inspiring music, the sails swell with the freshening breeze, and the pennons wave graceful in the wind as she approaches the waters of the broad ocean. Fearlessly she essays the navigation of the billowy deep; and for the first time she is “afloat on the fierce rolling tide.” she is pronounced staunch and sea-worthy, and returns to ship her first cargo, and enter upon the practical business for which she was designed and constructed.
One hundred years ago a band of patriots known by the name of the Continental Congress, unskilled and inexperienced in State craft, with fearless and almost reckless disregard of consequences, launched their bark upon the unknown and turbulent sea of revolution. Not lured like Jason by the hope of the recovery of the Golden Fleece, or like the merchant by the prospect of wealthâ€”not investing their private fortunes only in the prospect of private gain or personal ambitionâ€”but in the cause of human freedom and the rights of man they “mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.” It was not the mere question of the sacrifice of a fortune, or, in the event of success, untold wealth. It was the launch of the ship of State upon an unknown sea, with fortunes, lives and honor aboard, the venture being the establishment of a nation based on the principle of human equality; or, in the event of a failure, the loss of fortune, life and honor. Without any prospect of personal gain under any circumstances, the stake was a nation to freedom or halters to the projectors.
After years of untold sacrifices and privations, a nation was organized, and human freedom as the basis of a government was established. But the mere military success of the Revolution was not the end. Martial courage, heroic endurance and unselfish patriotism could trample kingly crowns in the dust, and tear the purple robes from the shoulders of royalty, but the destinies of a nation of people, covering almost a continent, were left in their hands, with no one born to govern, and with no experience in any one in the art of government.
The ship of State had made a successful trial trip, and had weathered the gale of military contention and strife; but her crew was composed of men accustomed to obey and not to rule. The nations of the earth pronounced her staunch and seaworthy, and recognized her as a co-ordinate existence. But the question constantly recurred, can she sustain herself in midocean in the long voyage of national existence, with an untrained and undisciplined crew, in the calms of financial depression, and among the rocks and shoals of mutiny and internal dissension? We are here to-day, as a portion of the passengers who sailed on that good craft, to answer that question. We have withstood the shock of battle, the ocean’s storm, the tropic’s calm, “the broadside’s reeling rack,” the crew’s rebellion, and the hidden dangers of the deep, and with all hands on deck and the flag flying at the fore, we dance over the waves and ride into the harbor at the end of a voyage of a hundred years, with the ease and grace of excursionists on a summer sea.
With all our opening disadvantages, with fortunes broken and general financial prostration, the nation entered upon a career of self-government, then a doubtful experiment, and this is the only republic in the history of the world which has lived to celebrate the centenary of its birth. The problem of government by the people was looked upon as the fond dream of visionaries and theorists designed to captivate the ear of the multitude by the resounding periods of the rhetorician, and shed a glamour over the resonant numbers of the poet’s songs of liberty; but practically an impossible hope not to be realized in human society.
When the united colonies struck their blow for independence and in the cause of human freedom, the population of the whole country was not equal to that of Pennsylvania to-day. And in useful productions and the multifarious industries which render a people self-sustaining, they were far behind the present resources of this great State. They were not only dependent politically upon the mother country, and governed by laws in the enactment of which they had no voice, but they were commercially dependent . They depended on other countries for many of the necessaries of life. They had a vast territory and a soil of great natural fertility, but its products had to be shipped to other countries to be put into the forms and fabrics for the use of the people. Under such circumstances, the declaration of independence was an act like that of a commander landing his army on a hostile coast, and burning his ships to cut off the possibility of retreat . It was a bold act, but it was not done recklessly, under a temporary excitement, by men who were ambitious to perform a dramatic act of evanescent courage before the eyes of the world, but by men who were brave, prudent, patriotic and wise.
