HISTORY IT HAS BEEN SAID, IS PHILOSOPHY TEACHING BY EXAMPLE; History is not simply a record of man's accomplishments. Even more, History is the story / record of God's interaction with man. It is indeed His Story ~ CJD
Samuel Adams To James Warren [shared as written with no attempt to modernize spelling, language, etc.]
Philada., Nov’r. 4th, 1775
My Dear Sir, — I thank you heartily for your very acceptable Letter of the 23 of October by Fessenden. It is very afflicting to hear the universal Complaint of the Want of that most necessary Article, Gunpowder, and especially in the Camp before Boston. I hope however that this Want will soon be supplied, and God grant that a good Use may be made of it. The Congress yesterday was presented with the Colors of the seventh Regiment taken in Fort Chamblee, [Fort Chambly is a historic fort in La Vallée-du-Richelieu Regional County Municipality, Quebec.] which is surrendered to Major Brown. The Acquisition of 124 Barrils of Powder gives a happy Turn to our Affairs in that Quarter the Success of which I almost began to despair of.
The Gentlemen who have lately returned from the Camp may, perhaps all of them entertain a favorable Opinion of our Colony— I may possibly be partial in saying, not more favorable than it deserves. Be that as it may, the Congress have judged it necessary to continue the Establishment of the Men’s pay, and to enlarge that of the Captains and Lieutenants. In Addition to the Continental Army four new Batallions are to be raised, viz, three for the Defence of South Carolina and one for Georgia. These with 1000 Men before orderd for North Carolina, with the Assistance of provincial Forces, it is hoped will be sufficient to defend the three Southernmost Colonies.
It is recommended to N. Hampshire to form a Government to their own liking, during this Contest; and S. Carolina is allowd to do the same if they judge it necessary. I believe the Time is near when the most timid will see the absolute Necessity of every one of the Colonies setting up a Government within itself.
No Provisions or Produce is to be exported from any of the united Colonies to any part of the World till the first of March except for the Importation of the Unum Necessarium, and for Supplys from one Colony to another, under the Direction of Committees, and a further Exception of live Stock. Under the last Head, and Horses are allowd to be sent to the foreign West Indies. We shall by the Spring know the full Effect of our Non-exportation Agreement in the West Indies. Perhaps Alliances may then be formed with foreign Powers, and Trade opened to all the World Great Britain excepted.
You will possibly think I have set myself down to furnish a few Paragraphs for Edes and Gills paper, and what is more that I am betraying the Secrets of Congress. I confess I am giving my Friend as much Information as I dare, of things which are of such a Nature as that they cannot long be kept secret, and therefore I suppose it never was intended they should be. I mention them however in Confidence that you will not publish them. I wish I was at Liberty to tell you many of the Transactions of our body, but I am restraind by the Ties of Honor; and though it is painful to me, you know, to keep Secrets, I will not violate my Honor to relieve myself or gratify my Friend. [Nine lines are here erased, apparently after the receipt of the letter.] But why have I told you so trifling a Story, for which I cannot forgive my self till I have askd forgiveness of you. We live in a most important Age, which demands that every Moment should be improvd to some serious Purpose. It is the Age of George the Third; and to do Justice to our most gracious King, I will affirm it as my Opinion, that his Councils and Administration will necessarily produce the grandest Revolutions the World has ever yet seen. The Wheels of Providence seem to be in their swiftest Motion. Events succeed each other so rapidly that the most industrious and able Politicians can scarcely improve them to the full purposes for which they seem to be designd.
You must send your best Men here; therefore recall me from this Service. Men of moderate Abilities, especially when weakend by Age are not fit to be employed in founding Empires.
Let me talk with you a little about the Affairs of our own Colony. I persuade my self, my dear friend, that the greatest Care and Circumspection will be used to conduct its internal Police with Wisdom and Integrity. The Eyes of Mankind will be upon you, to see whether the Government, which is now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of more Virtue moral and political. We may look up to Armies for our Defence, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any State should long continue free, where Virtue is not supremely honord. This is as seasonably as it is justly said by one of the most celebrated Writers of the present time. Perhaps the Form of Government now adopted may be permanent; Should it be only temporary, the golden Opportunity of recovering the Virtue and reforming the Manners of our Country should be industriously improvd.
