From Another America

America's Glory Is Liberty

[Editor's Note: On July 4, 1821, in honor of America's independence, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams addressed the U.S. House of Representatives. Such thoughts are sorely missed today.]

. . . and now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world . . . should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind?

Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.

She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. . . .

She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit. . . .

[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice. . . .

* * *

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The standard account has it that the buffalo, which lived in perfect harmony with the Indians, were nearly driven to extinction by the European settlers. Larry Schweikart discusses new evidence that this account is upside down.

How would Scrooge have defended himself after reading Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol? It took some doing, but Ted Roberts has the answer.

Disciples of Marx used to promise equal distribution of the great wealth socialism would produce. Now, disguised as environmentalists, Jim Peron writes, they promise equal distribution of poverty.

What’s wrong with the “living wage” being pushed by activists at universities and elsewhere around the United States? Let Walter Block and William Barnett count the ways.

Governments have often engaged in total war, inflicting death and damage on civilian societies as well as military assets. In response to the natural moral revulsion at that warfare, a series of high-toned justifications have been coined—justifications that Joseph Stromberg finds wanting.

If American companies are fleeing to low-tax, or no-tax, jurisdictions outside the country, it stands to reason that the U.S. tax code is to blame. So why can’t commentators figure that out? Scott McPherson has a case in point.

This era of business scandals raises anew the question of business morality. Just what do corporations owe anybody? Norman Barry takes on this question.

India could be rich, but it will stay poor until it dumps its socialism and the social discord it creates. Christopher Lingle shows why.

Our columnists have been hard at work. Lawrence Reed pays tribute to the man who abolished slavery in England. Doug Bandow thinks the President has been rewriting the Constitution. Stephen Davies examines competing theories for why slavery ended in the West. Donald Boudreaux scrutinizes the basic assumptions of economics. Russell Roberts explains why a road on Cape Cod doesn’t get fixed. And George Leef, hearing it said that employers and workers have an inherent conflict of interest, erupts, “It Just Ain’t So!”

This month’s book reviewers report on volumes concerning free speech and spontaneity on the Internet, gun control, U.S. efforts at nation-building, the free market’s alleged distortion of values, and new applications of legal theory.

—Sheldon Richman

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