Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence Day Eve: political thought from one of the finest politicians from the great state of Massachusetts

Lots of folks I know are discussing how they will be spending Independence Day. I will spend tomorrow with friends and family watching fireworks over the Potamac. Then, I will be going up to Boston on business. Thoughts of independence and of Massachusetts started me reflecting on one of my favorite Americans, a humanist with so much wisdom about the true nature of independence: independence as autonomy; independence as freedom from fear; independence for the individual; independence as the responsibility of a good government to guarantee; independence and its dependence on genuinely democratic processes.

In his own words:

[John Adams
Selected quotations]

  • Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
    • On the decision to proclaim independence from British rule, which was made on 2 July 1776, in a letter to Abigail Adams (1776-07-03), published in The Adams Papers : Adams Family Correspondence (2007) edited by Margaret A. Hogan
  • I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory.
    • Letter to Abigail Adams (1776-07-03), published in The Adams Papers : Adams Family Correspondence (2007) edited by Margaret A. Hogan
  • The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
  • Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
  • Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it. (Letter to George Wythe, 1776)
  • You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first.

6 Comments:

Anonymous kavala007 said...

Oh Heidi, thank you. We owe so much to those who fought for and established the United States of America. My support of Hilary Clinton is based on the respect I have for those who met in Philadelphia oh so long ago. In June I sent her a message to that effect and below is part of what I wrote:

"I feel strongly that history has called upon you to remind us of who and what we are and that you have risen to the occasion. You have afforded us, for the first time in a long time, the opportunity to be committed to democracy. You remind us all of what it is to be an American, to speak out for our freedoms, and to honor our responsibilities.

I raised my sons on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bach, Mozart, and opera. I taught them about the founding fathers and how they were ordinary people who were called upon to change history. Those who founded our country rose to that occasion and we are the inheritor’s of their wisdom and pay homage to their sufferings and hardship to create our country. We had strayed from our commitment to the ideals for which they suffered. You have brought us back."

Thank you again Heidi for all that you do.

July 3, 2008 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous GRL said...

PUMA and the Spirit of July 4th
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6qnq4d

The Declaration of Independence has a short passage that should inspire PUMAs to keep on fighting…

It is amazingly applicable to the present situation…

July 4, 2008 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger GC said...

Heidi, I do appreciate your blog. I want to let you know that ever since I was reassured, by you,and other groups (PUMA, no quarter, etc.) that the monies we donate to HRC will be solely to retire her debt, then I have begun contributing what I can, again. I will continue to do so. Our fight is too important; John Adams' letters resonates loudly in me. Thank you for channeling your passion, and using your education, and training for our cause! I am with you in this, along with millions, so...Happy Independence Day!!!

July 4, 2008 at 8:15 AM  
Anonymous adamonis said...

Thank you for this meaningful post.

July 4, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger democraticjack said...

Indeed, bringing us back to the true reasons why we celebrate this day is particularly relevant this year. Your patriotism is more than lip service, Heidi; you are a soldier for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

July 4, 2008 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Grey said...

John Adams is one of my very favorite Americans, too, even while my view is a bit more Jeffersonian in some things.

Thank you for this post, Heidi; the quotes are perfect.

July 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM  

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