This is 3rd in our series on Independence Day. Today, a quote from John Quincy Adams. Look for a forthcoming workbook on civics from upper elementary and junior high students.
Why is it, friends and fellow citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it that entering upon the 62nd year of our national experience,e you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory the warm and vivid affection which attached him – at the distance of a full half century – to your town and to you forefathers, then the cherished associated of his youthful days? Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, you most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? And why is it that among the swarming myriads of our population thousand and tens of thousand among us …yet united with all their brethren of this community year after year in celebration his, the birthday of the nation?
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 is 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 Christian and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?
Oration by John Quincy Adams, 1837.
Why is the Declaration of Independence so very important according to John Quincy Adams? Why is is important that we celebrate it. How might we apply this today?
Next time, let’s see what he said were the aims of the Declaration — and why his view is so compelling.
Noah Webster (1758-1843). famous as “America’s Schoolmaster” spoke on July 4th 1798. He said the following.
Twenty and two years are completed since the fathers of our empire – appealing to God and the impartial world for the purity of their motives — rent asunder the ands that connected the English colonies with their Mother Country and declared them an INDEPENDENT NATION…
To a man who believes in the superintendence of Divine Providence over the affairs of this globe, the settlement of American by a civilized people and the establishment of a free government unfold a most splendid and consoling prospect. Secluded as America has been from a knowledge of the Europeans till a late period of the world may we not consider it as reserved by Heaven for the theater of important events or as the asylum of persecuted freedom and religion?
After Europe shall have been scourged with the despotism in every shape — the despotism of kings and of mobs, of hierarchies, of atheists, of visionary theorists, of armies by land and pirates by seas – after the half of her people have been sacrificed to the ambition of men under the different covers of crowns and liberty caps — the survivors, weary of eternal discord, of error, of faction, of the persecution of princes and private clubs, of war, assassination, and personal danger (the inevitable fruits of atheism and chimerical systems of government) will recover from their delusion and seek a shelter from their miseries under well tempered forms of government analogous to that of the United Stated, and under the benign influence of that rational system of religion which is the only sure basis of private happiness and public prosperity.
May the illustrious example of the conductors of the American Revolution be sacred to imitation in every period of our history!
Never, my fellow citizens, let us exchange our civil and religious institution for the wild theories of crazy projectors — or the sober, industrious, moral habits of our country for experiments in atheism and lawless democracy…