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:
In his own words:
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Letter to his son, John Quincy Adams (13 November 1816)
- 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)