Our Ancestors laid an excellent Foundation for the Security of Liberty, by setting up in a few years after their Arrival, a publick Seminary of Learning; and by their Laws, they obligd every Town consisting of a certain Number of Families to keep and maintain a Grammar School. I should be much grievd if it should be true as I am informd, that some of our Towns have dismissd their School masters, alledging that the extraordinary Expence of defending the Country renders them unable to support them. I hope this Inattention to the Principles of our wise forefathers does not prevail. If there should be any Danger of it, would not the leading Gentlemen do eminent Service to the Publick, by impressing upon the Minds of the People, the Necessity and Importance of encouraging that System of Education, which in my opinion, is so well calculated to diffuse among the Individuals of the Community, the Principles of Morality, so essentially necessary for the Preservation of publick Liberty. There are Virtues and Vices which are properly called political. “Corruption, Dishonesty to one’s Country, Luxury and Extravagance tend to the Ruin of States.” The opposite Virtues tend to their Establishment. But “there is a Connection between Vices as well as Virtues, and one opens the Door for the Entrance of another.” Therefore “Every able Politician will guard against other Vices” and be attentive to promote every Virtue. He who is void of Virtuous Attachment in private Life, is, or very soon will be void of all Regard to his Country. There is seldom an Instance of a Man guilty of betraying his Country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral Obligation in his private Connections. Before C[hurc]h was detected of holding a criminal Correspondence with the Enemies of his Country, his Infidelity to his Wife had been notorious. Since private and publick Vices, though not always apparently, are in Reality so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of Children, and the moral Sense universally kept alive, and that the wise Institutions of our Ancestors for those great Purposes be encouragd by the Government. For no People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they easily be subdued, where Knowledge is diffusd and Virtue preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own Weight, without the Aid of foreign Invaders. There are other things which, I humbly conceive, require the most serious Consideration of the Legislative. We have heretofore complaind, and I think justly, that bad Men have too often found their Way into places of publick Trust. “Nothing is more essential to the Establishment of Manners in a State, than that all Persons employd in Places of Power and Trust be Men of exemplary Characters. The Publick cannot be too curious concerning the Characters of Publick Men.” We have also complaind, that a Plurality of Places incompatible with each other have sometimes been vested in one Person. If under the former Administration there was no Danger to be apprehended from vesting the different Powers of Government in the same Persons, why did the Patriots so loudly protest against it? If Danger is always to be apprehended from it, should we not by continuing the Practice, too much imitate the degenerate Romans, who upon the Fall of Julius set up Augustus? They changd indeed their Masters, and when they had destroyd the Tyrant sufferd the Tyranny to continue. Tell me how a Judge of Probate can consistently sit at the Council Board and joyn in a Decision there upon an appeal from his own Judgment? Perhaps, being personally interested in another Appointment, I may view it with a partial Eye. But you may well remember that the Secretary of the Colony declind taking a Seat at the Council Board, to which he had been elected prior to his Appointment, until, in the House of Representatives he had publickly requested their opinion of the Propriety of it, and there heard it explicitly declared by an eminent and truly patriotick Member as his Opinion, that as the Place was not then as it formerly had been, the Gift of the Crown but of the People, there was no Impropriety in his holding it. The rest of the Members were silent. Major H[awle]y has as much of the stern Virtue and Spirit of a Roman Censor as any Gentleman I ever conversd with. The Appointment of the Secretary and his Election to a Seat at the Board were both made in the Time of his Absence from the Colony and without the Solicitation of any of his Friends that he knew of—most assuredly without his own. As he is resolvd never wittingly to disgrace himself or his Country, he still employs his Mind on the Subject, and wishes for your candid and impartial Sentiments.
I fear I have trespassd on your Leisure, and conclude, with assuring you that I am with sincere Regards to Mrs. Warren, your very affectionate Friend
This could very well have been written about the government of the United States in this day and time.
