Benjamin Rush: The War of Independence and Future Hope for America July 4th 1776

Benjamin Rush: Father of American Psychiatry

BenjaminRushPaintingbyPeale

Benjamin Rush writes, to Rev. Mr. [William] Gordon, at Roxbury, Mass., December 10, 1778:

Dear Sir.

It gave me great pleasure to find from your last letter that your feelings & Opinions accord so exactly with mine on the present state of our Affairs. The time is now past, when the least danger is to be apprehended to our liberties from the power of Britain, the Arts of commissioners, or the machinations of Tories [British loyalists]. Tyranny can now enter our country only in the shape of a Whig [American Patriots]. All our jealousy Should be of ourselves. All our fears, Should be of our great men, whether in civil or military authority. Our Congress begin already to talk of the State Necessity, and of making justice yield in some cases to policy. This was the apology, I was told, for confirming the unjust Sentence that was passed upon General [Charles] Lee. Gordon tells us that in England, the Whigs in power are always Tories, and the Tories out of power are always Whigs. I think I have discovered Something of the same kind already in our country. In my opinion, we have more to dread from the Ambition, avarice, craft & dissolute Manners of our Whigs than we have from a host of Governor [George] Robinsons, Dr [John] Berkenhouts, [Thomas] Hutchinsons or [Joseph] Galloways. Virtue, Virtue, alone my dear friend, is the basis of a republic. “Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,” [Translation: “Let justice be done, though the heavens should fall“] was my maxim during the short time I acted for the public. I had no political Ambition to gratify. I neither feared nor courted any party. I loved liberty for its own Sake, & I both loved & pitied human nature too much to flatter it. But what was the consequence? my political race was Short. I thank my countrymen for dismissing me from their Service. I want no Offices nor honors from them. My temper & my business render me alike independent of the world. But still I will love them, & watch for their happiness. I long to see the image of God restored to the human mind. I long to see Virtue & religion supported & vice & irreligion banished from Society by wise & equitable governments. I long to see an Asylum prepared for the persecuted & oppressed of all countries, & a door opened for the progress of knowledge, literature, the Arts, & the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth. And these great events are only to be accomplished by establishing & perpetuating liberty in our country. O! best of blessings! Who would not follow thee blindfold? Who would not defend thee from the treachery of friends as well as from the malice of enemies? But I must stop. When liberty, the liberty we loved, and contended for in the years 1774 & 1776 is my Subject, I know not where to begin, nor where to end. 0! come celestial stranger & dwell in this our land. Let not our ignorance, our Venality, our luxury, our idolatry to individuals, & our Other anti-republican Vices, provoke thee to forsake the temple our Ancestors prepared for thee. Put us not off with Great Britain’s acknowledging our independence. Alas! the great Ultimatum of our modern patriots. It is liberty alone that can make us happy. And without it the memorable 4th of July 1776, will be execrated by posterity as the day in which Pandora’s box was opened in this country.

I am impatient to see your history. How many Chapters or Volumes have you allotted for the blunders of our Congress, & generals? Weak minds begin already to ascribe our deliverance to them. Had not heaven defeated their counsels in a thousand instances, we should have been hewers of wood & drawers of water to the Subjects of the king of Britain.

With compts. to Mrs Gordon &c. I
am yours sincerely,

B. Rush. Dec’r 10th 1778.

Revd Mr. Gordon, at Roxbury, near Boston.

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Fourth of July Oration by Daniel Webster

Feagle.with.flagellow-citizens,—It is at the season when nature hath assumed her loveliest apparel that the American people assemble in their several temples to celebrate the birthday of their nation. Arrayed in all the beauties of the year, the Fourth of July once more visits us. Green fields and a ripening harvest proclaim it, a bright sun cheers it, and the hearts of freemen bid it welcome. Illustrious spectacle! Six millions of people this day surround their altars, and unite in an address to Heaven for the preservation of their rights. Every rank and every age imbibes the general spirit. From the lisping inhabitant of the cradle to the aged warrior whose gray hairs are fast sinking in the western horizon of life, every voice is, this day, tuned to the accents of Liberty! Washington! My Country!

Festivals established by the world have been numerous. The coronation of a king, the birth of a prince, the marriage of a princess, have often called wondering crowds together. Cities and nations agree to celebrate the event which raises one mortal man above their heads, and beings called men stand astonished and aghast while the pageantry of a monarch or the jeweled grandeur of a queen poses before them. Such a festival, however, as the Fourth of July is to America, is not found in history; a festival designed for solemn reflection on the great events that have happened to us; a festival in which freedom receives a nation’s homage, and Heaven is greeted with incense from ten thousand hearts.

In the present situation of our country, it is, my respected fellow-citizens, matter of high joy and congratulation that there is one day in the year on which men of different principles and different opinions can associate together. The Fourth of July is not an occasion to compass sea and land to make proselytes. The good sense and the good nature which yet remain among us will, we trust, prevail on this day, and be sufficient to chain, at least for a season, that untamed monster, Party Spirit—and would to God that it might be chained forever, that, as we have but one interest, we might have but one heart and one mind!

You have hitherto, fellow-citizens, on occasions of this kind, been entertained with the discussion of national questions; with inquiries into the true principles of government; with recapitulations of the War; with speculations on the causes of our Revolution, and on its consequences to ourselves and to the world. Leaving these subjects, it shall be the ambition of the speaker of this day to present such a view of your Constitution and your Union as shall convince you that you have nothing to hope from a change.

This age has been correctly denominated an age of experiments. Innovation is the idol of the times. The human mind seems to have burst its ancient limits, and to be traveling over the face of the material and intellectual creation in search of improvement. The world hath become like a fickle lover, in whom every new face inspires a new passion. In this rage for novelty many things are made better, and many things are made worse. Old errors are discarded, and new errors are embraced. Governments feel the same effects from this spirit as everything else. Some, like our own, grow into beauty and excellence, while others sink still deeper into deformity and wretchedness. The experience of all ages will bear us out in saying, that alterations of political systems are always attended with a greater or less degree of danger. They ought, therefore, never to be undertaken, unless the evil complained of be really felt and the prospect of a remedy clearly seen. The politician that undertakes to improve a Constitution with as little thought as a farmer sets about mending his plow, is no master of his trade. If that Constitution be a systematic one, if it be a free one, its parts are so necessarily connected that an alteration in one will work an alteration in all; and this cobbler, however pure and honest his intentions, will, in the end, find that what came to his hands a fair and lovely fabric goes from them a miserable piece of patchwork.

Nor are great and striking alterations alone to be shunned. A succession of small changes, a perpetual tampering with minute parts, steal away the breath though they leave the body; for it is true that a government may lose all its real character, its genius and its temper, without losing its appearance. You may have a despotism under the name of a republic. You may look on a government and see it possess all the external essential modes of freedom, and yet see nothing of the essence, the vitality, of freedom in it: just as you may behold Washington or Franklin in wax-work; the form is perfect, but the spirit, the life, is not there.

The first thing to be said in favor of our system of government is that it is truly and genuinely free, and the man has a base and slavish heart that will call any government good that is not free. If there be, at this day, any advocate for arbitrary power, we wish him the happiness of living under a government of his choice. If he is in love with chains, we would not deny him the gratification of his passion. Despotism is the point where everything bad centers, and from which everything good departs. As far as a government is distant from this point, so far it is good; in proportion as it approaches towards this, in the same proportion it is detestable. In all other forms there is something tolerable to be found; in despotism there is nothing. Other systems have some amiable features, some right principles, mingled with their errors; despotism is all error. It is a dark and cheerless void, over which the eye wanders in vain in search of anything lovely or attractive.

The true definition of despotism is government without law. It may exist, therefore, in the hands of many as well as of one. Rebellions arc despotisms; factions are despotisms; loose democracies are despotisms. These are a thousand times more dreadful than the concentration of all power in the hands of a single tyrant. The despotism of one man is like the thunderbolt, which falls here and there, scorching and consuming the individual on whom it lights; but popular commotion, the despotism of a mob, is an earthquake, which in one moment swallows up everything. It is the excellence of our government that it is placed in a proper medium between these two extremes, that it is equally distant from mobs and from thrones.

In the next place our government is good because it is practical. It is not the sick offspring of closet philosophy. It did not rise, vaporous and evanescent, from the brains of Rousseau and Godwin, like a mist from the ocean. It is the production of men of business, of experience, and of wisdom. It is suited to what man is, and what it is in the power of good laws to make him. Its object—the just object of all governments—is to secure and protect the weak against the strong, to unite the force of the whole community against the violence of oppressors. Its power is the power of the nation; its will is the will of the people. It is not an awkward, unshapely machine which the people cannot use when they have made it, nor is it so dark and complicated that it is the labor of one’s life to investigate and understand it. All are capable of comprehending its principles and its operations. It admits, too, of a change of men and of measures. At the will of a majority, we have seen the government of the nation pass from the hands of one description of men into those of another. Of the comparative merits of those different men, of their honesty, their talents, their patriotism, we have here nothing to say. That subject we leave to be decided before the impartial tribunal of posterity. The fact of a change of rulers, however, proves that the government is manageable, that it can in all cases be made to comply with the public will. It is, too, an equal government. It rejects principalities and powers. It demolishes all the artificial distinctions which pride and ambition create. It is encumbered with no lazy load of hereditary aristocracy. It clothes no one with the attributes of God; it sinks no one to a level with brutes: yet it admits those distinctions in society which are natural and necessary. The correct expression of our Bill of Rights is that men are born equal. It then rests with themselves to maintain their equality by their worth. The illustrious framers of our system, in all the sternness of republicanism, rejected all nobility but the nobility of talents, all majority but the majority of virtue.

WashingtonDelawareLastly, the government is one of our choice; not dictated to us by an imperious Chief Consul, like the governments of Holland and Switzerland; not taught us by the philosophers, nor graciously brought to us on the bayonets of our magnanimous Bister republic on the other side the ocean. It was framed by our fathers for themselves and for their children. Far the greater portion of mankind submit to usurped authority, and pay humble obedience to self-created law-givers; not that obedience of the heart which a good citizen will yield to good laws, but the obedience which a harnessed horse pays his driver, an obedience begotten by correction and stripes.

