America First - Patriotic Readings
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Patriotic Readings



Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction of Nebraska and Now School Extension Specialist for the United States Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C.

American Book Company New York Cincinnati Chicago

Copyright, 1916 by Jasper L. McBrien All rights reserved


W. P. 7


America First was the central thought in President Wilson's address to the Daughters of the American Revolution on the twenty-fifth anniversary of their organization—their Silver Jubilee—in Washington, D. C., October 11, 1915. The president declared in this address that all citizens should make it plain whether their sympathies for foreign countries come before their love of the United States, or whether they are for America first, last, and all the time. He asserted, also, that our people need all of their patriotism in this confusion of tongues in which we find ourselves over the European war.

The press throughout the country has taken up the thought of the President and, seconded by the efforts of the Bureau of Education, has done loyal work in making "America First" our national slogan. This is all good so far as it goes—especially among the adult population, many of whom must be educated, if educated at all, on the run. But the rising generation, both native-born and foreign, to get the full meaning of this slogan in its far-reaching significance, must have time for study and reflection along patriotic lines. There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if "this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth." The prime and vital service of amalgamating into one homogeneous body the children alike of those who are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands must be rendered this Republic by the school teachers of America.

The purpose of this book is to furnish the teachers and pupils of our country, material with which the idea of true Americanism may be developed until "America First" shall become the slogan of every man, woman, and child in the United States.



Jasper L. McBrien







AMERICA FOR ME Henry van Dyke 73

AMERICA FIRST Woodrow Wilson 75


MAKERS OF THE FLAG Franklin K. Lane 87


FAREWELL ADDRESS George Washington 94

WASHINGTON John W. Daniel 104

ABRAHAM LINCOLN Henry Watterson 129


ROBERT E. LEE E. Benjamin Andrews 154


THE BLUE AND THE GRAY Henry Cabot Lodge 171


THE NEW SOUTH Henry W. Grady 181


OUR COUNTRY William McKinley 202



THE ADOPTED CITIZEN Ulysses S. Grant 217

OUR NAVY Hampton L. Carson 220



GETTYSBURG ADDRESS Abraham Lincoln 255



CONCORD HYMN Ralph Waldo Emerson 261

WARREN'S ADDRESS John Pierpont 262

PATRIOTISM Sir Walter Scott 263


MY COUNTRY Samuel F. Smith 265

THE AMERICAN FLAG Joseph Rodman Drake 266

SONG OF MARION'S MEN William Cullen Bryant 267

THE OLD CONTINENTALS Guy Humphreys McMaster 269


LIBERTY TREE Thomas Paine 272

THE RISING IN 1776 Thomas Buchanan Read 274

AMERICA Bayard Taylor 278

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY Francis M. Finch 279

ABRAHAM LINCOLN James Russell Lowell 281

THE FLAG GOES BY Henry Holcomb Bennett 284

THE SHIP OF STATE Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 285

THE NAME OF OLD GLORY James Whitcomb Riley 286


Acknowledgments for permission to use copyrighted and other valuable material in this volume are hereby tendered to authors and publishers as follows:

To President Woodrow Wilson for his three addresses "America First," "The Meaning of the Flag," and "Neutrality Proclamation."

To Secretary Franklin K. Lane for his speech on "The Makers of the Flag."

To William Jennings Bryan and his publishers, Funk and Wagnalls Company, New York and London, for extracts from his address on "The Patriotism of Peace."

To Archbishop Ireland for extracts from his address on "The Duty and Value of Patriotism."

To George L. Schuman and Company, publishers of Modern Eloquence, Chicago, for the following extracts and addresses: "Our Country," by William McKinley; "Our Reunited Country," by Clark Howell; "The Blue and the Gray," by Henry Cabot Lodge; "A Reminiscence of Gettysburg," by John B. Gordon; "The New South," by Henry W. Grady; and "The Hollander as an American," by Theodore Roosevelt.

To A. C. Butters for the address on "Washington," by John W. Daniel, from Modern Eloquence published by George L. Schuman and Company.

To Henry Watterson, Louisville, Kentucky, for the extracts from his lecture on Abraham Lincoln.

To E. Benjamin Andrews and to his publishers, Fords, Howard and Hulbert, for the extracts from his lecture on Robert E. Lee.

To J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, for the poem by Thomas Buchanan Read, "The Rising in 1776."

To Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, for the poem by Henry van Dyke, "America for Me," and also for the extract from the poem "Wanted," by J. G. Holland.

To The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, for the poem by James Whitcomb Riley, "The Name of Old Glory."

To Henry Holcomb Bennett for his poem entitled, "The Flag Goes By."

To Christopher Sower Company, Philadelphia, for the poem by Edward Brooks, entitled "Be a Woman."

The selections from the poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Bayard Taylor are used by permission of and special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Company, the authorized publishers of the works of those authors.

The thanks of the author are also extended to Nelson Warner, Katherine M. Cook, Mrs. L. R. Caldwell, Belvia Cuzzort, W. R. Hood, and Dr. Stephen B. Weeks of the Bureau of Education, for valuable assistance in the compilation of this work.




This dramatization of the Continental Congress portrays the spirit of the times during the period of the American Revolution. It deals principally with the debates for and against the Declaration of Independence; it is a summary of the grievances, struggles, sacrifices, and victories of the colonies from the enactment of the obnoxious Stamp Act by the British Parliament to the resignation of George Washington as commander-in-chief of the American army.

In the construction of a drama covering such a heroic period and relating to events so momentous, all of which must pass in review before us within an hour and a half's time, it is necessary to exercise a certain dramatic license. The historical literalist, like the scriptural literalist, makes the letter kill the spirit of the truth. After all, it is not the dry facts, dates, and mechanics of history that are of greatest importance; it is the fundamental principles, causes, and effects underlying the events as well as the spirit of the times, that are of first consideration.

Any modification of historical fact in this dramatization has been made only to give a fuller meaning to the great facts of history touched upon therein. It is the period of the American Revolution that is to be portrayed, as already stated—not alone those memorable days of June and July, 1776, during which the debates on the Declaration of Independence took place. For example, Patrick Henry was a member of the First and the Second Continental Congress, though not a member at the time the Declaration of Independence was debated, Washington was a member of the First Continental Congress, but Jefferson was not. Congress was a changing body in its membership then as is our Congress to-day.

Jefferson declares that Patrick Henry was the man who put the ball of the American Revolution in motion. Not to give Henry a place in this dramatization would be like the play of "Hamlet" with Hamlet left out.

