Historic and inspirational speeches – Before 20th century



The selected speeches

Third Philippic (341 BC)
“On the Crown” (330 BC)

Apology (399 BC)

Alexander the Great
Speech of Alexander the Great (326 BC)

Marcus Tullius Cicero
The First Oration against Catiline (63 BC)
The First Oration against Mark Antony (44 BC)

Farewell Sermon (632)

Pope Urban II
Speech at Clermont (1095)

Saint Francis of Assisi
Sermon to the birds (1220)

Queen Elizabeth I of England
The Spanish Armada Speech (1588)
Golden Speech/ Farewell Speech (1601)

Galileo Galilei
Defense at the trial (1633)

Charles I of England
Speech before execution (1649)

Oliver Cromwell
“In the name of God, go” (1653)

Patrick Henry
“Give me liberty, or give me death” (1775)

George Washington
Resignation Speech (1783)
First Inaugural Address (1789)
Farewell Address (1796)

“Woe to the privileged orders!” (1789)

William Wilberforce
“Horrors of the slave trade” (1789)

“Louis must perish because our country must live!” (1792)

Thomas Jefferson
“Equal and exact justice to all men” (1801)

James Madison
Special Message/ War Message (1812)

Napoléon Bonaparte
Farewell to the Old Guard (1814)

Simón Bolívar
“Letter from Jamaica” (1815)

James Monroe
First Inaugural Address (1817)
The Monroe Doctrine (1823)

Daniel Webster
Plymouth oration (1820)

Daniel O’Connell
“Justice for Ireland” (1836)
On American slavery (1860)

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The American scholar” (1837)

Frederick Douglass
“The hypocrisy of American slavery” (1852)

Abraham Lincoln
“The monstrous injustice of slavery” (1854)
Cooper Union Speech (1860)
First Inaugural Speech (1861)
The Gettysburg Sddress (1863)
Second Inaugural Address (1865)

George Graham Vest
“Tribute to the dog” (c. 1855)

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Encouraging his soldiers (1860)

Otto von Bismarck
Blood and Iron Speech (1862)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“The true woman” (1868)
“Solitude of self” (1892)

Susan B. Anthony
On women’s rights (1873)

Chief Joseph
“I will fight no more forever” (1877)

William Gladstone
Irish Home Rule Speech (1886)

Arthur Balfour
“The benefits of reading” (1887)

References and Bibliography



A good speech may represent a landmark or even a turning point in history, or a vision, a critic, or an inspiration. A good speech can combine history, rhetoric art and even literature values. As I love to read history and literature, I am fascinated by good speeches.

This is the first post in the series of “Historic and inspirational speeches”. Two other posts are:

  • Historic and inspirational speeches – During 20th century
  • Historic and inspirational speeches – After 20th century

My collection of good speeches is regrettably one-sided, focusing mainly on English language materials, with Western influence, since I have limited access to other sources. However, it is undeniable that good Western speakers are good orators. According to one remark,

Oratory plays a central role in Western politics. A young Justin Trudeau’s moving eulogy for his father catapulted him to national prominence. Nicolas Sarkozy’s muscular flamboyance charmed France—until it didn’t. Without his rhetorical flair, Hitler would likely have been just an exceptionally angsty artist, instead of the man who nearly conquered Europe. In Britain, parliamentary debates lie at the hub of political life, and its leaders, from Lloyd George to Churchill, Blair to Cameron, have been verbal duelists, their weapons barbed words and stiletto wit.

The history of the United States is also in many ways a history of speech: Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, JFK’s inaugural, Reagan’s challenge at the Brandenburg Gate. It’s no coincidence that the two most surprisingly successful candidates in the last election, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, were the most effective speakers. (While no one could accuse Trump of eloquence, there’s also no denying that his rhetoric roused Republican voters.)


Great oratory has three components: style, substance, and impact.

Style: A great speech must be masterfully constructed. The best orators are masters of both the written and spoken word, and use words to create texts that are beautiful to both hear and read.

Substance: A speech may be flowery and charismatically presented, and yet lack any true substance at all. Great oratory must center on a worthy theme; it must appeal to and inspire the audience’s finest values and ideals.

Impact: Great oratory always seeks to persuade the audience of some fact or idea. The very best speeches change hearts and minds and seem as revelatory several decades or centuries removed as when they were first given.



All speech is vain and empty unless it be accompanied by action. (Demosthenes)

I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. (Socrates)

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. (Alexander the Great)

Every man can tell how many goats or sheep he possesses, but not how many friends. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. (Muhammad)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. (Martin Luther)

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. (George Washington)

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. (Robespierre)

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. (Thomas Jefferson)

Keep cool; anger is not an argument. (Daniel Webster)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read. (Abraham Lincoln)

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war. (Otto von Bismarck)

The selected speeches

Some speeches have been posted separately, as follows:

“Let tyrants fear” (1588) – Elizabeth Ihttps://tamdiepblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/let-tyrants-fear-elizabeth-i/

“The triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and corruption” (1819) – Simón Bolívar – https://tamdiepblog.wordpress.com/category/triet-ly-philosophy/

The Gettysburg Address (1863) – Abraham Lincoln – https://tamdiepblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/the-gettysburg-address-abraham-lincoln/



Demosthenes (384-322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of 20, in which he argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits.

Demosthenes grew interested in politics during his time as a logographer, and in 354 BC he gave his first public political speeches. He went on to devote his most productive years to opposing Macedon’s expansion. He idealized his city and strove throughout his life to restore Athens’ supremacy and motivate his compatriots against Philip II of Macedon. He sought to preserve his city’s freedom and to establish an alliance against Macedon, in an unsuccessful attempt to impede Philip’s plans to expand his influence southwards by conquering all the other Greek states.

After Philip’s death, Demosthenes played a leading part in his city’s uprising against the new King of Macedon, Alexander the Great. However, his efforts failed and the revolt was met with a harsh Macedonian reaction. To prevent a similar revolt against his own rule, Alexander’s successor in this region, Antipater, sent his men to track Demosthenes down. Demosthenes took his own life, in order to avoid being arrested by Archias, Antipater’s confidant.


Because his father wasn’t around, womenfolk brought up Demosthenes unconventionally, outside the public sphere. He was isolated for much of his childhood, left alone with his books, and therefore not given the proper guidance and training a boy would have typically received in ancient Greece. He was passionate about public speaking, though, and he read speech after speech after speech, memorizing and then practicing their delivery.

Demosthenes had to overcome several weaknesses, including a speech impediment. He put a pebble in his mouth to train his mouth to be understood, and because he was so frail and scrawny, he ran up hills while speaking to train his body to become used to fatigue. Next, he went to speak in front of the ocean to strengthen his voice, so he’d be able to be heard in large gatherings and crowds.

Following all that dedicated practice, he went to a court appearance to fight for his father’s inheritance – his first attempt at public speaking in front of a large group. He was successful and won the case. From there, he began preparing a speech to the Assembly about military reform. And at this second speech, he made no real impression at all. Yet, a year later, after serving as a ship’s captain, he gave another speech, which was wildly successful because he spoke from personal experience – a characteristic that is essential in public speaking. One must speak from personal knowledge to boost credibility and garner respect.

Several things we can learn from Demosthenes’ experience.

First, simply to get started; it’s imperative to face the difficulty, face the fear and face the struggle.

Second, practice, practice and practice some more. Demosthenes was successful because he practiced religiously.

Third, it’s important to cross train; don’t limit yourself to just working on delivery, but rather run to build up stamina, read historical speeches to feel inspired, shout your speech to work up volume, and on and on.

Fourth, memorization is key. Practice memorizing beloved speeches, and do what you can to memorize your own, if only to be as familiar with it as possible.

And last but certainly not lease, persevere. Demosthenes’ second speech fell flat on its face; it made no impression whatsoever on the audience. Don’t expect to succeed your very first time, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed. You’re your own worst critic, Professor Hale says, so keep your head held high, learn from your mistakes and continue on.


Third Philippic (341 BC)

Demosthenes, master statesman and orator, loved his city-state of Athens. He cherished its way of life and abundant freedoms. And he believed in standing strong against anyone who might attempt to infringe on these privileges. This passion, unfortunately, was seldom shared by his fellow Athenians. While Philip the II of Macedon made bolder and bolder incursions into the Greek peninsula, the Athenian people seemed stuck in an apathetic stupor. For years, Demosthenes employed his powerful oratorical skills in attempts to awaken his fellow citizens from sleep to the realization of the imminent danger Philip posed. When Philip advanced on Thrace, the Athenians called an assembly to debate whether or not to finally heed the great orator’s advice. Demosthenes was sick of his brethren taking liberty and the Athenian way of life for granted, so he boldly called upon them to rise up and take action. After his rousing speech, the assembly all cried out, “To arms! To arms!”


The Third Philippic is considered the best of Demosthenes’ political orations, because of its passionate and evocative style. From the moment he delivered the Third Philippic, Demosthenes imposed himself as the most influential politician of Athens.

This speech is evaluated as #4 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History, the website The Art of Manliness.

Note by David Phillips on the text. Two versions of the text of the Third Philippic have been transmitted to us by the manuscripts. In the translation that follows I have placed in italics those parts present in the longer version but not in the shorter.

[1] Many speeches are given, men of Athens, at almost every Assembly meeting concerning the injustices Philip has been committing since he concluded the peace(1), not just against you but against the others as well. And everyone, I know, would say – even if they would not actually do it – that we must speak and act so that Philip will cease his Athenian political oratory hubris and pay the penalty for it. I see, however, that all our affairs have been gradually neglected, to the point where – I am afraid to utter an illomened statement, true though it may be – if everyone who came forward wanted to propose, and you wanted to approve, measures that would result in the most pathetic state of affairs possible, I think you could do no worse than your current condition.

[2] Now, perhaps there are many reasons for these things, and it is not due to one or two causes that the situation has come to this. But if you examine it correctly, you will find that it is especially due to those who choose to court popularity rather than proposing what is best. Some of these people, men of Athens, in protecting those areas in which their reputation and power lie, exhibit no forethought for the future, and they therefore think that you should not either. Others, by bringing slanderous accusations against those in charge of public affairs, are only acting so that the city will punish itself and be occupied with that, while Philip will have the ability to say and do whatever he wants.

[3] Such political behavior, customary as it is for you, is the cause of your troubles. I call upon you, men of Athens, if I tell some part of the truth with frankness, not to become angry with me because of it. Look at it like this. In other contexts, you think that freedom of speech should be so common to everyone in the city that you have given it to foreigners and slaves; you could see slaves in great number among us saying what they want with greater impunity than citizens enjoy in some other cities. But you have completely eliminated free speech from public deliberation. [4] It then results that in the Assembly you are soft and flattered, hearing everything with an ear to pleasure, while in the real world of current events you are already at mortal risk. Well, if this is your attitude even now, I do not know what to say. If, on the other hand, you are willing to hear what is in your interest without flattery, I am ready to tell you. For, in fact, even if our affairs are in entirely pitiful shape and many of them have been abandoned, nonetheless it is still possible to rectify them all, if you are willing to do what you must.

[5] And what I am about to say may be incredible, but it is true: what was worst about our past is best for our future. And what is that? The fact that our affairs are in bad shape when you have taken none of the necessary steps, great or small. You see, if you had done everything you ought to and things were in this condition, there would be no hope for improvement. As it is, though, Philip has conquered your laziness and negligence, but he has not conquered the city. You have not been beaten; you have not even moved.

[6] So, if we were all in agreement that Philip is at war with the city and in violation of the peace, then the speaker who came forward would only have to propose and advise the safest and easiest way to resist him. But since some people are of such a strange attitude that, although Philip is capturing cities and occupying many of your possessions and wronging all mankind, they put up with certain individuals(2) saying repeatedly in the Assembly that it is some of us(3) who are creating the war, necessity dictates that we be on our guard and correct this: [7] for the fear is that a person who proposes and advises resistance may incur responsibility for having brought about the war. For my part, first of all, I state and define the issue as follows; namely, whether it is up to us to decide whether we should be at peace or at war.

[8] Now, if it is possible for the city to be at peace, and if it is up to us – to start from there – then I say that we must be at peace; and I call upon him who takes that position to make a proposal, put it into effect, and not cheat us. But if someone else, with his weapons in his hands and a considerable force around him, throws the word “peace” in your face while himself performing acts of war, what is left for you except to defend yourselves? Say you are at peace, if you like, as he does; I have no problem with that. [9] But if someone understands as peace a situation which allows Philip to seize everything else and then come for us, first of all, he is out of his mind, and secondly, he is talking about a peace obeyed by you in regard to Philip, not one obeyed by Philip in regard to you. This is what Philip is buying with all the money he spends:(4) the ability to make war on you without your making war on him.

[10] If we are actually going to wait until he admits to making war on us, we are the stupidest of all men. For even if he marches on Attica itself and the Peiraeus, he will not say that – if, that is, we are to judge from his conduct toward the others. [11] To give one example, he told the Olynthians, when he was forty stades(5) away from their city, that one of two things must happen: either they must cease to inhabit Olynthus or he must cease to inhabit Macedonia. All the previous time, whenever someone accused him of any such behavior, he would wax indignant and send ambassadors to respond on his behalf. To give another example, he went to visit the Phocians, as if visiting allies, and he had Phocian ambassadors escorting him on his trip; and here in Athens the masses contended that his passage would not profit the Thebans.

[12] And, as a matter of fact, just the other day he went to Thessaly as a friend and ally and seized Pherae, which he still holds. And most recently he claimed to have sent his soldiers to visit the poor suffering Oreites(6) out of goodwill: he had heard that they were ill and suffering civil strife, and it was the duty of true allies and friends to be present at such times of crisis. [13] So, given his choice to deceive those people – who would have inflicted no harm but might have taken precautions to avoid suffering any – rather than declaring his intent and using force, do you suppose that he will make war on you by open declaration, and do so while you are still willingly deceived? [14] That is not possible: he would be the stupidest of all men, if you, the injured party, issued no complaint against him, instead accusing your own people, but he resolved your internal strife and dissension and announced that he was turning it against himself! He would also be taking out of his employees’ mouths the words that they use to put you off, telling you that Philip, for his part, is not at war with the city.

[15] Is there, in the name of Zeus, any sensible person who would judge whether someone is at war or at peace with him based on words rather than actions? Certainly not. Well, from the beginning, as soon as the peace went into effect – with Diopeithes not yet serving as general and the men currently in the Chersonese not yet sent out – Philip was capturing Serrhium and Doriscus and was expelling from Serrheion Teichos and the Sacred Mount the soldiers stationed there by your general [Chares].

[16] And what was he doing when he did this? He had taken the oath of peace. And let no one say, “What does that mean? Why does the city care?” Whether these matters are insignificant, or none of your concern, is a separate issue; piety and justice carry the same weight whether the transgression is great or small. So tell me, when he dispatches mercenaries and admits to sending aid to the Chersonese, which the Great King and all the Greeks have acknowledged as yours, and when he writes as much in his letter, what is he doing?

[17] He says that he is not making war; I, however, am far from agreeing that he is abiding by the peace with you when he commits these acts. Rather, I assert that, in making an attempt on Megara, establishing tyranny on Euboea, and now advancing on Thrace and intriguing in Peloponnesian affairs, and in using his army to do all that he does, he is violating the peace and making war on you – unless you are going to say that men directing siege engines are waging peace until they have already brought them up to your walls. But you will not say that, for he who acts and plots for my capture makes war on me, even before he fires a missile or shoots an arrow.

