Just got this today and thought, “I better pass this on!” as this is my sentiments, hopes, dreams, wants and aspirations on steroids!
Hill’s eloquence shines in this DAR address from the early 1920′s. Follow his logic from “The Founder’s” of the American Revolution, through slavery and the “Civil War”, to motherhood, as a brick wall to socialism!
There was never a time in the history of our country when a Congress of this great Society could more appropriately commemorate the common cause it represents than at the present moment. It is the sense of community in this common cause—the founding of the American Republic—that binds its membership together and, furnishes the reason for its existence. If the main purpose of its members were merely personal prestige, social intercourse, or evidence of ancient lineage, some other association might be equally satisfactory.
What gives this Society real distinction—and it is a very high distinction—is that it aims to keep alive, through lineal descent, the memory of the greatest single event that has occurred in the entire history of government—the establishment of political institutions which have enabled vast numbers of men of different races, without the loss of individual liberty, to form one nation and to live together in peace under a common flag.
We have been too often inclined to think of the American Revolution as a merely negative action; a passionate revolt, having for its main object separation and independence. Regarding it more broadly, we perceive, on the contrary, that it was essentially a positive and constructive movement, inspired by a new conception of human rights.
Those who habitually take the narrower view are disposed to look upon the War for Independence as an unnecessary struggle, which had for its chief effect the loss of what they are pleased to call Anglo-Saxon unity; and they almost lament that we are not at present a part of the British Empire; which, however, now prefers to be known as the British Commonwealth.
It would, in truth, be a violation of historic veracity to deny that the English Colonies in America owed much to the political traditions which had their origin and their early development in what we have often called “the mother country”; but it is almost constantly overlooked that there was produced in the wider field and more isolated existence of the American colonists a conception of government not only not derived from British antecedents but diametrically and irreconcilably opposed to them.
The decade from 1765 to 1775 was one of the most triumphant and at the same time one of the most degraded periods of English history. It was marked by an attempt to involve the American colonies in a scheme of world-wide imperialism. and by a recrudescence of royal absolutism both in England and throughout the entire Empire. The colonies in America had, through their own assemblies, contributed liberally to the cost of their own defense in the Seven Years’ War, and they were willing to do so in the future; but they were unwilling, after their voluntary aid in the war with France, which gave Canada to England, to submit to taxation dictated by the British Parliament, in which they were in no way represented.
As a consequence, the American mind, from 1765, when the Stamp Act was enacted, to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, was busied with the fundamental questions of the nature of government in general as no generation of Englishmen had ever been devoted to them, not even in the time of John Locke and the English Revolution that ended the Stuart dynasty in 1689.
There were, it is true, a few men in England who realized how wide the breach with the colonies might become. Edmund Burke, in his speech on “Conciliation with America,” candidly declared that there probably never was a time when interest in the science of government was deeper or more widely diffused than among the American people during the Revolution. William Pitt, long known as; the “Great Commoner,” denied the right of the Kingdom to tax the colonies, and rejoiced that America had resisted; but even he was so far from understanding the American conception that, although he could say,
“If America should fall, she would fall like the strong man Samson; she would embrace the pillars of the State. and pull down the whole structure with her.” “At the same time,”
he contended, ”
this Kingdom, as the supreme governing and legislating power, has always bound the colonies by her laws, by her regulations and restrictions of trade, in navigation, in manufactures—in everything except that of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent.”
We hardly need be reminded how far the American conception of self-government was removed from this idea of a “supreme governing and legislating body,” located in London. Even if they had been represented in it, the men of the American Revolution would not and could not be satisfied with such foreign domination of their lives, with the single exception of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent.
Let us imagine that every form of colonial taxation by the British Parliament had been abandoned; that Americans were permitted to cross the ocean with free mileage to sit in the House of Commons; that all titles and immunities had been granted to the great leaders; that Washington—of whom it has been written,
“Modest in the midst of pride, wise in the midst of folly, calm in the midst of passion, cheerful in the midst of gloom, steadfast among the wavering, bold among the timid, prudent among the rash, generous among the selfish, true among the faithless, greatest among good men and best among the great”
—that this our noble Washington had been made Duke of Virginia; Benjamin Franklin, Marquis of Pennsylvania; John Hancock, Viscount of Boston—would that have satisfied the great founders of this Republic? We might then have had, perhaps, such notabilities as Daniel Webster, Earl of Marshfield; Abraham Lincoln, Duke of Illinois; Grover Cleveland, Marquis of Buffalo; Lord William McKinley, of Canton, and Theodore Roosevelt, Viscount of Oyster Bay!