Morality of government.—It may be asked, what, in the nature of her government, unfits England for the observation of moral duties? In the first place, her King is a cipher; his only function being to name the oligarchy which is to govern her. The parliament is, by corruption, the mere instrument of the will of the administration. The real power and property in the government is in the great aristocratical families of the nation. The nest of office being too small for all of them to cuddle into at once, the contest is eternal, which shall crowd the other out. For this purpose, they are divided into two parties, the ” Ins” and the “Outs,” so equal in weight that a small matter turns the balance. To keep themselves in, when they are in. every stratagem must be practiced, every artifice used which may flatter the pride, the passions or power of the nation. Justice, honor, faith, must yield to the necessity of keeping themselves in place. The question whether a measure is moral, is never asked; but whether it will nourish the avarice of their merchants, or the piratical spirit of their navy, or produce any other effect which may strengthen them in their places. As to engagements, however positive, entered by the predecessors of the “Ins,” why, they were their enemies: they did everything which was wrong; and to reverse everything which they did, must, therefore, be right. This is the true character of the English government in practice, however different its theory; and it presents the singular phenomenon of a nation, the individuals of which are as faithful to their private engagements and duties, as honorable, as worthy, as those of any nation on earth, and whose government is yet the most unprincipled at this day known. In an absolute government there can be no such equiponderant [having equal weight] parties. The despot is the government. His power suppressing all opposition, maintains his ministers firm in their places. What he has contracted, therefore, through them, he has the power to observe with good faith; and he identifies his own honor and faith with that of his nation. —To John Langdon; March 1810.
Source: The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: A Comprehensive Collection of the Views of Thomas Jefferson, by Thomas Jefferson; John P. Foleypublished 1900
The National Utterances And Achievements Of Our First Century. An Oration By Prof. John Mercer Langston, L.L.D. Delivered At Portsmouth, Virginia, July 4th, 1876.
Mr. President Of The Banneker Lyceum And Fellow-citizens: I congratulate you upon the name which your association bears. In giving title to your association you honor one who largely unaided, by his own efforts distinguished himself as a scholar, while he made himself in no insignificant sense conspicuous as a philanthropist; certainly so far as a free and bold advocacy of freedom for his own race discovered his love for mankind.
Benjamin Banneker cultivated in his studies those matters of science which pertain to astronomical calculations; and so thorough and exact were his calculations, as they respected the different aspects of the planets, the motions of the sun and moon, their risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of planetary systems, as to excite and command the commendation of Pitt, Fox, Wilberforce, and other eminent men of his time.
In 1791 Banneker sent to Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, a manuscript copy of his first almanac, enclosing it in a letter, in the closing portions of which he uses the following words: “Suffer me to recall to your mind that time, in which the arms of the British crown were exerted, with every powerful effort, in order to reduce you to a state of servitude; look back, I entreat you, on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that period in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict, and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation; you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received, and that it is the peculiar blessing of heaven. This, sir, was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition. It was then that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publicly help forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
“Here was a time in which your tender feelings for yourselves had engaged you thus to declare ; you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great violation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings, to which you were entitled by nature; but, sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of His equal and impartial distribution of these rights and privileges which He hath conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract His mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence, so numerous a party of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”
In a very few days after receiving this letter the President made the following reply: “Sir, I thank you sincerely for your letter, and the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men; and that the appearance of a want of them, is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that nobody wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising their condition, both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as far as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected well admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condozett, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it as a document to which your whole color had a right for their justification, against the doubts which have been entertained of them.”
I make no apology for making this allusion, in this connection, to the man whose memory you honor in the phraseology “Banneker Lyceum;” nor for referring to his eminence as a scholar, and his bold advocacy in addressing even the author of the Declaration of American Independence, then President of the United States, in such words as to provoke the earnest and manly reply just presented. Let the colored American contemplate with pride this brief but interesting chapter which brings the name of the scholarly negro Banneker, in such juxtaposition to that of the eminent American statesman, Thomas Jefferson.
I also congratulate you upon this vast assembly, brought together under those instincts and promptings of patriotism, admiration and gratitude, with which from one end to the other of our country, from sea to sea, our fellow-countrymen meet this day, in hall, in church, like ourselves beneath the green foliage of God’s own temple, to call to mind and note the magnificent utterances, the splendid achievements and marvelous progress of our nation made within the first hundred years of its existence.
On this occasion, I may not tarry to dwell upon the utterances of individuals, however eminent and distinguished. It is only of those great national utterances, those judgments of the nation itself, so expressed in that majestic and thrilling voice of a’ great people, that its echoes never die, that I may speak on this interesting and memorable day; and of these in the briefest manner.
