Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On Rebellion in the face of tyranny

"In short, the flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of depotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them."--Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated."--Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 23, 1776

"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."--Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

"Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God."--Benjamin Frankin, 1776

"If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us."--Patrick Henry, Speech in Virginia Convention, Richmond, March 23, 1775

"The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government . . ."--George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."--Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Stevens Smith, November 13, 1787

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On resolve

Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.--Joseph Warren, Boston Massacre Oration, March 6, 1775

Our unalterable resolution would be to be free. They have attempted to subdue us by force, but God be praised! in vain. Their arts may be more dangerous then their arms. Let us then renounce all treaty with them upon any score but that of total separation, and under God trust our cause to our swords.--Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, April 16, 1776

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.--Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Since private and publick Vices, are in Reality, though not always apparently, so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost Pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children, and the moral Sense kept alive, and that the wise institutions of our Ancestors for these great Purposes be encouraged by the Government. For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.--Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

...And a reminder to us all;

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.--Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775