Would our national pride have been increased by such a recognition of an American titled nobility? Do we not actually possess a nobility that would scorn such factitious honors, and that prefers the titles of achievement to the titles of patronage? Even so great a man as Pitt lost his power to interpret the thought and will of Great Britain when, as Lord Chesterfield wittily said of him,
“he had fallen upstairs”
by becoming Lord Chatham; which made him seem a beneficiary of the King rather than a leader of the people.
By these observations I intend no disparagement of titular honors. My aim is to bring to attention the differential qualities that constitute what we call “Americanism,” in contrast with what might be called “Europeanism,” in order to show how it has affected our political institutions.
America was founded almost exclusively by younger sons. In all that constitutes real preeminence they were not inferior to those who, by the law of primogeniture —an offshoot of royal prerogative—were lifted to a prominence they had not personally earned. Many of the colonists were of the best blood of England, measured by any defensible standard; such as intelligence, scholarship, public spirit, courage, or a high sense of honor. What distinguished them was a firm self-reliance. Thrown out upon the world to make their own way, they sought new lands, were eager for adventure, and anxious for achievement.
They possessed, as a rule, a racial pride that kept them true to women of their own race, made them loyal to the sanctities of the home, and filled them with a spirit of chivalry toward the weak, the defenseless, and the stranger.
But they were not all of one race. Alongside the Englishman was the Dutchman, the Scotchman, the Irishman, and German, the Swede, and in smaller numbers others still. From, a very early day ours was a composite nationality.
I mention this because it helps us to understand that which is most fundamental and also most fruitful of consequences in what we call the American spirit, a new influence in the world. The one outstanding fact was the presence of a common humanity. The foreigner was cordially welcomed and quickly assimilated. The sense of equality was cultivated, and out of these contacts was developed a new appreciation of the essential dignity of human nature.
And here, if I am not mistaken, was the tap-root of what we now call “Americanism”—that spirit of live and let live, that valuation of the individual person, not in the vague sense of the abstract idea of “humanity,” so vague as to be utterly meaningless in actual practice, but of the concrete, flesh-and-blood, free, morally responsible, and tangible human being, my neighbor, my fellow-citizen, whom I can help if he needs help, and whose personality it is my duty to respect.
Take up that much neglected and sadly misinterpreted document, the Declaration of Independence, and read it carefully with this idea in your mind. You presently see that the whole of it is little more than an expansion and application of this root conception.
Remember, too, that no government had ever been founded upon this idea; not even the English government, praiseworthy as it was when compared with the accepted absolutism of other governments.
But before you open the Declaration, listen to these words, which I quote from a high authority on comparative constitutional law:
“The Englishman’s conception of his rights at the end of the eighteenth century, by which time the conception had been quite fully developed, was not a conception of substantive natural rights by reason of the fact that he was a man. It was not based on the claim that there were any such rights of which he might not, in any possible circumstances, in any possible manner, be deprived.”
In brief, he never pretended that a human being has rights because he is a human being. The rights of an Englishman were his because he was an Englishman, and he possessed those rights only because they were accorded by the law of England.
Now take these familiar words from the Declaration: ”
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.”
These words contain two propositions, and both have been called in question.
It is easy to challenge the statement that all men are created equal, if equality is to be estimated by any outward standard of measurement. In his defense of slavery, in the debate with Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas explained this alleged equality by asserting that when the signers of the Declaration used this expression
“they were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain,”
that is, they merely claimed equal rights under English law. To this Mr. Lincoln made the memorable answer:
“I think the authors of that notable instrument meant to include all men, but that they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say that all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This they said and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all men were actually enjoying that equality, nor-yet that they were about to confer it upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all and revered by all—constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated; and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, everywhere.”
In the presence of such an interpretation of equality, the institution of slavery, which was recognized by the founders of the Republic as a fact, but never at any time defended by them in principle, was doomed to ultimate extinction; and with it every other form of discrimination against an equal claim to justice, arising from a difference of race or sex.
The other proposition referred to requires less explanation. It is that there are certain rights inherent in personality and not derived from any form of government. By what logic could an Englishman sustain the doctrine, that such rights as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have their origin in English law; and that, if it were not for English law, they would not exist?
It was against that conception of law as a sovereign permission or command that independence was declared. It was the King, the Lords, and the Commons who at that time made law in England. Were these the authors of the right to live, to be free, and to be happy?