The American Constitution is the purchase of American valor. It is the rich prize that rewards the toil of eight years of war and of blood: and what is all the pomp of military glory what are victories, what are armies subdued, fleets captured, colors taken, unless they end in the establishment of wise laws and national happiness? Our Revolution is not made renowned for the brilliancy of its scenes than for the benefit of its consequences. The Constitution is the great memorial of the deeds of our ancestors. On the pillars and on the arches of that dome their names are written and their achievements recorded. While that lasts, while a single page or a single article can be found, it will carry down the record to future ages. It will teach mankind that glory, empty, tinkling glory, was not the object for which Americans fought. Great Britain had carried the fame of her arms far and wide. She had humbled France and Spain; she had reached her arm across the Eastern Continent, and given laws on the banks of the Ganges. A few scattered colonists did not rise up to contend with such a nation for mere renown. They had a nobler object, and in pursuit of that object they manifested a courage, constancy, and union, that deserve to be celebrated by poets and historians while language lasts.

The valor of America was not a transient, glimmering ray shot forth from the impulse of momentary resentment. Against unjust and arbitrary laws she rose with determined, unalterable spirit. Like the rising sun, clouds and mists hung around her, but her course, like his, brightened as she proceeded. Valor, however, displayed in combat, is a less remarkable trait in the character of our countrymen than the wisdom manifested when the combat was over. All countries and all ages produce warriors, but rare are the instances in which men sit down coolly at the close of their labors to enjoy the fruits of them. Having destroyed one despotism, nations generally create another; having rejected the dominion of one tyrant, they make another for themselves. England beheaded her Charles, but crowned her Cromwell. France guillotined her Louises, but obeys her Bonapartes. Thanks to God, neither foreign nor domestic usurpation flourishes on our soil!

Having thus, fellow-citizens, surveyed the principal features of our excellent Constitution and paid an inadequate tribute to the wisdom which produced it, let us consider seriously the means of its preservation. To perpetuate the government we must cherish the love of it. One chief pillar in the republican fabric is the spirit of patriotism. But patriotism hath, in these days, become a good deal questionable. It hath been so often counterfeited that even the genuine coin doth not pass without suspicion. If one proclaims himself a patriot, this uncharitable, misjudging world is pretty likely to set him down for a knave, and it is pretty likely to be right in this opinion. The rage for being patriots hath really so much of the ridiculous in it that it is difficult to treat it seriously. The preaching of politics hath become a trade, and there are many who leave all other trades to follow it. Benevolent, disinterested men! With Scriptural devotion they forsake houses and lands, father and mother, wife and children, and wander up and down the community to teach mankind that their rulers oppress them! About the time when it was fashionable in France to cut off men’s heads, as we lop away superfluous sprouts from, our apple-trees, the public attention was excited by a certain monkey, that had been taught to act the part of a patriot to great perfection. If you pointed at him, says the historian, and called him an aristocrat or a monarchist, he would fly at you with great rage and violence; but, if you would do him the justice to call him a good patriot, he manifested every mark of joy and satisfaction. But, though the whole French nation gazed at this animal as a miracle, he was, after all, no very strange sight. There are, in all countries, a great many monkeys who wish to be thought patriots, and a great many others who believe them such. But, because we are often deceived by appearances, let us not believe that the reality does not exist. If our faith is ever shaken, if the crowd of hypocritical demagogues lead us to doubt, we will remember Washington and be convinced; we will cast our eyes around us, on those who have toiled and fought and bled for their country, and we will be persuaded that there is such a thing as real patriotism, and that it is one of the purest and noblest sentiments that can warm the heart of man.

To preserve the government we must also preserve a correct and energetic tone of morals. After all that can be said, the truth is that liberty consists more in the habits of the people than in anything else. When the public mind becomes vitiated and depraved, every attempt to preserve it is vain. Laws are then a nullity, and Constitutions waste paper. There are always men wicked enough to go any length in the pursuit of power, if they can find others wicked enough to support them. They regard not paper and parchment. Can you stop the progress of a usurper by opposing to him the laws of his country? then you may check the careering winds or stay the lightning with a song. No. Ambitious men must be restrained by the public morality: when they rise up to do evil, they must find themselves standing alone. Morality rests on religion. If you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. In a world of error, of temptation, of seduction; in a world where crimes often triumph, and virtue is scourged with scorpions,—in such a world, certainly, the hope of an hereafter is necessary to cheer and to animate. Leave us, then, the consolations of religion. Leave to man, to frail and feeble man, the comfort of knowing, that, when he gratifies his immortal soul with deeds of justice, of kindness, and of mercy, he is rescuing his happiness from final dissolution and laying it up in Heaven.

Benjamin Rush GospelOur duty as citizens is not a solitary one. It is connected with all the duties that belong to us as men. The civil, the social, the Christian virtues are requisite to render us worthy the continuation of that government which is the freest on earth. Yes, though the world should hear me, though I could fancy myself standing in the congregation of all nations, I would say: Americans, you are the most privileged people that the sun shines on. The salutary influences of your climate are inferior to the salutary influences of your laws. Your soil, rich to a proverb, is less rich than your Constitution. Your rivers, large as the oceans of the old world, are less copious than the streams of social happiness which flow around you. Your air is not purer than your civil liberty, and your hills, though high as heaven and deep as the foundations of the earth, are less exalted and less firmly founded than that benign and everlasting religion which blesses you and shall bless your offspring. Amidst these profuse blessings of nature and of Providence, Beware! Standing in this place, sacred to truth, I dare not undertake to assure you that your liberties and your happiness may not be lost. Men are subject to men’s misfortunes. If an angel should be winged from Heaven, on an errand of mercy to our country, the first accents that would glow on his lips would be, Beware! be cautious! you have everything to lose; you have nothing to gain. We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism. The history of the world is before us. It rises like an immense column, on which we may see inscribed the soundest maxims of political experience. These maxims should be treasured in our memories and written on our hearts. Man, in all countries,, resembles man. Wherever you find him, you find human nature in him and human frailties about him. He is, therefore,, a proper pupil for the school of experience. He should draw wisdom from the example of others,—encouragement from their success, caution from their misfortunes. Nations should diligently keep their eye on the nations that have gone before them. They should mark and avoid their errors, not travel on heedlessly in the path of danger and of death while the bones of their perished predecessors whiten around them. Our own times afford us lessons that admonish us both of our duty and our danger. We have seen mighty nations, miserable in their chains, more miserable when they attempted to shake them off. Tortured and distracted beneath the lash of servitude, we have seen them rise up in indignation to assert the rights of human nature; but, deceived by hypocrites, cajoled by demagogues, ruined by false patriots, overpowered by a resistless mixed multitude of knaves and fools, we have wept at the wretched end of all their labors. Tossed for ten years in the crazy dreams of revolutionary liberty, we have seen them at last awake, and, like the slave who slumbers on his oar and dreams of the happiness of his own blessed home, they awake to find themselves still in bondage. Let it not be thought that we advert to other nations to triumph in their sufferings or mock at their calamities. Would to God the whole earth enjoyed pure and rational liberty, that every realm that the human eye surveys or the human foot treads, were free! Wherever men soberly and prudently engage in the pursuit of this object, our prayers in their behalf shall ascend unto the Heavens and unto the ear of Him who filleth them. Be they powerful or be they weak, in such a cause they deserve success. Yes, “The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man.” Our purpose is only to draw lessons of prudence from the imprudence of others, to argue the necessity of virtue from the consequences of their vices.

Unhappy Europe! the judgment of God rests hard upon thee. Thy sufferings would deserve an angel’s pity, if an angel’s tears could wash away thy crimes! The Eastern Continent seems trembling on the brink of some great catastrophe. Convulsions shake and terrors alarm it. Ancient systems are falling; works reared by ages are crumbling into atoms. Let us humbly implore Heaven that the wide-spreading desolation may never reach the shores of our native land, but let us devoutly make up our minds to do our duty in events that may happen to us. Let us cherish genuine patriotism. In that, there is a sort of inspiration that gives strength and energy almost more than human. When the mind is attached to a great object, it grows to the magnitude of its undertaking. A true patriot, with his eye and his heart on the honor and happiness of his country, hath an elevation of soul that lifts him above the rank of ordinary men. To common occurrences he is indifferent. Personal considerations dwindle into nothing, in comparison with his high sense of public duty. In all the vicissitudes of fortune, he leans with pleasure on the protection of Providence and on the dignity and composure of his own mind. While his country enjoys peace, he rejoices and is thankful; and, if it be in the counsel of Heaven to send the storm and the tempest, his bosom proudly swells against the rage that assaults it. Above fear, above danger, he feels that the last end which can happen to any man never comes too soon, if he falls in defence of the laws and liberties of his country.

A Prayer for US this Independence Day

flag_and_eagleAs we gather this day and this weekend with our families, friends, and fellow countrymen and women. I appeal to you to consider the reasons for which this country began,

God in heaven I humbly thank you and your son for this land we call America! This land you have so richly and bounteously blessed above all others. Thank you for the blessings of freedom and liberty such as the civilized world has not known, till you shed your grace on this great land, and brought men from every point of the globe hungry for the light of liberty cast in 1776. Thank you for the wisdom and knowledge you imparted to the Founders that led to the foundation of a government by the people and for the people. Thank you also for the light and wisdom you have imparted to us down through the ages that allows us to understand the signs of our times.

Please continue to help us do those things which cause your blessings to rain down upon us in-the-age-of-tyrannyas a people and as a nation. Please help us also to continue to have the blessings of your liberty and freedom that you imparted to man and to cause the flame of freedom to burn bright within the hearts of our off-spring and fellow-citizens. Thank you Father of Mercy for all that you have done for and continue to do for us, thank you always for the blessings you have continuously shed on America. Help US in this generation to pass those same blessings of freedom to our posterity and perpetuate that freedom and independent heart that has been passed down to us through our forefathers from you. In Jesus name I thankfully and humbly ask of these things Amen!

An oration delivered on the 4th of July, 1826, at Northampton, Massachusetts by George Bancroft

EagleFlag1Our act of celebration begins with God. To the eternal Providence, on which states depend, and by whose infinite mercy they are prospered, the nation brings its homage and the tribute of its gratitude. From the omnipotent Power, who dwells in the unclouded serenity of being without variableness or shadow of change, we proceed as from the Fountain of good, the Author of hope, and the Source of order and justice, now that we assemble to commemorate the revolution, the independence, and the advancement of our country. No sentiments should be encouraged on this occasion, but those of patriotism and philanthropy.