There is a system of compensation which runs through all human transactions, and it often happens that what seems an element of weakness is a bulwark of strength. The comparative poverty and helpless dependence of the colonies was a bond of union and strength when the connection with Great Britain was once severed. Having to rely upon themselves, they became more firmly knitted together, and this self-dependence increased their trust and confidence in each other. While their privations were greater, their patriotism burned the brighter, and they vied with each other in acts of unselfish heroism, and in the darkest hours of the protracted struggle, the gloom was illuminated by deeds of fortitude, endurance and valor which filled the land with their glory, and challenged the admiration of the world.
But this is not a time nor a place for a history of that war, or a recapitulation of its conspicuous events. The pledge of the colonists to each other and to mankind was faithfully redeemed. The scattered colonies became the nucleus of a great nation. But war leaves its scars as well upon the body politic as upon the warrior. The new government was bankrupt. The currency of the country was worthless. The new system of government was to be organized by men who were without experience in the art of government, with large debts and an empty treasury. Here again, more conspicuously than in the war, the poverty of the colonists was an element of strength, and the nursery of patriotism. With no money in the treasury and few resources to raise revenue to pay their debts and carry on the public business, they had their compensation in the fact that there was nothing to steal, and consequently the new government did not beget a race of thieves. Men who were conspicuous for the purity of their lives, their sterling integrity and patriotism and their exalted abilities were sought for and placed in the highest positions of political trust. In those days, it was the belief of the people that the true way to get money was to earn it; that the acquisition of wealth was a slow and toilsome process; and that the evidence of it was the possession and ownership of substantial property, or the glittering cash, and not a man’s ability to place on the market and keep afloat the largest amount of commercial paper.
With these homely but sound notions of political and personal economy, the people addressed themselves to the task of repairing their fortunes and building up the industries of the country on a firm and substantial bases. Economy in the household and in the government was the rule, and no luxuries were indulged in until the money was earned to pay for them. The habits of the people under a government of and by the people stamped their impress upon the administration of public affairs. Honesty, economy, and public and private virtue were essential elements of respectability, and the general rule of action in public and private life; and profligacy the exception. Cultivating such principles, with a boundless territory, of teeming soil and a free government, we could not fail to be a prosperous and a happy people.
“There is no poverty where Freedom isâ€”
The wealth of nature is affluence to us all,”
Having started our ship of State under these auspices, we have tided over the first century of our national existence. On this glad day of our hundredth anniversary, while celebrating the most important event in the history of human governments which has ever shed its influence on surrounding nations, and lighted up the dark places of the world, let us like true sailors take our reckoning, and improve the occasion of our rejoicing in this year of jubilee, by ascertaining whether our good ship is on her true course, and to so trim her sails, repair her hull, lay her fairly before the wind, and replenish her stores, that she may live through the calms of financial and business depressions, weather the gales of internal strife, avoid the rocks and shoals of foreign and domestic wars, and repel the attacks of all piratical crafts at home and abroad, during the future progress of her voyage over an unexplored and unknown sea; for our future course is not to be a return, and we are not to he listlessly on the water to be borne back by the refluent tide to the harbor whence we sailed. Our course is not backward but forward and onward.
And what are the conclusions from our observations? What do tho soundings indicate? What is the outlook from the binnacle? Does the gallant craft still respond to the turn of the helmsman’s wheel like a thing of intelligence? Do the “waves bound beneath her like a steed that knows his rider?” Is she followed by hungry sharks ready to devour her crew, or cheered by the presence of the graceful sea gull, with his wavy motion and virgin plumage?
These questions are asked more to excite reflection than for answers; but it may not be amiss to answer so far as can be done by general conclusions. The stability of the present and the hope of the future are found in the underlying principles of our governmentâ€”the universal equality and inalienable rights of all men. Human rights arc the rights of all men, and of each man, and they cannot be taken away except so far as he surrenders them. Governments are organized for the protection of human society, but they derive all “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” To this extent a man may surrender his natural rights. The government is from an internal, and not an external source. Man rules himself under our system, and for convenience may do it by a delegated power, to be conferred and resumed at stated intervals. His laws, therefore, axe of his own making, and while it is his duty as a member of society to obey them, he has the power of revocation whenever he finds them unjust or oppressive.