It must be remembered that no record was made of the debates in the Continental Congress as is done verbatim by expert reporters in Congress to-day and published in the Congressional Record. Therefore, the speeches herein have been adapted from such sources as Paine's "Separation of Britain and America," Webster's "Supposed Speech of John Adams," "Wirt's Supposed Speech of Patrick Henry," Alexander H. Stephens's "Corner Stone Speech," Webster's "Supposed Speech of Opposition to Independence," and Sumner's "True Grandeur of Nations." The dialogue between Jefferson and Adams is taken from a letter of John Adams to Timothy Pickering, dated August 6, 1822. The speeches of Stephens and Sumner are paraphrased to suit the times to which they are here applied.

Great care has been exercised to place each of the leading characters in these debates on the side in which he at that time conscientiously believed. In the roll call in this drama on the vote for independence, the history of each colony has been thoroughly studied so as to bring out the changed attitude of the people of the various colonies toward independence, as well as of certain members of the Continental Congress on this question.

The scenes of Washington and his army just before the battle of Long Island, the tableau of The Spirit of '76, and Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief of the army, are introduced not alone for their psychological effect on the dramatization proper, but for their own worth in teaching patriotism.

With twenty-nine leading characters the dramatization can be well staged. But if fifty-five characters are available—the number who signed the Declaration, and if there is room for so many, so much the better, except as the number of performers is increased there will be an additional expense for costumes.[1] It may be given as a reading lesson without costumes; it may be given so as a drama; but it is a greater success given in costumes.

Those who take part in this dramatization should be costumed as nearly like the characters they represent as possible. As a rule, wigs can be rented for this purpose at a reasonable cost, and it will not be difficult to dress in the style of the Revolutionary period—buckle shoes, silk stockings, knee pants, ruffled shirt, and the conventional coat of the time.

The same freedom must be permitted and exercised in carrying out this dramatization, that marked the actors in the Continental Congress itself in its stormy debates and noisy sessions. Immediately following the close of each speech there should be a clamor for recognition on the part of the delegates, but the president will be careful to recognize the proper person so as to make the play move without any hitch. As each speaker proceeds there should be a reasonable number of interruptions by applause or dissenting voices so as to play both sides as strongly as possible.

The parliamentary procedure must not be followed too strictly or it will kill the interest in the play on the part of the public. It must be given with dispatch and dramatic effect to make a happy hit.

These debates may be considered as an oratorical contest with prizes awarded accordingly if so desired. It adds interest to the work.

It is hard to tell in which years of school work it is best to give this dramatization—whether in the grammar grades, in the high school, or in the college, for it is within the understanding of grammar grade boys; it is not too elementary for young men in the high school; and it is profound enough for the best thought and the best efforts of college students. If given by grammar school boys and high school young men, it will have a wholesome influence in training for a better citizenship at an opportune time. If presented by college, university, and normal school students it will give those who are fitting themselves for teaching a valuable lesson in methods. If it were given by every grammar school, high school, college, university and normal school, on every Chautauqua platform, and by every patriotic society in the United States on Washington's Birthday and other patriotic occasions, and then repeated on the Fourth of July every year for the next decade it would do much towards combating that dangerous "aggressive hyphenated Americanism," that has sprung up in our country and whose baneful effects it will take much earnest teaching to obliterate. When all native-born children of foreign parentage, and when all citizens of foreign birth know the story of the struggle and sacrifice by which our country rose to her proud station it will make them feel "that they are Americans among Americans; that they are part of America and have a share and a duty toward American institutions." May it also cause those native-born Americans who have become luke-warm in their love of country, careless of its honor, and negligent in its defense to awake to their duty with a spirit to do their duty before it is too late. May it make of every one of us a truer American "by being wholly and without reserve, and without divided allegiance, and with emphatic repudiation of the entire principle of 'dual nationality,' an American citizen and nothing else."

In their ragged regimentals Stood the old Continentals, Yielding not, When the grenadiers were lunging. And like hail fell the plunging Cannon shot; When the files Of the isles, From the smoky night encampment, bore the banner of the rampant Unicorn; And grummer, grummer, grummer, rolled the roll of the drummer Through the morn!




John Hancock, President Richard Henry Lee John Adams Roger Sherman Benjamin Franklin Samuel Adams Joseph Hewes Patrick Henry Thomas Jefferson


Edward Rutledge John Dickinson George Walton Robert Morris

Charles Thomson, Secretary


Josiah Bartlett Stephen Hopkins William Floyd Charles Carroll of Carrollton Samuel Chase Benjamin Harrison Lyman Hall Oliver Wolcott Elbridge Gerry William Hooper Benjamin Rush Richard Stockton Thomas McKean Caesar Rodney


General Washington and his Army

Fifer } Drummer } Leading the Army Little Boy } in "The Spirit of '76"



SCENE I.—Congress assembled; John Hancock in the chair as president; his keynote speech.

JOHN HANCOCK.[2] Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—I thank you for the signal honor you have conferred on me in making me your presiding officer. I am glad to see so many Colonies represented in this Congress. Let us show the nations of the old world what the people of the new world will do when left to themselves, to their own unbiased good sense, and to their own true interests. On us depend the destinies of our country—the fate of three millions of people, and of the countless millions of our posterity. Matchless is our opportunity—matchless also is our responsibility! May the God of nations guide us in our deliberations and in our actions.

Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of Nature cries, "'Tis time to part." Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof that the authority of the one over the other was never the design of Heaven. The time, likewise, at which the continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled, increases the force of it. The Reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.

The authority of Great Britain over this continent is a form of government which sooner or later must have an end: and a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction that what he calls "the present constitution" is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to insure anything which we may bequeath to posterity; and by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children by the hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offense, yet I am inclined to believe that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation may be included within the following descriptions: Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves: and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three.

It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us a few moments to Boston; that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us forever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present situation they are prisoners without hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.

Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offenses of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, "Come, come, we shall be friends again for all this." But examine the passions and feelings of mankind, bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land? If you cannot do all these, then are you deceiving yourselves, and by your delay bringing ruin upon your posterity. Your future connection with Britain, whom you can neither love nor honor, will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. But if you say you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend or lover, and, whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward and the spirit of a sycophant.

Gentlemen of the First American Congress, in the name of Equality, Fraternity and Liberty, I welcome you to this council. What is your pleasure, gentlemen?

RICHARD HENRY LEE. Mr. President:—I wish to move the adoption of the following resolution: "Resolved, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

JOHN ADAMS. Mr. President:—I second the motion.

JOHN HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress, you have heard the motion of Mr. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, for immediate and absolute independence. Are there any remarks?

