THE HOLY BIBLE IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE

PrecedentOriginally Titled “THE BIBLE AS A PERSUASIVE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY” in The Mercantile Adjuster, and the Lawyer and the Credit Man. Published 1900

It is a noteworthy fact in the history of the Anglo~Saxon Jurisprudence and a signiflcant commentary on the life-work of men like lngersoll and Paine that the Bible is cited by our judges oftener and more approvingly than any other publication, excepting those technical “law” books which constitute the ordinary working tools of the legal profession. Adjuster readers, who are curious in such matters, are referred to the following judicial authorities:

Reddin v. Dunn, 2 Col. Apps, 518; Groth v. Kersting, 4 Col. Apps, 595; Ex Parte Schneider, 21 Dist.Col., 433; Times Publishing Company v. Carlisle, 94 Fed. Rep, 762; Giles v. State, 6 Ga., 276; Epps v. State, 19 Ga., 102; Jackson v. Jackson. 32 Ga, 325; Stein v. Hauck, 56 Ind. 65; Dascomb v. Marston, 80 Me., 233; ill. Cent. R. R. Co. v. James (Miss), 16 Sou. Rep, 300; Farrell v. Fire Ins. Co., 60 Mo. Apps, 165; Schoonmaker v. Ref. Prot. Dutch Church, 5 How. Pr. (N. Y.); Thomas v. Thomas, 24 Ore., 251; Miller’s Estate, 150 Penn. St., 562; Rex v. Camb. University, 1 Strange. 557; Bansock Mach. Co. v. Woodrum, 88 Va., 512; Day v. Essex County Bank, 13 Vt., 97.

In very many instances the exact language of the sacred text is quoted and the book. chapter and verse specified, thus indicating that Anglo-Saxon judges are commendably familiar with the Book of books.

For example: Eccl. xxxiii, 19-38; Gen. xxiii; Job xxx. 3; John iii. 8; Luke xi, 46; I Sam. xxi, will be found specified in the above cases.

In the New York case above cited the judge refers to Gen. xxiii as the earliest known instance of a recorded title to land; but that chapter indicates very much more, in the midsummer of 1897 the Commercial Travelers‘ Adjuster quoted that part of the Bible as showing not only a “bargain and sale of land,” but also showing a distinct recognition of “business custom and usage;” because the agreed price, 400 shekels of silver, was to be and was paid in “current money with the merchant.” The simple formalities by which the sons of Heth transferred the field of Ephron to Abraham constituted “livery of seizin;” as much so as the formalities by which, in December, 1803, France transferred Louisiana to the United States, or those by which Spain transferred Santiago to the United States. Livery of seizin, as that term has always been understood in the common law, was the method by which Abraham acquired a parcel of land “wherein he might bury his dead out of his sight;” and it has been a recognized muniment of title ever since. The contract of “bailment,” which is essential to the daily life of the business world, became perfect when “Benjamin was lent to Judah,” the only condition on which Joseph would grant audience to his brethren. Samuel was not only a judge, but he was a “circuit” judge, going yearly to Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh, judging Israel at each of those places, as well as at Ramah.

An instrument possessing all essential common law requisites of a conveyance in fee simple, an instrument witnessed and scaled before delivery, is described in Jere. xxxil, 9-13. Nehemiah, full of the altruistic spirit, zealous to rebuild the waste places and restore the ancient glories of Jerusalem, quitted his favored position at the Persian court, only to find himself face to face with complaining brethren. who said: “We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.” The concessions exacted from King John, at Runnymede, have come down to us, embodied in what is called Magna Charta. But a still greater charter is to be found in the book of Nehemiah: the sealed covenant of the leaders of Israel, their solemn promise to abide in the faith sworn to their fathers.

An instance of the redemption of “labor” is found in the book of Numbers. Moses paid to Aaron 1365 shekels of the sanctuary, and thereby actually redeemed 273 fighting men. In the book of Ruth we have a. perfect instance of the redemption of “land.” Elimelech and his sons having died without issue, their inheritance was liable to “escheat” to the commonwealth of Israel. But that escheat was prevented and that inheritance redeemed by the intermarriage of Boaz and Ruth. There was a “senior redemptioner,” but he waived his right in favor of Boaz.

