We wish that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce in all minds a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, that the last object to the sight of him who leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise! let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and the parting day linger and play on its summit!
Address on laying the Corner-Stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, 1825. P. 62.
I have read their platform, and though I think there are some unsound places in it, I can stand upon it pretty well. But I see nothing in it both new and valuable. What is valuable is not new, and what is new is not valuable.
I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston and Concord and Lexington and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever.
Second Speech on Foots Resolution, Jan. 26, 1830. P. 317.
When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood.
Second Speech on Foots Resolution, Jan. 26, 1830. P. 342.
On this question of principle, while actual suffering was yet afar off, they [the Colonies] raised their flag against a power to which, for purposes of foreign conquest and subjugation, Rome in the height of her glory is not to be compared,a power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts, whose morning drum-beat, following the sun,9 and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England.10
A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed or duty violated is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us.
Argument on the Murder of Captain White, April 6, 1830. Vol. vi. p. 105.
I shall defer my visit to Faneuil Hall, the cradle of American liberty, until its doors shall fly open on golden hinges to lovers of Union as well as lovers of liberty.13
Letter, April, 1851.
Note 1. This oration will be read five hundred years hence with as much rapture as it was heard. It ought to be read at the end of every century, and indeed at the end of every year, forever and ever.John Adams: Letter to Webster, Dec. 23, 1821. [back]
Note 2. Mr. Adams, describing a conversation with Jonathan Sewall in 1774, says: I answered that the die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country was my unalterable determination.John Adams: Works, vol. iv. p. 8.
Note 3. Mr. Webster says of Mr. Adams: On the day of his death, hearing the noise of bells and cannon, he asked the occasion. On being reminded that it was Independent Day, he replied, Independence forever.Works, vol. i. p. 150. Bancroft: History of the United States, vol. vii. p. 65. [back]
Note 4. We shall be strong to run the race, And climb the upper sky. Isaac Watts: Spiritual Hymns, xxiv. [back]
Note 5. He it was that first gave to the law the air of a science. He found it a skeleton, and clothed it with life, colour, and complexion: he embraced the old statue, and by his touch it grew into youth, health, and beauty.Barry Yelverton (Lord Avonmore): On Blackstone. [back]
Note 7. A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.Alexander Hamilton. [back]
Note 8. When the State of Pennsylvania held its convention to consider the Constitution of the United States, Judge Wilson said of the introductory clause, We, the people, do ordain and establish, etc.: It is not an unmeaning flourish. The expressions declare in a practical manner the principle of this Constitution. It is ordained and established by the people themselves. This as regarded as an authoritative exposition.The Nation.
That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.Abraham Lincoln: Speech at Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863. [back]