Saturday, July 05, 2008

John Quincy Adams on Independence

From John Quincy Adams’ “Oration on the Life and Character of Gilbert Motier de la Fayette.”
Delivered at the request of both Houses of the Congress of the United States, before them, in the House of Representatives at Washington, on the 31st of December, 1834.
House Journal

The war was revolutionary. It began by the dissolution of the British Government in the Colonies; the People of which were, by that operation, left without any Government whatever. They were then at one and the same time maintaining their independent national existence by war, and forming new social compacts for their own government thenceforward. The construction of civil society; the extent and the limitations of organized power; the establishment of a system of government combining the greatest enlargement of individual liberty with the most perfect preservation of public order, were the continual occupations of every mind. The consequences of this state of things to the history of mankind, and especially of Europe, were foreseen by none. Europe saw nothing but the war; a people struggling for liberty, and against oppression; and the People in every part of Europe sympathized with the people of the American Colonies.

With their Governments it was not so. The people of the American Colonies were insurgents; all Governments abhor insurrection; they were revolted colonists. The great maritime Powers of Europe had Colonies of their own, to which the example of resistance against oppression might be contagious. The American Colonies were stigmatized in all the official acts of the British Government as rebels; and rebellion to the governing part of mankind is as the sin of witchcraft [1 Sam. 15:23]. The Governments of Europe, therefore, were, at heart, on the side of the British Government in this war, and the People of Europe were on the side of the American People.

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