Under such a form of government, the light of armed revolution does not exist. That is only justifiable against a power which he did not create, and which seeks to control or disregard his rights without his consent. The theory of government based upon an hereditary succession of rulers is not only subversive of the rights of man, but is an irreverent usurpation of divine power. The nurture of a sovereign in the cradle, destined while a puling infant to be the ruler of a nation, whether an idiot, a tyrant, a statesman, or a fool, is as impious as it is absurd. In organized society man is the source of political power for self-government, although we all acknowledge “a higher law;” and however much the term may be abused by speculative theorists, and however much the expression may be distorted by or in the interests of political mountebanks, all jurists and law makers recognize a law above human laws, the leges legem, to which all human laws must conform and be made subservient. But that law does not take away any human rights. It fosters and protects them; and, therefore, it cannot confer the right to rule on hereditary sovereigns. And this principle of equality in rights is universal, and applies to all men, without regard to nationality, creed or color. Whether Caucasian, Teuton, Celt, African, or Mongol, this question is equally applicable, and it cannot be abrogated by any power beneath that which thundered the laws from Mount Sinai. Man may forfeit his right to life and liberty by his crimes, but this can be done only by the laws in which he has a voice in making. The stability of the present and the hopes of the future are based upon the maintenance of this principle in its integrity; but it is so firmly seated and so interwoven with every fibre of our existence, that the faith and the hope seem to be well founded.
While it is true that there does not seem to be that rigid economy, and unselfish patriotism which characterized the founders of the government, I do not belong to the croakers who believe that all public and private virtue, wisdom and patriotism died with the past. It is an unfortunate disposition, and leads to much unhappiness, to be constantly distrusting every one in public and in private life. I would prefer to be occasionally cheated rather than deal with every man as if I believed him to be a rogue. Under our system, the government will be as good as the people, and the evils which creep into the administration of public affairs begin at the root.
People and rulers have departed to some extent from that simplicity which should be the characteristic of a republic; and by extravagance and luxuryâ€”if not riotous livingâ€”indulge in expenditures and incur heavy liabilities, to meet which they indulge in speculation, and essay to make money of each other, where there is no money, their efforts to grow rich by a short and rapid process result in bankruptcy. They then blame the government, and clamor for legislation to cure the evil, when they can get none from that source. Their remedy is in their own hands, and no where else; but public officials and ambitious men speculate upon their anxiety, flatter their hopes, spend their money and lead them astray. In one view, the people give too much attention to their government. In another, not enough. They depend too much upon the government to mend their broken fortunes. They give too little attention to the kind of men they select, and depend too much upon creeds and platforms.
The evil will go on until it will cure itself in the end. I can lay down a rule which, if rigidly followed, would cure many of the evils which are now charged upon the government. Let every man attend diligently to his own business. Earn the money upon which he lives, and earn it before he expends it. Risk no money in a speculation which he cannot afford to lose, and place none in a doubtful venture but his own. If this course be strictly followed by every man, we will scarcely know we have a government, it will sit so lightly upon our shoulders, and we will soon discover that our business and our fortunes do not depend so much upon the government as upon ourselves. There are more people than is generally supposed who pursue this course; but they are very much hindered in their slow but certain progress by the large class who pursue a different course. Men who spend money they never earned, or owned, must spend that which belongs to others. For many live on what others have toiled to earn. This is one of the great causes of the crippled condition of the industries of our State.
But while these things retard our prosperity periodically, they do not shake the foundation principles of our government, or endanger its permanency. The wrecks which float upon the surface are but the broken fragments of the argosies which have been drawn into the insatiate whirlpool of mad speculation, dashed in pieces on the rocks beneath, and cast up by the restless waters, a warning to reckless adventurers.
The system of fast living and the appropriation of trust funds for private use, which ultimately leads to the theft of public money, are the crying evils of the times. While bolts, and bars, and locks can protect us against common thieves and burglars, we have no security against official thieves except care in the selection of men for official positions of trust and confidence, and the rigid and inexorable enforcement of the law against its infractors, with a merciless punishment of criminals who betray their trusts. And the country is waking up to the importance of this subject and a better era is dawning. “It is always the darkest the hour before day.”
