July 4, 2017

Reading wise men on the Fourth of July

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 4 1776

Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom.
I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not,
I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.
John Adams Letter to Abigail Adams, 26 April 1777

Nothing short of Independence, it appears to me, can possibly do … To see men without Cloathes to cover their nakedness—without Blankets to lay on—without Shoes, by which their Marches might be traced by the Blood from their feet—and almost as often without Provisions as with; Marching through frost & Snow, and at Christmas taking up their Winter Quarters within a days March of the enemy, without a House or Hutt to cover them till they could be built & submitting to it without a murmur, is a Mark of patience & obedience which in my opinion can scarce be parallel’d
General George Washington to John Banister, April 21, 1778

But you may rely upon it, the patience & long sufferance of this Army are almost exhausted,
and that there never was so great a spirit of Discontent as at this instant.
General George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, October 2, 1782

...if Men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, ....reason is of no use to us—the freedom of Speech may be taken away—and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

General George Washington to Officers of the Army, 15 March 1783

An extra ration of liquor to be issued to every man tomorrow, to drink
Perpetual Peace, Independence & Happiness to the United States of America

General George Washington General Orders, April 18, 1783

It is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union
to your collective and individual happiness

President George Washington in his Farewell Address, September 17, 1796


Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
Benjamin Franklin, under the pen name Silence Dogood, No. 8, 9 July 1722

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Abraham Lincoln June 16, 1858

Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled—the successful establishing and the successful administering of it.
One still remains—its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it.
It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that
when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections.
Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

President Abraham Lincoln, Fourth of July Address to Congress, 1861.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war,
testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure....
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
President Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history....
In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document.
It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man—these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals...

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.

It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.
But that reasoning can not be applied to the great charter.
If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.
If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when
there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.
Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary.
Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. . . .
President Calvin Coolidge  on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926

Posted by Jill Fallon at July 4, 2017 3:17 AM | Permalink