When the names of our venerated Fathers were affixed to the instrument which declared our independence, an impulse and confidence were imparted to all efforts at improvement throughout the world. The festival which we keep is the festival of freedom itself; it belongs not to us only, but to man; all the nations of the earth have an interest in it, and humanity proclaims it sacred. In the name of liberty, therefore, I bid you welcome to the celebration of its jubilee; in the name of our country I bid you welcome to the recollection of its glories and joy in its prosperity; in the name of humanity I welcome you to a festival, which commemorates an improvement in the social condition; in the name of religion I welcome you to a profession of the principles of public justice, which emanate directly from God.

These principles are eternal, not only in their truth, but in their efficacy. The world has never been entirely without witnesses to them; they have been safely transmitted through the succession of generations; they have survived the revolutions of individual states; and their final success has never been despaired of. Liberty has its foundation in human nature; and some portion of it exists, wherever there is a sense of honor. Are proofs of its existence demanded? As the mixture of good and evil is the condition of our earthly being, the efficient agency of good must be sought for even in the midst of evil; the impulse of free spirits is felt in every state of society and in spite of all constraint. There may have been periods in which the human mind has sunk into slothful indifference; the arm of exertion been paralyzed; and every noble aspiration hushed in the tranquility of universal submission. But even in such periods the world has never been left utterly without hope; and when the breath of tyranny has most effectually concealed the sun of liberty, and shrouded in darkness the magnificence of his beams, it has been but for a season.

Tomorrow he repairs the golden flood,
And gilds the nations with redoubled ray.

TETRRF-00024113-001Nature concedes to every people the right of executing whatever plans they may devise for their improvement, and the right of maintaining their independence. Of the exercise of these rights there have always been examples. The innate love of national liberty proceeds from an impulse and waits only for an opportunity to demonstrate its power. It has aroused the brave and generous from the first periods of history to the present moment, and has been a principle of action under every form of government; it was this, which made Marathon the watch-word of those who fight for their country; this pointed the arrows of the Parthian; this lent an air of romance to the early history of the Swiss and gained the battles of Morgarten and Sempach; this inspirited the Dutch, when their freedom was endangered by the arms of Louis XIV, and could be secured by no smaller sacrifice, to lay the soil of Holland beneath the ocean; this blessed the banners that waved on Bunker Hill and canonized the memory of those who fell as the elect martyrs and witnesses to their country’s independence; this made the French republic invincible when it stood alone against the world; this, which formerly at Pultowa had taught the Russians to fight, sacrificed Moscow, a splendid victim, on the altar of national existence; this united the mangled limbs of Germany, breathed a spirit once more into the long divided members, and led them against the French, as if impelled by the throbbings of one mighty heart. What need of many words? This made New Orleans a place of proud recollections, and still more recently has raised its boldest standard under the Southern sky, and finished a career of victory in the field of Ayacucho.

The exercise of free principles in the internal improvement of states is more difficult and more rare; for it requires the continued efforts of prudence, favored by the possession of power; a clear insight into the relations and wants of social life; an enlightened age and a persevering policy. Yet almost the first demand of civilized man has been a legislation, founded on the principles of justice; and the Roman law is still in force as the guarantee of private possessions in many of the most despotic countries of Europe. Some fixed constitution men have always claimed; and wherever codes have been established, their tendency has been favorable to individual rights, personal security, and intellectual liberty.

The general sentiment of mankind is expressed by the master spirits in the works, which are as monuments of the knowledge and aspirations of departed ages. Here there exists no difference of feeling; liberty may have been contemplated under different aspects, but honor has never been refused to the celestial visitant. Milton, than whom no man ever enjoyed clearer revelations of the light of poetry, appeals to the greatest bards, from the first to his own time, as the lovers and eulogists of liberty. Do you ask after the reasonings of mankind? To the contemplative man there is no equivalent for freedom of thought and expression; freedom to follow the guidance of reason wherever she may lead; freedom to make an open profession of all deliberate convictions. The historians, the orators, the philosophers, are the natural advocates of civil liberty. From all countries and all ages we have the same testimony; it is the chorus of the whole family of nations.

The events of the last fifty years lead us to hope, that liberty, so long militant, is at length triumphant. From our own revolution the period derives its character. As on the morning of the nativity the astonished wizards hastened with sweet odors on the Eastern road, our government had hardly come into being and the star of liberty shed over us its benignant light, before the nations began to follow its guidance and do homage to its beauty. The French revolution followed our own; and new principles of action were introduced into the politics of Europe. The melancholy events, which ensued, must be carefully distinguished from the original resistance to unlimited monarchy. The evils, which resulted from anarchy in the royal councils, should not be referred to the influence of national principles. The popular effort, which abolished the system of absolute rule and feudal subjection, which maintained the equal rights of man, which reclaimed the sovereign power for the people and established the responsibility of all public officers, a revolution which at once annihilated the distinctions of birth and gave a free course to the principles of liberty, to industry, and to truth, was worthy of the enthusiasm which it excited in the lovers of freedom. The representatives of the people were true, while the nobles were false and the king prevaricated; and, but for the coalition of the foreign powers against France, there is reason to believe the French revolution would have been consummated with so much order and followed by so much prosperity and happiness, that the neighboring nations must have been incited to imitate the example and peacefully reform their institutions.

The wars which followed were not without their use; for though they were conducted by an exasperated nation, whose generous passion for liberty had become a frenzy, the armies of the republic were still arrayed against tyranny. The torch of freedom was in their hands, though it had been seized with profane recklessness. The light did indeed glare with a wild and terrific splendor; yet, as it waved round the continent of Europe, its beams reached the furthest kingdoms and startled tyranny in its securest recesses. Germany awakened as if to a new consciousness of being; Poland caught a momentary hope of restoration; Bohemia, Hungary, and the furthest East lifted up their heads and listened for a season to the strains that told of independence, before they relapsed again into their ancient lethargy.

A permanent consequence of the French revolution has been, the establishment of representative governments in some of the states of Europe. France may modify her institutions, but never will resign them; the free states of Germany may be overawed by surrounding power, and so fail of developing their public life by the strict rules of liberty; but they will never part with their political knowledge. You might as well endeavor to tear the plough from their peasant^, as the principles of freedom from their intelligent men. But whatever may be the chances, that popular sovereignty will finally prevail in Europe, that continent is no longer to the world what she once was. She has fulfilled her high destiny; she has been for many centuries the sole depositary and guardian of all that is most valuable in government, letters, and invention, in present enjoyment and religious hope. But human culture has at length been transplanted to other climes, and already grown to a more beautiful maturity. Whatever destiny may hang over Europe, mankind is safe. Intelligence and religion have found another home; not only in our own free states, the cross is planted on each side the Andes, and the rivers which empty into either ocean fertilize the abodes of civilization.

July4th2A more admirable and cheering spectacle, therefore, than Europe can offer, is exhibiting in our own hemisphere. A family of Free states has at once come into being, and already flourishes on a soil, which till now had been drooping under colonial thraldom. Our happiness is increased by the wide diffusion of the blessings of free institutions; and it is a pleasing consciousness, that the example of our Fathers taught these new republics, what were their rights, and how they might assert them. Their final success we regard as certain, believing that the freedom of inquiry and of action will ensure the triumph of reason and the establishment of wise constitutions. Be it that .the new aspirants after liberty are impeded by the relics of colonial bondage; the influence of pernicious forms, which rested for support on the dominion of the mother country, cannot long survive the end of that dominion; be it that the literature of Spain contains no eloquent exposition of the principles of liberty; they will find a good interpreter of them in their own breasts; be it that clear views of public economy and administration are not yet commonly diffused; the people soon learn to understand their interests, and to devise the best means of advancing them; be it that their religion partakes of bigotry and an exclusive spirit; bigotry will yield to light, and far be it from us to condemn wantonly a form of Christianity, which is adopted by half the Christian world; be it that their social life has not yet assumed a form, corresponding with their political condition; the natural operation of civil equality and the success of unrestricted enterprise will remove all injurious distinctions; be it that they are taunted with extravagance and denounced as drunk with liberty; it is a very safe intoxication and would to God all the nations of the earth might drink deeply of that cup; be it that they have consistently practiced in the faith of man’s natural equality; there is no reason to apprehend a confusion of justice from those who guarantee the rights of all the members of their community; and, finally, be it that they who are now beginning to enjoy free constitutions, are partly of mixed descent; will you not all coincide with me when I say, we feel for man, not for a single race of men, and wherever liberty finds followers, as wherever Christ has disciples, be it that English or Indian, Spanish or African blood pours in their veins, we greet them as brethren.

I have glanced at the leading events in the history of the last half-century, and their aspect on the progress of mc free institutions. Time will not permit, nor does our purpose lead us to enumerate all the states which were doomed to perish, or those which were to rise from their ruins. No so short period of history ever presented so many or so mighty revolutions, such grand displays of national force; armies so numerous and yet so well disciplined; battles so skillfully conducted and decisive of such vast interests. The stream of time, which flowed through so many of the past centuries with a lazy current, has at last rushed onwards with overwhelming fury, leaping down one precipice after another, destroying all barriers in its ungovernable swiftness, hurrying states and empires and nations along its current, while the master minds were driven they knew not whither, on waters through which they vainly endeavored to direct their course,

The age has been fertile in strange contrasts, in unforeseen and unparalleled events. Europe is filled with the shadows of departed states and the graves of ruined republics. In the North, an adventurer of fortune has succeeded to the Swedish throne, and the legitimate king lives quietly in exile; while in the rest of Europe the doctrine of the divine right has been revived. Rome was once more made the head of a republic; the secular power of the Pope, annihilated for a season, was restored by the help of Turks, Russians, and English, Infidels, Schismatics, and Heretics. An army of Europeans, having in its train a band of scientific men, pitched its victorious camp at the foot of the Pyramids; the solitary banks of the Nile again became the temporary abode of glory and civilization; and again the bands of armed men poured through the hundred gates of the long deserted Thebes. An empire, which sends its caravans into Tartary and China, exerts its influence in Paris and Madrid, and has its envoy at Washington. The whole East has been a scene of continued turbulence, till at last a corporation of merchants, residing in a distant island, has reduced seventy millions of people to subjection. And, finally, to notice a singular fact in our own history, he, whose eloquent pen gave freedom its charter in the declaration of our independence; he, who was the third to receive the greatest honor ever awarded by public suffrage; he, who in the course of his administration doubled the extent of our territory by a peaceful treaty; he, whose principles are identified with the character of our government, and whose influence with the progress of civil liberty throughout the world, after declining to be a third time elected to the highest station in the service of his country, has not preserved on his retirement, I will not say fortune enough to bury him with honor, has not saved the means of supporting the decline of life with decency. The system of states, now united by diplomatic relations or commerce, embraces the world. The productions and the manufactures of all climes, the advances of intelligence and all useful inventions, are made universal benefits; the thoughts of superior men find their way over every ocean and through every country; civilization has its messengers in all parts of the world, and there is a community of feeling among the lovers of truth, however widely their abodes may be separated.

