Home > National > July 4th, a day of celebration and reverence; our Declaration and a finality; and Independence forever!

July 4th, a day of celebration and reverence; our Declaration and a finality; and Independence forever!

July 4, 2011

“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 this 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.”

“We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.”

President Coolidge – “The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence,” 150th Anniversary speech July 1926

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, let us not only remember the principles of America, but also commemorate the birthday of the man who so eloquently articulated and defended America’s enduring principles and noble heritage of freedom.

America’s birthday is also that of Calvin Coolidge, the only President to be born on the Fourth of July. This is altogether fitting, as the man remembered as “Silent Cal” is one of the most eloquent voices for the great and enduring principles expressed in our Declaration of Independence.

Coolidge saw the Founders and their principles as simultaneously conservative and revolutionary. They were conservative insofar as many of their ideas were expressed earlier in Western political philosophy and the religious writings of the American colonists. They were revolutionary insofar as they established a nation based on principles of individual rights, liberty, equality, and self-government.

Coolidge understood that the Founders did not invent the principles contained within the Declaration of Independence: “Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence.” The Declaration of Independence did not emerge simply from a revolution of “the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum.” Far from being a document to benefit solely the landed elite or the oppressed, the Declaration of Independence was a document for a self-governing people.

Coolidge argued that the principles of equality, liberty, and consent were related. If there were no natural rulers, then all men were free to govern themselves. Since no rights can “be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed.” Coolidge adhered to these principles consistently: It was Coolidge, for instance, who ended the practice of segregation in federal employment, a practice instituted by Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson.

Coolidge understood that there is a finality to the Declaration of Independence. “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.” There could be no progress by moving away from the Declaration.

Julia Shaw – Heritage Foundation (full article pdf)

 

Independence Forever

America was born on July 4, 1776, with the passage of Declaration of Independence. 235 years later, we celebrate our country and the principles that make it an exceptional nation.
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I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph.

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.

Benjamin Franklin, Motto for the Revolution abt 1776

The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821

…This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion…

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825

Independence Forever!

John Adams, toast for the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826

I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” July 5, 1852

The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

Abraham Lincoln, speech on the Dred Scott Decision, June 26, 1857

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.

President Calvin Coolidge, December 1924

Today, 186 years later, that Declaration whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington is still a revolutionary document. To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs. . . . The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson’s phrase, that “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” And today this Nation-conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence-has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.

John F. Kennedy, address at Independence Hall, July 4, 1962

Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.

Ronald Reagan, address at Yorktown, October 19, 1981

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July 4th

By Thomas Sowell · Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Fourth of July may be just a holiday for fireworks to some people. But it was a momentous day for the history of this country and the history of the world.

Not only did July 4, 1776 mark American independence from England, it marked a radically different kind of government from the governments that prevailed around the world at the time — and the kinds of governments that had prevailed for thousands of years before.

 
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An Exceptional Fourth of July

By Victor Davis Hanson · Thursday, June 30, 2011

For the last 235 years, on the Fourth of July, Americans have celebrated the birth of the United States, and the founding ideas that have made it the most powerful, wealthiest and freest nation in the history of civilization.

But as another Fourth of July approaches, there has never been more uncertainty about the future of America — and the anxiety transcends even the dismal economy and three foreign wars.

 
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Do This for 10 Minutes on the Fourth of July

By Dennis Prager · Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four years ago, I wrote a column titled “America Needs a July Fourth Seder.” In it, I explained that “national memory dies without national ritual. And without a national memory, a nation dies.” Many readers and listeners to my radio show responded by creating their own rituals to make the day far more meaningful than watching fireworks and eating hot dogs.

I now present a simple 10-minute ceremony that every American can easily use on July Fourth. It is a product of the Internet-based Prager University that I founded nearly two years ago. We call it the Fourth of July Declaration, and here it is. (A paginated and printed version can be downloaded at the website http://www.prageruniversity.com).

It begins with a note to the individual leading the ritual, the “host.”  Click heading for more…

 
 

Declaration of Admiration by Quin Hillyer

Two little-celebrated Founders, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York, teach key lessons. (Read

Roger Sherman is the only man who enjoys the singular distinction of having signed the four most important state papers in American history — the Articles of Association of the Congress of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States…. He was a shoemaker by trade, and, after the death of his father, supported his mother and several younger children, devoting all the time which he could spare from his bench to study. Shoemaker, mathematician, surveyor, judge, mayor, congressman, senator — several of those roles simultaneously! Amazing. Even better, Sherman’s imprint on the final form of the Constitution, in the great convention of 1787, was arguably more substantial than any delegate except James Madison…
 

It was for good reason that Thomas Jefferson once asserted that Sherman “never said a foolish thing in his life.” In the 18th century, it was only in the American colonies that a cobbler could rise to be such a significant statesman.

LIVINGSTON’S ORIGINS WERE as different from Sherman’s as could be imagined, but his rise to revolutionary prominence was equally admirable. He came from a family of wealth and prestige; yet even though his circumstances left him much to lose and almost nothing to gain economically from opposing the Crown, he nevertheless became a key proponent of independence and a stalwart for liberty. Indeed, his activities made him a major target for the British army, which burned his manor to the ground in 1777. Beginning with his service on the committees that drafted both the Declaration and the Articles of Confederation, Livingston had a knack for being a key player in the seminal public events of the new nation.

