Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th Reboot, From Thomas Jefferson

A reader pointed out a flaw in Calvin Coolidge's speech, which I quoted on July 4. I took exception, probably too strong an exception, to his complaint. I herewith rectify that blunder with the following quotation from the last letter of Thomas Jefferson, written July 4, 1826 (exactly 100 years prior to the Coolidge speech), declining an invitation to a celebration owing to ill health:

I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made.

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

I trust no sane person will take exception to that quote; I'm confident that particular perspicacious reader will not.

[Hat tip to Paul Hsieh, Noodlefood, for the reference to the quote.]

1 comment:

madmax said...

"I'm confident that particular perspicacious reader will not."

This perspicacious reader absolutely loves this quote from Jefferson. And to think, he was 83 years old when he wrote it and he still held to his uplifting view of man. Also, I love the Enlightenment language that Jefferson used. Its hard to believe that men actually spoke like that at one time.

With Coolidge, you see some remnant of the Enlightenment but its fading. Today, you not only so no Enlightenment ideas you see *counter-Enlightenment* ideas; ie Obama and McCain. That's whats so damn depressing.

Happy July 4th Weekend.