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An Address Delivered at the Request of a Committee of the Citizens of Washington

An Address Delivered at the Request of a Committee of the Citizens of Washington

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Excerpt from An Address Delivered at the Request of a Committee of the Citizens of Washington: On the Occasion of Reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July, 1821

Until within a few days preceding that which we have again assembled to commemorate, our Fathers, the people of this Union, had constituted a portion of the British nation; a nation renowned in Arts and Arms, who, from a small Island in the Atlantic Ocean, had extended their dominion over considerable parts of every quarter of the Globe. Governed themselves by a race of kings, whose title to sovereignty had originally been founded in conquest, spell-bound for a succession of ages under that portentous system of despotism and of superstition which in the name of the meek arid humble Jesus had been spread over the Christian world, the history of this nation had, for a period of seven hundred years, from the days of the conquest till our own, exhibited a Conflict almost continual, between the oppressions of power and the claims of right. In the theories of the Crown and the Mitre man had no rights. Neither the body nor the soul of the individual was his own. From the impenetrable gloom of this intellectual darkness, and the deep degradation of this servitude, the British nation had partially emerged. The martyrs of religious freedom had consumed to ashes at the stake: the champions of temporal liberty had bowed their heads upon the scaffold; and the spirits of many a bloody day had left their earthly vesture upon the field of battle, and soared to plead the cause of Liberty before the throne of Heaven. The people of Britain, through long ages of civil war, had extorted from their tyrants not acknowledgements, but grants, of right.

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