RICHARD HENRY LEE. Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—Why do we delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which devastates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace and the persecuted repose. She entreats us to cultivate a propitious soil where that generous plant of liberty, which first sprang and grew in England, but is now withered by the blasts of tyranny may revive and flourish, sheltering under its salubrious shade all the unfortunate of the human race. If we are not this day wanting in our duty to our country, the names of the American legislators of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of Theseus, of Lycurgus, of Romulus, of Numa, of the three Williams of Nassau and of all those whose memory has been and forever will be, dear to virtuous men and good citizens.[3]

(At the close of Mr. Lee's brief speech there is a clamor for recognition. John Adams is recognized.)

JOHN ADAMS. Mr. President:—I move that a committee of five be selected by ballot to draft a Declaration representing the views of these united colonies.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Mr. President:—I second the motion.

JOHN HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—The motion has been made and seconded that a committee of five be selected by ballot to draft a proper Declaration representing the views of these united colonies. You have heard the motion, are there any remarks? (Calls for the question.)

As many as favor this motion make it known by saying "aye" (ayes respond); contrary, "no" (noes respond). The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and the motion is carried.

Gentlemen of the Continental Congress, I shall appoint Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania, Samuel Chase of Maryland, and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina as tellers for this election and they will wait upon you for your ballots for the committee. Please write the names of the five men whom you wish to serve on this committee, on your ballot and deposit the same in the hat when passed.

(Ballots are gathered by the tellers who report the result to the president of the Congress.)

Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—By your ballots you have selected the following persons as the committee of five to draft the Declaration as already ordered—Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston of New York. Gentlemen, what is your further pleasure?

SAMUEL ADAMS. Mr. President:—I move that the Congress do now take a recess until to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock to give the committee just appointed time in which to prepare the Declaration ordered.

JOSEPH HEWES. Mr. President:—I second the motion which Mr. Adams has offered.

JOHN HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Congress:—It has been moved and seconded that this Congress take a recess until to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock in order to give the committee just appointed time in which to prepare a proper Declaration. You have heard the motion, are there any remarks? (Calls for question.)

As many as favor the motion make it known by saying "aye" (ayes respond); contrary, "no" (noes respond). The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and this Congress will take a recess until to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock.



SCENE I.—Meeting of the Committee of Five. Livingston absent.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Gentlemen of the Committee, I move that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams be appointed as a sub-committee of this Committee of Five to draft the Declaration ordered by the Continental Congress.

ROGER SHERMAN. I second the motion.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Gentlemen, you have heard the motion. As many as favor the same make it known by saying "aye."

(Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams are silent while Mr. Sherman and Mr. Franklin vote aye.)

The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams are elected.

JOHN ADAMS. Gentlemen, it seems to me you have taken snap judgment on Mr. Jefferson and myself.

THOMAS JEFFERSON. Yes, gentlemen, you have.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. The committee has so ordered and as Congress itself gave Mr. Jefferson the highest number of votes and Mr. Adams the next highest number in the selection of this committee, I am sure that Congress will be highly pleased at our having selected you for this great work. We also feel that we should congratulate ourselves upon the choice we have made.

JOHN ADAMS. Thank you, gentlemen, for the compliment.

THOMAS JEFFERSON. I join Mr. Adams in thanking you, gentlemen, for the confidence you have in us.

ROGER SHERMAN. Gentlemen of the committee, I move that we take a recess until to-night so as to give the sub-committee time to prepare the Declaration.

MR. ADAMS. I second the motion.

MR. FRANKLIN. As many as favor the motion make it known by saying "aye" (ayes respond). The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and the committee will take a recess until eight o'clock to-night.

(Mr. Franklin and Mr. Sherman leave Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson to themselves to deliberate over the Declaration.)

MR. JEFFERSON. Mr. Adams, I suggest that you make the draft of this Declaration.

MR. ADAMS. I will not!

MR. JEFFERSON. [4]You should do it.

MR. ADAMS. Oh, no!

MR. JEFFERSON. Why will you not? You ought to do it.

MR. ADAMS. I will not!


MR. ADAMS. Reasons enough.

MR. JEFFERSON. What can be your reasons?

MR. ADAMS. Reason first, you are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can.

MR. JEFFERSON. Well, if you are decided, I will do the best I can.

MR. ADAMS. Very well, when you have drawn it up we will have a meeting.

(Exeunt Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson.)

SCENE II.—Washington's Address to his Army. Washington and his army[5] in camp on Long Island.

The time is now near at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves, whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves to be consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and the conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or to die.

Our own, our country's honor, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion. If we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us, therefore, animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

Liberty, property, life, and honor are all at stake. Upon your courage and conduct rest the hopes of our bleeding and insulted country. Our wives, children, and parents expect safety from us only; and they have every reason to believe that Heaven will crown with success so just a cause.

The enemy will endeavor to intimidate by show and appearance; but remember that they have been repulsed on various occasions by a few brave Americans. Their cause is bad—their men are conscious of it. If they are opposed with firmness and coolness on their first onset, with our advantage of works and knowledge of the ground, the victory is most assuredly ours.

SCENE III.—TABLEAU—"The Spirit of '76."

As soon as the sound of battle has died away following the departure of Washington and his army, put on the tableau of "The Spirit of '76." The fifer, the drummer, and the little boy should be good musicians playing patriotic music of the Revolution. Their wounded and ragged comrades are seen in the background.

SCENE IV.—Mr. Jefferson seated at his desk and putting on the finishing touches to his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Enter Mr. Adams.

MR. ADAMS. Good evening, Mr. Jefferson.

MR. JEFFERSON. Good evening, Mr. Adams.

MR. ADAMS. Well, have you the Declaration finished?

MR. JEFFERSON. Mr. Adams, I have done the best I could but I am not very well satisfied with what I have written. I wish you would look it over and make such corrections and criticisms as your judgment deems proper.

MR. ADAMS (studying the Declaration). Mr. Jefferson, I am delighted with your production. Your statements relative to the inalienable rights of men are unanswerable and to secure these rights, governments must be instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. This paragraph concerning negro slavery meets with my approval but I fear it will not meet with the approval of some of the Southern delegates. I congratulate you, Mr. Jefferson, on what you have done. This document will make you immortal.

MR. JEFFERSON. Thank you, Mr. Adams, I fear you are too extravagant in your praise of my work.

(Enter Mr. Franklin and Mr. Sherman.)

MR. FRANKLIN. Well, gentlemen, have you completed the draft for the Declaration?

MR. ADAMS. Mr. Jefferson has finished it. It is all his work. I have reviewed the paper very hurriedly but in my opinion it is one of the greatest documents ever written by man. Look it over, gentlemen, and let us hear your opinion of it.