[18] Now, what would put you at risk, if something were to happen? The Hellespont in the hands of another; Megara and Euboea under the control of your enemy; the Peloponnesians siding with Philip. Am I, then, supposed to tell you that the man aiming this siege engine at your city is waging peace? [19] Not by a long shot. By my definition, he has been at war with us since the day he destroyed the Phocians. As for you, if you resist him immediately, I say you will have come to your senses; but if you leave him alone, you will be unable to resist him when you do want to. My position is so far from that of your other advisors, men of Athens, that I think now you should not be investigating the Chersonese or Byzantium [20] but coming to their defense and watching over them to see that they suffer no harm and sending our soldiers who are there now(7) everything they ask for. Further, you must deliberate concerning all the Greeks with the understanding that they are in a situation of grave danger. And I want to tell you why I am so afraid for our situation, so that, if I am reasoning correctly, you may share in my assessment and exercise some care for yourselves, even if you are not willing to do so for the others; but if you decide that I am speaking nonsense and have gone insane, you need not pay attention to me, as though I were in my right mind, either now or ever again.

[21] Philips original rise to greatness from insignificant and lowly beginnings; and the Greeks’ mutually distrustful and divisive attitudes; and the fact that it was much more unexpected for him to grow so powerful from what he once was than, now that he has already seized so much, for him to place the rest under his dominion as well; and all such topics, which I could discuss in detail, I will pass over.

[22] This I will say, though. I see that all mankind, taking their lead from you, has conceded to him the thing over which all previous Greek wars have been fought. And what is that? The right to do whatever he wants, to mutilate the Greeks and strip them bare one by one, just like that, and to attack and enslave their cities.

[23] Now, you were the leaders of Greece for seventy-three years, and the Spartans were her leaders for twenty-nine years; even the Thebans possessed some strength during those most recent times after the battle of Leuctra. Even so, neither you nor the Thebans nor the Spartans were ever, men of Athens, conceded by the Greeks the right to do whatever you wanted; far from it.

[24] Instead, for one thing, since you – or, I should say, those Athenians back then – appeared to some people to behave immoderately, everyone considered it necessary – even those with no complaints against the Athenians – to go to war with Athens along with the injured parties. And again, after the Spartans had risen to empire and arrived at the same supremacy you had enjoyed, when they attempted to extend their power and tried to alter established institutions beyond moderation,(8) everyone became embroiled in war, even those with no complaints against the Spartans.

[25] Why do we need to discuss the rest? We ourselves and the Spartans, despite having no mutual wrongs to cite at the outset, nonetheless found it necessary to go to war due to the wrongs we witnessed others suffering. And further, all the faults committed by the Spartans during their thirty years, and by our ancestors during their seventy years, are fewer, men of Athens, than the offenses Philip has committed against the Greeks in the less than thirteen years he has been on top(9) – to put it better, their offenses do not even constitute a fraction of his.

[26] This is easy to demonstrate in a few words. I pass over Olynthus and Methone and Apollonia and thirty-two cities in the Thraceward region(10), all of which he has eradicated so savagely that a traveler there cannot easily tell whether they were ever inhabited. I will also remain silent concerning the destruction of the Phocian people, great as it was. But what about Thessaly: how is it doing? Has he not taken away their constitutions and cities and established tetrarchies, so that they are enslaved not just city by city but tribe by tribe as well? [27] Are the cities of Euboea not already ruled by tyrants, and that on an island next to Thebes and Athens? Does he not write explicitly in his letters, “I am at peace with those who are willing to listen to me?” Does he not write these things but fail to live up to them with his actions? Instead, he goes after the Hellespont; earlier he attacked Ambracia; in the Peloponnese he holds Elis(11), a city of such importance; and just recently he launched a plot against Megara. Neither Greece nor barbarian country can contain the man’s greed.

[28] And although all of us Greeks see and hear of these developments, we do not send ambassadors to each other regarding them and express our indignation: we are in such poor shape and so undermined, city by city, that up to this very day we have been unable to do a single beneficial or necessary thing. We cannot unite or form any partnership of aid and friendship. [29] Instead, as the man grows more powerful, we overlook it; each of us, it seems to me, has decided to profit in the interval while someone else is ruined, rather than investigating or acting for the salvation of Greece. I say this because everyone is aware that Philip is just like the recurrence or onset of a fever or some other illness that reaches even the person who currently appears to be quite far away.

[30] And you all know that, as for everything the Greeks suffered at the Spartans’ hands or at ours, at least they were wronged by legitimate sons of Greece. You could interpret it in the same way as if a legitimate son born to great wealth managed something poorly and incorrectly: for that individual action he deserves criticism and prosecution, but you cannot say that he lacked the standing, as relative or heir, to act.(12)

[31] If, however, a slave or supposititious child(13) ruined and spoiled what did not belong to him, Heracles! how much more terrible and infuriating everyone would say it was. But this is not their attitude concerning Philip and his present actions, even though he is not a Greek or related to the Greeks at all, or even a barbarian from a place respectable to mention, but a pest from Macedonia, a place where in the past you could not even buy a decent slave.

[32] And yet what act of the utmost hubris does he leave undone? In addition to his destruction of cities, does he not conduct the Pythian Games, the common competition of the Greeks, even sending his slaves(14) to run the games in his absence? Does he control Thermopylae and the approaches to Greece, occupying those places with garrisons and mercenaries? Does he also possess the right to consult the god first – a right not even shared by all the Greeks – having shoved aside us, the Thessalians, the Dorians, and the rest of the Amphictyons? [33] Does he write to the Thessalians regarding the manner in which they are to govern themselves? Does he dispatch mercenaries, some to Porthmus(15) to expel the Eretrian democrats, others to Oreus to install Philistides as tyrant? The Greeks see these things but put up with them nonetheless; they seem to me, at least, to watch as they would watch a hailstorm: everyone prays that it does not fall on him, but no one tries to prevent it.

[34] And it is not only his hubristic acts against Greece as a whole which meet with no resistance, but even his crimes against each individual – for this is the utmost limit. Has he not attacked Ambracia and Leucas, property of the Corinthians? Has he not sworn to hand over Naupactus, property of the Achaeans, to the Aetolians? Has he not taken away Echinus(16), property of the Thebans, and is he not now proceeding against the Byzantines, his own allies? [35] As for our possessions, I omit the rest, but does he not hold Cardia, the greatest city of the Chersonese? And all of us who suffer this treatment delay and display our cowardice and cast glances at our neighbors, distrusting each other instead of the one who is mistreating us all. And yet, when he treats all of us with such brutality, what do you think he is going to do when he becomes master of each of us individually?

[36] What, then, is the cause of this? For it is not without reason and just cause that the Greeks were so readily disposed to freedom then or to slavery now. There was something then – there was, men of Athens – in the minds of the masses that is not present now, which conquered the wealth of the Persians, led Greece on the path of freedom, and met no defeat in battle on sea or land, whose loss now has spoiled everything and turned the entire situation upside down. [37] And what was it? Nothing complicated or ingenious; simply that people who took money from those desiring to rule or corrupt Greece were universally detested, and a conviction of receiving bribes was a very unpleasant prospect: they punished such offenders with the harshest penalty. [38] Thus the opportunity for any given action, which Fortune often provides even to the negligent at the expense of the attentive, could not be bought from the politicians or the generals; nor could their concord with each other, their distrust for tyrants and barbarians, or, in general, anything of the sort.

[39] Now, however, all these have been sold away like merchandise in the agora(17); and the things which have been imported in their place have left Greece ruined and destroyed. What are these? Envy, if someone has received something; mockery, if he admits it; pardon for those who are convicted; hostility, if someone criticizes them; and everything else attached to bribery. [40] You see, as far as triremes are concerned, and the sheer amount of men and money, and the abundance of other materiel, and all other criteria by which one might judge cities powerful, everyone possesses these in far greater number and magnitude now than their predecessors did. But these assets are made useless, ineffective, and worthless by those who offer them for sale.

[41] Certainly you all see that this is the state of things now, and you need no further testimony from me. That the opposite situation obtained in prior times I will show you, not in my own words, but by reciting a document of your ancestors which they inscribed on a bronze pillar and set up on the Acropolis, not for their own use (since even without this document they possessed the necessary attitude), but so that you might have an example to remind you how seriously you ought to treat such matters. [42] So, what does the document say? It reads, “Arthmius son of Pythonax of Zeleia shall be an outlaw and a public enemy of the Athenian people and of their allies, himself and his descendants.” Next is written the reason for which this occurred: “because he brought the gold from the Medes to the Peloponnese(18).” That is the document. [43] Consider, now, by the gods, what the intent of those Athenians back then was in doing this, or what their decision entailed. Because a citizen of Zeleia, Arthmius, a slave(19) of the Great King (Zeleia is in Asia) brought gold to the Peloponnese – not to Athens – in the service of his master, they registered him and his descendants as public enemies of the Athenians and their allies, and outlaws. [44] This was not what one would call outlawry in the ordinary sense; for what was it to a Zeleite if he was not going to share the rights of Athenian citizens? But this is not what it means. Rather, it is written in the homicide laws, concerning individuals in whose cases homicide trials are not granted, but whose killings are sanctioned: “and let him die an outlaw.” The meaning is this: he who kills a person in this category is free of pollution.(20)

[45] They therefore considered the safety of all the Greeks to be their concern: they would not have cared if someone tried to buy and corrupt people in the Peloponnese unless this were their understanding. And they chastised and punished those whom they detected so severely that they even put their names on a pillar. It resulted from this, with good reason, that the Greeks were formidable to the barbarian, not the barbarian to the Greeks. But such is not the case now, for you do not possess the same attitude toward these or other matters. What is your attitude? [46] You know it yourselves; why do I have to accuse you on all counts? And all the rest of the Greeks are in a similar condition and no better than you. This is why I declare that the present situation requires considerable effort and good planning. What do I mean? Do you bid me tell you? And will you not get angry?

[47] Now then, there is a silly argument advanced by those who want to reassure the city that goes like this: “Philip is not yet as powerful as the Spartans once were when they ruled over all the sea and land, with the Great King as their ally, and nothing could withstand them; and our city resisted them nonetheless and was not eradicated(21).” But in my opinion, although great progress has been made in practically all areas and nothing now is similar to what it was then, no greater revolution and advance has occurred than in the art of war. [48] First of all, I hear that in those days the Spartans and everyone else would invade and ravage the land for four or five months – during the campaigning season proper – with armies of citizen hoplites, and would then withdraw and return home. They were so old-fashioned – or, rather, such good citizens – that nothing was bought from anyone with money; instead they fought a customary and open kind of war.

[49] Now, however, you must see that traitors have caused most losses and nothing gets decided by pitched battle; you hear that Philip marches wherever he pleases not because he leads a phalanx of hoplites(22), but because he has attached to himself light infantry, cavalry, archers, mercenaries, that sort of army. [50] And, on top of that, whenever he attacks a city suffering from internal illness, and no one comes out to defend their land due to distrust, he positions his engines of war and lays siege. I say nothing of summer and winter, how there is no difference between them and no specified off-season during which he lets up.

[51] Assuming, then, that we all know these things and take them into consideration, we must not admit the war into our land, nor twist our necks looking at the simplicity of the previous war against the Spartans; rather, with our policies and preparations we must establish our defense as far away as possible, seeing to it that Philip does not budge from his home and that we by no means fight it out at close range. [52] For, when it comes to war, we have many natural advantages – if, men of Athens, we are willing to do what we must – including the nature of his country, much of which we can plunder and ravage, and countless other factors. For a pitched battle, however, he is better trained than we are.

[53] You must not only recognize these things and resist him with military operations; in addition, with your reasoning and judgment you must detest those who plead his case in the Assembly, keeping in mind that it is not possible to conquer the enemies of the city until you punish their underlings in the city itself. [54] Which, by Zeus and the other gods, you will not be able to do. You have sunk to such depths of idiocy or insanity or I don’t know what to call it (it has often occurred to me to fear this too, that some supernatural power is driving our affairs) that, for the sake of reproach or envy or humor or whatever motive you happen to act upon, you demand speeches from hirelings, some of whom do not even deny their status, and you laugh when they insult people. [55] Awful though this is, it gets still worse: you have allowed these people to pursue their policies in greater safety than the politicians who speak for you! And yet look at how many disasters have been facilitated by your willingness to listen to this sort of people. I will state facts with which you will all be familiar.

[56] Of those active in politics at Olynthus there were some who belonged to Philip and served him in everything, and others who served the best interest of their city and acted to prevent the enslavement of their fellow citizens. Which side brought their country to ruin? Which side betrayed the cavalry, by whose betrayal Olynthus was lost? Philip’s supporters, who, while the city still existed, maliciously prosecuted and slandered those who made the best proposals such that the people of Olynthus were even persuaded to banish Apollonides(23).

[57] And it is not just among the Olynthians and nowhere else that this habit has caused all sorts of trouble. In Eretria, when they had rid themselves of Plutarchus and his mercenaries, and the people held the city and Porthmus(24), some wanted to put their affairs in your hands, while others wanted to put them in Philip’s. For the most part the poor unfortunate Eretrians preferred to listen to the latter party, and in the end they were persuaded to expel the men who spoke in their interests. [58] And in consequence their ally Philip sent them Hipponicus and a thousand mercenaries, tore down the walls of Porthmus, and installed three tyrants: Hipparchus(25), Automedon, and Cleitarchus. Since then he has already expelled them from their country twice when they wanted to save themselves, sending once the mercenaries under Eurylochus, and again those under Parmenion.63

[59] Why do we need to discuss the majority of cases? At Oreus, though, Philistides worked for Philip, as did Menippus and Socrates and Thoas and Agapaeus, who are now in charge of the city (and everyone knew it); but a person by the name of Euphraeus, who once lived here among us(26), was working to keep the Oreites free and slaves to no one. [60] The other ways in which this man was treated with hubris and abused by the people would make a long story; but a year before the capture of Oreus he denounced Philistides and his associates as traitors, having detected what they were doing. A large band of men, with Philip as their chorus-master(27) and chairman, dragged Euphraeus off to prison on a charge of stirring up the city.

[61] Seeing this, the people of Oreus, instead of coming to his aid and nailing them to the board, showed no anger at them and declared him deserving of his punishment and celebrated. After that, they [Philistides and his partisans] had all the freedom they wanted to work for their city’s capture, and they arranged to effect it; any of the masses who noticed was terrified into silence, remembering what had happened to Euphraeus. So miserable was their condition that no one dared utter a sound in the face of such disaster approaching until the enemy was assaulting their walls in full battle order. At that point, some tried to defend their city, others worked to betray it.

[62] With their city captured in such a shameful and dishonorable manner, the traitors rule as tyrants; as for their previous saviors, who had been ready to do anything whatsoever to Euphraeus, some they banished, others they executed. The esteemed Euphraeus killed himself, bearing witness in deed that he had taken a stand against Philip on behalf of his fellow citizens from just and pure motives.

[63] What, then, is the reason, you are probably wondering, that the Olynthians and Eretrians and Oreites were more friendly to Philip’s defenders than to their own? It is the same reason that obtains among you. Those who speak in your best interests sometimes cannot offer a popular proposal, even if they want to, because they have to see to the preservation of our affairs; while the other group collaborates with Philip in the very acts by which it gains popularity. [64] The former urged the payment of war-taxes; the latter said it was unnecessary. The former urged war and distrust; the latter urged peace, until they were caught in the trap. All the other instances occurred, I think, in the same way (so as not to describe them individually): one group proposed what would make itself popular; the other proposed what would save their city. Mostly, in the end, the masses submitted not so much for their own pleasure or out of ignorance; they gave in because they thought all was lost.

[65] I fear, by Zeus and Apollo, that you will suffer the same fate, when you count it all up and realize that there is nothing you can do. May our situation never come to that, men of Athens; it is better to die ten thousand deaths than to do anything to flatter Philip and sacrifice any of the men who defend your interests. What a fine return the Oreites have received for entrusting themselves to Philip’s friends and rejecting Euphraeus! [66] What a fine return the people of Eretria have received for driving out your ambassadors and placing themselves in Cleitarchus’ hands: they are slaves, whipped and slaughtered. How nobly Philip spared the Olynthians, who elected Lasthenes hipparch(28) and banished Apollonides!