On the 4th day of July 1776, one hundred years ago, thirteen colonies with an insignificant population boldly made declaration of their independence of the British crown and their sovereignty as a free and independent nation, and to the maintenance of this declaration and their independence, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. The annals of one hundred years radiant with proofs of the sincerity of this pledge of our Fathers, attest how well, how manfully, how successfully, and triumphantly, our country has maintained herself among the great nations of the earth.
Perhaps the history of the world furnishes no document in which individual equality, the first powers of government; the conditions upon which a people may alter or abolish one government and institute another, laying its foundations and organizing its powers in such form and upon such principles as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness, with such clearness and force, as our own declaration, the masterpiece of American State papers. Upon its very words, could we separate them from the sentiments and doctrines which they embody we would dwell with a sort of superstitious pride and pleasure. But upon the doctrines, the principles, the sentiments they contain, we dwell justly with veneration and grateful approval. How the school boy, the clergyman, the statesman, all classes with equal pride and emotion repeat the words “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths self-evident : that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
How often these words have been quoted on occasions like this, how thoroughly they have become a part of every American’s very being, inhaled with the moral atmosphere of every house, no one of us can tell. Nor is it material. It is enough for us to know that as they shape in their influence every act of our nation so they influence and determine largely the conscientious conviction and judgment of every elector of our country through whose vote our institutions are supported and maintained.
On the 10th day of June, 1776, Congress appointed a committee to prepare a declaration, that these colonies are of right and ought to be, free and independent states.”
This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. As the declaration was presented by this committee in its original form, it contained among other charges against the King of Great Britain the 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.
Justice of Massachusetts Supreme Court and United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts
THE NEW CENTURY AN ABSTRACT FROM BENJAMIN FRANKLIN THOMAS ADDRESS. DELIVERED AT THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, MECHANICS HALL, WORCESTER, MASS., JULY 4th, 1876.
With what emotions, with what convictions, did we hail the dawning light of the new century! Were the wings of the morning those of the angel of death or of life, of despair or of hope? I answer for myself, of life and of hope; nay, more, of faith and of trust. We have causes for anxiety and watchfulness, none for despair. The evils of the times are not incurable, and the remedies, simple and efficient are in our hands.
Is there not, I am asked, wide-spread and growing corruption in the public service of States and nation? There is corruption, but not, I think, increasing—indeed we have reason to hope it is already checked in its progress; nor are the causes of the evil permanent in their nature, save that we always hold our “treasures in earthen vessels.”
We have passed through a period of expenditure almost without limit, and, therefore, of infinite temptations. Wars, it would seem, especially civil wars, loosen the moral ties of society. “The state of man suffers, then, the nature of an insurrection.” Civil convulsions always brings more or less bad men to the surface, and some are still afloat—men whose patriotism, not exhausted in contracts for effete muskets, spavined horses and rotten ships, are ready and waiting for like service. In the feverish delirious haste to get rich which a currency of indefinite expansion always excites, we find another cause; though this has disastrous results, more direct and palpable, in unsettling values and the foundations of public and private faith, trust and confidence.
The evils are curable, but not by noise of words, not by sonorous resolutions without meaning, or only the meaning the simple reader injects into them.
We may put an end to corruption by leading ourselves honest lives, by refusing to put any man into a public trust, no matter what his qualifications or past services, who is corrupt, or suffers himself to walk on the brink, or winks at those who are wading in; by using the old-fashioned prescriptions for rulers: “Men of truth, hating covetousness.” “Thou shalt take no gift.” “Ye shall not be afraid of the face of man.”
The evils of a vile currency can be remedied only by return to the path of the Constitution and of commercial integrity. The principles are simple and elementary. The “lawful money” of the United States is the coin of the United States, or foreign coin whose value has been regulated by Congress: that is the constitutional doctrine. Money is a thing of intrinsic value, and the standard and measure of value; that is the economical doctrine.
A promise to pay a dollar is not a dollar: that is the doctrine of morality and common sense. The difficulty with the legal tender law was and is that it sought to vitalize a falsehood, to make the shadow the substance, to sign the thing signified, the promise to pay, itself payment. Great as is the power of Congress, it cannot change the nature of things.
So long as the power is left, or assumed to be left, to make a promise to pay payment, there will be no permanent security.
