The doctrine of the Declaration of Independence, predicated upon the glory of man, and the corresponding duty of society, is that the rights of citizens are to be protected with every power and resource of the State, and a government that does any less is false to the teachings of that great document, of the name American. Beyond this, the principle that it is the obligation of the people to rise and overthrow government which fails in these respects. But above all, the call to duty, the pledge of fortune and of life, nobility of character through nobility of action: this is Americanism.
“Woe for us if we forget, we that hold by these.”
Herein are the teachings of this day—touching the heights of man’s glory and the depths of man’s duty. Here lies the path to national preservation, and there is no other. Education, the progress of science, commercial prosperity, yes, and peace, all these and their accompanying blessings are worthy and commendable objects of attainment. But these are not the end, whether these come or no; the end lies in action—action in accord with the eternal principles of the Declaration of Independence; the words of the Continental Congress, but the deeds of the Army of the Revolution.
This is the meaning of America. And it is all our own. Doctrinaires and visionaries may shudder at it. The privilege of birth may jeer at it. The practical politician may scoff at it. But the people of the Nation respond to it, and march away to Mexico to the rescue of a colored trooper as they marched of old to the rescue of an emperor. The assertion of human rights is naught but a call to human sacrifice. This is yet the spirit of the American people. Only so long as this flame burns shall we endure and the light of liberty be shed over the nations of the earth. May the increase of the years increase for America only the devotion to this spirit, only the intensity of this flame, and the eternal truth of Lowell’s lines:
“What were our lives
What all our lives to save thee?
We reck not what we gave thee;
We will not dare to doubt thee,
But ask whatever else and we will dare.”