The Birthday of the Nation
( Originally Published 1927 )
(From address delivered July 4, 1851, at laying the cornerstone of the new wing of the Capitol.)
BY DANIEL WEBSTER
This is that day of the year which announced to mankind the great fact of American Independence ! This fresh and brilliant morning blesses our vision with another beholding of the birthday of our Nation; and we see that Nation, of recent origin, now among the most considerable and powerful, and spreading from sea to sea over the continent.
On the fourth day of July, 1776, the representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, declared that these Colonies are, and ought to be, free and independent States. This declaration, made by most patriotic and resolute men, trusting in the justice 0f their cause and the protection 0f Heaven,— and yet not without deep solicitude and anxiety — has now stood for seventy-five years. It was sealed in blood. It has met dangers and over-come them. It has had detractors, and abashed them all. It has had enemies, and conquered them. It has had doubting friends, but it has cleared all doubts away; and now, to-day, raising its august form higher than the clouds, twenty millions of people contemplate it with hallowed love, and the world beholds it, and the consequences that have followed from it, with pro-found admiration.
This anniversary animates and gladdens all American hearts. On 0ther days of the year we may be party men, indulging in controversies more or less important to the public good. We may have likes and dislikes, and we may maintain 0ur political differences, often with warm, and sometimes with angry feelings. But today we are Americans all ; nothing but Americans.
As the great luminary over our heads, dissipating fogs and mist, now cheers the whole atmosphere, so do the associations connected with this day disperse all sullen and cloudy weather in the minds and feelings of true Americans. Every man's heart swells within him. Every man's port and bearing becomes somewhat more proud and lofty as he remembers that seventy-five years have rolled away, and that the great inheritance of Liberty is still his,— his, undiminished and unimpaired; his, in all its original glory; his to enjoy; his to protect; his to transmit to future generations.