The latter, as a junior redemptioner, espoused Ruth and redeemed the inheritance. David’s royal patrimony included the land thus redeemed. It was known as Bethlehem of the Gentiles. Under the operation of Israel’s law of descents, it passed from generation to generation.

Some of the reasons why our judges so often quote Scripture are not far to seek. The magnificent “Arch of Titus,” reared to commemorate Judah’s downfall, the desecration of her altars, the dispersion of her people, the total extinction of her laws and the final and grandest triumph of imperial Rome, is but a crumbling ruin—a favorite haunt of the owl and the bat. For almost twenty centuries the children of Judah have been wanderers on the face of the earth, exiles from their own land, strangers and pilgrims, without a government, a city, a temple or a home. While all other peoples have multiplied (the Anglo-Saxons having increased about sevenfold during the present century) Judah has remained stationary. At the date of the crucifixion the Jews numbered about seven millions, which is about their present numerical strength. But the Mosaic law, which the admirers of Titus so ostentatiously consigned to endless oblivion, remains a living, growing force. Translated into hundreds of languages, printed in thousands of editions, scattered broadcast by hundreds of millions of copies that law has penetrated to the remotest corners of the earth. In this closing year [1900 AD] of the nineteenth century there is no spot on the habitable globe where either female virtue, personal liberty, private property or human life are safe unless that spot has been visited by the Bible and subjected to its teachings. In the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence of to-day there is very little to be found which cannot be traced to its source in the Mosaic code; and the little thus found is scarcely worth either fighting or praying for. To readers who do their own thinking, who delve beneath the surface, who follow the truth wherever it may lead, we commend the subjoined quotation.

It is borrowed from a charge given almost sixty years ago to a jury in one of the Atlantic States; and it doubtless voices the prevailing sentiment of the Anglo-Saxon bench and bar. Replying to some criticisms of the Mosaic code, made by counsel in the course of argument, the judge said this: “When these giants in human intellect can tell me whence Moses derived his science in legislation without admitting the superlative and divine authority of the ten commandments I shall begin to listen with more reverence to the teachers of human perfectibility. In that short and comprehensive code we find given us a perfect rule of action, covering the whole ground of man’s existence; a rule not only prescribing our duty to God and man in our external behavior, but reaching to the thoughts and feelings of the hearts in every possible condition of life, and in all our relations to our Maker and our fellow-beings. The wisdom of ages, the learning and philosophy of the schools, have never discovered a single defect in that code. Not a virtue which is not there inculcated. Not a vice in its most doubtful and shadowy form which is not there prohibited.

“Whence, then, I ask. did that great Jewish lawgiver derive his spirit of legislation? If that code was written by the finger of the Almighty, let us bow to it with reverence and seek no better rule of life, nor any wiser principle of action. But if they emanated only from the capacious mind and were dictated by the wisdom of Moses. Then Moses was a wiser, a more learned man than any of our new teachers; and I had rather be under his jurisdiction

“l keep his commandments than to learn new rules of civil polity and social intercourse from the most wise and learned of the present day.”

From Alex De Tocqueville who came to America in the 1830’s traveling here extensively. Afterwards he wrote about his experience in volumes called Democracy in America from which he cites a court case in New York.

While I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the assizes of the county of Chester (state of New York), declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all confidence of the court in what he was about to say. The newspapers related the fact without any further comment. The New York Spectator of August 23rd, 1831, relates the fact in the following terms:

“The court of common pleas of Chester county (New York), a few days since rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The presiding judge remarked, that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice: and that he knew of no case in a Christian country, where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.”

NOTE: Christian Principles are the bedrock of this Republic to separate them from our government you’d have to eliminate the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our Courts, all past precedent, and our whole form of government.

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)
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