And in this system of states an experiment is simultaneously making of the most various forms of government and all within the reach of mutual observation. While the United States show to what condition a nation is carried by establishing a government strictly national, we have in Russia and in Haiti examples of a military despotism; in England a preponderating aristocracy; in France a monarchy with partial limitations; in Prussia an absolute monarchy, yet dependent for its strength on the spirit of the people; in Naples the old-fashioned system of absolute caprice. Let men reason if they will on the different systems of government; the history of the age is showing from actual experiment which of them best promotes the ends of the social compact.

Thought has been active in our times, not with speculative questions; but in devising means for improving the social condition. Efforts have been made to diffuse Christianity throughout the world. The cannibal of the South Sea forgets his horrid purpose and listens to the instructions of religion; the light of the Sabbath morn is welcomed by the mild inhabitants of the Pacific islands; and Africa and Australasia have not remained unvisited. Colonies, which were first established on the Guinea coast for the traffic in slaves, have been renewed for the more effectual suppression of that accursed trade. A curiosity, which will not rest unsatisfied, perseveres in visiting the unknown parts of the earth; the oceans have been so carefully explored by skilful navigators, that we are well acquainted with all their currents and their paths; and the regions, which lie furthest from the ancient abodes of civilization, have at last received its colonies.

Not only the advancement of knowledge characterizes the age, but its wide diffusion throughout all classes of society. The art of printing, which has been in use less than four hundred years and which, vast as its influence has already been, is just beginning to show how powerfully it can operate on society, offers such means of extending knowledge, that national education becomes every where possible; and while before this invention it was impracticable to impart literary culture but to a few, the elements of science can now be made universally accessible.

The facts, to which I have rapidly alluded, show a gradual amelioration of the human condition and the more complete development of the social virtues. And where is it, that the hopes of philanthropy are most nearly realized? I turn from the consideration of foreign revolutions to our own condition, and meet with nothing but what may animate our joy and increase our hopes. The visions of patriotism fall short of the reality. He, who observes the air of cheerful industry and successful enterprise, the sobriety of order, the increasing wealth of our cities, the increasing productiveness of our lands, our streams crowded with new establishments, and the appearance of entire success, stamped on every part of our country, will yet be amazed at the official documents, in which the elements of this success are analyzed, and its amount made the subject of cool calculation.

In whatever direction we turn our eyes, we find one unclouded scene of prosperity, everywhere marks of advancement and increasing opulence. While the population of the United States is doubled in less than twenty four years, its capital is doubled in less than eleven. At the beginning of the war the manufactures of the country could hardly be said to have had any considerable value; during the last twelve-month the value of goods manufactured in the United States has probably exceeded three hundred millions of dollars. The commerce of the country soon after the revolution extended, it is true, to every important mart, though it was but the first effort of a nation without capital; but now, when a large part of the commerce of the world is done by American merchants, our internal commerce surpasses our foreign even in tonnage, and still more in its value to the nation. Our thriving agriculture gives an air of magnificence to our lands, and, after supplying our domestic wants, leaves a large surplus for exportation. All our rural towns have an aspect of ease and comfort and prosperity. On our seaboard the wealth and population are advancing with a rapidity, surpassing the most sanguine expectations; and the prospect, that lies before us, seems too brilliant to be realized, when we observe a city like New York, already one of the largest on earth, and yet so new, its crowded wharves, its splendid walk by the ocean-side, its gay and busy streets so remarkable for the beautiful neatness of the buildings; its industry; its moral order; and its rapid growth, proceeding from causes that still operate with undiminished force.

These grand results are visible in the oldest part of our country, where the trees are older than the settlements, and men are older than the bridges and the roads. The changes in the West are known to be still more amazing. The hunter finds his way through a fertile region, and hardly has his good report been heard, before it is gemmed with villages; and all the intelligence and comforts of cultivated life are at once introduced into the new haunts of civilization. The voice of Christian worship is heard to rise from crowded assemblies in regions, which have been first visited within our memories. Domestic trade is extending itself in every direction; steam-boats ascend even the most rapid rivers, whose banks have been but recently explored, and as they pass through the lonely scenes, now first enlivened by the echoes of social cheerfulness, the venerable antiquity of nature bends from her awful majesty, and welcomes the fearless emigrant to the solitudes, where the earth has for centuries been hoarding fertility.

I have spoken to you of the condition of our country at large; I have called on you to observe its general prosperity. I will now limit the sphere of our view; I will ask you to look around at your own fields and firesides; your own business and prospects. There is not one desirable privilege, which we do not enjoy; there is not one social advantage, that reason can covet, which is not ours. I speak not merely of our equal rights to engage in any pursuit, that promises emolument or honor; I speak, also, of the advantages which we are always enjoying; security in our occupations; liberty of conscience; the certain rewards of labor. While there is general ease, the distribution of wealth has led to no great inequalities; all our interests are thriving; the mechanic arts are exercised with successful skill; improved means of communication with the sea-board are opening to our trade; the waters of our abundant streams are continually applied to new branches of business; an equal interchange of kindness is the general custom; moral order pervades an industrious population; intelligence is diffused among our yeomanry; the plough is in the hands of its owner; and the neat aspect of our farm-houses proves them the abode of contentment and successful diligence. Nor are we without our recollections. I never can think without reverence of the spirited veteran, who, on the morning of the seventeenth of June, in the seventieth year of his age, was hastening on horseback as a volunteer to Bunker Hill; but, coming to Charlestown neck and finding the fire from the British ships so severe, that crossing was extremely dangerous, coolly sent back the animal which he had borrowed of a friend and, shouldering his musket, marched over on foot. When the Americans saw him approach they raised a shout, and the name of Pomeroy ran along the lines. Since the ashes of the gallant soldier do not rest among us, let us the more do honor to his memory. We have raised a simple monument to his name in our grave-yard; but his body reposes, where he breathed out life on his country’s service, in the maturity of years, and yet a martyr. Even before that time and before the hour of immediate danger, when the boldest spirits might have wavered in gloomy uncertainty, and precious moments were wasting in indecision, one of our own citizens, my friends, his memory is still fresh among us, had been the first to cry in a voice, which was heard beyond the Potomac, we must fight; and when some alternative was desired, and reconciliation hoped from inactivity and delay, clearly saw the absolute necessity of the case, and did but repeat, we must fight. It was in front of the very place, where we are now assembled, that the hearts of our Fathers were cheered and their resolution confirmed by the eloquence of Hawley. And what is the cause and the guarantee of our happiness? What but the principles of our constitution. When our fathers assembled to prepare it, the genius of history admitted them to the secrets of destiny, and taught them by the failures of the past to provide for the happiness of future generations. No model was offered them, which it seemed safe to imitate; the constitution established a government on entirely liberal principles, such as the world had never beheld in practice.

The sovereignty” of the people is the basis of the system. With the people the power resides, both theoretically and practically. The government is a democracy, a determined, uncompromising democracy; administered immediately by the people, or by the people’s responsible agents. In all the European treatises on Political Economy and even in the state-papers of the holy alliance, the welfare of the people is acknowledged to be the object of government. We believe so too; but as each man’s interests are safest in his own keeping, so in like manner the interests of the people can best be guarded by themselves. If the institution of monarchy were neither tyrannical nor oppressive, it should at least be dispensed with, as a costly superfluity.

We believe the sovereign power should reside equally among the people. We acknowledge no hereditary distinctions and we confer on no man prerogatives, or peculiar privileges. Even the best services, rendered the state, cannot destroy this original and essential^ equality. Legislation and justice are not hereditary offices; no one is born to power, no one dandled into political greatness. Our government, as it rests for support on reason and our interests, needs no protection from a nobility; and the strength and ornament of the land consist in its industry and morality, its justice and intelligence.

The states of Europe are all intimately allied with the church and fortified by religious sanctions. We approve of the influence of the religious principle on public not less than on private life; but we hold religion to be an affair between each individual conscience and God, superior to all political institutions and independent of them. Christianity was neither introduced nor reformed by the civil power; and with us the modes of worship are in no wise prescribed by the state.

Thus then the people governs, and solely; it does not divide its power with a hierarchy, a nobility, or a king. The popular voice is all powerful with us; this is our oracle; this, we acknowledge, is the voice of God. Invention is solitary; but who shall judge of its results? Inquiry may pursue truth apart; but who shall decide, if truth is overtaken? There is no safe criterion of opinion but the careful exercise of the public judgment; and in the science of government as elsewhere, the deliberate convictions of mankind, reasoning on the cause of their own happiness, their own wants and interests, are the surest revelations of political truth.

The interests of the people are the interests of the individuals, who compose the people. If we needed no general government for our private success and happiness, we should have adopted none. It is created to supply a want and a deficiency; it is simply a corporation, invested with limited powers for accomplishing specific purposes.

Government is based upon population, not upon property. If they, who possess the wealth, possessed the power also, they would legislate in such a way, as to preserve that wealth and power; and this would tend to an aristocracy. We hold it best, that the laws should favor the diffusion of property and its easy acquisition, not the concentration of it in the hands of a few to the impoverishment of the many. We give the power to the many, in the hope and to the end, that they may use it for their own benefit; that they may always so legislate, as to open the fairest career to industry, and promote an equality founded on the safe and equitable influence of the laws. We do not fear, we rather invite the operation of the common motives, which influence humanity. If the emperor of Austria takes care to do nothing against his trade as a king, if the Pope administers his affairs with reference to his own advantage and that of the Romish church, if the English Aristocracy provides for the secure succession of hereditary wealth and power; so too we hope, where the power resides with the many, that the many will be sure to provide for themselves; magistrates be taken from the bosom of the people to which they return; the rights of those who have acquired property sacredly regarded; the means of acquiring it made common to all; industry receive its merited honors; morality be preserved; knowledge universally diffused; and the worth of naked humanity duly respected and encouraged.