But this particular manifestation of crime is not peculiar to our times, and does not touch the fundamental principles of our government.
The Great Master was betrayed for a bribe, but Christianity still lives; there was treason in the army of the Revolution, and yet the colonists triumphed; and there have been defaulters among public officials and corruption in high places in all ages of the world. In our country the remedy against it is in the hands of the people. In nearly all others they have little, if any, control over the public servants. There is, therefore, no reason to despair of our institutions in view of certain manifestations of corruption among those in positions of trust and confidence. When the crime becomes intolerable the people will rise to the necessity of the occasion, and apply the remedy which they hold in their hands.
But the question arises, are we in, worse condition in this respect than we were in what we regarded as the balmy days of the Republic? We have more facilities for obtaining news than formerly. With our telegraphs and railroads, news travels with great rapidity, and especially bad news; and our innumerable newspapers gather that which is the most sensational and exciting. The quiet deeds of charity and benevolence, the self sacrificing act of heroism, and the thousands of events in private life which ennoble human actions are unknown to the public. The turbulent elements of society come to the surface. The agents of crime get into the courts, and their deeds are heralded everywhere, and newspapers containing the revolting details are constantly thrust before our eyes. “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” We hear and read all that is evil, but little of the good.
And when we take into consideration the difference in the population of this country between this day and a hundred years ago, being a difference of at least twelve to one, and the fact that evil makes more noise in proportion than the good, it becomes a very doubtful question whether criminals and crimes have more than kept pace with the population. That certain offenses against law have assumed a grave magnitude is a thing to be deplored, but in the presence of the good which emanates from our beneficent government they are but as the spots on the disk of the sun, which mellow the light by breaking the fierce rays of its overpowering effulgence.
But there is no reason to believe that the world is retrograding in morals or honesty. Such a concussion would be an admission that civilization, intelligence and Christianity impede the progress of the world and are disadvantageous to mankind; for there are more schools and seminaries, more books to read; more people to read and understand them, more acts of benevolence and charity, more culture and refinement, and more people who worship God to-day than at any other period since the “morning stars sang together” at man’s creation. That there are base, gross and wicked people is no new phenomenon. They have infested society accursed the world since the day when our original progenitor partook of “that forbidden fruit whose mortal taste brought death into the world and all our woe, with loss of Eden.”
But the beacon fires of liberty burn as brightly to-day as they did on the morning of the Fourth of July, 1776, and the people of the country cherish the principles upon which the brave old patriots of that day established us as a free and independent nation. This morning has been ushered in over this broad land with the booming of cannon, the chimes of bells, the blare of the bugle, and the joyful greetings and proud huzzas of the people. These demonstrations are hearty, earnest and profound. They are the spontaneous outbursts of patriotismâ€”the grand anthems bursting from the full hearts of a free, loyal and intelligent people.
Why should we not look forward to the future with wellfounded hopes, inspired by the success of the past? The staunch ship of State cannot encounter more difficult navigation in the coming century than in the past. She has encountered foes from without and enemies within. She has lain within the trough of the sea, and withstood the earth-shaking broadside; and while she trembled in every timber and groaned throughout her hull at the “diapason of the cannonade,” after the blue smoke of battle had drifted away in curling clouds on the breeze, we looked aloft, and joyfully exclaimed that “our flag is still there!” When the waves of rebellion, with fearful fury crashed upon her in mid-ocean, they were broken and scattered in foam on her hull, and died away in eternal silence at her keel. In calm and storm, in peace and war, our goodly craft has braved a hundred years “the battle and the breeze.”