MR. FRANKLIN (studying the Declaration). Mr. Jefferson, I congratulate you, sir. Your declaration on the inalienable rights of men is well stated. I agree with you that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. I like that paragraph on slavery but I believe that some of the Southern delegates will oppose it. This is a paper of which you should be proud, Mr. Jefferson. I congratulate you, sir. Here, Mr. Sherman, let us have your views on this Declaration.

MR. SHERMAN (studying the Declaration). You have covered all our grievances in the twenty-seven distinct charges you have made against the present king of Great Britain. We can well afford to submit these facts to a candid world. That paragraph on slavery, Mr. Jefferson, meets with my approval heartily, but I fear some of the Southern delegates will oppose it strongly. We can certainly appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions. I believe with you that divine Providence will support us in making this Declaration good. Therefore, I am willing to stand with you in pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to this end. I do not see how I could make any suggestions that would improve it. Mr. Jefferson, I congratulate you on the great work you have done in this paper for our country and for humanity.

MR. JEFFERSON. Gentlemen, I thank you all most heartily and sincerely for the compliments you have paid me on this paper, but I am no orator myself, especially for such an occasion as this; therefore, I should like to have Mr. Adams report this Declaration to the Continental Congress, move its adoption for me, and lead in the debates in favor of it.

MR. FRANKLIN. Gentlemen:—I move that Mr. Adams be requested to report this Declaration to the Congress as desired by Mr. Jefferson.

MR. SHERMAN. I second the motion.

MR. FRANKLIN. Gentlemen, you have heard the motion. As many as favor the same make it known by saying "aye." (Response of ayes; Mr. Adams is silent.) The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and the motion is carried for Mr. Adams to so report this Declaration. The committee is adjourned.



SCENE I.—The Continental Congress again in session.

MR. HANCOCK. (Looking at his watch, as he calls the Congress to order.) Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—The time has come to which we adjourned yesterday in order to give the Committee of Five, appointed to draft the Declaration, due time to prepare the same. Are the gentlemen of the Committee present and ready to report?

MR. ADAMS. Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—At the request of Mr. Jefferson and the other members of the Committee, I beg leave to submit the following Declaration for your consideration after it has been read by the secretary of this Congress. Permit me to say here, however, that the credit for the authorship of this paper belongs entirely to Mr. Jefferson. It is his work, which the other members of the Committee are unanimous in approving.

(Charles Thomson, secretary of the Congress, reads the Declaration of Independence. This part should be assigned to one who has a good clear voice and is a good public reader. If it is thought best not to read all of the Declaration, its most striking paragraphs should be read. Do not forget to have the famous paragraph on slavery read. If it were omitted the great speech of George Walton would be out of place.)

JOHN ADAMS.[6] Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote in favor of this Declaration of Independence. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there's a divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded to her own interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should we defer the Declaration?

Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England, which shall leave either safety to the country and its liberties, or safety to his own life and his own honor? Are not you,[7] sir, who sit in that chair, is not he,[8] our venerable colleague near you, are you not both already the proscribed and predestined objects of punishment and of vengeance? Cut off from all hope of royal clemency, what are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but outlaws? If we postpone independence do we mean to carry on, or to give up the war? Do we mean to submit to the measures of Parliament, Boston Port Bill and all? Do we mean to submit, and consent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our country and its rights trodden down in the dust? I know we do not mean to submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most solemn obligation ever entered into by men, that plighting, before God, of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to incur the dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, we promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes and our lives? I know there is not a man here who would not rather see a general conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake sink it, than one jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. For myself, having twelve months ago, in this place, moved you, that George Washington be appointed commander of the forces raised, or to be raised, for defense of American liberty, may my right hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him.

(At the close of Mr. Adams' speech there is loud clamor for recognition. The president recognizes Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, who speaks against the Declaration.)

EDWARD RUTLEDGE. [9]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—Let us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retraced. This resolution, once passed, will cut off all hope of reconciliation. If success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, with charters, and with privileges. These will all be forfeited by this act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people—at the mercy of the conquerors. For ourselves, we may be ready to run the hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length? Is success so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the naval power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm of England? For she will exert that strength to the utmost. Can we rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people?—or will they not act as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a long war, submit in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand on our old ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are right, and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can be imputable to us.

(At the close of Mr. Rutledge's speech there is a clamor for recognition. The president recognizes Roger Sherman of Connecticut.)

ROGER SHERMAN. [10]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—The war must go on. We must fight it through. And if the war must go on, why put off longer the Declaration of Independence? That measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The nations will then treat with us, which they never can do while we acknowledge ourselves subjects, in arms against our sovereign. Nay, I maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on the footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to acknowledge that her whole conduct toward us has been a course of injustice and oppression. Her pride will be less wounded by submitting to the course of things which now predestinates our independence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious subjects. The former she will regard as the result of fortune; the latter she would feel as her own deep disgrace. Why, then, why, then, sir, do we not as soon as possible change this from a civil to a national war? And since we must fight it through, why not put ourselves in a state to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the victory?

If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail. The cause will raise up armies; the cause will create navies. The people, the people, if we are true to them will carry us, and will carry themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle other people have been found. I know the people of these colonies, and I know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled in their hearts, and cannot be eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has expressed its willingness to follow, if we but take the lead. Sir, the Declaration will inspire the people with increased courage. Instead of a long and bloody war for the restoration of privileges, for redress of grievances, for chartered immunities, held under a British king, set before them the glorious object of entire independence, and it will breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read this Declaration at the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, and the solemn vow uttered to maintain it, or to perish on the bed of honor. Publish it from the pulpit, religion will approve it, and the love of religious liberty will cling around it, resolved to stand with it, or fall with it. Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them hear it who heard the first roar of the enemy's cannon; let them see it who saw their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker Hill and in the streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls will cry out in its support.

(At the close of Mr. Sherman's speech there is a loud clamor for recognition. The president recognizes John Dickinson of Pennsylvania.)

JOHN DICKINSON. [11]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—If we now change our object, carry our pretensions farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose the sympathy of mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we possess, but struggling for something which we never did possess, and which we have solemnly and uniformly disclaimed all intention of pursuing, from the very outset of the troubles. Abandoning thus our old ground of resistance only to arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations will believe the whole to have been mere pretense, and they will look on us, not as injured, but as ambitious subjects. I shudder before this responsibility. It will be upon us, it will be upon us, if, relinquishing the ground we have stood upon so long, and stood so safely, we now proclaim independence, and carry on the war for that object, while these cities burn, these pleasant fields whiten and bleach with the bones of their owners, and these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it will be upon us, if failing to maintain this unseasonable and ill-judged Declaration, a sterner despotism, maintained by military power, shall be established over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a harassed, a misled people, shall have expiated our rashness and atoned for our presumption on the scaffold.

(At the close of Mr. Dickinson's speech there is a loud clamor for recognition. The president recognizes Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.)