[67] It is stupidity and cowardice to entertain such hopes, and to take bad advice and be unwilling to do anything that you should, instead listening to those who speak on behalf of the enemy and thinking that you inhabit a city of such magnitude that no disaster will befall you regardless of what happens. [68] And it would surely be a disgrace to say at some later point, “Who could have thought this would happen? By Zeus, we should have done this and that and not done the other thing.” The Olynthians could mention many things now which, if they had foreseen them at the time, would have prevented their destruction. So could the Oreites; so could the Phocians; so could each of the peoples that have been brought to ruin. [69] But what good does it do them? While the ship is still safe, be it large or small, that is the time for the sailor and the helmsman and each man down the line to show his zeal and see to it that no one either intentionally or unintentionally capsizes the vessel; but when the sea overwhelms it, the effort is pointless.

[70] As for us, then, men of Athens, while we are still safe, possessing the greatest city, the most resources, the finest reputation, what are we to do? Someone has probably been sitting here wanting to ask this for a while now. I will tell you, by Zeus, and I will also draft a proposal, so that you may approve it, if you like. First of all, we ourselves(29) must see to our defense and make preparations, I mean with triremes and money and soldiers; for certainly, even if everyone else submits to slavery, we must fight for freedom.

[71] Having made all these preparations ourselves, and having made them conspicuous, then let us summon the rest to join us; let us dispatch ambassadors to give these instructions in every direction: I mean to the Peloponnese, to Rhodes, to Chios, to the Great King (for it is not foreign to his interests to keep Philip from conquering everything)(30), so that, if you convince them, you will have partners in the dangers and the expenses, if necessary, and if not, you will at least impose delays on the situation.(31) [72] Since the war is against a man and not against the might of a united city, this is not a useless undertaking; nor were last year’s embassies sent around the Peloponnese to lodge accusations, when I and that excellent man Polyeuctus there and Hegesippus(32) and the rest of the ambassadors circulated and caused Philip to hold his position rather than attacking Ambracia or setting out against the Peloponnese.

[73] Now, I am not proposing that we summon the others when we ourselves are unwilling to take a single necessary step on our own behalf. It would be silly for us to claim to care about other people’s interests when we abandon our own, and to neglect the present but make others fear for the future. This is not what I mean; rather, I say that we must send money to the men in the Chersonese(33) and do whatever else they call for. We must prepare ourselves, and we must convoke, assemble, instruct, and admonish the rest of the Greeks; this is the duty of a city with as great a reputation as you possess. [74] And if you think the Chalcidians or the Megarians will save Greece while you run away from the problem, you are not thinking correctly: each of them will be happy if they can save themselves. This has to be done by you; this is the prize your ancestors won and bequeathed to you through many grave dangers. [75] But if each of you is going to sit there searching for what he wants and figuring out how he himself can avoid doing anything, in the first place, he will never find anyone to do it for him; and secondly, I fear that we will be compelled to do all the things we do not want to do at the same time.

[76] This is what I have to say; this is what I propose. I think that even now, if these measures are put into effect, our situation can still be rectified. But if someone has a better proposal than this, let him speak and advise us. And whatever you decide, I pray to all the gods that it be to your benefit.


(1) the peace: the Peace of Philocrates (Part Two, Philip and Athens, pp. 74–75).

(2) certain individuals: such as Aeschines.

(3) some of us: Athenians; or, more narrowly understood, Demosthenes and his hard-line anti-Macedonian partisans (including Hegesippus, author of [Demosthenes] 7 On Halonnesus, and Polyeuctus: see below, §72).

(4) eliminated free speech: On bribes for Athenian politicians; cf. Hegesippus=[Demosthenes] 7.45; Demosthenes 8.66, 8.76.

(5) forty stades: one stade (Greek stadion)=1/9–1/8 mile; thus forty stades is approximately five miles.

(6) Oreites: residents of Oreus on the north coast of Euboea. Cf. Demosthenes 8.36, 59.

(7) Diopeithes and his mercenaries.

(8) institutions beyond moderation: Thebes serves as the prime example. In 382 the Spartan commander Phoebidas seized the Theban acropolis, called the Cadmeia; a Spartan garrison remained in Thebes, protecting a pro-Spartan government, until its ejection in 379.

(9) thirteen years he has been on top: Demosthenes appears to date Philip’s prominence in the Greek world from his first involvement in the Third Sacred War.

(10) Philip captured Methone in 354 and Olynthus in 348. For Apollonia cf. Hegesippus=[Demosthenes] 7.28. The thirty-two cities are the members of the Chalcidic League led by Olynthus.

(11) Elis was seized by a pro-Philip party in 343.

(12) standing, as relative or heir: Demosthenes draws an analogy with the Athenian law of inheritance. Mismanaging one’s estate could be actionable at law: there existed a graphê paranoias (literally, “public action for insanity”) available against those incapable of managing their property responsibly. Such individuals were also barred from addressing the Assembly. Cases of disputed inheritance were handled separately, usually via the procedure called diadikasia (adjudication between rival claimants).

(13) supposititious child: a child fraudulently substituted for the real heir.

(14) slaves: Philip presided over the Pythian Games in person in 346 and by proxy in 342. Greek writers often refer to the subjects of monarchs as “slaves”.

(15) Porthmus was located on Euboea near Eretria.

(16) Echinus: a Theban colony on the north coast of the Malian Gulf.

(17) agora: the central marketplace of a Greek city. The agora of Athens was located north of the Areopagus and northwest of the Acropolis.

(18) On the Arthmius decree, probably passed in the 460s or 450s.

(19) slave: a subject.

(20) The Greeks believed that homicide generally brought a ritual pollution upon the perpetrator. Demosthenes interprets the clause he cites (from the homicide legislation of Draco, 621/0) as stating that the killing of an outlaw did not pollute the killer.

(21) In the Corinthian War.

(22) hoplites: the backbone of the Macedonian army. During the course of the fourth century, however, the hoplite lost some of his prominence as other, more flexible and integrated formations arose under commanders such as Iphicrates of Athens (during the Corinthian War), Epaminondas of Thebes (killed in action at the battle of Mantinea, 362), and Philip and Alexander of Macedon.

(23) Apollonides: a leading Olynthian democrat.

(24) the people held the city and Porthmus: this occurred in 348.

(25) Hipparchus: in 343–342, Hipponicus was one of Philip’s generals. Hipparchus of Eretria is mentioned in a catalogue of Greek traitors at Demosthenes On the Crown 295; Automedon is otherwise unattested.

(26) among us: Euphraeus had studied under Plato, who then sent him to the royal court of Macedon during the reign of Philip’s brother and predecessor Perdiccas III.

(27) chorus-master: in Greek, chorêgos: the metaphor implies that they were funded by Philip, as the chorêgos funds his chorus.

(28) hipparch: a commander of cavalry.

(29) we ourselves: As opposed to hired mercenaries.

(30) The Athenians took Demosthenes’ advice, sending Demosthenes to the Peloponnese (Aeschines 3 Against Ctesiphon 97), Hypereides to Rhodes ([Plutarch], Lives of the Ten Orators 850a) and possibly to Chios, and envoys to Artaxerxes III Ochus (Philip=[Demosthenes] 12.6).

(31) Since Demosthenes repeatedly chastises the Athenians for their dilatory behavior (e.g., above, §35), here he is presumably referring to delays that would be imposed on Philip while he awaited the results of the proposed Athenian embassies.

(32) Polyeuctus and Hegesippus: prominent anti-Macedonian politicians allied with Demosthenes.

(33) The Chersonese: The mercenaries serving under the Athenian general Diopeithes.

Source: David Phillips, Athenian Political Oratory: Sixteen Key Speeches.

“On the Crown” (330 BC)

“On the Crown” is the most famous judicial oration of the prominent Athenian statesman and orator Demosthenes, delivered in 330 BC.

Despite the unsuccessful ventures against Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, the Athenian people still respected and admired Demosthenes, maybe even more than the pro-Macedonian politicians, especially Demades and Phocion, who ruled the city during this period. In 336 BC the orator Ctesiphon proposed that Athens honor Demosthenes for his services to the city by presenting him, according to custom, with a golden crown. This proposal became a political issue and in 330 BC on legal irregularities Aeschines prosecuted Ctesiphon for having violated the law in three points:

1/ For making false allegations in a state document;
2/ For unlawfully conferring a crown to a state official (Demosthenes) who had not yet rendered a report of his term of office; and
3/ For unlawfully offering the crown at the Dionysia.

In his most brilliant speech “On the Crown”, one of the most splendid political pleas ever written, Demosthenes not only defended Ctesiphon but also attacked vehemently those who would have preferred peace with Macedon. In this trial, Demosthenes’ entire political career was at issue, but the orator repudiated nothing of what he has done. He begins with a general view of the condition of Greece, when he entered politics and describes the phases of his struggle against Philip. He then deals with the Peace of Philocrates and accuses Aeschines of his role during the negotiations and the ratification of the treaty. He also launches a personal attack against Aeschines, whom he holds up to ridicule as born of low and infamous parents. To this he adds charges of corruption and treason, and attributes the disaster of Chaeronea to the conduct of his political opponent, when representing Athens in the council of the Amphictyonic League. He underscores that he alone stood up to promote a coalition with Thebes. The orator asserts that, although Athens was defeated, it was better to be defeated in a glorious struggle for independence, than to surrender the heritage of liberty.

Demosthenes finally defeated Aeschines by an overwhelming majority of votes. However, many scholars have concluded that Aeschines’s speech was very plausible, although not incontrovertible, from a legal point of view. As a result, Ctesiphon was acquitted and Aeschines fined and forced into exile.

On the Crownhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Crown

I pray first, men of Athens, to every god and goddess, that the goodwill, which I ever feel towards this city and towards all of you, may in equal measure be vouchsafed to me by you at this present trial.

And secondly, a prayer which especially touches yourselves, your consciences, and your reputation, that the gods may put it into your minds not to take counsel of my adversary in regard to the spirit in which you ought to hear me. For that would surely be a cruel thing. But of the laws and of your oath wherein besides all other precepts of justice, this also is written that you shall listen to both sides with a like mind. And this means, not only that you should have formed no prejudice, and should accord equal goodwill to each, but also that you should give leave to every man who pleads before you to adopt that order, and make that defense, upon which he has resolved and fixed his choice.

I am in many respects at a disadvantage in the present controversy, as compared with Aeschines; and particularly, men of Athens, in two points of importance. The first is that I am not contending for the same stake as he. It is not the same thing for me to lose your goodwill now, as it is for him to fail to win his case; since for me – but I would say nothing unpleasant at the opening of my address – I say only that Aeschines can well afford to risk this attack upon me.

The second disadvantage lies in the natural and universal tendency of mankind to hear invective and denunciation with pleasure, and to be offended with those who praise themselves. And of the two courses in question, that which contributes to men’s pleasure has been given to Aeschines, and that which annoys (I may say) every one is left for me. If, to avoid giving such annoyance, I say nothing of all that I myself have done, it will be thought that I am unable to clear myself of the charges against me, or to show the grounds upon which I claim to deserve distinction. If, on the other hand, I proceed to speak of my past acts and my political life, I shall often be compelled to speak of myself. I will endeavor, then, to do this as modestly as possible; and for all that the necessities of the case compel me to say, the blame must in fairness be borne by the prosecutor, who initiated a trial of such a kind as this.

I think, men of Athens, that you would all admit that this present trial equally concerns myself and Ctesiphon, and demands no less earnest attention from me than from him. For while it is a painful and a grievous thing for a man to be robbed of anything, particularly if it is at the hands of an enemy that this befalls him, it is especially so, when he is robbed of your goodwill and kindness, just in proportion as to win these is the greatest possible gain. And because such is the issue at stake in the present trial, I request and entreat you all alike to give me, while I make my defense upon the charges that have been brought against me, a fair hearing, as you are commanded to do by the laws – those laws to which their original maker, your well-wisher and the People’s friend, Solon, thought fit to give the sanction not of enactment only, but also of an oath on the part of those who act as judges: not because he distrusted you (so at least it seems to me), but because he saw that a defendant cannot escape from the imputations and the slanders which fall with special force from the prosecutor, because he is the first to speak, unless each of you who sit in judgment, keeping his conscience pure in the sight of God, will receive the pleadings of the later speaker also with the same favor, and will thus, because his attention has been given equally and impartially to both sides, form his decision upon the case in its entirety.

And now, when I am about, as it seems, to render an account of my whole private life and public career, I would once more invoke the aid of the gods; and in the presence of you all I pray, first, that the goodwill which I ever feel towards this city and towards all of you, may in equal measure be vouchsafed to me by you at this trial; and secondly, that whatsoever judgment upon this present suit will conduce to your public reputation, and the purity of each man’s conscience, that judgment they may put it into all your minds to give.

Now if Aeschines had confined his charges to the subject of the indictment, I too, in making my defense, would have dealt at once with the actual resolution of the Council. But since he has devoted no less a portion of his speech to the relation of other matters, and for the most part has spoken against me falsely, I think it is necessary, and at the same time just, that I should deal briefly, men of Athens, with these, in order that none of you may be led by irrelevant arguments to listen less favorably to my pleas in answer to the indictment itself.

As for his slanderous vituperation of my private life, mark how straightforward and how just is the reply that I make. If you know me as the man that he charged me with being (for my life has been spent nowhere but in your own midst), do not even suffer me to speak – no, not though my whole public career has been one of transcendent merit – but rise and condemn me without delay. But if, in your judgment and belief, I am a better man than Aeschines, and come of better men; if I and mine are no worse than any other respectable persons, to use no offensive expression, then do not trust him even in regard to other points, for it is plain that all that he said was equally fictitious; but once more accord to me to-day the goodwill which throughout the past you have so often displayed towards me in previous trials. Knave as you are, Aeschines, you were assuredly more fool than knave, when you thought that I should dismiss all that I had to say with regard to my past acts and political life, and should turn to meet the abuse that fell from you. I shall not do so; I am not so brain-sick; but I will review the falsehoods and the calumnies which you uttered against my political career; and then, if the court desires it, I will afterwards refer to the ribald language that has been so incontinently used.

The offences charged against me are many; and for some of them the laws assign heavy and even the most extreme penalties. But I will tell you what is the motive which animates the present suit. It gives play to the malice of a personal enemy, to his insolence, his abuse, his contumelies, and every expression of his hostility: and yet, assuming that the charges and the imputations which have been made are true, it does not enable the State to exact a penalty that is adequate, or nearly adequate, to the offences. For it is not right to seek to debar another from coming before the people and receiving a hearing, nor to do so in a spirit of malice and envy. Heaven knows, it is neither straightforward, nor citizen-like, nor just, men of Athens! If the crimes by which he saw me injuring the city were of such a magnitude as he just now so theatrically set forth, he should have had recourse to the punishments enjoined by the laws at the time of the crimes themselves. If he saw me so acting as to deserve impeachment, he should have impeached me, and so brought me to trial before you; if he saw me proposing illegal measures, he should have indicted me for their illegality. For surely, if he can prosecute Ctesiphon on my account, he would not have failed to indict me in person, had he thought that he could convict me.

And further, if he saw me committing any of those other crimes against you, which he just now slanderously enumerated, or any other crimes whatsoever, there are laws which deal with each, and punishments, and lawsuits and judgments involving penalties that are harsh and severe: to all of these he could have had recourse; and from the moment when it was seen that he had acted so, and had conducted his hostilities against me on that plan, his present accusation of me would have been in line with his past conduct. But as it is, he has forsaken the straight path of justice; he has shrunk from all attempts to convict me at the time; and after all these years, with the imputations, the jests, the invectives, that he has accumulated, he appears to play his part. So it is, that though his accusations are against me, it is Ctesiphon that he prosecutes; and though he sets his quarrel with me in the forefront of the whole suit, he has never faced me in person to settle the quarrel, and it is another whom we see him trying to deprive of his civil rights. Yet surely, besides everything else that may be pleaded on behalf of Ctesiphon, this, I think, may surely be most reasonably urged – that we ought in justice to have brought our own quarrel to the test by ourselves, instead of avoiding all conflict with one another, and looking for a third party to whom we could do harm. Such iniquity really passes all bounds.