But it was not against the laws of England, constitutionally administered, that our forefathers were in revolt. It was against the conception of law as a rule of action externally and arbitrarily imposed, without their consent, that they rebelled.
Read the Declaration carefully, and you will note that the chief complaint is the King’s refusal to grant the colonies a government based on law and limited by law. The first charge “submitted to a candid world” is:
“He has refused his assent to laws of immediate and pressing importance and necessary for the public good.”
That was the gravamen in that terrible indictment. It runs through all the twelve subsequent accusations of misrule, ascending through the entire gamut of complaint with increasing intensity, declaring among other things,
“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers”;
and ending with the climax, as if it were the acme of perversity, ”
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.”
The claim to the protection of law, as the most precious possession of citizenship, recurs at intervals throughout the remainder of the indictment. Three times, in the midst of additional specifications of usurpation, the writer of the Declaration returns to his demand for unproverted law as the one central purpose of the document.
It was independence, not revolt against a lawful government, that inspired the American colonists to resistance. Their grievance was that they had been subjected to a lawless rule. Listen to the terms of their complaint: ”
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries; he has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harrass our people, and eat out our substance.”
There is something that rises to the height of sublimity in this sturdy defense of inherent rights, “to secure which,” it is declared,
“governments are instituted among men.”
It is the note of moral indignation at the abuses of government, not that of a radical revolt aiming to destroy it. that runs through the entire document.
runs the indictment,
“will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism; it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
I ask you to note particularly that last expression, regarding the need of “new guards for their future security.”! It is the connecting link between the Declaration of Independence and the constitutional system, which is the unique contribution of America to the progress of government.
What were the “new guards” to security that were felt to be needed in 1776?
Undoubtedly they had not yet been devised, but they were clearly something which the British system did not supply. I would not be understood, in setting these systems in contrast, as suggesting any permanent hostility between the two great divisions of the English-speaking world. No one, I think, places a higher estimate than I upon the character of the British people, or the civilizing work of the British Empire; but I cannot conscientiously allow that estimation or a strong desire for sincere and lasting friendship, and even cooperation, between the two nations, to obscure the difference— the impassable difference, I may say—that separates their forms of government. Nor can I, as an American, though of British ancestry, for a moment concede, as some of my fellow-countrymen are inclined to insist, that the British system, and not the American system, contains the secret of a triumphant democracy.
The “security” for which the Declaration of Independence sought “new guards” was the security of the inherent rights of man. The British system proclaimed no such rights, and recognized none that were not accorded by British law.
How were those rights to be secured? Certainly there were English Bills of Rights, but every student of the so-called British Constitution knows that there were, and are, no rights which an act of Parliament, the decision of a mere majority, could not take away.
What the Americans demanded was that there should be a law for legislators; a law presenting an impassable barrier to legislation destructive of inherent rights; a government not merely to make laws, but one that would obey the law on which it was founded, and by which it was created.
The British system knew no such law. No nation in the world had ever had such a government.
Other peoples had, for a time, aspired to liberty; but they had not known how to preserve it. It was not unregulated independence that the colonies demanded. Liberty they proclaimed in the name of human dignity and responsibility; but it was not liberty for which they asked, they claimed already to possess it as a natural right. It was, they said,
“for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments”
that they repudiated the King.
It is well, in this time of world commotion, of widespread anarchy, and of conspiracies against all governments, that we should recall these noble words of the Declaration. “Altering fundamentally the forms of our governments”—’that was the accusation they made; and that is the danger to which we are exposed now by new forms of despotism.
We have heen told in recent years that the “new guards” which our forefathers set up for their security in the State and Federal Constitutions were designed to protect certain personal interests, especially the interests of property. Books have been written to show that the Convention over which Washington presided had for its chief object the preservation of wealth. This calumny, designed to justify revolution and general expropriation, needs no refutation. Happily, the records of the constitutional movement in the United States show that it sprang from the minds and consciences of the people as the very purpose of their independence, which was to create a “form” of government which no tyranny could destroy.
We have now in hand the documentary evidence to show how directly and how richly the constitutional movement was fertilized by the blood of the battlefields on which our forefathers fought. ‘
In the very year of the Declaration, on October 1, 1776, the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts, uttered their protest against a constitution framed by a legislative body; that is, against a form of government framed by government itself. What they demanded was a form, or frame, of government created by representatives of the citizens, specially chosen to prescribe the limits within which government might act, and constituting a fundamental and organic law from which all the powers of government would be derived and which all officers or agents of government would be bound to respect.