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [12]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly, through this day's business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time when this Declaration shall be made good. We may die; die colonists; die slaves; die, it may be ignominiously and on the scaffold. Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.

But whatever may be our fate, be assured, be assured that this Declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future as the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves, our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. On its annual return they will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude, and of joy. Sir, before God, I believe the hour has come. My whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as Mr. Adams of Massachusetts began, that, sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, independence now, and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER!

(There is a loud clamor for recognition, and the president recognizes George Walton of Georgia.)

GEORGE WALTON. [13]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—I am for this Declaration if the paragraph on slavery is struck out. But I will oppose it to the end if that paragraph is permitted to remain a part of it. There is not one good reason for introducing the slavery question at this time. The relations between individual master and slave have no place here in the greater and graver matter of differences between the British Government and the American Colonies. But since the issue is thrust upon us, I propose to meet it squarely and fearlessly.

Mr. President and gentlemen, you cannot make equal what God Almighty has made unequal. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? The Bible commands in the most emphatic language that servants obey in all things their masters. Liberty loving Greece had her slaves. Shall liberty loving America have less? Strike out that obnoxious paragraph and every delegate from the Southern colonies will fall in line for the Declaration of Independence, but if you make that paragraph a part of the Declaration many delegates from the South will withdraw from this convention, and then you will fight your own battles.

This paragraph on slavery is founded upon ideas fundamentally wrong. These ideas rest upon the assumption of the equality of the races. This is an error. It is a sandy foundation and a government founded upon it will fall when the storms come and the winds blow.

Let us found our new government upon the great truth that the negro is not the equal of the white man, that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other great truths in the various departments of science.

Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. With us, all the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro; subordination is his place. He, by nature or by the curse of Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he now occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of a building, lays the foundation with proper material—the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best not only for the superior race, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the laws of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His plans, or to question them. For His own good purposes He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made "one star to differ from another star in glory."

Therefore, I declare again that you cannot make equal what God Almighty has made unequal. He has made the negro and the white man unequal. You cannot make them equal. And I move that the paragraph on slavery be struck out. I have measured my words, gentlemen. The responsibility is yours.

(At the close of Mr. Walton's speech there is a loud clamor for recognition, and the chair recognizes Samuel Adams.)

SAMUEL ADAMS. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—While I have no personal objections against this paragraph on slavery—for personally I favor it—yet from the standpoint of the general welfare of the colonies, I deem it unwise at this time to take any action either for or against the question of slavery. Therefore I second the motion of Mr. Walton to strike out the paragraph on slavery.

MR. HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—It has been duly moved and seconded that the paragraph in this Declaration on slavery be struck out. You have heard the motion, are there any remarks?

WILLIAM HOOPER. Mr. President, before voting on this motion, I wish to have the paragraph on slavery read again.

(This request is seconded by many of the delegates.)

MR. HANCOCK. The secretary will read the paragraph on slavery again.

(The secretary reads the paragraph on slavery as follows:)

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them by murdering the people upon whom he obtruded them: thus paying off, former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

(After the reading of this paragraph the delegates call for a vote on Mr. Walton's motion.)

MR. HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Congress, a vote is called for on Mr. Walton's motion to strike out the paragraph on slavery. As many as are in favor of this motion make it known by saying "aye" (a strong aye vote); as many as are opposed to the motion make it known by responding "no" (a light vote of noes). The ayes seem to have it, the ayes have it, and the paragraph on slavery is struck out. Gentlemen, what is your further pleasure?

(A loud clamor for recognition, the chair recognizing Joseph Hewes of North Carolina.)

JOSEPH HEWES. [14]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as the abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have opposed this Declaration in these debates. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, that calls for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains, which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing! We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find, which have not been already exhausted? Let us not. I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

(A loud clamor for recognition. The chair recognizes Robert Morris of Pennsylvania.)

ROBERT MORRIS. [15]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—I am opposed to war first, last, and all the time. It is a relic of barbarism. I believe in the gospel of peace on earth, good will toward men. It would be better to settle our differences with England even by flipping a coin than by fighting and killing one another. Let us hearken unto the voice of God as it comes ringing down the centuries from Mount Sinai, "Thou shalt not kill." Shall this new government start out as the Cain among the nations of earth with the blood of our brethren upon our hands? God forbid that we make ourselves so foolish and so reckless as this! The history of trial by battle is the history of folly and wickedness. As we revert to those early periods in the history of the human race in which it prevailed, our minds are shocked at the barbarism which we behold; we are horror stricken at the awful subjection of justice to brute force.

Who told you, fond man! to regard that as glory when performed by a nation, which is condemned as a crime and a barbarism, when committed by an individual? In what vain conceit of wisdom and virtue do you find this degrading morality? Where is it declared that God, who is no respecter of persons, is a respecter of multitudes? Whence do you draw these partial laws of a powerful and impartial God? Man is immortal; but states are mortal. Man has a higher destiny than states. Shall states be less amenable to the great moral laws of God than man? Each individual is an atom of the mass. Must not the mass be like individuals of which it is composed? Shall the mass do what the individual may not do? No! A thousand times NO! The same laws which govern individuals govern masses, as the same laws in nature prevail over large and small things, controlling the fall of an apple and the orbits of the planets.

And who is this god of battles that some of you men believe in with so much faith? It is Mars—man-slaying, blood-polluted, city-smiting, Mars! Him we cannot adore. It is not he who causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust. It is not he who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. It is not he who distills the oil of gladness in every upright heart. It is not he who fills the fountain of mercy and goodness. He is not the God of love and justice. The god of battles is not the God of Christians; to him can ascend no prayer of Christian thanksgiving; for him no words of worship in Christian temples, no swelling anthem to peal the note of praise.

Let us cease, then, to look for a lamp to our feet in the feeble tapers that glimmer in the sepulchers of the past. Rather let us hail those ever-burning lights above in whose beams is the brightness of the noon-day. As the cedars of Lebanon are higher than the grass of the valley, as the heavens are higher than the earth, as man is higher than the beasts of the field, as the angels are higher than man, as he that ruleth his spirit is higher than he that taketh a city; so are the virtues and glories and victories of peace higher than the virtues and victories of war.

To this great work of world-wide peace let me summon you. Believe that you can do it, and you can do it. Blessed are the peace-makers for they are the children of God.

(Loud clamor for recognition, the chair recognizing Patrick Henry of Virginia.)

PATRICK HENRY. [16]Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—We have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale, that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

(At the close of Mr. Henry's speech there are loud calls for a vote upon the question. President Hancock orders the secretary to call the roll of colonies in geographic order beginning with New Hampshire.)


