Independence Day Reflections

posted on July 6, 2016
Katsuhiro Yamanashi/Aflo and Suranga/Getty Images

We always hope our American brothers and sisters, especially those who wear her uniform, will spend Independence Day in as much peace and the company of family as an unfortunately perilous world allows. It’s a time when the imperatives of meaningful liberty—as opposed to highly personal and un-transmittable sensations and preferences—strike us most profoundly. An honorary American citizen certainly captured our mood well, if long ago: “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.” (Sir Winston Churchill) 

Today, we recollect some worthwhile words for your consideration and sharing. 

George Washington
“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” 

“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused ...”

“It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.”

Thomas Jefferson
“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.”

“Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.” 

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”

“One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.” 

“It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.”

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.”

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.”

“Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.”

“The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that ... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”

“For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.” 

“A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” 

“Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism.”

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

George Mason
“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.”

Hubert H. Humphrey
“But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”

We know it’s chic in some circles—though racist and anti-intellectual as well—to deride the sources for many of these as “a bunch of old, dead white guys,” yet we acknowledge that those folks are entitled to their opinion. They love the First Amendment for their own use; for others, not so much.

The last quotation, at least to those not hopelessly beholden to the progressive Left, proves startling to some, however. It shows even Gandhi’s understanding that the preservation of a people’s right to enforceably say “no” to their government is the crucial hallmark of an ethical government—of a government that will listen, of a government that will permit law-abiding self determination. 

When such disappears, how can a freedom-loving people help but think back to the British Bulldog: “What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?” 

We suggest these are worth remembering and sharing as we approach November.


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