From this one may see the nature of all his charges alike, uttered, as they have been, without justice or regard for truth. Yet I desire also to examine them severally, and more particularly the false statements which he made against me in regard to the Peace and the Embassy, when he ascribed to me the things which he himself had done in conjunction with Philocrates. And here it is necessary, men of Athens, and perhaps appropriate, that I should remind you of the state of affairs subsisting during that period, so that you may view each group of actions in the light of the circumstances of the time.

When the Phocian war had broken out (not through any action of mine, for I had not yet entered public life), your own attitude, in the first place, was such, that you wished for the preservation of the Phocians, although you saw that their actions were unjustifiable; while you would have been delighted at anything that might happen to the Thebans, against whom you felt an indignation that was neither unreasonable nor unfair; for they had not used their good fortune at Leuctra with moderation. And, in the second place, the Peloponnese was all disunited: those who detested the Spartans were not strong enough to annihilate them, and those who had previously governed with the support of Sparta were no longer able to maintain their control over their cities; but both these and all the other states were in a condition of indeterminate strife and confusion. When Philip saw this (for it was not hard to see), he tried, by dispensing money to the traitors whom each state contained, to throw them all into collision and stir up one against another; and thus, amid the blunders and perversity of others, he was making his own preparations, and growing great to the danger of all.

And when it became clear to all that the then overbearing (but now unhappy) Thebans, distressed by the length of the war, would be forced to fly to you for aid, Philip, to prevent this – to prevent the formation of any union between the cities – made offers of peace to you, and of assistance to them. Now what was it that helped him, and enabled him to find in you his almost willing dupes? It was the baseness (if that is the right name to use), or the ignorance, or both, of the rest of the Hellenes, who, though you were engaged in a long and continuous war, and that on behalf of the interests of all, as has been proved by the event, never assisted you either with money or with men, or in any other way whatsoever. And in your just and proper indignation with them, you listened readily to Philip. It was for these reasons, therefore, and not through any action of mine, that the Peace which we then conceded was negotiated; and any one who investigates the matter honestly will find that it is the crimes and the corrupt practices of these men, in the course of the negotiations, that are responsible for our position to-day. It is in the interests of truth that I enter into all these events with this exactitude and thoroughness; for however strong the appearance of criminality in these proceedings may be, it has, I imagine, nothing to do with me. The first man to suggest or mention the Peace was Aristodemus the actor; and the person who took the matter up and moved the motion, and sold his services for the purpose, along with Aeschines, was Philocrates of Hagnus – your partner, Aeschines, not mine, even if you split your sides with lying; while those who supported him, from whatever motive (for of that I say nothing at present), were Eubulus and Cephisophon.

I had no part in the matter anywhere. And yet, although the facts are such as with absolute truth I am representing them to be, he carried his effrontery so far as to dare to assert that I was not only responsible for the Peace, but had also prevented the city from acting in conjunction with a general assembly of the Hellenes in making it. What? and you – oh! how can one find a name that can be applied to you? – when you saw me (for you were there) preventing the city from taking this great step and forming so grand an alliance as you just now described, did you once raise a protest or come forward to give information and to set forth the crimes with which you now charge me? If I had covenanted with Philip for money that I would prevent the coalition of the Hellenes, your only course was to refuse to keep silence – to cry aloud, to protest, to reveal the fact to your fellow countrymen. On no occasion did you do this: no such utterance of yours was ever heard by any one. In fact there was no embassy away at the time on a mission to any Hellenic state; the Hellenes had all long ago been tried and found wanting; and in all that he has said upon this matter there is not a single sound word. And, apart from that, his falsehoods involve the greatest calumnies upon this city. For if you were at one and the same time convoking the Hellenes with a view to war, and sending ambassadors yourselves to Philip to discuss peace, it was a deed for a Eurybatus, not a task for a state or for honest men, that you were carrying out. But that is not the case; indeed it is not. For what could possibly have been your object in summoning them at that moment? Was it with a view to peace? But they all had peace already. Or with a view to war? But you were yourselves discussing peace. It is therefore evident that neither was it I that introduced or was responsible for the Peace in its original shape, nor is one of all the other falsehoods which he told of me shown to be true.

Again, consider the course of action which, when the city had concluded the Peace, each of us now chose to adopt. For from this you will know who it was that co-operated with Philip throughout, and who it was that acted in your interest and sought the good of the city. As for me, I proposed, as a member of the Council, that the ambassadors should sail as quickly as possible to any district in which they should ascertain Philip to be, and receive his oath from him. But even when I had carried this resolution, they would not act upon it. What did this mean, men of Athens? I will inform you. Philip’s interest required that the interval before he took the oath should be as long as possible; yours, that it should be as short as possible. And why? Because you broke off all your preparations for the war, not merely from the day when he took the oath, but from the day when you first hoped that Peace would be made; and for his part, this was what he was all along working for; for he thought (and with truth) that whatever places he could snatch from Athens before he took the oath, would remain securely his, since no one would break the Peace for their sake.

Foreseeing and calculating upon this, men of Athens, I proposed this decree, that we should sail to any district in which Philip might be and receive his oath as soon as possible, in order that the oaths might be taken while the Thracians, your allies, were still in possession of those strongholds of which Aeschines just now spoke with contempt – Serrhium, Myrtenum, and Ergiske. And that Philip might not snatch from us the keys of the country and make himself master of Thrace, nor obtain an abundant supply of money and of soldiers, and so proceed without difficulty to the prosecution of his further designs. And now, instead of citing or reading this decree he slanders me on the ground that I thought fit, as a member of the Council, to introduce the envoys. But what should I have done? Was I to propose not to introduce those who had come for the express purpose of speaking with you? or to order the lessee of the theatre not to assign them seats? But they would have watched the play from the three penny seats, if this decree had not been proposed. Should I have guarded the interests of the city in petty details, and sold them wholesale, as my opponents did? Surely not. (To the clerk.) Now take this decree, which the prosecutor passed over, though he knew it well, and read it.

[The decree of Demosthenes is read.]

Though I had carried this decree, and was seeking the good not of Philip, but of the city, these worthy ambassadors paid little heed to it, but sat idle in Macedonia for three whole months, until Philip arrived from Thrace, after subduing the whole country; when they might, within ten days, or equally well within three or four, have reached the Hellespont, and saved the strongholds, by receiving his oath before he could seize them. For he would not have touched them when we were present; or else, if he had done so, we should have refused to administer the oath to him; and in that case he would have failed to obtain the Peace: he would not have had both the Peace and the strongholds as well.

Such was Philip’s first act of fraud during the time of the Embassy, and the first instance of venality on the part of these wicked men. And over this I confess that then and now and always I have been and am at war and at variance with them. Now observe, immediately after this, a second and even greater piece of villainy. As soon as Philip had sworn to the Peace, after first gaining possession of Thrace because these men did not obey my decree, he obtained from them, again by purchase, the postponement of our departure from Macedonia, until all should be in readiness for his campaign against the Phocians; in order that, instead of our bringing home a report of his intentions and his preparations for the march, which would make you set out and sail round to Thermopylae with your war-ships as you did before, you might only hear our report of the facts when he was already on this side of Thermopylae, and you could do nothing. And Philip was beset with such fear and such a weight of anxiety, lest in spite of his occupation of these places, his object should slip from his grasp, if, before the Phocians were destroyed, you resolved to assist them, that he hired this despicable creature, not now in company with his colleagues, but by himself alone, to make to you a statement and a report of such a character that owing to them all was lost.

But I request and entreat you, men of Athens, to remember throughout this whole trial, that, had Aeschines made no accusation that was not included in the indictment, I too would not have said a word that did not bear upon it; but since he has had recourse to all kinds of imputation and slander at once, I am compelled also to give a brief answer to each group of charges. What then were the statements uttered by him that day, in consequence of which all was lost? ‘You must not be perturbed,’ he said, ‘at Philip’s having crossed to this side of Thermopylae; for you will get everything that you desire, if you remain quiet; and within two or three days you will hear that he has become the friend of those whose enemy he was, and the enemy of those whose friend he was, when he first came. For,’ said he, ‘it is not phrases that confirm friendships’ (a finely sententious expression!) ‘but identity of interest; and it is to the interest of Philip and of the Phocians and of yourselves alike, to be rid of the heartless and overbearing demeanor of the Thebans.’ To these statements some gave a ready ear, in consequence of the tacit ill-feeling towards the Thebans at the time. What then followed, and not after a long interval, but immediately? The Phocians were overthrown. Their cities were razed to the ground. You who had believed Aeschines and remained inactive were soon afterwards bringing in your effects from the country; while Aeschines received his gold; and besides all this, the city reaped the ill-will of the Thebans and Thessalians, while their gratitude for what had been done went to Philip. To prove that this is so, (to the clerk) read me both the decree of Callisthenes, and Philip’s letter. (To the jury.) These two documents together will make all the facts plain. (To the clerk.) Read.

[The decree of Callisthenes is read.]

Were these the hopes, on the strength of which you made the Peace? Was this what this hireling promised you? (To the clerk.) Now read the letter which Philip sent after this.

[Philip’s letter is read.]

You hear how obviously, in this letter sent to you, Philip is addressing definite information to his own allies. ‘I have done these things,’ he tells them, ‘against the will of the Athenians, and to their annoyance; and so, men of Thebes and Thessaly, if you are wise, you will regard them as enemies, and will trust me.’ He does not write in those actual terms, but that is what he intends to indicate. By these means he so carried them away, that they did not foresee or realize any of the consequences, but allowed him to get everything into his own power: and that is why, poor men, they have experienced their present calamities. But the man who helped him to create this confidence, who co-operated with him, who brought home that false report and deluded you, he it is who now bewails the sufferings of the Thebans and enlarges upon their piteousness – he, who is himself the cause both of these and of the misery in Phocis, and of all the other evils which the Hellenes have endured. Yes, it is evident that you are pained at what has come to pass, Aeschines, and that you are sorry for the Thebans, when you have property in Boeotia and are farming the land that was theirs; and that I rejoice at it – I, whose surrender was immediately demanded by the author of the disaster! But I have digressed into subjects of which it will perhaps be more convenient to speak presently. I will return to the proofs which show that it is the crimes of these men that are the cause of our condition to-day.

For when you had been deceived by Philip, through the agency of these men, who while serving as ambassadors had sold themselves and made a report in which there was not a word of truth – when the unhappy Phocians had been deceived and their cities annihilated – what followed? The despicable Thessalians and the slow-witted Thebans regarded Philip as their friend, their benefactor, their savior. Philip was their all-in-all. They would not even listen to the voice of any one who wished to express a different opinion. You yourselves, though you viewed what had been done with suspicion and vexation, nevertheless kept the Peace; for there was nothing else that you could have done. And the other Hellenes, who, like yourselves, had been deluded and disappointed of their hopes, also kept the Peace, and gladly; since in a sense they also were remotely aimed at by the war. For when Philip was going about and subduing the Illyrians and Triballi and some of the Hellenes as well, and bringing many large forces into his own power, and when some of the members of the several States were taking advantage of the Peace to travel to Macedonia, and were being corrupted – Aeschines among them – at such a time all of those whom Philip had in view in thus making his preparations were really being attacked by him. Whether they failed to realize it is another

question, which does not concern me.

For I was continually uttering warnings and protests, both in your midst and wherever I was sent. But the cities were stricken with disease: those who were engaged in political and practical affairs were taking bribes and being corrupted by the hope of money; while the mass of private citizens either showed no foresight, or else were caught by the bait of ease and leisure from day to day; and all alike had fallen victims to some such delusive fancy, as that the danger would come upon every one but themselves, and that through the perils of others they would be able to secure their own position as they pleased. And so I suppose, it has come to pass that the masses have atoned for their great and ill-timed indifference by the loss of their freedom, while the leaders in affairs, who fancied that they were selling everything except themselves, have realized that they had sold themselves first of all. For instead of being called friends and guest-friends, as they were called at the time when they were taking their bribes, they now hear themselves called flatterers, and god-forsaken, and all the other names that they deserve. For no one, men of Athens, spends his money out of a desire to benefit the traitor; nor, when once he has secured the object for which he bargains, does he employ the traitor to advise him with regard to other objects: if it were so, nothing could be happier than a traitor. But it is not so, of course. Far from it! When the aspirant after dominion has gained his object, he is also the master of those who have sold it to him: and because then he knows their villainy, he then hates and mistrusts them, and covers them with insults. For observe, for even if the time of the events is past, the time for realizing truths like these is ever present to wise men.

Lasthenes was called his friend but only until he had betrayed Olynthus. And Timolaus; but only until he had destroyed Thebes. And Eudicus and Simus of Larissa; but only until they had put Thessaly in Philip’s power. And now, persecuted as they are, and insulted, and subjected to every kind of misery, the whole inhabited world has become filled with such men. And what of Aristratus at Sicyon? what of Perillus at Megara? Are they not outcasts? From these instances one can see very clearly, that it is he who best protects his own country and speaks most constantly against such men, that secures for traitors and hirelings like yourselves, Aeschines, the continuance of your opportunities for taking bribes. It is the majority of those who are here, those who resist your will, that you must thank for the fact that you live and draw your pay; for, left to yourselves, you would long ago have perished.

There is still much that I might say about the transactions of that time, but I think that even what I have said is more than enough. The blame rests with Aeschines, who has drenched me with the stale dregs of his own villainy and crime from which I was compelled to clear myself in the eyes of those who are too young to remember the events; though perhaps you who knew, even before I said a single word, of Aeschines’ service as a hireling, may have felt some annoyance as you listened. He calls it, forsooth, ‘friendship’ and ‘guest-friendship’; and somewhere in his speech just now he used the expression, ‘the man who casts in my teeth my guest-friendship with Alexander.’ I cast in your teeth your guest-friendship with Alexander? How did you acquire it? How came you to be thought worthy of it? Never would I call you the guest-friend of Philip or the friend of Alexander – I am not so insane – unless you are to call harvesters and other hired servants the friends and guest-friends of those who have hired them. But that is not the case, of course. Far from it! Nay, I call you the hireling, formerly of Philip, and now of Alexander, and so do all who are present. If you disbelieve me, ask them – or rather I will ask them for you. Men of Athens, do you think of Aeschines as the hireling or as the guest-friend of Alexander? You hear what they say.

I now wish, without more delay, to make my defense upon the indictment itself, and to go through my past acts, in order that Aeschines may hear (though he knows them well) the grounds on which I claim to have a right both to the gifts which the Council have proposed, and even to far greater than these. (To the clerk.) Now take the indictment and read it.

[The indictment is read.]

These, men of Athens, are the points in the resolution which the prosecutor assails; and these very points will, I think, afford me my first means of proving to you that the defense which I am about to offer is an absolutely fair one. For I will take the points of the indictment in the very same order as the prosecutor: I will speak of each in succession, and will knowingly pass over nothing. Any decision upon the statement that I ‘consistently do and say what is best for the People, and am eager to do whatever good I can’, and upon the proposal to vote me thanks for this, depends, I consider, upon my past political career: for it is by an

investigation of my career that either the truth and the propriety, or else the falsehood, of these statements which Ctesiphon has made about me will be discovered. Again, the proposal to crown me, without the addition of the clause ‘when he has submitted to his examination’, and the order to proclaim the award of the crown in the theatre, must, I imagine, stand or fall with my political career; for the question is whether I deserve the crown and the proclamation before my fellow countrymen or not. At the same time I consider myself further bound to point out to you the laws under which the defendant’s proposal could be made. In this honest and straightforward manner, men of Athens, I have determined to make my defense; and now I will proceed to speak of my past actions themselves.