Who were the men who proposed and insisted upon this provision? They were the “embattled farmers” who, at Concord Bridge, on April 19th, 1775, “fired the shot heard “round the world”: Colonel James Barrett, who was in supreme command at that battle; his son James; Colonel John Buttrick, who actually led the men at the bridge and gave the command:
“Fire, fellow-soldiers; for God’s sake fire !”
Nathan Bond, a young Harvard graduate of the class of 1772, and Ephraim Wood, the village shoemaker, who was chairman of the committee that prepared the resolutions against the form of government being dictated by the government itself, and who wrote them with his own hand and with his very individual manner of spelling.
New Hampshire in 1778 and Massachusetts in 1779-80, held conventions to frame a fundamental law in this distinctively American sense; and in 1787, after ten years of experiment and discussion, the Federal Constitution was framed on the same lines.
Thus has come to us this splendid heritage of constitutional government; through which, if we were only loyal to it, the inherent rights of every individual human being would be preserved. As early as 1781, it was judicially held in Massachusetts that slavery was contrary to the declaration of rights. Writing of the effect of the Federal Constitution, Sir James Mackintosh declared: “America has emerged from her struggle into tranquillity and freedom, affluence and credit.”
And yet there was perhaps never a generation of men less devoted to the acquisition of great personal fortunes than the men of the American Revolution. If the transmission of great hereditary wealth had been their aim, we, their descendants, should all be multimillionaires! With a continent to exploit, they threw its vast area open to strangers. They bought from Napoleon, at their own cost, the great territory west of the Mississippi, and invited others to come and occupy it along with them. Over the wide domain of the unpopulated West they extended by the ordinances of 1784 and 1787 the protection of the great charter of liberty and law, leaving to the settlers the institution of State governments where freedom would l»e secure forever.
said Daniel Webster,
“whether one single law of any law-giver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of more distinct, marked, and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787.”
The great Northwest Territory was to become the mother of many mighty States, all free, all guaranteed a republican form of government, all open to the stranger for settlement.
What I wish here to emphasize is, that the constitutional system gave the same protection to the rights of the immigrant that it did to the native.
One of these rights was the right to acquire, possess and enjoy property, which the founders of this nation were not afraid to assert and to defend; although, as a competent historian has said, at the time of the Revolution
“there were not a hundred men of great wealth in this country.”
Attracted by the assurance that industry, prudence, and enterprise would find their reward and be secure in the possession of it, from many lands, speaking many tongues, has come the stranger, who has been cordially welcomed, offered hospitality, and admitted to citizenship on equal terms.
He has often proved to be among the best of our citizens; but sometimes he has brought with him the idea that government is essentially the oppression of one class by another, and that here was his chance to make himself the master. Sometimes he has inculcated anarchy, in the hope that he might gain by violence. Sometimes he has sought to protect his conspiracies under the aegis of the very Constitution he has sought to destroy.
Sometimes he has assumed the innocence of that clean-shaven Bolshevism which he calls. Socialism, and sometimes he has sought to propagate that full-bearded Socialism which we now know as Bolshevism. The former would make the State omnipotent in order that it might become the organ of a general gift distribution The latter would destroy it utterly, in order that, by the use of violently acquired means, those who possess what its conspirators desire may be exterminated or subjected to the despotism of a single class.
With insolence unequalled in history, it is claimed by them that private property in America should be abolished, by which they mean taken by themselves; and these new barbarian invaders, who barely speak the language of the country. and only a few months ago had difficulty in passing Ellis Island, even after they had been disinfected, claim that they are the people; and. under our Constitution. have the right to stay here, while they are plotting to destroy it.
This would be too ridiculous to mention were it not that there are American politicians who insist upon protecting them, while the contagion of their fanaticism is sapping not only the courage but the judgment of some of our own people. “Testifying before a committee of the Senate of the United States,” says Mr. Spargo, “one of the best known of the American pro-Bolshevist intellectuals is reported to have said that the Bolsheviki can always obtain funds for their propaganda from rich idle women who have nothing else to do”; and he adds that leaders of the most radical and violent society in this country “were quite at home in the drawing rooms of Fifth Avenue, and were familiar figures at house parties on the fashionable Massachusetts North Shore”; which leads him to quote Lenin’s famous statement, at the Third Soviet Conference:
“Among one hundred so-called Bolshevik! there is one real Bolshevik, with thirty-nine criminals and sixty fools.”
