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The Declaration of Independence Explained

( Originally Published 1927 )[an error occurred while processing this directive]

BY SAMUEL ADAMS

(Delivered in Philadelphia, August I, 1776, twenty-seven days after the Declaration of Independence.)

MY countrymen, from the day on which an accommodation takes place between England and America on any other terms than as independent States, I shall date the ruin of this country. We are now, to the astonishment of the world, three millions of souls united in one common cause. This day we are called on to give a glorious example of which the wisest and best of men were rejoiced to view only in speculation. This day presents the world with the most august spectacle that its annals ever unfolded,— millions of freemen voluntarily and deliberately forming them-selves into a society for their common defense and common happiness. Immortal spirits of Hampden, Locke, and Sidney ! will it not add to your benevolent joys to behold your posterity rising to the dignity of men — evincing to the world the reality and expediency 0f your systems, and in the actual enjoyment of that equal liberty which you were happy when on earth in delineating and recommending to mankind?

Other nations have received their laws from conquerors ; some are indebted for a constitution t0 the sufferings of their ancestors through revolving centuries; the people of this country alone have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and, with open, uninfluenced consent, bound themselves into a social compact. And, fellow countrymen, if ever it was granted to mortals to trace the designs of Providence and interpret its manifestations in favor of their cause, we may, with humility of soul, cry out, NOT UNTO US, NOT UNTO US, BUT TO THY NAME BE THE PRAISE. The confusion of the devices of our enemies, and the rage of the elements against them, have done almost as much towards our success as either our counsels or our arms.

The time at which this attempt in our liberties was made,— when we were ripened into maturity, had acquired a knowledge of war, and were free from the incursions of intestine enemies,— the gradual advances of our oppressors, enabling us to prepare for our defense, the unusual fertility of our lands, the clemency of the seasons, the success which at first attended our feeble arms, producing unanimity among our friends and compelling our internal foes to acquiescence,—these are all strong and palpable marks and assurances that Providence IS YET GRACIOUS UNTO ZION, THAT IT WILL TURN AWAY THE CAPTIVITY OF JACOB ! Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum. Let us cherish the noble guests ! Let us shelter them under the wings of universal toleration ! Be this the seat of UNBOUNDED RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ! She will bring with her in her train, Industry, Wisdom, and Commerce.

Our union is now complete. You have in the first armies sufficient to repel the whole force of your enemies. The hearts of your soldiers beat high with the spirit of freedom. Go on, then, in your generous enterprise, with gratitude to heaven for past success, and confidence of it in the future ! For my own part, I ask no greater blessing than to share with you the common danger and the common glory. If I have a wish dearer to my soul than that my ashes may be mingled with those of a Warren and a Montgomery, it is, THAT THESE AMERICAN STATES MAY NEVER CEASE TO BE FREE AND INDEPENDENT!



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