And let no one imagine that I am detaching my argument from its connection with the indictment, if I break into a discussion of international transactions. For it is the prosecutor who, by assailing the clause of the decree which states that I do and say what is best, and by indicting it as false, has rendered the discussion of my whole political career essentially germane to the indictment; and further, out of the many careers which public life offers, it was the department of international affairs that I chose; so that I have a right to derive my proofs also from that department.

I will pass over all that Philip snatched from us and secured, in the days before I took part in public life as an orator. None of these losses, I imagine, has anything to do with me. But I will recall to you, and will render you an account of all that, from the day when I entered upon this career, he was prevented from taking, when I have made one remark. Philip, men of Athens, had a great advantage in his favor. For in the midst of the Hellenic peoples – and not of some only, but of all alike – there had sprung up a crop of traitors – corrupt, god-forsaken men–more numerous than they have ever been within the memory of man. These he took to help and co-operate with him; and great as the mutual ill-will and dissensions of the Hellenes already were, he rendered them even worse, by deceiving some, making presents to others, and corrupting others in every way; and at a time when all had in reality but one interest – to prevent his becoming powerful – he divided them into a number of factions.

All the Hellenes then being in this condition, still ignorant of the growing and accumulating evil, you have to ask yourselves, men of Athens, what policy and action it was fitting for the city to choose, and to hold me responsible for this; for the person who assumed that responsibility in the State was myself. Should she, Aeschines, have sacrificed her pride and her own dignity? Should she have joined the ranks of the Thessalians and Dolopes, and helped Philip to acquire the empire of Hellas, cancelling thereby the noble and righteous deeds of our forefathers? Or, if she should not have done this (for it would have been in very truth an atrocious thing), should she have looked on, while all that she saw would happen, if no one prevented it – all that she realized, it seems, at a distance – was actually taking place? Nay, I should be glad to ask to-day the severest critic of my actions, which party he would have desired the city to join – the party which shares the responsibility for the misery and disgrace which has fallen upon the Hellenes (the party of the Thessalians and their supporters, one may call it), or the party which looked on while these calamities were taking place, in the hope of gaining some advantage for themselves – in which we should place the Arcadians and Messenians and Argives. But even of these, many – nay, all – have in the end fared worse than we. For if Philip had departed immediately after his victory, and gone his way; if afterwards he had remained at peace, and had given no trouble whatever to any of his own allies or of the other Hellenes; then there would have been some ground for blaming and accusing those who had opposed his plans. But if he has stripped them all alike of their dignity, their paramountcy, and their independence – nay, even of their free constitutions, wherever he could do so – can it be denied that the policy which you adopted on my advice was the most glorious policy possible?

But I return to my former point. What was it fitting for the city to do, Aeschines, when she saw Philip establishing for himself a despotic sway over the Hellenes? What language should have been used, what measures proposed, by the adviser of the people at Athens (for that it was at Athens makes the utmost difference), when I knew that from the very first, up to the day when I myself ascended the platform, my country had always contended for pre-eminence, honor, and glory, and in the cause of honor, and for the interests of all, had sacrificed more money and lives than any other Hellenic people had spent for their private ends: when I saw that Philip himself, with whom our conflict lay, for the sake of empire and absolute power, had had his eye knocked out, his collar-bone broken, his hand and his leg maimed, and was ready to resign any part of his body that Fortune chose to take from him, provided that with what remained he might live in honor and glory? And surely no one would dare to say that it was fitting that in one bred at Pella, a place then inglorious and insignificant, there should have grown up so lofty a spirit that he aspired after the empire of Hellas, and conceived such a project in his mind; but that in you, who are Athenians, and who day by day in all that you hear and see behold the memorials of the gallantry of your forefathers, such baseness should be found, that you would yield up your liberty to Philip by your own deliberate offer and deed. No man would say this. One alternative remained, and that, one which you were bound to take – that of a righteous resistance to the whole course of action by which he was doing you injury. You acted thus from the first, quite rightly and properly; while I helped by my proposals and advice during the time of my political activity, and I do not deny it. But what ought I to have done? For the time has come to ask you this, Aeschines, and to dismiss everything else. Amphipolis, Pydna, Poteidaea, Halonnesus – all are blotted from my memory.

As for Serrhium, Doriscus, the sack of Peparethus, and all the other injuries inflicted upon the city, I renounce all knowledge of their ever having happened – though you actually said that I involved my countrymen in hostility by talking of these things, when the decrees which deal with them were the work of Eubulus and Aristophon and Diopeithes, and not mine at all – so glibly do you assert anything that suits your purpose! But of this too I say nothing at present. I only ask you whether Philip, who was appropriating Euboea, and establishing it as a stronghold to command Attica; who was making an attempt upon Megara, seizing Oreus, razing the walls of Porthmus, setting up Philistides as tyrant at Oreus and Cleitarchus at Eretria, bringing the Hellespont into his own power, besieging Byzantium, destroying some of the cities of Hellas, and restoring his exiled friends to others – whether he, I say, in acting thus, was guilty of wrong, violating the truce and breaking the Peace, or not? Was it fit that one of the Hellenes should arise to prevent it, or not? If it was not fit – if it was fit that Hellas should become like the Mysian booty in the proverb before men’s eyes, while the Athenians had life and being, then I have lost my labor in speaking upon this theme, and the city has lost its labor in obeying me: then let everything that has been done be counted for a crime and a blunder, and those my own! But if it was right that one should arise to prevent it, for whom could the task be more fitting than for the people of Athens? That then, was the aim of my policy; and when I saw Philip reducing all mankind to servitude, I opposed him, and without ceasing warned and exhorted you to make no surrender. But the Peace, Aeschines, was in reality broken by Philip, when he seized the corn-ships, not by Athens. (To the clerk.) Bring the decrees themselves, and the letter of Philip, and read them in order. (To the jury.) For they will make it clear who is responsible, and for what.

[A decree is read]

This decree then was proposed by Eubulus, not by me. And the next by Aristophon; he is followed first by Hegesippus, and he by Aristophon again, and then by Philocrates, then by Cephisophon, and then by all of them. But I proposed no decree upon this subject. (To the clerk.) Read.

[Decrees are read.]

As then I point to these decrees, so, Aeschines, do you point to a decree of any kind, proposed by me, which makes me responsible for the war. You cannot do so: for had you been able, there is nothing which you would sooner have produced. Indeed, even Philip himself makes no charge against me as regards the war, though he complains of others. (To the clerk.) Read Philip’s letter itself.

[Philip’s letter is read.]

In this letter he has nowhere mentioned the name of Demosthenes, nor made any charge against me. Why is it then that, though he complains of others, he has not mentioned my own actions? Because, if he had written anything about me, he must have mentioned his own acts of wrong; for it was these acts upon which I kept my grip, and these which I opposed. First of all, when he was trying to steal into the Peloponnese, I proposed the embassy to the Peloponnese; then, when he was grasping at Euboea, the embassy to Euboea; then the expedition – not an embassy any more – to Oreus, and that to Eretria, when he had established tyrants in those cities. After that I dispatched all the naval expeditions, in the course of which the Chersonese and Byzantium and all our allies were saved. In consequence of this, the noblest rewards at the hands of those who had benefited by your action became yours – votes of thanks, glory, honors, crowns, gratitude; while of the victims of his aggression, those who followed your advice at the time secured their own deliverance, and those who neglected it had the memory of your warnings constantly in their minds, and regarded you not merely as their well-wishers, but as men of wisdom and prophetic insight; for all that you foretold has come to pass. And further, that Philistides would have given a large sum to retain Oreus, and Cleitarchus to retain Eretria, and Philip himself, to be able

to count upon the use of these places against you, and to escape all exposure of his other proceedings and all investigation, by any one in any place, of his wrongful acts – all this is not unknown to any one, least of all to you, Aeschines. For the envoys sent at that time by Cleitarchus and Philistides lodged at your house, when they came here, and you acted as their patron. Though the city rejected them, as enemies whose proposals were neither just nor expedient, to you they were friends. None of their attempts succeeded, slander me though you may, when you assert that I say nothing when I receive money, but cry out when I spend it. That, certainly, is not your way for you cry out with money in your hands, and will never cease, unless those present cause you to do so by taking away your civil rights to-day.

Now on that occasion, gentlemen, you crowned me for my conduct. Aristonicus proposed a decree whose very syllables were identical with those of Ctesiphon’s present proposal; the crown was proclaimed in the theatre; and this was already the second proclamation in my honor: and yet Aeschines, though he was there, neither opposed the decree, nor indicted the mover. (To the clerk.) Take this decree also and read it.

[The decree of Aristonicus is read.]

Now is any of you aware of any discredit that attached itself to the city owing to this decree? Did any mockery or ridicule ensue, such as Aeschines said must follow on the present occasion, if I were crowned? But surely when proceedings are recent and well known to all, then it is that, if they are satisfactory, they meet with gratitude, and if they are otherwise, with punishment. It appears, then, that on that occasion I met with gratitude, not with blame or punishment. Thus the fact that, up to the time when these events took place, I acted throughout as was best for the city, has been acknowledged by the victory of my advice and my proposals in your deliberations, by the successful execution of the measures which I proposed, and the award of crowns in consequence of them to the city and to myself and to all, and by your celebration of sacrifices to the gods, and processions, in thankfulness for these blessings.

When Philip had been expelled from Euboea – and while the arms which expelled him were yours, the statesmanship and the decrees (even though some of my opponents may split their sides) were mine – he proceeded to look for some other stronghold from which he could threaten the city. And seeing that we were more dependent than any other people upon imported corn, and wishing to get our corn-trade into his power, he advanced to Thrace. First, he requested the Byzantines, his own allies, to join him in the war against you; and when they refused and said (with truth) that they had not made their alliance with him for such a purpose, he erected a stockade against the city, brought up his engines, and proceeded to besiege it. I will not ask again what you ought to have done when this was happening; it is manifest to all. But who was it that went to the

rescue of the Byzantines, and saved them? Who was it that prevented the Hellespont from falling into other hands at that time? It was you, men of Athens – and when I say ‘you’, I mean this city. And who was it that spoke and moved resolutions and acted for the city, and gave himself up unsparingly to the business of the State? It was I. But of the immense benefit thus conferred upon all, you no longer need words of mine to tell you, since you have had actual experience of it. For the war which then ensued, apart from the glorious reputation that it brought you, kept you supplied with the necessaries of life in greater plenty and at lower prices than the present Peace, which these worthy men are guarding to their country’s detriment, in their hopes of something yet to be realized. May those hopes be disappointed! May they share the fortune which you, who wish for the best, ask of the gods, rather than cause you to share that upon which their own choice is fixed! (To the clerk.) Read out to the jury the crowns awarded to the city in consequence of her action by the Byzantines and by the Perinthians.

[The decree of the Byzantines is read.]

Read out also the crowns awarded by the peoples of the Chersonese.

[The decree of the peoples of the Chersonese is read.]

Thus the policy which I had adopted was not only successful in saving the Chersonese and Byzantium, in preventing the Hellespont from falling at that time into the power of Philip, and in bringing honors to the city in consequence, but it revealed to the whole world the noble gallantry of Athens and the baseness of Philip. For all saw that he, the ally of the Byzantines, was besieging them – what could be more shameful or revolting? and on the other hand, it was seen that you, who might fairly have urged many well-founded complaints against them for their inconsiderate conduct towards you at an earlier period, not only refused to remember your grudge and to abandon the victims of aggression, but actually delivered them; and in consequence of this, you won glory and goodwill on all hands. And further, though every one knows that you have crowned many public men before now, no one can name any but myself – that is to say, any public counselor and orator – for whose merits the city has received a crown.

In order to prove to you, also, that the slanders which he uttered against the Euboeans and Byzantines, as he recalled to you any ill-natured action that they had taken towards you in the past, are disingenuous calumnies, not only because they are false (for this, I think, you may all be assumed to know), but also because, however true they might be, it was still to your advantage to deal with the political situation as I have done, I desire to describe, and that briefly, one or two of the noble deeds which this city has done in your own time. For an individual and a State should strive always, in their respective spheres, to fashion their future conduct after the highest examples that their past affords. Thus, men of Athens, at a time when the Spartans were masters of land and sea, and were retaining their hold, by means of governors and garrisons, upon the country all round Attica – Euboea, Tanagra, all Boeotia, Megara, Aegina, Ceos, and the other islands – and when Athens possessed neither ships nor walls, you marched forth to Haliartus, and again, not many days later, to Corinth, though the Athenians of that day might have borne a heavy grudge against both the Corinthians and the

Thebans for the part they had played in reference to the Deceleian War. But they bore no such grudge. Far from it! And neither of these actions, Aeschines, was taken by them to help benefactors; nor was the prospect before them free from danger. Yet they did not on that account sacrifice those who fled to them for help. For the sake of glory and honor they were willing to expose themselves to the danger; and it was a right and a noble spirit that inspired their counsels. For the life of all men must end in death, though a man shut himself in a chamber and keep watch; but brave men must ever set themselves to do that which is noble, with their joyful hope for their buckler, and whatsoever God gives, must bear it gallantly.

Thus did your forefathers, and thus did the elder among yourselves: for, although the Spartans were no friends or benefactors of yours, but had done much grievous wrong to the city, yet, when the Thebans, after their victory at Leuctra, attempted to annihilate them, you prevented it, not terrified by the strength or the reputation which the Thebans then enjoyed, nor reckoning up what the men had done to you, for whom you were to face this peril. And thus, as you know, you revealed to all the Hellenes, that whatever offences may be committed against you, though under all other circumstances you show your resentment of them, yet if any danger to life or freedom overtakes the transgressors, you will bear no grudge and make no reckoning. Nor was it in these instances only that you were thus disposed. For once more, when the Thebans were appropriating Euboea, you did not look on while it was done; you did not call to mind the wrong which had been done to you in the matter of Oropus by Themison and Theodorus: you helped even these; and it was then that the city for the first time had voluntary trierarchs, of whom I was one. But I will not speak of this yet. And although to save the island was itself a noble thing to do, it was a yet nobler thing by far, that when their lives and their cities were absolutely in your power, you gave them back, as it was right to do, to the very men who had offended against you, and made no reckoning, when such trust had been placed in you, of the wrongs which you had suffered. I pass by the innumerable instances which I might still give – battles at sea, expeditions [by land, campaigns] both long ago and now in our day; in all of which the object of the city has been to defend the freedom and safety of the other Hellenic peoples. And so, when in all these striking examples I had beheld the city ever ready to strive in defense of the interests of others, what was I likely to bid her do, what action was I likely to recommend to her, when the debate to some extent concerned her own interests? ‘Why,’ you would say, ‘to remember her grudge against those who wanted deliverance, and to look for excuses for sacrificing everything!’ And who would not have been justified in putting me to death, if I had attempted to bring shame upon the city’s high traditions, though it were only by word? The deed itself you would never have done, I know full well; for had you desired to do it, what was there to hinder you? Were you not free so to act? Had you not these men here to propose it?

I wish now to return to the next in succession of my political acts; and here again you must ask yourselves, what was the best thing for the city? For, men of Athens, when I saw that your navy was breaking up, and that, while the rich were obtaining exemption on the strength of small payments, citizens of moderate or small means were losing all that they had; and further, that in consequence of these things the city was always missing her opportunities; I enacted a law in accordance with which I compelled the former – the rich – to do their duty fairly; I put an end to the injustice done to the poor, and (what was the greatest service of all to the State) I caused our preparations to be made in time. When I was indicted for this, I appeared before you at the ensuing trial, and was acquitted; the prosecutor failed to obtain the necessary fraction of the votes. But what sums do you think the leaders of the Taxation-Boards, or those who stood second or third, offered me, to induce me, if possible, not to enact the law, or at least to let it drop and lie under sworn notice of prosecution? They offered sums so large, men of Athens, that I should hesitate to mention them to you. It was a natural course for them to take. For under the former laws it was possible for them to divide their obligation between sixteen persons, paying little or nothing themselves, and grinding down their poorer fellow citizens: while by my law each must pay down a sum calculated in proportion to his property; and a man came to be charged with two warships, who had previously been one of sixteen subscribers to a single one (for they used now to call themselves no longer captains of their ships, but subscribers). Thus there was nothing that they were not willing to give, if only the new plan could be brought to nothing, and they could escape being compelled to do their duty fairly. (To the clerk.) Now read me, first, the decree in accordance with which I had to meet the indictment; and then the lists of those liable under the former law, and under my own, respectively. Read.