The laws of the land are sacred; they are established by the majority for the general good. Private rights are sacred; the protection of them is the end of law and government. When the rules of justice are trampled on, or the power of maintaining it wrested from the hands of its appointed guardians, there is tyranny, let it be done where and by whom it may, in the old world or in the new, by a monarch or by a mob. Liberty frowns on such deeds, as attacks on her safety. For liberty knows nothing of passion; she is the daughter of God, and dwells in unchanging tranquility beside his throne; her serene countenance is never ruffled by excitement; reason and justice are the pillars of her seat, and truth and virtue the angels that minister unto her. When you come with violence and angry fury, do you pretend to come in her name? In vain; she is not there; even now she has escaped from among you.

Thus then our government is strictly national, having its origin in the will of the people, its object in their happiness, its guarantee in their morality; a government, essentially radical, in so far as it aims to facilitate the prompt reform of abuses; and essentially leveling, as it prohibits hereditary distinctions, and tends to diminish artificial ones.

Our government is called weak and said to rest on an insecure foundation; while in truth it is established on the firmest. It is the deliberate preference of all its citizens; and, self-balanced, rests securely on its own strength. Our confidence in its durability is equal to our confidence, that the people will always find such a system for their interests; and that liberty and intelligence will always be respected by a majority of mankind. The will of the people created our constitution; and not prescriptive right, not the condescension of an individual, not the terrors of religion, as interpreted by a priesthood, not the bayonets of a standing army, not the duplicity of diplomatic chicanery, not the lure of mitres, coronets, and artificial distinctions,—the wisdom of the people is our only, our sufficient, constitutional frank-pledge. Our moral condition is, then, indeed superior to that of the old world in the present, or in any former age. We have institutions more free, more just, and more beneficent, than have ever before been established. And that our glory as a nation might in nothing be wanting, the men, to whom the people first confided their interests, they, whose names stand highest in the annals of our glory, the statesmen, by whose voice the pure spirit of the country expressed its desires, the leaders, by whose bravery and skill our citizens were conducted to success in the contest for their rights, were of undoubted integrity and spotless patriotism, men, in whom the elements of human greatness were so happily mixed, that as their principles were generous and elevated, so their lives were distinguished by a course of honorable action, and the sacrifice of private advantage to the public good. They united the fervor of genius with the magnanimity of character; and the luster of their brilliant career was tempered by the republican simplicity of their manners. The names of Washington and Franklin recur, as often as examples are sought of enlightened philanthropy and a virtue, almost superhuman. The political privileges of the people correspond with the moral greatness of our illustrious men. Greece and Rome can offer no parallel to the one or the other. In possession of complete personal independence, our religious liberty is entire; our press without restrictions; the channels of wealth and honor alike open to all; the cause of intelligence asserted and advanced by the people; in our houses, our churches, our halls of justice, our legislatures, everywhere there is liberty. The sublimest views of superior minds are here but homely truths, reduced to practice, and shedding a beneficent influence over all the daily operations of life. Soul is breathed into the public administration by the suffrages of the people, and the aspect of our policy on the world is favorable to universal improvement. The dearest interests of mankind were entrusted to our country; it was for her to show, that the aspirations of former ages were not visionary; that freedom is something more than a name; that the patriots and the states, that have been martyrs in its defense, were struggling in a sacred cause and fell in the pursuit of a real good. The great spirits of former times looked down from their celestial abodes to cheer and encourage her in the hour of danger; the nations of the earth turned towards her as to their last hope. And the country has not deceived them. With unwavering consistency she has pursued the general good and confirmed the national sovereignty; she has joined a decided will to a clear perception of her rights and duties; she has had courage to regulate her course by free principles, wherever they might guide; and has proclaimed them to the world as with the voice of an inspired man. Resolutely developing her resources and perfecting her establishments by the light of her own experience, she stands in the eye of Heaven and the world in all the comeliness and strength of youth, yet swayed by a spirit of mature wisdom, exemplifying in her public capacity the virtues and generous affections of human nature, a light to the world, an example to those who would be free, already the benefactress of humanity, the tutelary angel of liberty. She advances in her course with the energy of rectitude and the calmness of justice. Liberty is her device; liberty is her glory; liberty is the American policy. This diffuses its blessings throughout all our land; this is cherished in our hearts, dearer than life and dear as honor; this is imbedded in our soil more firmly than the ancient granite in our mountains; this has been bequeathed to us by our fathers; and, whatever may befall us, we will transmit the heritage unimpaired to the coming generation.

Our service began with God. May we not believe, that He, who promises assistance to the humblest of us in our efforts to do His will, regards with complacency the advancement of the nation, and now from his high abode smiles on us with favoring benignity/ Trusting in the Providence of Him, the Universal Father, let the country advance to the glory and prosperity, to which, mindful of its exalted privileges, it aspires; wherever its voice is heard, let it proclaim the message of liberty, and speak with the divine energy of truth; be the principles of moral goodness consistently followed in its actions; and while the centuries, as they pass, multiply its population and its resources, let it manifest in its whole history a devoted attachment to public virtue, a dear affection for mankind, and the consciousness of its responsibility to the God of nations.

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

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

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

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

Brethren, Friends, And Fellow-citizens!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fellow-citizens!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respected Brethren!

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

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

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

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

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

My Friends!

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

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

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

ELEMENTS OF OUR AMERICAN PROSPERITY by Professor Steven H. Carpenter 1876

Professor Stephen H Carpenter

Professor Stephen H Carpenter

ELEMENTS OF OUR [American] PROSPERITY An Oration By Steven H. Carpenter, LLD., Professor In The University Of Wisconsin. Delivered At Madison, Wisconsin, July 4th, 1876.

Fellow-citizens—We are met to day to celebrate the demonstration of a great truth; the truth that Liberty is not the baseless dream of visionary enthusiasts; that a government by the People may be stable and lasting. Tried by the vicissitudes of a century, this Republic has withstood every shock, and has passed from a dimly-seen hope to a magnificent reality. It has gathered under its protection men of every language, and proved that Freedom is the Right of man by uniting them into one People, by the firm bond of loyalty to the same great truth.

Youth has no Past. Its active energy sees only the Present. Age has a past, to which it fondly looks, when its waning strength seeks solace in recalling the prowess of its early years, and boasts of deeds no longer possible to its lessened vigor. We have no musty records to search, no far-reaching history to recall. Our heroic age has hardly passed. Our golden youth has not yet stiffened into the harshness of an iron present. The memory of those still living holds the fresh records of our progress. Men whose natural force has not yet abated have seen our weakness grow to power, have seen the wilderness transformed into a blooming garden, and stately cities rise as by the enchanter’s wand from the untamed soil. But shall not youth glory in his strength? Shall a just pride not lay hold of present achievement as well as past glory? Behind us are gathered the materials for our heroic history. Age is hastening after us, and to-day we turn the first century of our national existence.

There is a power in Antiquity—in the feeling that behind us is a long line of noble ancestors, a solid inheritance in the glories of the Past. It curbs the wayward strength of youth, and adds dignity to the compacted vigor of manhood. This advantage is rapidly coming to us. We have a common inheritance in the heroism of the Revolution.

On an occasion like this when we stand at the summit of a century of unbroken success, our minds alternately follow the lead of Memory casting her proud glance backward over the brilliant past, and Hope casting her confident gaze into a future full of greater promise. “We look backward over the slow receding years of the century just closed, and we see a little band of heroes, jealous of their God given rights, seeing not the weakness of their numbers, but only the strength of their cause, with a sublime confidence in the ultimate victory of right, resolutely facing the foremost power of the world. Looking out into the deepening darkness that shrouded the coming years of almost hopeless struggle, they boldly, almost defiantly proclaimed not merely their own right to liberty, but the right of man to self-government. They struck a blow for humanity.

That contest was not the mere shock of contending armies; it was the fiercer shock of contending ideas. It was not the maneuvering of legions on the field of battle; it was the marshaling of principles in a struggle that should determine whether the world should go forward, and offer a new field for the enlarging powers of man, or whether it should stagnate on the dead level of old ideas, stupidly satisfied with the good it had gained.

At last, after eight years of struggle, of alternate victory and defeat, Freedom was secured, but their allotted work was not yet done. A nation was to be formed out of the discordant elements which the pressure of necessity had forced into a temporary union. Statesmanship was to complete the work of generalship, and unite into a compact whole the fragments thus far held together by a loose cohesion. Our revolutionary fathers proved equal to the task, and by this victory over passion, by succeeding where all other men had failed, they placed the world under everlasting obligation. Other patriots had fought as bravely, had endured as heroically; but no other patriots so conquered self, so vanquished prejudice, so laid the foundations of a nation in mutual concession for the general good.

God is a prompt paymaster. The reward was not long deferred. The period of unexampled prosperity followed. All the world claimed the privilege of sharing the benefit of our sacrifices. They swarmed in upon us from every nation of Europe, attracted by a fertile soil, a healthy climate, and the more alluring promise of a free government. At the close of the Revolution the entire population of the United States numbered but three millions. They were mostly confined to the narrow strip between the Allegheny Mountains and the sea. Here and there adventurous bands had crossed, over into the fertile plains beyond, only to find their advance stubbornly contested by the Indians who refused to leave, without a struggle, the hunting-grounds of their fathers. The valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi were still an unbroken wilderness, except where French traders or Missionaries had established their posts to seek the goods or the good of the red man, or where sturdy pioneers had made their precarious settlements. The great Lakes were almost unexplored, and the districts adjoining were still more unknown. Marquette, Allouez and La Salle, had pushed their daring discoveries into this remote region, but theirs was the genius of discovery, not of settlement. The French could discover and subdue, but they could not organize.

It is but eighty years since this vast region, stretching from the Allegheny Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, was opened to settlement. Men now living have seen the western line of civilization creep timidly from the boundaries of New York and Pennsylvania, push steadily westward through the forests of Ohio, cross the fertile prairies of Indiana and Illinois, sweep with hardly a perceptible check beyond the Mississippi, strike boldly across the vast plains of the West, climb the heights of the mountains, descend the further slope of the Sierras, to meet a resistless barrier only on the distant shores of the Pacific Ocean. Men now living have seen this waste wilderness converted into a blooming garden, covered with fruitful harvests, and dotted with the peaceful homes of more than ten millions of people. The Indian has retreated before his fate; barbarism has yielded to civilization. The niggardly gifts of Nature have been replaced by the wealth that plenty pours with a full hand into the lap of industry. Labor here reigns king, unvexed by any rival. The air hums with the busy whirr of machinery. The engine flashes by, weaving, like a gigantic shuttle, the bonds that bind distant States in one community of interest.