Never before the present decade was such an indictment possible in America. The situation has not come upon us suddenly. Having so long neglected our duty to our great heritage of ordered freedom; having listened mutely to, the charge that our governmental system is superannuated; having heard our Federal Constitution denounced as hopelessly antiquated; having been told that we live in a Darwinian and no longer in a Newtonian age; we have in a political sense been tempted to abolish our faith in the law of gravitation and take up psychic levitation as the law of the universe, until we have almost succeeded in reverting to a prehuman period.
What then is to be the attitude of those who still take pride in what the men and women of the American Revolution did and thought?
Shall we, too, join in tearing down what they built up; or at least remain passive and look on sympathetically, while the work of demolition is completed?
Shall we not rather face the issue of our time, as they faced the issue of theirs, and say to the mercenaries sent from Moscow to corrupt our people and destroy our institutions, as they said to the mercenaries hired in Germany to subdue them;
“The place for you intruders is on the sea, facing homeward; or at the bottom of it, as you prefer”?
When reading the Biblical story of the expulsion of our first parents from Paradise, I have often thought that if Adam had done the right thing to the serpent, if he had manfully broken his head or chased him from the garden, he would himself not have been expelled by the angel with the flaming sword, and he would not have descended to the degradation of placing the blame on Mother Eve.
Daughters of the American Revolution, your task, like that of the Vestals at Rome, is to keep the sacred fire ever burning on the altar. In the thoughts of all true Americans there is one holy place of which you are the chief guardians. It is not the forum, where public policies are discussed; but the home, where the life of the nation is perpetually recreated. That is the inviolable sanctuary, for there the race has its well spring; and it is there that our American institutions have had their inspiration. It is not what legislative bodies give to the mother and the child that determines the greatness of the State, but what the mother inspires in the child. We whose ancestors have founded this nation may not have great wealth to bequeath to those who follow us; but to us, even more than to others, is committed the great tradition of liberty under law.
I have spoken of the home as the inviolable sanctuary. What would Bolshevism, which is only the logical outcome of Marxian Socialism, make of it? What is a home, if property is a crime? What is a wife, if she is a nationalized woman, listed as a possession of the State? What is a child, if it is to be taken in its infancy and brought up as a numbered inmate in a public institution, such as these theorists would create, there to be taught that it also is the property of the State, and is to live as directed by such public officers as Lenin and Trotsky?
For us in America, one may say, such extremes are impossible; and this may be true. But shall we on that account suffer our schools to be corrupted, our industries to be suspended, our public utilities to be paralyzed, and our legislatures to be influenced by those who call us “reactionaries” because we honor the men who founded this country, and adhere to the principles that have made the American Republic the most advanced, the most just, the most potent, the most peaceful, and the most generous nation in the world?
Daughters of the American Revolution, I believe I know what your answer is. While life lasts you will stand guard over your glorious heritage. You will say.
“We shall not permit ourselves to be led, our children to be taught, or our nation to be governed by anyone who is not all American.”
Getting close to the ‘Brain Share’ time, Have you been Naughty?, Nice? Disparate?
Those of you that have played chess at Chess.com may think, that I like the chess.com site.
Yes, I do! Very much!
I have played nearly 300 opponents at chess.com, and prefer it to the older Yahoo Chess servers where I developed the d4 opening of The 21st Century.
So if you are visiting here (joenovell.com) and want a “Special” hosting deal, here is a pitch for your web hosting business;
“make a donation to JoeNovell@gmail.com, via PayPal and I, Joenovell, will give you a domain name, your WordPress blog, unlimited plugins, regular backups, access to an online training program and countless hours of describing what I have done wrong, that may make your site fun and profitable.”
You do not have to let me win at chess and I will not be the one that teaches you how to create a cheating server. This proposal is legal, moral and ethical. I may elect to refuse your donation if it appears to, “… Want something for nothing…”. Or if your service demands outstrip my present ability to perform those requests.
Your membership in any chess service will NOT be affected in any manner. I will probably limit this offer to the first twenty donations, just to protect the innocent.
We will negotiate a straight forward contract for these web services using the comments buried in the firstname.lastname@example.org PayPal account. No robots will respond this time.
Do we have a deal?
The folks at Google are a special breed. Imagine having a really great dream, a ‘vision’, as eye-opening as this YouTube below. One that could only be pitched to Stanford under-grads, motivated by Eric Schmidt, Steven Jobs and the Holy Ghost, to provide such a service, it just has to come from, Google. Thank you Dr. Eric!