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Quotable Independence

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Happy 241st birthday America! And in celebration of the Colonies’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence -- actually on July 2, 1776, with formal congressional approval two days hence -- some ancillary quotes on this founding precept of independence that, unfortunately, contemporary collectivists deride:

“Let every vat stand upon its own bottom,” wrote 16th-century English physician and cleric William Bullein in 1564.

From Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: “Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.”

Consider this:

“Often I’ve been by power oppressed,

“And with deep sorrow tried;

“By the same power I’ve been caressed,

“And I have both defied.”

That’s a bit of verse from 17th/18th-century author Daniel Defoe, the same fella who penned “Robinson Crusoe.”

Then there’s good ol’ Benjamin Franklin, from this 1742 piece in “Poor Richard’s Almanac:

“Studious of ease, and fond of humble things,

“Below the smiles, below the frowns of kings:

“Thanks to my stars, I prize the sweets of life,

“No sleepless nights I count, no days of strife.

“I rest, I wake, I drink, I sometimes love,

“I read, I write, I settle, or I rove;

“Content to live, content to die unknown,

“Lord of myself, accountable to none.”

From the great Longfellow poem “The Village Blacksmith” in 1841:

“His brow is wet with honest sweat,

“He earns whate’er he can,

“And looks the whole world in the face,

“For he owes not any man.”

(So independence-minded was this scrivener’s father, and so intent was he to instill that philosophy in his sons, memorization of that poem was required as children.)

Although the following quote will be deemed horridly impolitic among a certain class of today’s citizenry, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, put it quite adroitly in a message before the Confederate Congress in 1861: “All we ask is to be let alone.”

And finally, this classic quote from one John Adams, in a letter to his wife, on July 3, 1776:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

Adams was off by two days. But his overall prediction proved true. And let us not allow the Founders’ truths to be slain by those who ascribe nefariousness to independence. For independence once was, and it forever must be, the backbone of the American experience.

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