One other cure of corruption is open to us,—the stamping out of the doctrine that public trusts are the spoils of partisan victory. The higher councils may perhaps be changed. An administration cannot be well conducted with a cabinet, or other officers in confidential relations, opposed to its policy; but no such reason for change applies to ninety-nine hundredths of the offices now exposed in the market as rewards for partisan service. Other than in these evils I fail to see proofs of the degeneracy of the times.
Whether the men and women of this generation had fallen from the standard of their fathers and mothers, we had satisfactory evidence in the late war, I care not to dwell upon its origin or to revive its memories. The seceding States reaped as they had sown; having sown to the wind, they reaped the whirlwind. Against what was to them the most beneficent of governments, known and felt only in its blessings, they waged, it seemed to us, causeless war, for their claim to extend slavery into the new States and Territories never had solid ground of law or policy or humanity to rest upon; they struck at the flag in which were enfolded our most precious hopes for ourselves and for mankind. They could not expect a great nation to be so false to duty as not to defend, at every cost, its integrity and life.
But while, as matter of good sense and logic, the question seemed to us so plain a one, that the Union meant nothing if a State might at its election withdraw from it; that under the Articles of Confederation the Union had been made perpetual; that the Constitution was adapted to form a more “perfect union than that of the Confederation, more comprehensive, direct, and efficient in power, and not less durable in time; that there was no word in it looking to separation; that it had careful provisions for its amendment, none for its abrogation; capacity for expansion, none for contraction; a door for new States to come in, none for old or new to go out; we should find that, after all, upon the question of legal construction, learned and philosophical statesmen had reached a different conclusion; we should find, also, what as students of human nature we should be surprised not to find, that the opinions of men on this question had, at different times and in different sections of the country, been more or less molded, biased and warped by the effects, or supposed effects, which the policy of the central power had on the material interests and institutions of the States. Each examination, not impairing the strength of our convictions, might chasten our pride.
But aside from the logic, men must be assumed to be honest, however misguided, who are ready to die for the faith that is in them.
But not dwelling upon causes, but comparing the conduct of the war with that of the Revolution, I do not hesitate to say that in the loyalty and devotion of the people to country; in the readiness to sacrifice property, health and life for her safety; in the temper and spirit in which the war was carried on; in the supply of resources to the army, men as well as money; in the blessed ministrations of women to the sick, wounded or dying soldier; in the courage and pluck evinced on both sides; in the magnanimity and forbearance of the victors, the history of the late war shows no touch of degeneracy, shows, indeed, a century of progress.
If its peculations and corruptions were more conspicuous, it was because of the vaster amounts expended, and the vastly greater opportunities and temptations to avarice and fraud. The recently published letters of Col. Pickering furnish additional evidence of the frauds and peculations in the supplies to the armies of the Revolution, and of the neglect of the states to provide food and clothing for the soldiers, when many of the people, for whose liberties they were struggling, were living in comparative ease and luxury. The world moves.
There is one criterion of which I cannot forbear to speak, the conduct of the soldiers of the late war upon the return of peace. How quietly and contentedly they came back from the excitements of the battle-field and camp to the quiet of home life, and to all the duties of citizenship; with a coat, perhaps, where one sleeve was useless, with a leg that had a crutch for a comrade, but with the heart always in the right place!
The burdens of the war are yet with us; the vast debt created these heavy taxes, consuming the very seed of future harvests; the vacant seats at the fireside. Fifteen years and half a generation of men have passed away since the conflict of opinion ripened into the conflict of arms. They have been years of terrible anxiety and of the sickness of hope deferred; yet if their record could be blotted from the book of life, if the grave could give up its noble dead, and all the waste spots, moral and material, resume the verdure of the spring-time, no one of us would return to the state of things in 1860, with the curse of slavery hanging over us and the fires of discord smouldering beneath us. The root of alienation, bitterness, and hate has been wrenched out, and henceforth union and peace are at least possible.
But there is left to us a great and solemn trust,—four millions of people, whose civil status has been fixed by the organic law, but whose education and training for the duties of citizenship and all the higher duties of life, at whatever cost, is demanded alike by humanity, our sense of justice, and our sense of safety.
We have no right, and no cause, to despair of the republic.