To-day all hands are piped on deck to receive instructions and inspiriting encouragement for a continuance of the voyage for another century. The winds and tides are fair, the skies are bright, and the sails are set. Gently swaying to the billows motion, we round the headland, and boldly enter upon the broad expanse of waters. The world of old dynasties, which jeered when we essayed our first voyage, became astonished at our progress, and their astonishment turned into amazement as we pursued our successful course. That amazement, as we boldly head out for the open sea on the second century, assumes the aspect of awe. Such a craft, manned by such a crow, carrying a flag which is known and recognized as the emblem of freedom everywhere, is a dangerous emissary among the subjects of kings, emperors, and despots of every form. Wherever that flag floats, whether waving languidly in the gentle zephyr of the tropics, or fluttering amid the ice crags of arctic desolation, it is hailed as the emblem of freedom and the symbol of the rights of man.
To show our influence on the people in the remote corners of the earth, a citizen of the United States, during the trying times of the rebellion, was traveling on the northern coast of Norway; and, landing from a small steamer at a trading town in the early morning, before the inhabitants were astir, found three fishermen from Lapland waiting at the door of a store to do some small business in trade. The fishermen appeared to be a father and two sons. They were dressed in skins of the reindeer, and appeared to be half barbarian, illiterate people. They were introduced to the American, and when the older of the Laplanders learned that the distinguished stranger was a citizen of this country, his countenance lighted up with an expression of eager intelligence as he asked: “Are you from beyond the great sea?” Upon being answered in the affirmative, he exclaimed: “Tell me, tell me, does liberty still live?” He expressed great satisfaction upon being assured that it did.
If on the coasts of the northern frozen seas, in a land of almost perpetual night, an illiterate fisherman feels such an eager interest in the question of the continued vitality of liberty, what a dangerous messenger will be that ensign of the Ship of State flashing “its meteor glories” among the thrones, crowns, and sceptres of the world. The subjects and victims of oppression will catch “inspiration from its glance,” and learning that liberty still lives, will pass the inspiring watchword from man to man. And the cry that “Liberty still lives” will be the world’s battle shout of freedom, and the rallying watchword of deliverance.
“And the dwellers in the rocks and in the Tales,
Shall about It to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy,
“Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous hosanna round.”
And in the land of liberty’s birth the fires of patriotism will be kept aflame by the iteration and reiteration of the answer to the fisherman’s question, that “Liberty still lives.” And from the hearts of the crowded cities, from the fireside of the farmer, and from the workshop of the mechanic, in the busy hamlets of labor, and in the homes of luxury and ease, the hearts of freemen will be cheered as our noble craft sails on, with the inspiriting assurance that “Liberty still lives.” The burden of that cry will float upon the air wherever our banner waves, and its resonant notes will fill the land with a new inspiration as the joyful assurance is heard.
“Coming up from each valley, flung down from each height)
Our Country and Liberty, God for the right.”
See also: Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of AmericanÂ Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
COURAGE! A Poem by Bryan Waller ProcterÂ 1787-1874
AIM HIGH! An Address by President Benjamin HarrisonÂ 1893
A GOOD NAME by Joel HawesÂ 1789-1867
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
The Relationship Between a Man and Woman
PRAYER, by the Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D.D., L.L.D., (July 13, 1815 â€“ June 11, 1887) Fourth Episcopal Bishop Of Pennsylvania.
Used at the Grand Centennial Celebration In Philadelphia, July 4, 1876.
O Almighty and Eternal God, we come before Thee to praise Thy glorious name, and to give Thee most humble and hearty thanks, for the inestimable blessings which as a Nation we this day enjoy.
We devoutly recognize Thy Fatherly hand in the planting and nurturing of these colonies, in carrying them through the perils and trials of war; in establishing them in peace; and permitting us to celebrate this hundredth birthday of our Independence. We thank Thee, O God, that Thou didst inspire the hearts of Thy servants to lay here the foundations of peace and liberty; to proclaim here those principles which have wrought out for us such civil and religious blessings; and to set up here a Government which Thou hast crowned by Thy blessing, and guarded by Thy hand to this day.