He served for 24 years as the top judicial officer — Chancellor — in New York State, where he oversaw the legal system that protected what even then was the commercial hub of the United States. In 1789 he was the man who administered the first-ever presidential oath of office, to George Washington.

Robert R. Livingston, like Sherman, should be as almost as much a publicly recognized rock star of American history as their contemporaries Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton. More, they should serve as examples to us today of the meaning of statesmanship and service to country, and of the idea that political involvement can and should be a noble cause rather than a grubby pursuit.

All of us are blessed beyond belief to be heirs of men like the eight mentioned in the paragraph above, and of others who signed the Declaration such as Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, James Wilson, John Witherspoon, Josiah Bartlett, Sam Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Samuel Chase — and the 41 others whose signatures grace our founding statement of principles. As we celebrate their handiwork and our freedom this weekend — as we exercise the rights to actively limit our government to doing only what is allowed by the “consent of the governed” — a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we live up the example those men set, so that we may be worthy of the legacy they bequeathed us. For us, this should be a matter of sacred honor.

 
 
David Barton – July 2006 – WallBuilders

This year marks 230 years since our Founding Fathers gave us our National Birth Certificate. We continue to be the longest on-going Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. Blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. They are blessings of God.

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days afterwards – July 4th – the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed. Four days later, on July 8, members of Congress took that document and read it aloud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, after which the Liberty Bell was rung. The inscription around the top of that bell, Leviticus 25:10, was most appropriate for the occasion: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”

To see the turmoil in other nations, their struggles and multiple revolutions, and yet to see the stability and blessings that we have here in America, we may ask how has this been achieved? What was the basis of American Independence? John Adams said “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.”

Such was the spirit of the American Revolution as seen through the eyes of those who led it, evidenced even further in the words of John Quincy Adams, one who was deeply involved in the activities of the Revolution. In 1837, when he was 69 years old, he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.  He asked them: “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?”

An interesting question: why is it that in America the Fourth of July and Christmas were our two top holidays? Note his answer: “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”

According to John Quincy Adams, Christmas and the Fourth of July were intrinsically connected. On the Fourth of July, the Founders simply took the precepts of Christ which came into the world through His birth (Christmas) and incorporated those principles into civil government…

Have you ever considered what it meant for those 56 men – an eclectic group of ministers, business men, teachers, university professors, sailors, captains, farmers – to sign the Declaration of Independence? This was a contract that began with the reasons for the separation from Great Britain and closed in the final paragraph stating “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Dr. Benjamin Rush, the father of American Medicine and a signer, recorded that day in his diary. In 1781, he wrote to John Adams “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the House when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe to what was believed by many at that time to be our death warrants? These men took this pledge seriously. Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, chosen as the financier of the American Revolution, considered by him an honor and a personal pledge, is an example of the highest level of integrity. You see the same thing in the life of John Hart who sacrificed everything including his life. John Hancock, declaring his willingness to surrender his all, whenever the liberties of his country should require it.” A man of his word, he demonstrated his integrity.

Ministers too played prominent rolein the Revolution. One such example is John Peter Muhlenburg. In a sermon delivered to his Virginia congregation on January 21, 1776, he preached verse by verse from Ecclesiastes 3 – the passage which speaks of a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. He then founded the Eighth Virginia Brigade and later finished the Revolution as a Major-General, having been at Valley Forge and having participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Stonypoint, and Yorktown. Another minister-leader in the Revolution was the Reverend James Caldwell. His actions during one battle inspired a painting showing him standing with a stack of hymn books in his arms while engaged in the midst of a fierce battle against the British outside a battered Presbyterian church. During the battle, the Americans had run out of wadding for their guns, which was just as serious as having no ammunition. Reverend Caldwell recognized the perfect solution; he ran inside the church and returned with a stack of Watts Hymnals – one of the strongest doctrinal hymnals of the Christian faith and distributing the Watts Hymnals among the soldiers served two purposes: first, its pages would provide the needed wadding; second, the use of the hymnal carried a symbolic message. 

     (To read the full article and the details about these heroic American Patriots – click here)

The spiritual emphasis manifested so often by the Americans during the Revolution caused one Crown-appointed British governor to write to Great Britain complaining that: “If you ask an American who is his master, he’ll tell you he has none. And he has no governor but Jesus Christ.”

Letters like this, and sermons like those preached by the Reverend Peter Powers titled “Jesus Christ the King,” gave rise to a sentiment that has been described as a motto of the American Revolution directed against the tyrant King George III and the theologically discredited doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings (which asserted that when the king spoke, it was the voice of God speaking directly to the people) was simple and direct: “No King but King Jesus!” Another motto (first suggested by Benjamin Franklin and often repeated during the Revolution) was similar in tone: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

Preserving American liberty depends first upon our understanding the foundations on which this great country was built and then preserving the principles on which it was founded. Let’s not let the purpose for which we were established be forgotten. The Founding Fathers have passed us a torch; let’s not let it go out.

To learn more about the quest for our freedom, read WallBuilder resources such as Celebrate Liberty!, the Lives of the Signers and Wives of the Signers reprints, and the booklet, The Spirit of the American Revolution; or listen to the stories recounted by David Barton in America’s Birthday.

 
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