The elements of material prosperity are all with us; this magnificent country, resonant with the murmurs of two oceans, with every variety of soil climate, and production to satisfy the the tastes or wants of man; with its millions of acres of new lands beckoning for the plough and spade; with its mountains of coal and iron and copper, and its veins of silver and gold waiting like Encaladus to be delivered; its lakes, inland seas, its rivers the highways of nations. We have .bound its most distant parts together with bands of iron and steel; we send the lightnings over it “that they may go, and say unto us, Here we are.”
We have all the tools of the industries, and arts which the cunning brain of man has invented and his supple fingers learned to use, and abundant capital, the reserved fruits of labor, seeking a chance for planting and increase.
The means of intellectual growth are with us. We have in most of the States systems of education opening to every child the paths to knowledge and to goodness; destined, we hope, to be universal. He who in our day has learned to read in his mother-tongue may be said to have all knowledge for his empire.
And our laws, though by no means perfect, were never so wise, equal, and just as now, never so infused with the principles of natural justice and equity, nor their administration more intelligent, upright, less a respecter of persons, than today. Indeed, in no department of human thought and activity has there been in the last century more intelligent progress than in our jurisprudence.
Whatever may be said of creeds and formulas of faith, there never was so much practical Christianity as now; as to wealth, so large a sense of stewardship; as to labor, so high a recognition of its rights and dignity; into the wounds of suffering humanity never the pouring of so much oil and wine; never was man as man, or woman as woman, of such worth as today.
In spite of criticism we have yet the example and inspiration of that life in which the human and the divine were blended into one.
In spite of philosophy, God yet sits serenely on his throne, His watchful providence over us, His almighty arm beneath us and upholding us.
For an hundred years this nation, having in trust the largest hopes of freedom and humanity, has endured. There have been whirlwind and tempest, it has ridden through them, bending only, as Landor says, the oak bends before the passing wind, to rise again in its majesty and in its strength. It has come out of the fiery furnace of civil war, its seemingly mortal plague-spot cauterized and burnt out, leaving for us today a Republic capable of almost infinite expansion, in which central power may be reconciled with local independence, and the largest liberty with the firmest order.
Staunch, with every sail set, her flag with no star erased, this goodly Ship of State floats on the bosom of the new century.
In her we “have garnered up our hearts where we must either live or bear no life.”
And now, God of our fathers, what wait we for but thy blessing? Let thy breath fill her sails, thy presence be her sunshine. If darkness and the tempest come, give her, as of old, pilots that can weather the storm.
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. ~ King Solomon
PRAYER, by the Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D.D., L.L.D., (July 13, 1815 – June 11, 1887) Fourth Episcopal Bishop Of Pennsylvania.
Used at the Grand Centennial Celebration In Philadelphia, July 4, 1876.
O Almighty and Eternal God, we come before Thee to praise Thy glorious name, and to give Thee most humble and hearty thanks, for the inestimable blessings which as a Nation we this day enjoy.
We devoutly recognize Thy Fatherly hand in the planting and nurturing of these colonies, in carrying them through the perils and trials of war; in establishing them in peace; and permitting us to celebrate this hundredth birthday of our Independence. We thank Thee, O God, that Thou didst inspire the hearts of Thy servants to lay here the foundations of peace and liberty; to proclaim here those principles which have wrought out for us such civil and religious blessings; and to set up here a Government which Thou hast crowned by Thy blessing, and guarded by Thy hand to this day.
The whole praise and glory of these great mercies we ascribe, 0 God, to Thee! “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be all the glory, “for by Thee only, have we been led to take our present position among the nations of the earth. As Thou wast our Father’s God, in times past, we beseech Thee to be our God, in all time to come. Thou hast safely brought us to the beginning of another century of national life, defend and bless us in the same, O God, with Thy mighty power. Give peace and prosperity in all our borders, unity and charity among all classes, and a true and hearty love of country to all our people. Keep far from us all things hurtful to the welfare of the nation, and give to us all things necessary for our true growth and progress.
Bless O Thou Mighty Ruler of the Universe Thy servants to whom are committed the Executive, the Legislative and Judicial government of this land; that Thou wouldst be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the advancement of Thy glory, the good of Thy Church, the safety, honor and welfare of Thy people; that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavors, upon the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and true liberty may be established among us for all generations. Make us to know, therefore, that on this day of our Nation’s festivity, and to consider it in our hearts, that Thou art God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath, and that there is no God else beside Thee.