Let us not stand mute in stupid admiration of our present greatness, but let us in the spirit of true philosophy seek to discover the basis upon which our prosperity rests, and the laws and controlling forces by which our success has been wrought out. A true civilization rests upon a moral basis. The civilization of the old world had made physical well-being its highest ideal, but it did not prove capable of indefinite expansion: it could not rise; it could not advance. Here civilization laid hold of moral forces, and pressed forward with a power well-nigh resistless. Physical good soon reaches its limit. Even that art that aims only at material beauty soon attains its highest ideal, and falls back upon itself to minister to passion and to hasten the ruin of the glittering culture which it has created, that conception of the true nature of man that considers him as a moral force, and not a mere intelligent machine, that looks at nature from its spiritual side, that fixes the ideal of civilization not on the low level of mere physical improvement, but on the higher plane of intellectual and moral culture, that aims at perfect manhood, and rates birth or wealth below character, affords the only ground for a safe and steady advance. This great truth was emphasized on every battle-field of our late war. The idea of freedom won. That conception of human society that graded men according to physical accidents yielded to the superior power of that idea which, ignoring all physical differences, upon the broad basis of human equality, organized society according to the theory of equal rights and equal and exact justice to all.

Three steps led to our present unexampled prosperity.

Declaration of Independence

The first was the Declaration of Independence which first distinctly enunciated to the world the doctrine of Equal Rights. It was a decided step in advance to ignore all accidental differences, and to unify all mankind on the single principle of absolute equality. The Declaration was a defiant challenge of the old theory of government; it called in question principles quietly acquiesced in for centuries. To assert the rights of the people was a great step, but it was a step that might lead downwards to anarchy, and through anarchy to despotism, as in France, as well as upward to Liberty and free government. The other half of the truth must be told in the equally definite assertion of the absolute and inherent need of government—thus accurately adjusting the political relations of the citizen. Man demands government no less imperatively than liberty; he demands government, because only through it can he secure liberty.

The presence of a common enemy, and the manifest need of union held the States together until the close of the revolutionary war. When the compulsion of this necessity was no longer felt, the need of a closer bond—one originating from within, and knit from well-defined principles, securing a union by the recognition of ends yet to be gained in common, beyond the mere acquisition of liberty—soon became evident. Liberty is only a condition of good government rendering it possible; it is not a cause compelling it. The yoke of foreign domination had been thrown off; the yoke of self-government must yet be put on. The need for something more than had yet been gained was shown by a loss of public respect for the general government, disordered finance, depreciated currency, with all the evils incident, mutual jealousies, conflict of jurisdiction between the States themselves; between States and the general government, threats of armed collision; the most alarming systems of anarchy threatened the public weal, until all that had been gained by eight years of war seemed on the point of being lost for want of a far-sighted statesmanship to resolutely grapple with and solve the problem now presented. There was but one way out of these difficulties—to go forward, to assert as clearly the right of the nation to protection against anarchy as the Declaration had asserted the right of man to protection against tyranny; to build upon the foundation that had been so heroically laid in times of war and trial; to sow the vacant field with ideas that promised a fruitful harvest, and no longer leave it to grow up to thorns that promised only increasing irritation. Happily for us, the men of that day were not wanting in the great crisis. Upon the firm basis of Equal Rights as laid down in the Declaration of Independence, they built the solid superstructure of Constitutional government. From scattered, discordant fragments, they compacted a new nation.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather QuillThe second step towards the prosperity of this people was taken in the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. This was not simply an alliance between States. That had already been secured by the Articles of Confederation, the utter inadequacy of which could no longer be concealed. This was a union of the people—the birth of a nation—an assertion of the right of man to government, as the Declaration of Independence was an assertion of his right to liberty.

The greatest victories of those days that “tried men’s souls” were not won on the field of battle, where man meets man in the rude shock of brute force, but in the senate chamber, where mind meets mind in the conflict of principles, where inveterate prejudice gives way to the calm pressure of reason, where narrow selfishness yields to the demands of enlarged patriotism. The adoption of the Constitution was such a triumph. To have been the first to take this step in advance is glory enough for any nation. Speaking of the Constitution, Lord Brougham says: “The regulation of such a union upon pre-established principles, the formation of a system of government and legislation in which the different subjects shall not be individuals, but States, the application of legislative principles to such a body of States, and the devising means for keeping its integrity as a [Con]Federacy, while the rights and powers of the individual States are maintained entire, is the very greatest refinement in social policy to which any state of circumstances has ever given rise, or to which any age has ever given birth.” Says De Tocqueville: This theory was wholly novel, and may be considered as a great discovery in modern political science. It was not only because she had championed the Rights of Man that America placed the world under lasting obligation; it was also because she established Freedom upon rational principles, had harmonized Liberty and Law, and thus made a durable democracy possible, that the world looks to her example to learn the way to lasting liberty.

Ordinance_of_1787The last, and no less important step, was taken when the Ordinance of 1787 was adopted for the government of the North-west territory.. The adoption of this Ordinance antedates the adoption of the Constitution, but its influence in national affairs was subsequent to the immediate influence of that instrument. This document shows an enlarged and advanced view of the powers and duties of government. It enunciates several principles which were also incorporated into the Constitution of the United States. It laid down the broad and then quite novel principle of absolute religious toleration; it asserted the inviolability of contracts, thus placing the authority of integrity above that of legislatures; it first clearly uttered the sentiment now so familiar that “Religion, Morality and Knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged;” it insisted upon keeping good faith with all men, and demanded justice even for the Indians, who had for ten years been waging a cruel and bloody war against the settlers in this very territory; it at once and forever prohibited slavery, and thus led the way to its final eradication from this country.

We need trace our history no further. Here we find the grand secret of this unexampled prosperity and the conditions of our future success. In this triple recognition of the rights of man, the just limits of government, and the paramount claims of Religion, Morality and Education, we find an ample explanation. Upon the foundation of Equal Rights, as laid in the Declaration of Independence, a Constitutional government was erected upon the immovable pillars of Religion, Morality and Knowledge, based not on arbitrary enactment and secured by force, but resting still more firmly in the conscientious regard of the people. We have no religion defined by the State and enforced by law; we have what is better, Religion voluntarily practiced by the people. We do not have an education thrust upon the people by compulsion; we have what is better, a people who do not need the coarse stimulus of this coercion. In the recognition of these moral forces as determining the condition of mankind, we may find the reason why we have succeeded in securing at the same time liberty for the people and stability for the government. Until taught by our example, the world believed that liberty was but another name for license and lawless anarchy; that stability was the prerogative of despotism. But the tottering thrones and fleeing kings of the Old World have proved that the arm of Force is not strong enough to hold a kingdom stable, and that the government is most firmly seated that rests upon conceded rights, and guards the rights of the people with a sleepless jealousy.

The nations of the world are met in the City of Peace to offer us their heartfelt congratulations, bringing the accumulated treasures of art and industry to grace this glad occasion. Fit place for such a gathering, fit occasion for such a celebration! It is the Festival of Peace, as well as the birthday of Freedom. Industry bends its tireless energies to lighten the pressure of wearisome labor. Art, hand in hand with Toil, brings her treasures to grace our holiday. Even grim-visaged War puts on the garb of Peace, and with an awkward smile displays his death-dealing enginery in bloodless repose. The sword-girt, mail-clad warrior is no longer the world’s hero. The conqueror is no longer the ideal man. The hero of to-day is the Inventor who elevates mind by freeing muscle, who bends his blest endeavors to lift the yoke of labor from the bowed necks of the toiling millions.

The nations are all here, and this friendly gathering utters anew the greeting of Heaven, “Peace on Earth, goodwill to Men.” We do not celebrate this day alone. Others share in our joy. Every nation on the globe above the lowest level of barbarism gives us a hearty God-speed, for there is not a people that does not feel the beneficent impulse which our example has given the world. Liberty has a new meaning since man has proved that a king is not a necessary evil; that the majesty of right is above the majesty of man; that the sway of justice is more enduring than the rule of force. This grand truth, first proclaimed by the heroes of the elder days, first demonstrated by our convincing example, has been wrought into the convictions of men by the steady pressure of our advancing prosperity. Well may the world join us in celebrating this peaceful triumph, for all men have part in our glory and share our gain. Our Declaration of Independence gave a voice to the half-formed thoughts of humanity, and brought to man a-knowledge of his inalienable rights. Our Constitution has made true liberty possible not only for this nation, but for all mankind.

RevWarVetMarkerThe Dead too are here:—not dead, but living in the deeds which they wrought and in the affectionate remembrance of their fellowmen. Their immortal spirits see the fruits of their labors, and today they rejoice with us. From Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill; from the stubborn contest with cold and hunger at Valley Forge; from Cowpens, King’s Mountain; from Saratoga and Yorktown; from every nameless battle-field of the Revolution; from the fresher graves of our last and sternest war, their jubilant spirits throng in upon us to-day, and join in the gladness of the grand chorus of praise that swells up before the throne of the God of Nations. The sea, too, gives up its dead. From every ocean grave, from the quiet depths of Erie and Champlain, those who sunk to their peaceful rest amidst the noise and tumult of battle rise to join us in the celebration of this day which their valor and devotion bequeathed to us. They are all here: I need not speak their names. Time would fail me to mention the surrounding cloud of exulting witnesses. The Golden Gates stand wide open to-day, and well may Heaven join Earth in celebrating a day like this. We do not exult over the blood-stained triumphs of War; we rejoice in the victories of Peace. We boast not of conquest; we glory in Freedom. We count not the struggle; we see the gain.

Then let us celebrate this day with glad rejoicing, for it is a day fit to be remembered through all time. Through a frail infancy, through a wayward youth, Freedom has passed forward to the full strength and the maturer powers of a vigorous manhood. The nation has attained its majority. Let all the World join in our rejoicing. Let all Nature, from the heights of Summer, crowned with her most gorgeous beauty, with every inarticulate symbol, voice the universal joy, as she joins man in his jubilant chorus of praise to the Giver of all good.