Josiah Bartlett. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—New Hampshire is represented in the Congress by three delegates. Her people have appealed to us and have instructed us to work for and vote for Independence. I believe everybody knows more than any body. I consider it a signal honor, sir, and it is the happiest hour of my life, to lead in this roll call in favor of this Declaration. New Hampshire votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for New Hampshire.")


SAMUEL ADAMS. Mr. President:—The king of England has set a price upon your head and mine. If this Declaration is not made good by the people of these colonies you and I will be shot, hanged by the neck till dead, or burned at the stake as traitors. If we fail, my only regret will be that I have but one life to give for my country. But with faith in the people and in God to carry our cause through to a glorious victory, the delegates from Massachusetts stand as one man for Independence. Massachusetts, therefore, votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for Massachusetts, and long live Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Down with the tyrant king of England!")


STEPHEN HOPKINS. Mr. President:—Rhode Island is a small colony. She is represented in this Congress by only two delegates. But all that we are and all we hope to be we are ready here and now to give for Independence. Rhode Island votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for brave Rhode Island, Stephen Hopkins, and William Ellery.")


ROGER SHERMAN. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—I have already addressed you at some length in favor of this Declaration. It becomes my happy duty now to cast the unanimous vote of the four delegates from Connecticut for independence. Connecticut votes aye.

(Shouts of "Long live Roger Sherman! Three cheers for Connecticut.")

Secretary Thomson. New York!

WILLIAM FLOYD. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—The instructions against independence for the delegates from New York have never been recalled. We, therefore, request the privilege to refrain from voting on this question. We regret the situation, gentlemen!

PRESIDENT HANCOCK. New York is excused from voting on this question.


RICHARD STOCKTON. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—I am happy to say that New Jersey has given her five delegates in this Congress instructions to vote for independence. New Jersey, therefore, votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for New Jersey.")


BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—From the beginning of this Congress the delegates from Pennsylvania have labored under instructions against independence. But during the past three months the friends of independence in this commonwealth have worked in season and out of season to have these instructions canceled and permission given us to vote for independence. At a mass meeting in Philadelphia on June 18, presided over by that distinguished and influential radical, Colonel Daniel Roberdeau, and attended by over 7,000 citizens from all sections of the state, a public sentiment was created and started that resulted in the overthrow of the old government of the aristocrats of the old Assembly and then established a new government of the people under the authority of the Conference of Committees which has given the delegates from Pennsylvania instructions to vote for independence. Two of our delegates, John Dickinson and Robert Morris, have retired from this Congress considering such instructions a recall of their membership in this body. Two other delegates from Pennsylvania, Charles Humphreys and William Williams, question the authority of the Conference of Committees and hold that the instructions of the old defunct Assembly are still binding upon them. They vote against independence. But James Wilson who has been opposed to Independence bows to the will of the people and joins John Morton and myself in voting for Independence. Under the rule of this Congress made in its beginning session that a majority of the delegates from each colony, present and voting determines its vote upon such a question as this, Pennsylvania casts two votes against independence and three votes for independence and therefore votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for Pennsylvania! Long live Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, and James Wilson!")

(Immediately following the applause for Franklin, Caesar Rodney, a delegate from Delaware, makes his appearance just in time to vote. He has come eighty miles on horseback and has not had time to change his boots and spurs and still carries a riding whip. He is given a great ovation.)


THOMAS McKEAN. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—Until this moment the vote for Delaware has been in doubt. George Read, my colleague, will vote against independence. But thank God the timely arrival of Caesar Rodney who joins me in voting for independence, places Delaware on the right side of this question. To make sure of this I sent an express rider at my own expense to Dover, Delaware, for Mr. Rodney. He has come eighty miles on horseback at post-haste. He has not had time to change his riding attire, but he is here in time to join me in voting for independence. Posterity will erect a monument in his honor[17] as they will to that other famous revolutionary rider—Paul Revere. Mr. President, under the rule as stated by Mr. Franklin governing the votes of colonies in this Congress, Delaware votes aye.

(Shouts of "Hurrah for Delaware! Long live Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney!")


SAMUEL CHASE. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—Maryland has passed through a similar struggle to that in Pennsylvania as described by Mr. Franklin. An appeal has been made to every county committee and one after another they have directed their representatives in the state convention to vote for new instructions to the delegates in this Congress. At last the old instructions against independence have been canceled and new instructions given us in an unanimous resolve to vote for independence. See the glorious effect of county instructions! Our people have fire if not smothered. And, therefore, Maryland votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for Maryland and Samuel Chase!")


BENJAMIN HARRISON. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—Virginia is here with a solid delegation for independence. Our battle cry has been so well stated by Mr. Henry that we need but to repeat it now—Liberty or Death! Virginia votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for Virginia! Long live Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry!")


JOSEPH HEWES. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—We have had a hard struggle in North Carolina between aristocracy on one hand and democracy on the other. But at last the people have won and North Carolina votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for North Carolina!")


EDWARD RUTLEDGE. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—When Richard Henry Lee's resolution declaring for independence was first introduced I was opposed to its adoption at that time. I feared that the people of my colony were not then ready for it. I thought also that for the general welfare of all the colonies it was then too early to declare for independence. The contest in South Carolina for independence has been as bitter among her own people as it has been in any of the other colonies. But opinions alter and conditions change with the passing of time. Therefore, South Carolina now has a solid delegation here ready to walk through the fiery furnace of war, though it be seventy times heated, to make this Declaration good. South Carolina votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for South Carolina and Edward Rutledge!")


LYMAN HALL. Mr. President and Gentlemen:—Georgia is here with three delegates who stand as one man for independence. Though last on the roll of states on this question she will be among the first in her efforts for American independence. Georgia votes aye.

(Shouts of "Three cheers for Georgia!")

PRESIDENT HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—Twelve of the thirteen colonies having voted for the Declaration of Independence, and with no colony going on record against it, I consider our action unanimous for I am confident that the New York Assembly[18] will give her delegation instructions to sign this document in the near future.

JOHN ADAMS. Mr. President, I move that this Congress do now adjourn.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Mr. President, I second the motion.

PRESIDENT HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress, it has been moved by Mr. Adams of Massachusetts and seconded by Mr. Franklin of Pennsylvania that we do now adjourn. As many as favor this motion make known by saying aye.

(Unanimous response of ayes.)

The motion to adjourn has been carried unanimously and this Congress is therefore adjourned.

SCENE II.—The Spirit of 76.

Here repeat the Tableau of the Spirit of Seventy-six.


SCENE I.—Washington's Resignation. (A special session of the Continental Congress to receive the Resignation of Washington.)

