The Fourth of July may be history, but perhaps it won’t hurt to extend that celebration by taking a look at what some of the founding fathers thought about our rebellion against England.
Starting with Samuel Adams (the patriot, not the beer), known as the "Father of the American Revolution,: he believed "a standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the liberties of the people." He said, "Such power should be watched with a jealous eye."
Sam’s cousin, John Adams, the first vice-president and second president who had one of the highest IQs of all our presidents, was so frustrated at the snail’s pace in which the Congress moved, said, "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two are a law firm and three or more are called a congress."
The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who believed so fervently in freedom, he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Jefferson believed "the only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed," he said. "The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."
Not just the founding fathers, but over the years others have added their thoughts on freedom. "The whole freedom of man consists either in spiritual or civil liberty," said poet John Milton" And the famous Italian poet, Dante Alighieri wrote, "Mankind is at its best when it is most free."
The president who led us to victory in World War I, Woodrow Wilson, once said, "The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government power, not the increase of it."
One of America’s greatest Associate Chief Justices, Louis Brandeis, reminded us that "experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal; well-meaning but without understanding."
A later Associate Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson, said, "There is no such thing as an achieved liberty: like electricity, there can be no substantial storage and it must be generated as it is enjoyed, or the lights go out."
Referring to the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1962, John F. Kennedy is quoted as saying, "To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs."
Even more recently, our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, said, "Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success, only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, prosperous, progressive and free."
"The true meaning of America, you ask? It's in a Texas rodeo," answered Audie Murphy, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and the most decorated soldier of World War II. "It’s in a policeman's badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper. In all these things, and many more, you'll find America. In all these things, you'll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me."
But it John Adams’ son, the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, who is credited with a short quote, but nevertheless, one of my favorites, "Always stand on principle," he once said, "even if you have to stand alone."
Remember, unlike life, freedom is not a gift. Freedom is a responsibility.
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