Enable us to keep Thy statutes and Thy judgments which Thou hast commanded, that it may go well with us and with our children; that we and they may fear Thy name and obey Thy law, and that Thou mayest prolong the days of this nation through all coming time.
Establish Thy kingdom in the midst of this land. Make it “Emmanuel’s land,” a “mountain of holiness and a dwelling place of righteousness.”
Inspire Thy Church with the spirit of truth, unity and concord, and grant that every member of the same in his vocation and ministry may serve Thee faithfully. Bless the rulers of this city and commonwealth, and grant that they may truly and impartially administer justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of Thy true religion and virtue.
Pour out Thy Fatherly blessing upon our whole country, upon all our lawful pursuits and industries, upon all our households and institutions of learning and benevolence, that rejoicing in Thy smile, and strengthened by Thy might, this nation may go on through all the years of this new century a praise and a joy of the whole earth, so that all who look upon it may be able to say, “Truly God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.” These things and whatsoever else we need for our national preservation and perpetuity, we humbly ask, in the name and through the mediation of Thy dear Son, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all might, majesty, dominion and power, world without end. Amen.
CULTURE OF THE MORAL VIRTUES Joseph Baldwin 1827 – 1899 was a pioneering educator and called by some the “father of the normal school system”
As we go to the Spartans to learn the possibilities of physical culture, and to the Athenians to learn the possibilities of aesthetic culture, so we go to the peoples who have exalted the moral virtues to learn the possibilities of ethical culture. History and biography present marvellous object-lessons in point. The savage is a savage from habit, for savagery is in the line of least resistance. The unthinking masses move round and round in the treadmill of custom, for this is easier than independent action. The Jew teaches fidelity. He is a Jew from conviction as well as duty. For many centuries it has cost much to be a Jew, but their history is a striking lesson of the virtue of fidelity to enlightened conviction. Fidelity grows into a fixed habit. Through all the centuries the profound belief in Jehovah, and in the Hebrew scriptures, has made the Jewish people a perpetual miracle.
The Scotch teach us integrity. Go to the homes, the schools, and the kirks of Scotland, and you find that integrity in things great and small is every way inculcated. They are a living object-lesson in the practical culture of the moral virtues.
The Quaker teaches us truthfulness. His word stands for more than the oaths of other men. Early and always, the Quaker child and youth learns to love truth, and speak and act truth.
The world’s moral heroes teach us the moral virtues. We study the life of Jesus as the one perfect life. We study the lives of the best women and men, that we may discover how they grew into moral greatness; and herein sacred and classic literature must be counted at their highest value. A moral atmosphere conditions the growth of the moral virtues. A sturdy moral manhood is almost impossible in the midst of moral pestilence. Our first care should be to remove alluring temptations and degrading influences. Moral pest-houses are very necessary. The second care should be to throw around the child and youth all favoring influences. Helpful environments, helpful literature, helpful society, helpful work are of incalculable value. Our third care should be to incite high purposes and earnest work. The idle classes, rich and poor, are our moral lepers.
Moral ancestry tends to morality, and practical ethics may gain valuable lessons from the study of heredity. The little child realizes that it ought to obey its parents. This impulse to obey because it ought, is conscience. The child thus early gains the intuition of right, and begins to do moral acts. The greatest thing in education is the development of the habit of doing what we believe we ought to do. This is the education of conscience. The key-note in moral culture is love and duty. The millions pitch the tune of human conduct too low. Will it give me pleasure? Will it pay? Is it good policy? The consequent moral degradation is appalling. But duty is the key-note of every grand life. Conscience stands for duty, for it is our capability to feel duty impulses. Find right, choose right, do right, enjoy right, are the immediate mandates of conscience. As the needle points to the pole, so conscience impels each one to do duty as he understands it. Here all vital, moral culture has its root. From infancy to age, the greatest thing in education is so to foster the ethical impulses that they shall become practically imperative in controlling human conduct. The noblest work of God is a man who, from principle and from habit, does what he deems is right. The highest work of the educator is the development of Such men and women.
Joseph Baldwin From Address, July 7, 1892, before National Teachers’ Association at Saratoga, N. Y.