See also: 
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
AMERICAN FREE INSTITUTIONS; THE JOY AND GLORY OF MANKIND by Dr. J. Sellman 1876
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC
THE MEANING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by Col Robert G Ingersoll
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
The Betrayal Of ‘We The American People’ Our Nation! Our Birthright!
Public Servants Who Fasten Themselves on the Public Treasury Like Leeches
OUR REPUBLIC! By Jeremiah Taylor at Providence, R. I., July 4th 1876
THE PERPETUITY OF THE REPUBLIC by Joseph Kidder July 4th 1876
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA by Hon. Dr. Felix R. Brunot July 4, 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
DANIEL WEBSTER AND OUR AMERICAN FLAG

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

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

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

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

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

jm-tyrannyA Particular Stage Of National Growth:

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

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

jefferson_liberty_vs_tyrannyThe Republic Of Peace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tyranny-slavesA Sunrise In The West:

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

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

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

party-bossesA Set Of Men Called Bosses:

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

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

Mark TwainHigh Toned Rogues:

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

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

jacksonspoils To The Victors Belong The Spoils:

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

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

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

JeffersonTyrannyAnother Danger To Democracy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

political-plunderBaffle The Hope Of Plunder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Storming of Stony Point by Alonzo Chappell

The Storming of Stony Point by Alonzo Chappell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. We conquered our independence.

2. We govern ourselves.

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

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

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

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

Consider them:

RevolutionaryWar1. We conquered our independence.

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

2. We govern ourselves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
OUR NOBLE HERITAGE by Hon. George W. Curtis (1824 –1892)
THE POWER OF HISTORY by Horatio Seymour (1810–1886)
AMERICA OUR SUCCESS OUR FUTURE! by John P. Gulliver July 4th 1876 NYC
AMERICA! FAIREST OF FREEDOM’S DAUGHTERS by Jeremiah E. Rankin 1828-1903
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
BENEFITS OF THE REPUBLICAN EXPERIMENT IN AMERICA by Thomas G. Alvord 1810- 1897
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
Power of History2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In speaking of them the colonial historian Smith says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As to their civil polity, Colden says in 1747:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: The History and Events that Led to the Founding of the United States by Courtlandt Parker 1876
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 1
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 Part 1
Why our Forefathers firmly believed that Freedom and Liberty came from God
Non Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of Jesus Christ by Johannes von Müller 1832
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
Divine Heredity
 
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THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY by Rev Morgan Dix July 4th 1876 NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! by Colonel Henry A. Gildersleve July 4th 1876 NYC

150thRegimentHenryAGildersleeveAMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! An Oration by Justice Colonel Henry Alger Gildersleeve (1840-1923) At The Centennial Celebration At Irving Hall, New York City, July 4th, 1876.

Fellow-citizens:—We are gathered here to-day from every quarter of this great metropolis, imbued with a common purpose and actuated by a common motive, which every individual present understands full well. Our ears are straining to hear and our minds are eager to receive the words of gratitude, patriotism and liberty—the themes to-day of 40,000,000 of freemen. Our hearts are swelling to greet these sentiments, and with shouts of applause to waft them on until they echo amid the white hills of the East and the mountains of the far West, or die away on the placid gulf of the South.

One hundred years of liberty and union! Not every year of peace and quiet, but if maintained sometimes by battle and blood so much the richer and dearer. Shall we not be pardoned on this day for manifestations of pride at the success of the Republic? The history of the world shows the people of every nation possess, instinctively, pride and love of country, and are we not justly proud of our country, which can point to more progress and more great achievement in a single century than have been vouchsafed to any other nation in a decade of centuries?

The love of country! Time cannot efface it,
Nor distance dim its heaven descended light;
Nor adverse fame nor fortune e’er deface it.
It dreads no tempest and it knows no night.

Who would not be an American citizen and claim a home in these United States? It has a home, bread and raiment for the family of every honest industrious man, no matter under what skies his eyes first saw the light of day, nor by what language he could be heard. Our lands are broad and free to all. The latch-string that opens to Uncle Sam’s domain hangs ever on the outside, and honest emigrants are always welcome within our borders. We try to-day to show our gratitude to the noble men who secured our independence and laid the foundation of our prosperity. What a pleasant task; but oh, how difficult! We have no memory rich with thankfulness that is not theirs. We have no praise rich with reverence that is not theirs. The world never saw more unselfish or truer patriots. No legislative hall ever held wiser statesmen. Our liberty is the fruit of their labor and sacrifice. At the mention of the name of the humblest of their numbers we now bow in humble adoration and thanksgiving. May this warm affection never cool in the hearts of the American people; may we never tire in studying the early history of our Republic and the characters and lives of the great men who forged for us so strong and well the pillars of liberty and equality. They are the boasted strength of our government and the envy of the other nations of the world. The past is a sure and safe guard by which to build hereafter. Our history assures us of the bright and lasting future if we but cling to the sheet anchor of our safety, the Constitution of the United States, and in harmonious accord remain loyal to our country’s flag—emblem of liberty, “flag of the free heart’s hope and home.” And when thrones shall have crumbled into dust, when scepters and diadems shall have long been forgotten, the flag of our Republic shall still wave on, and its stars, its stripes, its eagle shall still float in pride and strength and glory over the whole land; not a stripe erased or polluted, or a single star obscured.

See also:
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY by Dr. Richard Salter Storrs July 4 1876
The Doctrine of Fascism, Fascism Defined by Benito Mussolini
Obama’s Nazi Youth Campaign Slogan “Forward”
The Failure of Marxism and Socialism
Break Chains

The National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century by John M Langston 1876

John_Mercer_LangstonThe National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century. An Oration By Prof. John Mercer Langston, L.L.D. Delivered At Portsmouth, Virginia, July 4th, 1876.

Mr. President Of The Banneker Lyceum And Fellow-citizens: I congratulate you upon the name which your association bears. In giving title to your association you honor one who largely unaided, by his own efforts distinguished himself as a scholar, while he made himself in no insignificant sense conspicuous as a philanthropist; certainly so far as a free and bold advocacy of freedom for his own race discovered his love for mankind.

Benjamin Banneker cultivated in his studies those matters of science which pertain to astronomical calculations; and so thorough and exact were his calculations, as they respected the different aspects of the planets, the motions of the sun and moon, their risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of planetary systems, as to excite and command the commendation of Pitt, Fox, Wilberforce, and other eminent men of his time.

In 1791 Banneker sent to Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, a manuscript copy of his first almanac, enclosing it in a letter, in the closing portions of which he uses the following words: “Suffer me to recall to your mind that time, in which the arms of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude; look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that period in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation; you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of heaven. This, sir, was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was then that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly help forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’

“Here was a time in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare ; you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature; but, sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of His equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges which He hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract His mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence, so numerous a party of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”

In a very few days after receiving this letter the President made the following reply: “Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter, and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men; and that the appearance of a want of them, is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising their condition, both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected well admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condozett, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document to which your whole color had a right for their justification, against the doubts which have been entertained of them.”

I make no apology for making this allusion, in this connection, to the man whose memory you honor in the phraseology “Banneker Lyceum;” nor for referring to his eminence as a scholar, and his bold advocacy in addressing even the author of the Declaration of American Independence, then President of the United States, in such words as to provoke the earnest and manly reply just presented. Let the colored American contemplate with pride this brief but interesting chapter which brings the name of the scholarly negro Banneker, in such juxtaposition to that of the eminent American statesman, Thomas Jefferson.

I also congratulate you upon this vast assembly, brought together under those instincts and promptings of patriotism, admiration and gratitude, with which from one end to the other of our country, from sea to sea, our fellow-countrymen meet this day, in hall, in church, like ourselves beneath the green foliage of God’s own temple, to call to mind and note the magnificent utterances, the splendid achievements and marvelous progress of our nation made within the first hundred years of its existence.

On this occasion, I may not tarry to dwell upon the utterances of individuals, however eminent and distinguished. It is only of those great national utterances, those judgments of the nation itself, so expressed in that majestic and thrilling voice of a’ great people, that its echoes never die, that I may speak on this interesting and memorable day; and of these in the briefest manner.

On the 4th day of July 1776, one hundred years ago, thirteen colonies with an insignificant population boldly made declaration of their independence of the British crown and their sovereignty as a free and independent nation, and to the maintenance of this declaration and their independence, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. The annals of one hundred years radiant with proofs of the sincerity of this pledge of our Fathers, attest how well, how manfully, how successfully, and triumphantly, our country has maintained herself among the great nations of the earth.

Perhaps the history of the world furnishes no document in which individual equality, the first powers of government; the conditions upon which a people may alter or abolish one government and institute another, laying its foundations and organizing its powers in such form and upon such principles as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness, with such clearness and force, as our own declaration, the masterpiece of American State papers. Upon its very words, could we separate them from the sentiments and doctrines which they embody we would dwell with a sort of superstitious pride and pleasure. But upon the doctrines, the principles, the sentiments they contain, we dwell justly with veneration and grateful approval. How the school boy, the clergyman, the statesman, all classes with equal pride and emotion repeat the words “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths self-evident : that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

How often these words have been quoted on occasions like this, how thoroughly they have become a part of every American’s very being, inhaled with the moral atmosphere of every house, no one of us can tell. Nor is it material. It is enough for us to know that as they shape in their influence every act of our nation so they influence and determine largely the conscientious conviction and judgment of every elector of our country through whose vote our institutions are supported and maintained.

On the 10th day of June, 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a declaration, that these colonies are of right and ought to be, free and independent states.”

This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. As the declaration was presented by this committee in its original form, it contained among other charges against the King of Great Britain the following—” He has waged war against nations itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain, determined to keep open a market, where men should be bought and sold. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce, and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them : thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

This clause, formidable indeed in the charge presented, but far reaching and significant in favor of the abolition of slavery was stricken from the declaration, on the suggestion of the state of Georgia. The declaration, however, as a whole is none the less emphatic in favor of the inalienability of man’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and Garrison, Phillips, Smith, Sumner, and their associates, the great apostles of the American abolition movement did well to plead the cause of the slave, and to claim the equality of the rights of the negro before American law in the name of its principles and teachings.

With regard to the courage and heroism, which distinguished the American soldier of our revolutionary period, and the triumphs which attended our armies, I need not speak, ah are acquainted with these and to-day as we go back in memory to our-struggle at Lexington, at Bunker Hill, and to the surrender of Burgoyne, our souls are filled with gratitude that the God of battles brought victory to those arms wielded in a struggle for freedom, independence and free institutions.

Eight years of conflict, brought us a victory which settled forever our independence and sovereignty, no longer a dream, but a solemn, abiding reality.

I wish to bring to your attention and emphasize two things with regard to the articles of confederation, approved the 9th day of July, 1778, in the 3d year of the Independence of America. 1st. These articles are entitled articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, &c, and in the concluding article thereof, the 2d clause contains these words, “and whereas it has pleased the great Governor of the world to incline the hearts of the Legislatures, we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union: know ye, that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to use given for that purpose, do, by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained; and we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which, by the said confederation, are submitted to them; and that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent; and, that the union be perpetual.