PRESIDENT HANCOCK. Gentlemen of the Continental Congress:—Eight years ago we made General George Washington Commander-in-Chief of the armies raised and to be raised for American Independence. Through seven long years of war, against overwhelming odds, in which brave men did brave deeds, the rich man gave his wealth and the poor man gave his life, baptizing their country's soil with their own blood from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, the brave soldiers under General Washington fought on until an army of veteran soldiers surrendered to a band of insurgent husbandmen. The American nation has been born. Its independence has been recognized by Great Britain and the civilized world. Peace has come! And General Washington desires to surrender his commission to the Congress that elected him to this position. He is in waiting to do this. I therefore appoint John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Samuel Chase of Maryland, Patrick Henry of Virginia, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, and Lyman Hall of Georgia, as an honorary committee to escort General Washington before this Congress, to receive his resignation.

(General Washington is escorted before Congress and makes the following address:)

Mr. President:—The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings, not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the persons who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family could have been more fortunate. Permit me sir, to recommend in particular those who have continued in the service to the present moment as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action; and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.

(The Continental Congress, standing and shouting in concert, "Long live General George Washington! First in war! First in peace! And First in the hearts of his countrymen!")



[1] In small schools where there are not enough large boys to represent all the characters, those who represent members of the Continental Congress can become members of Washington's army, etc., for the other scenes.

[2] This speech is adapted from Paine's "Separation of Britain and America."

[3] Adapted from Wirt's supposed speech of Lee.

[4] This dialogue between Adams and Jefferson is taken from Adams's letter to Timothy Pickering.

[5] If this is properly staged it will be very effective. National Guard members will be glad to take part as members of Washington's army, with their tents and uniforms and arms, if there are no school cadets to play this part. The bugler sounds the call to arms. The soldiers fall into line ready for the fight. Just before marching orders are given, Washington delivers the following address, after which the curtain goes down on this scene and the sound of battle is heard in the distance.

[6] This is a part of Webster's "Supposed Speech of John Adams."

[7] John Hancock.

[8] Samuel Adams.

[9] From Webster's "Supposed Speech of Opposition to Independence."

[10] From Webster's "Supposed Speech of John Adams."

[11] From Webster's "Supposed Speech of Opposition to Independence."

[12] From Webster's "Supposed Speech of John Adams."

[13] Adapted from the "Corner Stone" speech of Alexander H. Stephens, and arranged by William R. Hood, Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C.

[14] From Wirt's "Supposed Speech of Patrick Henry."

[15] Robert Morris later signed the Declaration of Independence and through his influence the American Revolution was financed. This speech is adapted from Sumner's "True Grandeur of Nations" and other sources.

[16] From Wirt's "Supposed Speech of Patrick Henry."

[17] A monument was recently erected at Dover in his honor.

[18] On July 9, 1776, New York instructed her delegates to sign.



Johnson defines a patriot as one whose ruling passion is the love of his country, and patriotism as love and zeal for one's country. Curtis tells us that Lowell's pursuit was literature, but patriotism was his passion. "His love of country was that of a lover for his mistress. He resented the least imputation upon the ideal America, and nothing was finer than his instinctive scorn for the pinchbeck patriotism which brags and boasts and swaggers, insisting that bigness is greatness and vulgarity simplicity, and the will of a majority the moral law."

While some of us cannot make Lowell's pursuit our pursuit, we all can and should make his passion our passion. Let us all, the native born as well as the naturalized, say, deep down in our hearts with a patriotism and a courage that will back it up and make it good, "Our Country—right or wrong; if she is wrong we will set her right; if she is right we will keep her right; and so let us trust in God and believe she is right."

Times like these demand men. Let American boys be taught in the home and in the school and by the example of their fathers to be men among men.

"Men whom the lust of office will not kill, Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy, Men who possess opinions and a will, Men who have honor and will not lie; Men who can stand before the demagogue And down his treacherous flattering without winking, Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog In public duty and in private thinking!"[1]

Times like these demand women! Let American girls be taught in the home and in the school and by the example of their mothers to be women among women.

"Be women! on to duty! Raise the world from all that's low; Place high in the social heaven Virtue's fair and radiant bow; Lend thy influence to each effort That shall raise our nature human; Be not fashion's gilded ladies,— Be brave, whole-souled, true women!"[2]

To help to make such men and women of all American boys and girls—Americans in deeds as well as in words—Americans, who knowing their rights, dare maintain them "without compromise and at any cost"—this is the purpose of the following selections.

Jasper L. McBrien.


'Tis fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down Among the famous palaces and cities of renown, To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings— But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me! My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be, In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh! London is a man's town, there's power in the air; And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair; And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome; But when it comes to living, there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled; I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled; But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack: The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back. But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free— We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me! I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea, To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Henry van Dyke


The following address was delivered by President Wilson at the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, D. C., October 11th, 1915. It is given here by special permission of the president.

MADAM PRESIDENT AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:—Again it is my very great privilege to welcome you to the city of Washington and to the hospitalities of the Capital. May I admit a point of ignorance? I was surprised to learn that this association is so young, and that an association so young should devote itself wholly to memory I cannot believe. For to me the duties to which you are consecrated are more than the duties and the pride of memory.

There is a very great thrill to be had from the memories of the American Revolution, but the American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation, and the duty laid upon us by that beginning is the duty of bringing the things then begun to a noble triumph of completion. For it seems to me that the peculiarity of patriotism in America is that it is not a mere sentiment. It is an active principle of conduct. It is something that was born into the world, not to please it but to regenerate it. It is something that was born into the world to replace systems that had preceded it and to bring men out upon a new plane of privilege. The glory of the men whose memories you honor and perpetuate is that they saw this vision, and it was a vision of the future. It was a vision of great days to come when a little handful of three million people upon the borders of a single sea should have become a great multitude of free men and women spreading across a great continent, dominating the shores of two oceans, and sending West as well as East the influences of individual freedom. These things were consciously in their minds as they framed the great Government which was born out of the American Revolution; and every time we gather to perpetuate their memories it is incumbent upon us that we should be worthy of recalling them and that we should endeavor by every means in our power to emulate their example.

The American Revolution was the birth of a nation; it was the creation of a great free republic based upon traditions of personal liberty which theretofore had been confined to a single little island, but which it was purposed should spread to all mankind. And the singular fascination of American history is that it has been a process of constant re-creation, of making over again in each generation the thing which was conceived at first. You know how peculiarly necessary that has been in our case, because America has not grown by the mere multiplication of the original stock. It is easy to preserve tradition with continuity of blood; it is easy in a single family to remember the origins of the race and the purposes of its organization; but it is not so easy when that race is constantly being renewed and augmented from other sources, from stocks that did not carry or originate the same principles.

