Happy Independence Day

  • Suggested by Jonah Goldberg, our first reading assignment for the day is from Calvin Coolidge: "Speech on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence", given on July 5, 1926 in Philadelphia. Closing paragraphs:
    Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general. Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

    No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. 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 sceptre 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 worshiped.

    But read the whole thing. Who knew that Cal could be so poetic?

  • At the WSJ, Peggy Noonan looks at what the Continental Congress cut out of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration, with special attention to the removal that "wounded" Jefferson.

  • It also turns out that Jefferson made his own changes:
    Just in time for the Fourth of July, the Library of Congress has this news: Hyperspectral imaging of Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence has confirmed that he originally wrote the phrase "our fellow subjects," but then scrawled over it the word "citizens."
    An interesting peek over TJ's shoulder, 234 years later.

  • At the American Spectator, Drew Cline wonders if the country has what it takes to see another 234 birthdays.

  • And while we're on the discovering-lost-versions of-historical-documents kick, my fellow patriots (who don't mind a little sacrilege) will not want to miss: "Restoration Of 'Star Spangled Banner' Uncovers Horrifying New Verses"

    The actors the Onion get for their videos are pretty good, don't you think?

  • If you liked that, or even if you didn't, check out Mark Steyn's true story about "America, the Beautiful". Observation: they don't make Wellesley College professors like Katharine Lee Bates any more.

Try to get out to see something bright and loud tonight. If you wind up at Cowell Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire, please try to find me and say hello.

Last Modified 2017-12-04 8:45 AM EST