Although each State under these Articles retained its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right not expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled thus forming as the articles of confederation import, simply a confederacy under the style of the “United States of America,’ the union, formed thus was to be perpetual, lading forever, as is abundantly shown from the words of t.hia document already quoted.

The union of these articles, a compact of sovereign States, was to be perpetual. It was not long, however, before the sovereignty of the States was merged, under the Constitution of the United States, in the higher and grander sovereignty of the nation. And thus our Union was made more perfect and perpetual. Let it stand forever!

Concerning the 4th Article of these Articles there is a matter of history which must prove especially interesting to all of us, when, now, our constitutional law has been so amended as to tolerate no discrimination with regard to citizenship predicated upon complexion.

When this Article was under consideration a proposition was made to qualify the phrase “free inhabitants,” occurring therein, by the insertion of the word; “white,” so as to make it read “free while inhabitants,” etc. Upon due consideration, eleven States voting upon the proposition, it was lost—eight States voting against it, two States in favor of it, while the vote of one State was divided. Early thus in the history of our nation the fathers decided to allow no discrimination among our countrymen as to citizenship based upon complexional differences, and nowhere either in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Articles of Confederation is the word white used except in the latter, it is found in the following connection, in Article 9th, “The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority among other things, to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each State for its quota, in proportion to the number of while inhabitants in such State.”

Why the word white is used in this connection, I am at a loss to know. It was not certainly because of the color of citizens of African descent . It was certainly not because they were not patriotic, brave, and enduring soldiers. In the revolutionary struggles they early demonstrated their fidelity and courage. One of the four first Americans falling, in the Boston massacre of 1770, being a mulatto, Crispus Attucks, whose name is one famous in the annals of that struggle. This word white was certainly not used to discriminate against citizens of African descent prejudicially as to the matter of citizenship. For generally at this time, when emancipated, they became citizens and voters without qualification or condition in the States where they resided. The distinction made here then must have been in the interest of slavery, an institution which from the very first proved itself utterly at war with every interest of the people.

Occupying, as we do this day, a high moral plain from which we may retrospect our past, we can appreciate the ordinance of 1787, which, establishing a form of government for our Western territories, concludes with six Articles of compact between the original States and the people of the territories, the same to be unalterable, except by common consent.

The first secures entire religious freedom, the second, trial by jury, the writ of habeas corpus, together with other fundamental rights usually inserted in Bills of Eights; the third provides for the encouragement and support of schools, and enjoins good faith towards the Indians; the fourth places the new States to be formed out of the territory upon an equal footing with the old ones; the fifth authorizes the future division of the territory into not less than three nor more than five States, each to be admitted into the Union when it should contain 60,000 free inhabitants; and the sixth contains the celebrated anti-slavery proviso introduced by Jefferson, “That there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, other than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Thousands of noble sons, inhabitants of the States formed of such territory, rejoice this day that no curse of slavery has blighted their toil—that no footsteps of the bondman ever pressed the pathway of their industry. The shouts of other millions, former slaves, uniting with those once their owners and masters, send back the echo of such rejoicing this day in a glad refrain of thanksgiving and joy, that no slave now breathes the air of our country.

Chief among the moral triumphs of our age and country stands that act of our nation which emancipates four million of bondsmen; and inducting them into the body-politic, throws over them the investiture of an equal and impartial citizenship.

All honor is duo him whose name is written first among the company of noble men, the chief work of whom, the glory of their endeavors, culminates in the emancipation of the American slave. All honor is due the great captain of our forces, who established through the sword, as the fixed law of our nation, the emancipation proclamation of the first day of January, 1863. Henceforth the names of Lincoln and Grant, are justly emblazoned in our history as the emancipator and defender of our enslaved race.

The Constitution of the United States, a document of rare, in many respects matchless, excellence, prior to its modification by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, is now certainly without parallel in the history of mankind, as an enunciation of organic law; and every American, whatever his political bias or party affiliations, must experience special pleasure in knowing that no other nation of ancient or modern times has been given, the genius or the heart to produce such a document, and to establish in accordance therewith a government which in its forms and results realizes so nearly our idea of that perfect government, the subjects of which, while they enjoy the amplest possible freedom, pursue their several occupations, assured of the largest protection to life, liberty and property.

As we read and study the great State papers of our nation— The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Ordinance of 1787, and the Constitution of the United States—and consider the workings of the Government organized in accordance therewith, in none of its departments, discriminating against any of our citizens, native or naturalized, with regard to birthplace, nationality, complexion, or former condition of life, but inviting all to partake alike of the benefits and blessings of free institutions, our hearts swell with gratitude to that beneficent Dispenser of human affairs, who gave our fathers wisdom, courage, and success, and who has abundantly blessed their sons in national unity, prosperity and happiness:

Of the material greatness of our country—its development of the great industries which distinguish its progress and civilization, I can do little more than make a passing allusion. Did I tarry to name simply our achievements in steam navigation, shipbuilding, the building of railroads, the manufacture of railroad cars, improvements in all kinds of machinery, telegraphy, and printing, I would detain you beyond your patience and endurance. I content myself and trust I satisfy you by saying, the first century of our existence as a nation has witnessed such triumphs in art, science, and industry in our land as has not been vouchsafed in the history of mankind to any other people within such period.

In all departments of business—in banking, commerce, agriculture—we witness improvement of method, implement, and the use of power and skill.

In politics, legislation and general reform, our national triumphs have been splendid; not less so, however, in the various departments of industry.

Of our improvement in all those things that pertain to a well organized system of free common schools, supported by public tax, levied and collected by the general and cordial assent of property holders, I speak with pride. Generally our common school system is so valued, its good results so appreciated, that no considerations pecuniary or other would induce the people to consent to any reduction of taxes, or the doing of anything the tendency of which would be to curtail and destroy the influence of such system. We all value the free common school as at present organized as indispensable to the education and training of the youth of all classes. Many without academic, or collegiate instruction, if not fully, measurably fitted for the pursuit of business or professional walks of life enter thereupon directly from our common schools and achieve therein commendable success. Indeed, our common schools may be properly enough regarded as the college of the people. No tuition may here be collected; no incidental fees charged; and yet, an education which furnishes excellent mental discipline, considerable knowledge, general and various, together with sound moral training may be secured.

Of improvements in methods of instruction, buildings, furniture, apparatus, text-books, treatment of pupils, character of teachers, and modes of preparing teachers for their work, I can not speak in detail . Improvements in all these respects are abundant, transcending our most sanguine expectations, of the largest advantage and most satisfactory kind.

Contrasting the system and condition of public instruction in France, Holland, Prussia, Germany, Great Britain and other countries with those of the United States of America, J. W. Hoyt, Esq., one of the Commissioners of the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867, in his report on education, under the title United States of America, says:

“From the earliest settlement of this country by those brave men and women who landed on the rocks of Massachusetts Bay, no less imbued with the spirit of freedom and popular education than the love of God and liberty of conscience, the cause of education has been one of primary interest both to Colonial and Federal governments. A history of the sacrifices and toils by which were established and maintained the schoolhouses of the ante-revolutionary times of the Colonial period, and a summing up of the truly munificent contributions of the Federal and State authorities since the adoption of the Constitutional Government, to the great end of creating a citizenship worthy of our free institutions are sufficient to awaken the ambition and enthusiasm of the dullest soul.”

Continuing, he says, “All in all, the original provisions of the government for the education of the people are more liberal than those of any other; and in connection with the additions arising from regular taxation, and from appropriations made by the States themselves, present the most magnificent financial school basis of the world. The pride with which the American citizen regards this support of common-school instruction is amplified by contemplating the scarcely less abundant endowment by which individual wealth has built up the higher grades noticed under the head of Secondary Education.”

Upon the higher grades of education, the academies, colleges, universities and professional schools, I may not dwell. The special character, claims and achievements of such schools we all appreciate. Their growth within the past fifty years has been marked, and through their instrumentality education has received decided impulse and noteworthy educational advantages have been gained.

Fellow-citizens of Virginia, and by this appellation in this regenerated hour of American freedom I designate all classes and complexions, the class formerly masters, and that formerly slaves, I congratulate you upon the change in an educational point of view which has taken place in your own State during the past ten years. Instead of leaving your sons and daughters in ignorance, to a heritage of crime and degradation, you are establishing a common school system whose advantages and benefits will compensate in popular knowledge, wisdom, and virtue an hundred fold all labor, outlay and sacrifice connected therewith. To-day your schools, a double system, white and black, I trust the day is not distant when they will be one—a common school, stand open, and provision, if not yet ample and entirely satisfactory, has been made measurably for the accommodation of the children of your State. Your people are showing already a wise appreciation of the advantages shown their children in your schools. And I but voice the feeling of your fellow-citizens throughout the country when I bid you a hearty God-speed in your noble work in this behalf.

You may rest assured that in so far forth as any schools built and conducted in your State, upon northern liberality, shall hereafter need pecuniary assistance to support and maintain them in their special work, that assistance will not be wanting, when proper appeal is made for it . The people of the north, not more in New England than the great northwest, are deeply interested in the educational welfare of your humbler classes

But I must conclude. The progress of our nation during the past’ one hundred years, in all those things which concern national greatness and glory is truly wondrous. In social, moral, and industrial growth she has no superior among the great nations of the earth. In statesmanship, jurisprudence, literature, science, arts, and arms, she compares favorably with the foremost of these great nations.

If her achievements and progress have been so great in the past, we may contemplate with confidence and pride her advancement in the future. Remaining true to the lessons of freedom, equal rights, justice, humanity and religion taught us by the fathers, the wise men of our country, and the experience of the past, so fraught with warning and admonition, relying upon the God who has so signally blest her, our nation may hope to reach even a larger growth, to show a more splendid progress; to attain a future more beautiful and magnificent than anything which distinguishes the century which this day closes the first hundred years of our national life.

See also:
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE REPUBLIC by Judge Isaac W Smith 1876
THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC by Lewis W. Clark 1876 New Hampshire
THE SOURCE AND SECURITY OF AMERICAN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS by Courtlandt Parker 1876
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876
The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams
Corruption In Politics and Society: Corrupters Of America! by John Hancock 1770
PATRIOT SONS OF PATRIOT SIRES by Rev. Samuel Francis Smith 1808-1895
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Beginning of Government

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

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

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

III. Slavery

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

IV. Political Party

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

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

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

V. Official corruption

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

VI. Necessity of Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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