So from generation to generation strangers have had to be indoctrinated with the principles of the American family, and the wonder and the beauty of it all has been that the infection has been so generously easy. For the principles of liberty are united with the principles of hope. Every individual, as well as every nation, wishes to realize the best thing that is in him, the best thing that can be conceived out of the materials of which his spirit is constructed. It has happened in a way that fascinates the imagination that we have not only been augmented by additions from outside, but that we have been greatly stimulated by those additions. Living in the easy prosperity of a free people, knowing that the sun had always been free to shine upon us and prosper our undertakings, we did not realize how hard the task of liberty is and how rare the privilege of liberty is; but men were drawn out of every climate and out of every race because of an irresistible attraction of their spirits to the American ideal. They thought of America as lifting, like that great statue in the harbor of New York, a torch to light the pathway of men to the things that they desire, and men of all sorts and conditions struggled toward that light and came to our shores with an eager desire to realize it, and a hunger for it such as some of us no longer felt, for we were as if satiated and satisfied and were indulging ourselves after a fashion that did not belong to the ascetic devotion of the early devotees of those great principles. Strangers came to remind us of what we had promised ourselves and through ourselves had promised mankind. All men came to us and said, "Where is the bread of life with which you promised to feed us, and have you partaken of it yourselves?" For my part, I believe that the constant renewal of this people out of foreign stocks has been a constant source of reminder to this people of what the inducement was that was offered to men who would come and be of our number.

Now we have come to a time of special stress and test. There never was time when we needed more clearly to conserve the principles of our own patriotism than this present time. The rest of the world from which our polities were drawn seems for the time in the crucible and no man can predict what will come out of that crucible. We stand apart, unembroiled, conscious of our own principles, conscious of what we hope and purpose, so far as our powers permit, for the world at large, and it is necessary that we should consolidate the American principle. Every political action, every social action, should have for its object in America at this time to challenge the spirit of America; to ask that every man and woman who thinks first of America should rally to the standards of our life. There have been some among us who have not thought first of America, who have thought to use the might of America in some matter not of America's origination. They have forgotten that the first duty of a nation is to express its own individual principles in the action of the family of nations and not to seek to aid and abet any rival or contrary ideal. Neutrality is a negative word. It is a word that does not express what America ought to feel. America has a heart and that heart throbs with all sorts of intense sympathies, but America has schooled its heart to love the things that America believes in and it ought to devote itself only to the things that America believes in; and, believing that America stands apart in its ideals, it ought not to allow itself to be drawn, so far as its heart is concerned, into anybody's quarrel. Not because it does not understand the quarrel, not because it does not in its head assess the merits of the controversy, but because America has promised the world to stand apart and maintain certain principles of action which are grounded in law and in justice. We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations upon which peace can be rebuilt. Peace can be rebuilt only upon the ancient and accepted principles of international law, only upon those things which remind nations of their duties to each other, and, deeper than that, of their duties to mankind and to humanity.

America has a great cause which is not confined to the American continent. It is the cause of humanity itself. I do not mean in anything that I say even to imply a judgment upon any nation or upon any policy, for my object here this afternoon is not to sit in judgment upon anybody but ourselves and to challenge you to assist all of us who are trying to make America more than ever conscious of her own principles and her own duty. I look forward to the necessity in every political agitation in the years which are immediately at hand of calling upon every man to declare himself, where he stands. Is it America first, or is it not?

We ought to be very careful about some of the impressions that we are forming just now. There is too general an impression, I fear, that very large numbers of our fellow citizens born in other lands have not entertained with sufficient intensity and affection the American ideal. But the number of such is, I am sure, not large. Those who would seek to represent them are very vocal, but they are not very influential. Some of the best stuff of America has come out of foreign lands, and some of the best stuff in America is in the men who are naturalized citizens of the United States. I would not be afraid upon the test of "America first" to take a census of all the foreign-born citizens of the United States, for I know that the vast majority of them came here because they believed in America; and their belief in America has made them better citizens than some people who were born in America. They can say that they have bought this privilege with a great price. They have left their homes, they have left their kindred, they have broken all the nearest and dearest ties of human life in order to come to a new land, take a new rootage, begin a new life, and so by self-sacrifice express their confidence in a new principle; whereas, it cost us none of these things. We were born into this privilege; we were rocked and cradled in it; we did nothing to create it; and it is, therefore, the greater duty on our part to do a great deal to enhance it and preserve it. I am not deceived as to the balance of opinion among the foreign-born citizens of the United States, but I am in a hurry for an opportunity to have a line-up and let the men who are thinking first of other countries stand on one side and all those that are for America first, last, and all the time on the other side.

Now, you can do a great deal in this direction. When I was a college officer. I used to be very much opposed to hazing; not because hazing is not wholesome, but because sophomores are poor judges. I remember a very dear friend of mine, a professor of ethics on the other side of the water, was asked if he thought it was ever justifiable to tell a lie. He said Yes, he thought it was sometimes justifiable to lie; "but," he said, "it is so difficult to judge of the justification that I usually tell the truth." I think that ought to be the motto of the sophomore. There are freshmen who need to be hazed, but the need is to be judged by such nice tests that a sophomore is hardly old enough to determine them. But the world can determine them. We are not freshmen at college, but we are constantly hazed. I would a great deal rather be obliged to draw pepper up my nose than to observe the hostile glances of my neighbors. I would a great deal rather be beaten than ostracized. I would a great deal rather endure any sort of physical hardship if I might have the affection of my fellow men. We constantly discipline our fellow citizens by having an opinion about them. That is the sort of discipline we ought now to administer to everybody who is not to the very core of his heart an American. Just have an opinion about him and let him experience the atmospheric effects of that opinion! And I know of no body of persons comparable to a body of ladies for creating an atmosphere of opinion! I have myself in part yielded to the influences of that atmosphere, though it took me a long time to determine how I was going to vote in New Jersey.

So it has seemed to me that my privilege this afternoon was not merely a privilege of courtesy, but the real privilege of reminding you—for I am sure I am doing nothing more—of the great principles which we stand associated to promote. I for my part rejoice that we belong to a country in which the whole business of government is so difficult. We do not take orders from anybody; it is a universal communication of conviction, the most subtle, delicate, and difficult of processes. There is not a single individual's opinion that is not of some consequence in making up the grand total, and to be in this great cooperative effort is the most stimulating thing in the world. A man standing alone may well misdoubt his own judgment. He may mistrust his own intellectual processes; he may even wonder if his own heart leads him right in matters of public conduct; but if he finds his heart part of the great throb of a national life, there can be no doubt about it. If that is his happy circumstance, then he may know that he is part of one of the great forces of the world.

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