[The decree is read.]

Now produce that noble list.

[A list is read.]

Now produce, for comparison with this, the list under my own law.

[A list is read.]

Was this, think you, but a trifling assistance which I rendered to the poor among you? Would the wealthy have spent but a trifling sum to avoid doing their duty fairly? I am proud not only of having refused all compromise upon the measure, not only of having been acquitted when I was indicted, but also of having enacted a law which was beneficial, and of having given proof of it in practice. For throughout the war the armaments were equipped under my law, and no trierarch ever laid the suppliants’ branch before you in token of grievance, nor took sanctuary at Munychia; none was imprisoned by the Admiralty Board; no warship was abandoned at sea and lost to the State, or left behind here as unseaworthy. Under the former laws all these things used to happen; and the reason was that the obligation rested upon the poor, and in consequence there were many cases of inability to discharge it. I transferred the duties of the trierarchy from the poor to the rich; and therefore every duty was properly fulfilled. Aye, and for this very reason I deserve to receive praise – that I always adopted such political measures as brought with them accessions of glory and honor and power to the city. No measure of mine is malicious, harsh, or unprincipled; none is degrading or unworthy of the city. The same spirit will be seen both in my domestic and my international policy. For just as in home affairs I did not set the favor of the rich above the rights of the many, so in international affairs I did not embrace the gifts and the friendship of Philip, in preference to the common interests of all the Hellenes.

It still remains for me, I suppose, to speak about the proclamation, and about my examination. The statement that I acted for the best, and that I am loyal to you throughout and eager to do you good service, I have proved, I think, sufficiently, by what I have said. At the same time I am passing over the most important parts of my political life and actions; for I conceive that I ought first to render to you in their proper order my arguments in regard to the alleged illegality itself: which done, even if I say nothing about the rest of my political acts, I can still rely upon that personal knowledge of them which each of you possesses.

Of the arguments which the prosecutor jumbled together in utter confusion with reference to the laws accompanying his indictment, I am quite certain that you could not follow the greater part, nor could I understand them myself. But I will simply address you straightforwardly upon the question of right. So far am I from claiming, as he just now slanderously declared, to be free from the liability to render an account, that I admit a life-long liability to account for every part of my administration and policy. But I do not admit that I am liable for one single day, you hear me, Aeschines? to account for what I have given to the People as a free-will offering out of my private estate. Nor is any one else so liable, not even if he is one of the nine archons.

What law is so replete with injustice and churlishness, that when a man has made a present out of his private property and done an act of generosity and munificence, it deprives him of the gratitude due to him, hales him before a court of disingenuous critics, and sets them to audit accounts of sums which he himself has given? There is no such law. If the prosecutor asserts that there is, let him produce it, and I will resign myself and say no more. But the law does not exist, men of Athens; this is nothing but an informer’s trick on the part of Aeschines, who, because I was Controller of the Festival Fund when I made this donation, says, ‘Ctesiphon proposed a vote of thanks to him when he was still liable to account.’ The vote of thanks was not for any of the things for which I was liable to account; it was for my voluntary gift, and your charge is a misrepresentation. ‘Yes,’ you say, ‘but you were also a Commissioner of Fortifications.’ I was, and thanks were rightly accorded me on the very ground that, instead of charging the sums which I spent, I made a present of them. A statement of account, it is true, calls for an audit and scrutineers; but a free gift deserves gratitude and thanks; and that is why the defendant proposed this motion in my favor. That this principle is not merely laid down in the laws, but rooted in your national character, I shall have no difficulty in proving by many instances. Nausicles, to begin with, has often been crowned by you, while general, for sacrifices which he had made from his private funds. Again, when Diotimus gave the shields, and Charidemus afterwards, they were crowned. And again, Neoptolemus here, while still director of many public works, has received honors for his voluntary gifts. It would really be too bad, if any one who held any office must either be debarred thereby from making a present to the State, or else, instead of receiving due gratitude, must submit accounts of the sums given. To prove the truth of my statements, (to the clerk) take and read the actual decrees which were passed in honor of these persons. Read.

[Two decrees are read.]

Each of these persons, Aeschines, was accountable as regards the office which he held, but not as regards the services for which he was crowned. Nor am I, therefore; for I presume that I have the same rights as others with reference to the same matters. I made a voluntary gift. For this I receive thanks; for I am not liable to account for what I gave. I was holding office. True, and I have rendered an account of my official expenditure, but not of what I gave voluntarily. Ah! but I exercised my office iniquitously! What? and you were there, when the auditors brought me before them, and did not accuse me?

Now that the court may see that the prosecutor himself bears me witness that I was crowned for services of which I was not liable to render an account, (to the clerk) take and read the decree which was proposed in my honor, in its entirety. (To the jury.) The points which he has omitted to indict in the Council’s resolution will show that the charges which he does make are deliberate misrepresentations. (To the clerk.) Read.

[The decree is read.]

My donations then, were these, of which you have not made one the subject of indictment. It is the reward for these, which the Council states to be my due, that you attack. You admit that it was legal to accept the gifts offered, and you indict as illegal the return of gratitude for them. In Heaven’s name, what must the perfect scoundrel, the really heaven-detested, malignant being be like? Must he not be a man like this?

But as regards the proclamation in the theatre, I pass by the fact that ten thousand persons have been thus proclaimed on ten thousand different occasions, and that my own name has often been so proclaimed before. But, in Heaven’s name, Aeschines, are you so perverse and stupid, that you cannot grasp the fact that the recipient of the crown feels the same pride wherever the crown is proclaimed, and that it is for the benefit of those who confer it that the proclamation is made in the theatre? For those who hear are stimulated to do good service to the State, and commend those who return gratitude for such service even more than they commend the recipient of the crown. That is why the city has enacted this law. (To the clerk.) Take the law itself and read it.

[The law is read.]

Do you hear, Aeschines, the plain words of the law? ‘Except such as the People or the Council shall resolve so to proclaim. But let these be proclaimed.’ Why, wretched man, do you lay this dishonest charge? Why do you invent false arguments? Why do you not take hellebore to cure you? What? Are you not ashamed to bring a case founded upon envy, not upon any crime – to alter some of the laws, and to leave out parts of others, when they ought surely, in justice, to be read entire to those who have sworn to give their votes in accordance with the laws? And then, while you act in this way, you enumerate the qualities which should be found in a friend of the People, as if you had contracted for a statue, and discovered on receiving it that it had not the features required by the contract; or as if a friend of the People was known by a definition, and not by his works and his political measures! And you shout out expressions, proper and improper, like a reveler on a cart – expressions which apply to you and your house, not to me. I will add this also, men of Athens. The difference between abuse and accusation is, I imagine, that an accusation is founded upon crimes, for which the penalties are assigned by law; abuse, upon such slanders as their own character leads enemies to utter about one another.

And I conceive that our forefathers built these courts of law, not that we might assemble you here and revile one another with improper expressions suggested by our adversary’s private life, but that we might convict any one who happens to have committed some crime against the State. Aeschines knew this as well as I; and yet he chose to make a ribald attack instead of an accusation. At the same time, it is not fair that he should go off without getting as much as he gives, even in this respect; and when I have asked him one question, I will at once proceed to the attack. Are we to call you, Aeschines, the enemy of the State, or of myself? Of myself, of course. What? And when you might have exacted the penalty from me, on behalf of your fellow countrymen, according to the laws – at public examinations, by indictment, by all other forms of trial – did you always omit to do so?

And yet to-day, when I am unassailable upon every ground – on the ground of law, of lapse of time, of the statutable limit, of the many previous trials which I have undergone upon every charge, without having once been convicted of any crime against you to this day – and when the city must necessarily share to a greater or smaller degree in the glory of acts which were really acts of the people, have you confronted me upon such an issue as this? Take care lest, while you profess to be my enemy, you prove to be the enemy of your fellow countrymen!

Since then I have shown you all what is the vote which religion and justice demand of you, I am now obliged, it would seem, by the slanders which he has uttered (though I am no lover of abuse) to reply to his many falsehoods by saying just what is absolutely necessary about himself, and showing who he is, and whence he is sprung, that he so lightly begins to use bad language, pulling to pieces certain expressions of mine, when he has himself used expressions which any respectable man would have shrunk from uttering; for if the accuser were Aeacus or Rhadamanthus or Minos, instead of a scandal-monger, an old hand in the marketplace, a pestilent clerk, I do not believe that he would have spoken thus, or produced such a stock of ponderous phrases, crying aloud, as if he were acting a tragedy, ‘O Earth and Sun and Virtue,’ and the like; or again, invoking ‘Wit and Culture, by which things noble and base are discerned apart’ – for, of course, you heard him speaking in this way. Scum of the earth! What have you or yours to do with virtue? How should you discern what is noble and what is not? Where and how did you get your qualification to do so? What right have you to mention culture anywhere? A man of genuine culture would not only never have asserted such a thing of himself, but would have blushed to hear another do so: and those who, like you, fall far short of it, but are tactless enough to claim it, succeed only in causing distress to their hearers, when they speak – not in seeming to be what they profess.

But though I am not at a loss to know what to say about you and yours, I am at a loss to know what to mention first. Shall I tell first how your father Tromes was a slave in the house of Elpias, who kept an elementary school near the temple of Theseus, and how he wore shackles and a wooden halter? Or how your mother, by celebrating her daylight nuptials in her hut near the shrine of the Hero of the Lancet, was enabled to rear you, her beautiful statue, the prince of third-rate actors? But these things are known to all without my telling them. Shall I tell how Phormio, the ship’s piper, the slave of Dion of Phrearrii, raised her up out of this noble profession? But, before God and every Heavenly Power, I shudder lest in using expressions which are fitly applied to you, I may be thought to have chosen a subject upon which it ill befits myself to speak.

So I will pass this by, and will begin with the acts of his own life; for they were not like any chance actions, but such as the people curses. For only lately – lately, do I say? only yesterday or the day before – did he become at once an Athenian and an orator, and by the addition of two syllables converted his father from Tromes into Atrometus, and gave his mother the imposing name of Glaucothea, when every one knows that she used to be called Empusa – a name which was obviously given her because there was nothing that she would not do or have done to her; for how else should she have acquired it? Yet, in spite of this, you are of so ungrateful and villainous a nature, that though, thanks to your countrymen, you have risen from slavery to freedom, and from poverty to wealth, far from feeling gratitude to them, you devote your political activity to working against them as a hireling. I will pass over every case in which there is any room for the contention that he has spoken in the interests of the city, and will remind you of the acts which he was manifestly proved to have done for the good of her enemies.

Which of you has not heard of Antiphon, who was struck off the list of citizens, and came into the city in pursuance of a promise to Philip that he would burn the dockyards? I found him concealed in the Peiraeus, and brought him before the Assembly; but the malignant Aeschines shouted at the top of his voice, that it was atrocious of me, in a democratic country, to insult a citizen who had met with misfortune, and to go to men’s houses without a decree; and he obtained his release. And unless the Council of Areopagus had taken notice of the matter, and, seeing the inopportuneness of the ignorance which you had shown, had made a further search for the man, and arrested him, and brought him before you again, a man of that character would have been snatched out of your hands, and would have evaded punishment, and been sent out of the country by this pompous orator. As it was, you tortured and executed him – and so ought you also to have treated Aeschines. The Council of Areopagus knew the part which he had played in this affair; and for this reason, when, owing to the same ignorance which so often leads you to sacrifice the public interests, you elected him to advocate your claims in regard to the Temple of Delos, the Council (since you had appointed it to assist you and entrusted it with full authority to act in the matter) immediately rejected Aeschines as a traitor, and committed the case to Hypereides. When the Council took this step, the members took their votes from the altar, and not one vote was given for this abominable man. To prove that what I say is true, (to the clerk) call the witnesses who testify to it.

[The witnesses are called.]

Thus when the Council rejected him from the office of advocate, and committed the case to another, it declared at the same time that he was a traitor, who wished you ill. Such was one of the public appearances of this fine fellow, and such its character – so like the acts with which he charges me, is it not? Now recall a second. For when Philip sent Python of Byzantium, and with him envoys from all his allies, in the hope of putting the city to shame and showing her to be in the wrong, I would not give way before the torrent of insolent rhetoric which Python poured out upon you, but rose and contradicted him, and would not betray the city’s rights, but proved the iniquity of Philip’s actions so manifestly, that even his own allies rose up and admitted it. But Aeschines supported Python; he gave testimony in opposition to his country, and that testimony false. Nor was this sufficient for him; for again after this he was detected going to meet Anaxinus the spy in the house of Thrason. But surely one who met the emissary of the enemy alone and conferred with him, must himself have been already a born spy and an enemy of his country. To prove the truth of what I say, (to the clerk) call the witnesses to these facts.

[The witnesses are called.]

There are still an infinite number of things which I might relate of him; but I pass them over. For the truth is something like this. I could still point to many instances in which he was found to be serving our enemies during that period, and showing his spite against me. But you do not store such things up in careful remembrance, to visit them with the indignation which they deserve; but, following a bad custom, you have given great freedom to any one who wishes to trip up the proposer of any advantageous measure by dishonest charges – bartering, as you do, the advantage of the State for the pleasure and gratification which you derive from invective; and so it is always easier and safer to be a hireling in the service of the enemy, than a statesman who has chosen to defend your cause.

To co-operate with Philip before we were openly at war with him was – I call Earth and Heaven to witness – atrocious enough. How could it be otherwise – against his own country? Nevertheless, concede him this, if you will, concede him this. But when the corn-ships had been openly plundered, and the Chersonese was being ravaged, and the man was on the march against Attica; when the position of affairs was no longer in doubt, and war had begun; what action did this malignant mouther of verses ever do for your good? He can point to none. There is not a single decree, small or great, with reference to the interests of the city, standing in the name of Aeschines. If he asserts that there is, let him produce it in the time allotted to me. But no such decree exists. In that case, however, only two alternatives are possible: either he had no fault to find at the time with my policy, and therefore made no proposal contrary to it; or else he was seeking the advantage of the enemy, and therefore refrained from bringing forward any better policy than mine.

Did he then abstain from speaking, as he abstained from proposing any motion, when any mischief was to be done? On the contrary, no one else had a chance of speaking. But though, apparently, the city could endure everything else, and he could do everything else unobserved, there was one final deed which was the culmination of all that he had done before. Upon this he expended all that multitude of words, as he went through the decrees relating to the Amphisseans, in the hope of distorting the truth. But the truth cannot be distorted. It is impossible. Never will you wash away the stain of your actions there! You will not say enough for that! I call upon all the gods and goddesses who protect this land of Attica, in the presence of you all, men of Athens; and upon Apollo of Pytho, the paternal deity of this city, and I pray to them all, that if I should speak the truth to you – if I spoke it at that very time without delay, in the presence of the people, when first I saw this abominable man setting his hand to this business (for I knew it, I knew it at once), – that then they may give me good fortune and life: but if, to gratify my hatred or any private quarrel, I am now bringing a false accusation against this man, then they may take from me the fruition of every blessing.

