We are (for the most part) Americans here, or we understand America enough to follow this reasoning. America was founded as a four-legged stool
- The love of liberty
- The faith in a stern God
- The ability to improve oneself
- That ineffable and overpowering sense of individualism, which is the trademark of the American, worldwide, and its concomitant drive for victory, whatever the cost.
For the first point here, we merely have to look at one of the only two conservative revolutions in world history. The American Revolution was not revolutionary in the sense that the French Revolution was, American merely demanded their full rights as Englishmen, which they were. They considered anything less to be a form of slavery, and I’d agree with them. The first American national anthem and the second most popular song during the Revolution makes the point starkly
We’ve never been especially afraid of tyranny because we know it can not be imposed upon a free population without their consent. That’s still true here, in America, where because of our founders, freemen are still armed. Which makes us wonder sometimes, about our cousins who have allowed themselves to be disarmed like sheep despite the lessons of history, from the Assize of Arms in 1181, to Magna Charta, to the Glorious Revolution. It particularly is sometimes found disagreeable over here that when our sportsmen in 1940 found millions of private weapons to help England defend itself against the Nazis, that the government would not trust their subjects by distributing the arms but held them till the end of the war and then destroyed them. For we remember what Thomas Jefferson said:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
And we propose to keep it so. President Jefferson also said this, which our current officials would be wise to heed
Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law,” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.
I’m not going to say too much in this post about Christianity simply because it will end up overlong. Suffice it to say that the historic outlines of free people and Christendom are very nearly the same, and freedom is a heritage of theJudeao-Christian ethical system. I do not say that one cannot be an ethical person without being a Jew or Christian, I merely say that these religions are the font of liberty and the wellspring of thought leading to individual liberty. I probably should say that I am referring here to traditional Christianity with a God that one approaches in fear and trembling because one is aware how unworthy of mercy and how terrible it is to be judged by His standards would be.
The ability to improve oneself is the heart of the American dream. No, it’s not about buying a house or a fancy car or any of that, there’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course, if it is done with reason and honesty. It is emphatically not about the government helping you at the expense of others. Again, the Sage of Monticello, said it best.
Liberty is the great parent of science and of virtue; and a nation will be great in both in proportion as it is free.
He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.
A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
I have very little to add to that.
Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. These pioneers thought they would find in America something resembling the tame, limited, surmountable horizons of England. But they discovered that this new world was entirely different. The scale was vaster than anything they had discovered before. An immense almost unbroken forest extended into distances beyond their comprehension. Rivers, greater, wilder, and more magnificent, than the grandest stream in Britain poured out of the continent- The Connecticut, the Susquehanna, the Potomac, the James, the Roanoke, the Cape Fear, the Savannah, and many others. The settlers saw that the lands drained by the rivers must be vast, that half a dozen Englands could easily be fitted in along the coast. As the decades went by, they ventured up the rivers to find the headwaters, confident that the highlands, where the rivers arose would mark the limit of this new land, and only the huge South Sea lay beyond. But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.
This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.
A sense of democracy and equality spread among the people. The seeds of a future republic were sown. Long before Thomas Jefferson articulated it in the Declaration of Independence. Americans recognized their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But something else came along with the discovery of the illimitable frontier. Americans began to see they had the opportunity to create a country of a wholly different order of magnitude and of a wholly different concept from even the richest countries of Europe. This new land could not only span an entire continent but could also achieve unbelievable wealth and strength. A new aspiration formed- to build on this marvelous, rich, fortunate continent the greatest, most powerful nation on earth, and to people this nation with men and women who were not only prosperous but also happy and free.
It was vision unparalleled in history. It was not an ambition for empire. It was not a vision to subdue other peoples. It was rather a desire for a single people sharing alike in the wealth and blessings of the land, and in the freedom of a society without classes and castes. As the colonies grew and more and more people flooded into it, this dream took on a reality and a certitude that led straight to the American Revolution and beyond.
As the frontier advanced inland, the pioneers became less and less European and “more and more American,” as Frederick Jackson Turner, the great historian of the westward thrust, points out. The American was not only independent, but he took as his birthright the authority to travel wherever he wished into the west and to build there a prosperous future with his own hands.
From this immense social movement two ultra-American principles emerged. The first was a deep resolve to gain freedom, democracy and prosperity, and then to keep them. The second was a related resolve to challenge anybody, whether British overlord or other European powers, who might threaten American security or independence. This determination was brandished in the “Don’t Tread on Me” rattlesnake flag of the American Revolution. Only the older settled towns along the coast expressed much interest in integrating American into a global economy. And there was virtually no interest in extending American ideals throughout the world. American were focused on their own land and their own freedoms, and they were going to brook no interference from anyone in getting them.
But as always we built on the shoulders of giants, we’ve often talked about our English heritage in custom and law but other parts of the United Kingdom also had a deal to do with the fierce desire for Liberty imbued in America. here are a couple of examples.
It should be noted that this song was sung by one of the great heroes of 9/11, Rick Rescorla, born in Cornwall, and veteran of the 1st battle of the Ia Drang valley as he ran into the World Trade Center to make sure his people got out.
This too is our heritage, for this is America, the best of all the nations, the home of the (mostly) Irish 7th Cavalry as well as the Lakota Warriors. It’s a very incredible heritage built by brave men and women over the last 400 years, the last, best hope of western civilization. It is our birthright, to have, to honor, to hold and above all,
To Pass On Unsullied.
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