Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"A nation was born in a day"

From one of the great orations on Independence Day, by a leader who did much to ensure that liberty would become more than just a word on paper, but a living reality for all Americans:
The interest, which in this paper has survived the occasion upon which it was issued; the interest which is of every age and every clime; the interest which quickens with the lapse of years, spreads as it grows old, and brightens as it recedes, is in the principles which it proclaims. It was the first solemn declaration by a nation of the only legitimate foundation of civil government. It was the corner stone of a new fabric, destined to cover the surface of the globe. It demolished at a stroke the lawfulness of all governments founded upon conquest. It swept away all the rubbish of accumulated centuries of servitude. It announced in practical form to the world the transcendent truth of the unalienable sovereignty of the people. It proved that the social compact was no figment of the imagination; but a real, solid, and sacred bond of the social union. From the day of this declaration, the people of North America were no longer the fragment of a distant empire, imploring justice and mercy from an inexorable master in another hemisphere. They were no longer children appealing in vain to the sympathies of a heartless mother; no longer subjects leaning upon the shattered columns of royal promises, and invoking the faith of parchment to secure their rights. They were a nation, asserting as of right, and maintaining by war, its own existence. A nation was born in a day.
- John Quincy Adams, Speech on Independence Day, July 4, 1821.


Phil Johnson said...


Thanks for posting it.

Mark D. said...

You're more than welcome. JQA kind of counts as a founding father -- he was active during the Revolution (he accompanied his father to France and ended up as part of the revolutionary government's delegation to Russia because he could speak French so well).

He forms a very important link between the founding generation and the civil war generation. When JQA served in the House of Representatives after his term as president, he was a leader of the Whig Party which counted among its congressional delegates a young Abraham Lincoln.