Why have I uttered this imprecation with such vehemence and earnestness? Because, although I have documents lying in the public archives by which I will prove the facts clearly, although I know that you remember what was done, I have still the fear that he may be thought too insignificant a man to have done all the evil which he has wrought – as indeed happened before, when he caused the ruin of the unhappy Phocians by the false report which he brought home. For the war at Amphissa, which was the cause of Philip’s coming to Elateia, and of one being chosen commander of the Amphictyons, who overthrew the fortunes of the

Hellenes – he it is who helped to get it up; he, in his sole person, is to blame for disasters to which no equal can be found. I protested at the time, and cried out, before the Assembly, ‘You are bringing war into Attica, Aeschines, an Amphictyonic War.’ But a packed group of his supporters refused to let me speak, while the rest were amazed, and imagined that I was bringing a baseless charge against him, out of personal animosity. But what the true nature of these proceedings was, men of Athens – why this plan was contrived, and how it was executed – you must hear from me to-day, since you were prevented from doing so at the time. You will behold a business cunningly organized; you will advance greatly in your knowledge of public affairs; and you will see what cleverness there was in Philip.

Philip had no prospect of seeing the end of the war with you, or ridding himself of it, unless he could make the Thebans and Thessalians enemies of Athens. For although the war was being wretchedly and inefficiently conducted by your generals, he was nevertheless suffering infinite damage from the war itself and from the freebooters. The exportation of the produce of his country and the importation of what he needed were both impossible. Moreover, he was not at that time superior to you at sea, nor could he reach Attica, if the Thessalians would not follow him, or the Thebans give him a passage through their country; and although he was overcoming in the field the generals whom you sent out, such as they were (for of this I say nothing), he found himself suffering from the geographical conditions themselves, and from the nature of the resources which either side possessed. Now if he tried to encourage either the Thessalians or the Thebans to march against you in order to further his own quarrel, no one, he thought, would pay any attention to him; but if he adopted their own common grounds of action and were chosen commander, he hoped to find it easier to deceive or to persuade them, as the case might be. What then does he do? He attempts (and observe with what skill) to stir up an Amphictyonic War, and a disturbance in connection with the meeting of the Council. For he thought that they would at once find that they needed his help, to deal with these.

Now if one of his own or his allies’ representatives on the Council brought the matter forward, he thought that both the Thebans and the Thessalians would regard the proceeding with suspicion, and that all would be on their guard.

But if it was an Athenian, sent by you, his adversaries, that did so, he would easily escape detection – as, in fact, happened. How then did he manage this? He hired Aeschines. No one, I suppose, either realized beforehand what was going on or guarded against it – that is how such affairs are usually conducted here; Aeschines was nominated a delegate to the Council; three or four people held up their hands for him, and he was declared elected. But when, bearing with him the prestige of this city, he reached the Amphictyons, he dismissed and closed his eyes to all other considerations, and proceeded to perform the task for which he had been hired. He composed and recited a story, in attractive language, of the way in which the Cirrhaean territory had come to be dedicated; and with this he persuaded the members of the Council, who were unused to rhetoric and did not foresee what was about to happen, that they should resolve to make the circuit of the territory, which the Amphisseans said they were cultivating because it was their own, while he alleged that it was part of the consecrated land. The Locrians were not bringing any suit against us, or taking any such action as (in order to justify himself) he now falsely alleges.

You may know this from the following consideration. It was clearly impossible for the Locrians to bring a suit against Athens to an actual issue, without summoning us. Who then served the summons upon us? Before what authority was it served? Tell us who knows: point to him. You cannot do so. It was a hollow and a false pretext of which you thus made a wrongful use. While the Amphictyons were making the circuit of the territory in accordance with Aeschines’ suggestion, the Locrians fell upon them and came near to shooting them all down with their spears; some of the members of the Council they even carried off with them. And now that complaints and hostilities had been stirred up against the Amphisseans, in consequence of these proceedings, the command was first held by Cottyphus, and his force was drawn from the Amphictyonic Powers alone. But since some did not come, and those who came did nothing, the men who had been suborned for the purpose – villains of long standing, chosen from the Thessalians and from the traitors in other States – took steps with a view to entrusting the affair to Philip, as commander, at the next meeting of the Council. They had adopted arguments of a persuasive kind. Either, they said, the Amphictyons must themselves contribute funds, maintain mercenaries, and fine those who refused to do so; or they must elect Philip. To make a long story short, the result was that Philip was appointed. And immediately afterwards, having collected a force and crossed the Pass, ostensibly on his way to the territory of Cirrha, he bids a long farewell to the Cirrhaeans and Locrians, and seizes Elateia. Now if the Thebans had not changed their policy at once, upon seeing this, and joined us, the trouble would have descended upon the city in full force, like a torrent in winter. As it was, the Thebans checked him for the moment; chiefly, men of Athens, through the goodwill of some Heavenly Power towards us; but secondarily, so far as it lay in one man’s power, through me also. (To the clerk.) Now give me the decrees in question, and the dates of each proceeding; (to the jury) that you may know what trouble this abominable creature stirred up, unpunished. (To the clerk.) Read me the decrees.

[The decrees of the Amphictyons are read.]

(To the clerk.) Now read the dates of these proceedings. (To the jury.) They are the dates at which Aeschines was delegate to the Council. (To the clerk.) Read.

[The dates are read.]

Now give me the letter which Philip sent to his allies in the Peloponnese, when the Thebans failed to obey his summons. For from this, too, you may clearly see that he concealed the real reason for his action – the fact that he was taking measures against Hellas and the Thebans and yourselves – and pretended to represent the common cause and the will of the Amphictyons. And the man who provided him with all these occasions and pretexts was Aeschines. (To the clerk.) Read.

[Philip’s letter is read.]

You see that he avoids the mention of his own reasons for action, and takes refuge in those provided by the Amphictyons. Who was it that helped him to prepare such a case? Who put such pretexts at his disposal? Who is most to blame for the disasters that have taken place? Is it not Aeschines? And so, men of Athens, you must not go about saying that Hellas has suffered such things as these at the hands of one man. I call Earth and Heaven to witness, that it was at the hands, not of one man, but of many villains in each State. And of these Aeschines is one; and, had I to speak the truth without any reserve, I should not hesitate to describe him as the incarnate curse of all alike – men, regions or cities – that have been ruined since then. For he who supplied the seed is responsible for the crop. I wonder that you did not turn away your eyes at the very sight of him: but a cloud of darkness seems to hang between you and the truth. I find that in dealing with the measures taken by Aeschines for the injury of his country, I have reached the time when I must speak of my own statesmanship in opposition to these measures; and it is fair that you should listen to this, for many reasons, but above all because it will be a shameful thing, if, when I have faced the actual realities of hard work for you, you will not even suffer the story of them to be told.

For when I saw the Thebans, and (I may almost say) yourselves as well, being led by the corrupt partisans of Philip in either State to overlook, without taking a single precaution against it, the thing which was really dangerous to both peoples and needed their utmost watchfulness – the unhindered growth of Philip’s power; while, on the contrary, you were quite ready to entertain ill-feeling and to quarrel with one another; I kept unceasing watch to prevent this. Nor did I rely only on my own judgment in thinking that this was what your interest required. I knew that Aristophon, and afterwards Eubulus, always wished to bring about this friendly union, and that, often as they opposed one another in other matters, they always agreed in this. Cunning fox! While they lived, you hung about them and flattered them; yet now that they are dead, you do not see that you are attacking them. For your censure of my policy in regard to Thebes is far more a denunciation of them than of me, since they were before me in approving of that alliance. But I return to my previous point – that it was when Aeschines had brought about the war at Amphissa, and the others, his accomplices, had effectually helped him to create the ill-feeling against the Thebans, that Philip marched against us. For it was to render this possible that their attempt to throw the two cities into collision was made; and had we not roused ourselves a little before it was too late, we should never have been able to regain the lost ground; to such a length had these men carried matters. What the relations between the two peoples already were, you will know when you have heard these decrees and replies. (To the clerk.) Take these and read them.

[The decrees are read.]

(To the clerk.) Now read the replies.

[The replies are read.]

Having established such relations between the cities, through the agency of these men, and being elated by these decrees and replies, Philip came with his army and seized Elateia, thinking that under no circumstances whatever should we and the Thebans join in unison after this. And though the commotion which followed in the city is known to you all, let me relate to you briefly just the bare facts.

It was evening, and one had come to the Prytanes with the news that Elateia had been taken. Upon this they rose up from supper without delay; some of them drove the occupants out of the booths in the market-place and set fire to the wicker-work; others sent for the generals and summoned the trumpeter; and the city was full of commotion. On the morrow, at break of day, the Prytanes summoned the Council to the Council-Chamber, while you made your way to the Assembly; and before the Council had transacted its business and passed its draft-resolution, the whole people was seated on the hill-side. And now, when the Council had arrived, and the Prytanes had reported the intelligence which they had received, and had brought forward the messenger, and he had made his statement, the herald proceeded to ask, ‘Who wishes to speak?’ But no one came forward; and though the herald repeated the question many times, still no one rose, though all the generals were present, and all the orators, and the voice of their country was calling for some one to speak for her deliverance. For the voice of the herald, uttered in accordance with the laws, is rightly to be regarded as the common voice of our country.

And yet, if it was for those to come forward who wished for the deliverance of the city, all of you and all the other Athenians would have risen, and proceeded to the platform, for I am certain that you all wished for her deliverance. If it was for the wealthiest, the Three Hundred would have risen; and if it was for those who had both these qualifications – loyalty to the city and wealth – then those would have risen, who subsequently made those large donations; for it was loyalty and wealth that led them so to do. But that crisis and that day called, it seems, not merely for a man of loyalty and wealth, but for one who had also followed the course of events closely from the first, and had come to a true conclusion as to the motive and the aim with which Philip was acting as he was. For no one who was unacquainted with these, and had not scrutinized them from an early period, was any the more likely, for all his loyalty and wealth, to know what should be done, or to be able to advise you. The man who was needed was found that day in me. I came forward and addressed you in words which I ask you to listen to with attention, for two reasons – first, because I would have you realize that I was the only orator or politician who did not desert his post as a loyal citizen in the hour of danger, but was found there, speaking and proposing what your need required, in the midst of the terror; and secondly, because by the expenditure of a small amount of time, you will be far better qualified for the future in the whole art of political administration.

My words then were these: ‘Those who are unduly disturbed by the idea that Philip can count upon the support of Thebes do not, I think, understand the present situation. For I am quite sure that, if this were so, we should have heard of his being, not at Elateia, but on our own borders. At the same time, I understand quite well, that he has come to prepare the way for himself at Thebes. Listen,’ I said, ‘while I tell you the true state of affairs. Philip already has at his disposal all the Thebans whom he could win over either by bribery or by deception; and those who have resisted him from the first and are opposing him now, he has no chance of winning. What then is his design and object in seizing Elateia? He wishes, by making a display of force in their neighborhood and bringing up his army, to encourage and embolden his own friends, and to strike terror into his enemies, that so they may either concede out of terror what they now refuse, or may be compelled.

Now,’ I said, ‘if we make up our minds at the present moment to remember any ill-natured action which the Thebans may have done us, and to distrust them on the assumption that they are on the side of our enemies, we shall be doing, in the first place, just what Philip would pray for: and further, I am afraid that his present opponents may then welcome him, that all may philippize with one consent, and that he and they may march to Attica together. If, however, you follow my advice, and give your minds to the problem before us, instead of to contentious criticism of anything that I may say, I believe that I shall be able to win your approval for my proposals, and to dispel the danger which threatens the city. What then must you do? You must first moderate your present alarm, and then change your attitude, and be alarmed, all of you, for the Thebans. They are far more within the reach of disaster than we: it is they whom the danger threatens first. Secondly, those who are of military age, with the cavalry, must march to Eleusis, and let every one see that you yourselves are in arms; in order that those who sympathize with you in Thebes may be enabled to speak in defense of the right, with the same freedom that their opponents enjoy, when they see that, just as those who are trying to sell their country to Philip have a force ready to help them at Elateia, so those who would struggle for freedom have you ready at hand to help them, and to go to their aid, if any one attacks them. Next I bid you elect ten envoys, and give them full authority, with the generals, to decide the time of their own journey to Thebes, and to order the march of the troops. But when the envoys arrive in Thebes, how do I advise that they should handle the matter? I ask your special attention to this.

They must require nothing of the Thebans – to do so at such a moment would be shameful; but they must undertake that we will go to their aid, if they bid us do so, on the ground that they are in extreme peril, and that we foresee the future better than they; in order that, if they accept our offer and take our advice, we may have secured our object, and our action may wear an aspect worthy of this city; or, if after all we are unsuccessful, the Thebans may have themselves to blame for any mistakes which they now make, while we shall have done nothing disgraceful or ignoble.’ When I had spoken these words, and others in the same strain, I left the platform. All joined in commending these proposals; no one said a word in opposition; and I did not speak thus, and then fail to move a motion; nor move a motion, and then fail to serve as envoy; nor serve as envoy, and then fail to persuade the Thebans. I carried the matter through in person from beginning to end, and gave myself up unreservedly to meet the dangers which encompassed the city. (To the clerk.) Bring me the resolution which was then passed.

But now, Aeschines, how would you have me describe your part, and how mine, that day? Shall I call myself, as you would call me by way of abuse and disparagement, Battalus? and you, no ordinary hero even, but a real stage-hero, Cresphontes or Creon, or the character which you cruelly murdered at Collytus, Oenomaus? Then I, Battalus of Paeania, proved myself of more value to my country in that crisis than Oenomaus of Cothocidae. In fact you were of no service on any occasion, while I played the part which became a good citizen throughout. (To the clerk.) Read this decree.

[The decree of Demosthenes is read.]

This was the first step towards our new relations with Thebes, and the beginning of a settlement. Up to this time the cities had been inveigled into mutual hostility, hatred, and mistrust by these men. But this decree caused the peril that encompassed the city to pass away like a cloud. It was for an honest citizen, if he had any better plan than mine, to make it public at the time, instead of attacking me now. The true counselor and the dishonest accuser, unlike as they are in everything, differ most of all in this: the one declares his opinion before the event, and freely surrenders himself as responsible, to those who follow his advice, to Fortune, to circumstances, to any one. The other is silent when he ought to speak, and then carps at anything untoward that may happen. That crisis, as I have said, was the opportunity for a man who cared for his country, the opportunity for honest speaking. But so much further than I need will I go, that if any one can now point to any better course – or any course at all except that which I chose – I admit my guilt. If any one has discovered any course to-day, which would have been for our advantage, had we followed it at the time, I admit that it ought not to have escaped me. But if there neither is nor was such a possibility; if even now, even to-day, no one can mention any such course, what was the counselor of the people to do? Had he not to choose the best of the plans which suggested themselves and were feasible? This I did. For the herald asked the question, Aeschines, ‘Who wishes to speak?’ not ‘Who wishes to bring accusations about the past?’ nor ‘Who wishes to guarantee the future?’ And while you sat speechless in the Assembly throughout that period, I came forward and spoke. Since, however, you did not do so then, at least inform us now, and tell us what words, which should have been upon my lips, were left unspoken, what precious opportunity, offered to the city, was left unused, by me? What alliance was there, what course of action, to which I ought, by preference, to have guided my countrymen?

But with all mankind the past is always dismissed from consideration, and no one under any circumstances proposes to deliberate about it. It is the future or the present that make their call upon a statesman’s duty. Now at that time the danger was partly in the future, and partly already present; and instead of caviling disingenuously at the results, consider the principle of my policy under such circumstances. For in everything the final issue falls out as Heaven wills; but the principle which he follows itself reveals the mind of the statesman. Do not, therefore, count it a crime on my part, that Philip proved victorious in the battle. The issue of that event lay with God, not with me. But show me that I did not adopt every expedient that was possible, so far as human reason could calculate; that I did not carry out my plan honestly and diligently, with exertions greater than my strength could bear; or that the policy which I initiated was not honorable, and worthy of Athens, and indeed necessary: and then denounce me, but not before. But if the thunderbolt [or the storm] which fell has proved too mighty, not only for us, but for all the other Hellenes, what are we to do? It is as though a ship-owner, who had done all that he could to ensure safety, and had equipped the ship with all that he thought would enable her to escape destruction, and had then met with a tempest in which the tackling had been strained or even broken to pieces, were to be held responsible for the wreck of the vessel.