The whole praise and glory of these great mercies we ascribe, 0 God, to Thee! “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be all the glory, “for by Thee only, have we been led to take our present position among the nations of the earth. As Thou wast our Father’s God, in times past, we beseech Thee to be our God, in all time to come. Thou hast safely brought us to the beginning of another century of national life, defend and bless us in the same, O God, with Thy mighty power. Give peace and prosperity in all our borders, unity and charity among all classes, and a true and hearty love of country to all our people. Keep far from us all things hurtful to the welfare of the nation, and give to us all things necessary for our true growth and progress.
Bless O Thou Mighty Ruler of the Universe Thy servants to whom are committed the Executive, the Legislative and Judicial government of this land; that Thou wouldst be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the advancement of Thy glory, the good of Thy Church, the safety, honor and welfare of Thy people; that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavors, upon the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and true liberty may be established among us for all generations. Make us to know, therefore, that on this day of our Nation’s festivity, and to consider it in our hearts, that Thou art God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath, and that there is no God else beside Thee.
Enable us to keep Thy statutes and Thy judgments which Thou hast commanded, that it may go well with us and with our children; that we and they may fear Thy name and obey Thy law, and that Thou mayest prolong the days of this nation through all coming time.
Establish Thy kingdom in the midst of this land. Make it “Emmanuel’s land,” a “mountain of holiness and a dwelling place of righteousness.”
Inspire Thy Church with the spirit of truth, unity and concord, and grant that every member of the same in his vocation and ministry may serve Thee faithfully. Bless the rulers of this city and commonwealth, and grant that they may truly and impartially administer justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of Thy true religion and virtue.
Pour out Thy Fatherly blessing upon our whole country, upon all our lawful pursuits and industries, upon all our households and institutions of learning and benevolence, that rejoicing in Thy smile, and strengthened by Thy might, this nation may go on through all the years of this new century a praise and a joy of the whole earth, so that all who look upon it may be able to say, “Truly God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.” These things and whatsoever else we need for our national preservation and perpetuity, we humbly ask, in the name and through the mediation of Thy dear Son, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all might, majesty, dominion and power, world without end. Amen.
See also: Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of AmericanÂ Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
Founders on the 2ndÂ Amendment
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis SmithÂ 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in NewÂ York
Constitution of the United States and itâ€™s Governmental Operations (In PlainÂ English) ,
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von MullerÂ (1832),
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience toÂ God
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came fromÂ God
Foreseen in the vision of sages,
Foretold when martyrs bled,
She was born of the longing of ages,
By the truth of the noble dead
And the faith of the living fed!
No blood in her lightest veins
Frets at remembered chains,
Nor shame of bondage has bowed her head.
In her form and features still
The unblenching Puritan will,
Cavalier honor, Huguenot grace,
The Quaker truth and sweetness,
And the strength of the danger-girdled race
Of Holland, blend in a proud completeness.
From the homes of all, where her being began,
She took what she gave to Man;
Justice, that knew no station,
Belief, as soul decreed,
Free air for aspiration,
Free force for independent deed!
She takes, but to give again,
As the sea returns the rivers in rain;
And gathers the chosen of her seed
From the hunted of every crown and creed.
Her Germany dwells by a gentler Rhine;
Her Ireland sees the old sunburst shine;
Her France pursues some dream divine;
Her Norway keeps his mountain pine;
Her Italy waits by the western brine;
And, broad-based under all,
Is planted England’s oaken-hearted mood,
As rich in fortitude
As e’er went worldward from the island-wall!
Fused in her candid light,
To one strong race all races here unite;
Tongues melt in hers, hereditary foemen
Forget their sword and slogan, kith and clan.
‘Twas glory, once to be a Roman:
She makes it glory, now, to be a man!
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29,Â 1819
SONG OF THE SOLDIERS! A Poem By Charles G. HalpineÂ 1861-1865
THE OATH! By Thomas Buchanan Read 1822-1872Â
THE RISING, 1776! By Thomas Buchanan ReadÂ 1822-1872Â
The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by NoahÂ Webster
Constitution of the United States and itâ€™s Governmental Operations (In PlainÂ English)