‘Why,’ he would say, ‘I was not steering the ship’ – just as I was not the general – ‘I had no power over Fortune: she had power over everything.’ But consider and observe this point. If it was fated that we should fare as we did, even when we had the Thebans to help us in the struggle, what must we have expected, if we had not had even them for our allies, but they had joined Philip? – and this was the object for which Philip employed every tone that he could command. And if, when the battle took place, as it did, three days’ march from Attica, the city was encompassed by such peril and terror, what should we have had to expect, if this same disaster had occurred anywhere within the borders of our own country? Do you realize that, as it was, a single day, and a second, and a third gave us the power to rally, to collect our forces, to take breath, to do much that made for the deliverance of the city: but that had it been otherwise – it is not well, however, to speak of things which we have not had to experience, thanks to the goodwill of one of the gods, and to the protection which the city obtained for herself in this alliance, which you denounce.

The whole of this long argument, gentlemen of the jury, is addressed to yourselves and to the circle of listeners outside the bar; for to this despicable man it would have been enough to address a short, plain sentence. If to you alone, Aeschines, the future was clear, before it came, you should have given warning, when the city was deliberating upon the subject; but if you had no such foreknowledge, you have the same ignorance to answer for as others. Why then should you make these charges against me, any more than I against you? For I have been a better citizen than you with regard to this very matter of which I am speaking – I am not as yet talking of anything else – just in so far as I gave myself up to the policy which all thought expedient, neither shrinking from nor regarding any personal risk; while you neither offered any better proposals than mine (for then they would not have followed mine), nor yet made yourself useful in advancing mine in any way. What the most worthless of men, the bitterest enemy of the city, would do, you are found to have done, when all was over; and at the same time as the irreconcilable enemies of the city, Aristratus in Naxos, and Aristoleos in Thasos, are bringing the friends of Athens to trial, Aeschines, in Athens itself, is accusing Demosthenes. But surely one who treasured up the misfortunes of the Hellenes, that he might win glory from them for himself, deserved to perish rather than to stand as the accuser of another; and one who has profited by the very same crisis as the enemies of the city cannot possibly be loyal to his country. You prove it, moreover, by the life you live, the actions you do, the measures you take – and the measures, too, that you do not take. Is anything being done which seems advantageous to the city? Aeschines is speechless. Has any obstruction, any untoward event occurred? There you find Aeschines, like a rupture or a sprain, which wakes into life, so soon as any trouble overtakes the body.

But since he bears so hardly upon the results, I desire to say what may even be a paradox; and let no one, in the name of Heaven, be amazed at the length to which I go, but give a kindly consideration to what I say. Even if what was to come was plain to all beforehand; even if all foreknew it; even if you, Aeschines, had been crying with a loud voice in warning and protestation – you who uttered not so much as a sound; even then, I say, it was not right for the city to abandon her course, if she had any regard for her fame, or for our forefathers, or for the ages to come. As it is, she is thought, no doubt, to have failed to secure her object – as happens to all alike, whenever God wills it: but then, by abandoning in favor of Philip her claim to take the lead of others, she must have incurred the blame of having betrayed them all. Had she surrendered without a struggle those claims in defense of which our forefathers faced every imaginable peril, who would not have cast scorn upon you, Aeschines – upon you, I say; not, I trust, upon Athens nor upon me? In God’s name, with what faces should we have looked upon those who came to visit the city, if events had come round to the same conclusion as they now have – if Philip had been chosen as commander and lord of all, and we had stood apart, while others carried on the struggle to prevent these things; and that, although the city had never yet in time past preferred an inglorious security to the hazardous vindication of a noble cause? What Hellene, what foreigner, does not know, that the Thebans, and the Spartans, who were powerful still earlier, and the Persian king would all gratefully and gladly have allowed Athens to take what she liked and keep all that was her own, if she would do the bidding of another, and let another take the first place in Hellas?

But this was not, it appears, the tradition of the Athenians; it was not tolerable; it was not in their nature. From the beginning of time no one had ever yet succeeded in persuading the city to throw in her lot with those who were strong, but unrighteous in their dealings, and to enjoy the security of servitude. Throughout all time she has maintained her perilous struggle for pre-eminence, honor, and glory. And this policy you look upon as so lofty, so proper to your own national character, that, of your forefathers also, it is those who have acted thus that you praise most highly. And naturally. For who would not admire the courage of those men, who did not fear to leave their land and their city, and to embark upon their ships, that they might not do the bidding of another; who chose for their general Themistocles (who had counseled them thus), and stoned Cyrsilus to death, when he gave his voice for submission to a master’s orders – and not him alone, for your wives stoned his wife also to death. For the Athenians of that day did not look for an orator or a general who would enable them to live in happy servitude; they cared not to live at all, unless they might live in freedom. For every one of them felt that he had come into being, not for his father and his mother alone, but also for his country. And wherein lies the difference? He who thinks he was born for his parents alone awaits the death which destiny assigns him in the course of nature: but he who thinks he was born for his country also will be willing to die, that he may not see her in bondage, and will look upon the outrages and the indignities that he must needs bear in a city that is in bondage as more to be dreaded than death.

Now were I attempting to argue that I had induced you to show a spirit worthy of your forefathers, there is not a man who might not rebuke me with good reason. But in fact, I am declaring that such principles as these are your own; I am showing that before my time the city displayed this spirit, though I claim that I, too, have had some share, as your servant, in carrying out your policy in detail. But in denouncing the policy as a whole, in bidding you be harsh with me, as one who has brought terrors and dangers upon the city, the prosecutor, in his eagerness to deprive me of my distinction at the present moment, is trying to rob you of praises that will last throughout all time. For if you condemn the defendant on the ground that my policy was not for the best, men will think that your own judgment has been wrong, and that it was not through the unkindness of fortune that you suffered what befell you. But it cannot, it cannot be that you were wrong, men of Athens, when you took upon you the struggle for freedom and deliverance. No! by those who at Marathon bore the brunt of the peril – our forefathers. No! by those who at Plataeae drew up their battle-line, by those who at Salamis, by those who off Artemisium fought the fight at sea, by the many who lie in the sepulchres where the People laid them, brave men, all alike deemed worthy by their country, Aeschines, of the same honor and the same obsequies – not the successful or the victorious alone! And she acted justly.

For all these have done that which it was the duty of brave men to do; but their fortune has been that which Heaven assigned to each. Accursed, poring pedant! if you, in your anxiety to deprive me of the honor and the kindness shown to me by my countrymen, recounted trophies and battles and deeds of long ago – and of which of them did this present trial demand the mention? – what spirit was I to take upon me, when I mounted the platform, I who came forward to advise the city how she should maintain her pre-eminence? Tell me, third-rate actor! The spirit of one who would propose things unworthy of this people? I should indeed have deserved to die! For you too, men of Athens, ought not to judge private suits and public in the same spirit. The business transactions of everyday life must be viewed in the light of the special law and practice associated with each; but the public policy of statesmen must be judged by the principles that your forefathers set before them. And if you believe that you should act worthily of them, then, whenever you come into court to try a public suit, each of you must imagine that with his staff and his ticket there is entrusted to him also the spirit of his country.

But I have entered upon the subject of your forefathers’ achievements, and have passed over certain decrees and transactions. I desire, therefore, to return to the point from which I digressed. When we came to Thebes, we found envoys there from Philip, and from the Thessalians and his other allies – our friends in terror, his full of confidence. And to show you that I am not saying this now to suit my own purpose, read the letter which we, your envoys, dispatched without delay. The prosecutor, however, has exercised the art of misrepresentation to so extravagant a degree, that he attributes to circumstances, not to me, any satisfactory result that was achieved; but for everything that fell out otherwise, he lays the blame upon me and the fortune that attends me. In his eyes, apparently, I, the counselor and orator, have no share in the credit for what was accomplished as the result of oratory and debate; while I must bear the blame alone for the misfortunes which we suffered in arms, and as a result of generalship. What more brutal, more damnable misrepresentation can be conceived? (To the clerk.) Read the letter.

[The letter is read.]

When they had convened the Assembly, they gave audience to the other side first, on the ground that they occupied the position of allies; and these came forward and delivered harangues full of the praises of Philip and of accusations against yourselves, recalling everything that you had ever done in opposition to the Thebans. The sum of it all was that they required the Thebans to show their gratitude for the benefits which they had received from Philip, and to exact the penalty for the injuries they had received from you, in whichever way they preferred – either by letting them march through their country against you, or by joining them in the invasion of Attica; and they showed (as they thought) that the result of the course which they advised would be that the herds and slaves and other valuables of Attica would find their way into Boeotia; while the result of what (as they alleged) you were about to propose would be that those of Boeotia would be plundered in consequence of the war. They said much more, but all tending to the same effect. As for our reply, I would give my whole life to tell it you in detail; but I fear lest, now that those times have gone by, you may feel as if a very deluge had overwhelmed all, and may regard anything that is said on the subject as vanity and vexation. But hear at least what we persuaded them to do, and their answer to us. (To the clerk.) Take this and read it.

[The answer of the Thebans is read.]

After this they invited and summoned you; you marched; you went to their aid; and (to pass over the events which intervened) they received you in so friendly a spirit that while their infantry and cavalry were encamped outside the walls, they welcomed your troops into their houses, within the city, among their children and wives, and all that was most precious to them. Three eulogies did the Thebans pronounce upon you before the world that day, and those of the most honorable kind – the first upon your courage, the second upon your righteousness, the third upon your self-control. For when they chose to side with you in the struggle, rather than against you, they judged that your courage was greater, and your requests more righteous, than Philip’s; and when they placed in your power what they and all men guard most jealously, their children and wives, they showed their confidence in your self-control. In all these points, men of Athens, your conduct proved that their judgment had been correct. For the force came into the city; but no one made a single complaint – not even an unfounded complaint – against you; so virtuously did you conduct yourselves. And twice you fought by their side,

in the earliest battles-the battle by the river and the winter-battle – and showed yourselves, not only irreproachable, but even admirable, in your discipline, your equipment, and your enthusiasm. These things called forth expressions of thanks to you from other states, and sacrifices and processions to the gods from yourselves. And I should like to ask Aeschines whether, when all this was happening, and the city was full of pride and joy and thanksgiving, he joined in the sacrifices and the rejoicing of the multitude, or whether he sat at home grieving and groaning and angry at the good fortune of his country. If he was present, and was seen in his place with the rest, surely his present action is atrocious – nay, even impious – when he asks you, who have taken an oath by the gods, to vote to-day that those very things were not excellent, of whose excellence he himself on that day made the gods his witnesses. If he was not present, then surely he deserves to die many times, for grieving at the sight of the things which brought rejoicing to others. (To the clerk.) Now read these decrees also.

[The decrees ordering sacrifices are read.]

Thus we were occupied at that time with sacrifices, while the Thebans were reflecting how they had been saved by our help; and those who, in consequence of my opponents’ proceedings, had expected that they would themselves stand in need of help, found themselves, after all, helping others, in consequence of the action they took upon my advice. But what the tone of Philip’s utterance was, and how greatly he was confounded by what had happened, you can learn from his letter, which he sent to the Peloponnese. (To the clerk.) Take these and read them: (to the jury) that you may know what was effected by my perseverance, by my travels, by the hardships I endured, by all those decrees of which Aeschines spoke so disparagingly just now.

You have had, as you know, many great and famous orators, men of Athens, before my time – Callistratus himself, Aristophon, Cephalus, Thrasybulus, and a vast number of others. Yet not one of these ever gave himself up entirely to the State for any purpose: the mover of a decree would not serve as ambassador, the ambassador would not move the decree. Each left himself, at one and the same time, some respite from work, and somewhere to lay the blame, in case of accidents. ‘Well,’ some one may say, ‘did you so excel them in force and boldness, as to do everything yourself?’ I do not say that. But so strong was my conviction of the seriousness of the danger that had overtaken the city, that I felt that I ought not to give my personal safety any place whatever in my thoughts; it was enough for a man to do his duty and to leave nothing undone. And I was convinced with regard to myself – foolishly perhaps, but still convinced – that no mover would make a better proposal, no agent would execute it better, no ambassador would be more eager or more honest in his mission, than I. For these reasons, I assigned every one of these offices to myself. (To the clerk.) Read Philip’s letters.

[Philip’s letters are read.]

To this condition, Aeschines, was Philip reduced by my statesmanship. This was the tone of his utterances, though before this he used to threaten the city with many a bold word. For this I was deservedly crowned by those here assembled, and though you were present, you offered no opposition; while Diondas, who indicted the proposer, did not obtain the necessary fraction of the votes. (To the clerk.) Read me these decrees, (to the jury) which escaped condemnation, and which Aeschines did not even indict.

[The decrees are read.]

These decrees, men of Athens, contain the very same syllables, the very same words, as those which Aristonicus previously employed in his proposal, and which Ctesiphon, the defendant, has employed now; and Aeschines neither prosecuted the proposer of them himself, nor supported the person who indicted him. Yet surely, if the charges which he is bringing against me to-day are true, he would have had better reason then for prosecuting Demomeles (the proposer of the decree) and Hypereides, than he has for prosecuting Ctesiphon. And why? Because Ctesiphon can refer you to them – to the decision of the courts, to the fact that Aeschines himself did not accuse them, though they had moved exactly what he has moved now, to the prohibition by law of further prosecution in such

cases, and to many other facts: whereas then the case would have been tried on its merits, before the defendant had got the advantage of any such precedent. But of course it was impossible then for Aeschines to act as he has acted now – to select out of many periods of time long past, and many decrees, matters which no one either knew or thought would be mentioned to-day; to misrepresent them, to change the dates, to put false reasons for the actions taken in place of the true, and so appear to have a case. At the time this was impossible. Every word spoken then must have been spoken with the truth in view, at no distance of time from the events, while you still remembered all the facts and had them practically at your fingers’ ends. For that reason he evaded all investigation at the time; and he has come before you now, in the belief (I fancy) that you will make this a contest of oratory, instead of an inquiry into our political careers, and that it is upon our eloquence, not upon the interests of the city, that you will decide.

Yes, and he ingeniously suggests that you ought to disregard the opinion which you had of each of us when you left your homes and came into court; and that just as, when you draw up an account in the belief that some one has a balance, you nevertheless give way when you find that the counters all disappear and leave nothing over, so now you should give your adhesion to the conclusion which emerges from the argument. Now observe how inherently rotten everything that springs from dishonesty seems to be. By his very use of this ingenious illustration he has confessed that to-day, at all events, our respective characters are well established – that I am known to speak for my country’s good, and he to speak for Philip. For unless that were your present conception of each of us, he would not have sought to change your view. And further, I shall easily show you that it is not fair of him to ask you to alter this opinion – not by the use of counters – that is not how a political reckoning is made – but by briefly recalling each point to you, and treating you who hear me both as auditors of my account and witnesses to the facts. For that policy of mine which he denounces caused the Thebans, instead of joining Philip, as all expected them to do, in the invasion of our country, to range themselves by our side and stay his progress. It caused the war to take place not in Attica, but on the confines of Boeotia, eighty miles from the city. Instead of our being harried and plundered by freebooters from Euboea, it gave peace to Attica from the side of the sea throughout the war. Instead of Philip’s taking Byzantium and becoming master of the Hellespont, it caused the Byzantines to join us in the war against him. Can such achievements, think you, be reckoned up like counters? Are we to cancel them out, rather than provide that they shall be remembered for all time? I need not now add that it fell to others to taste the barbarity which is to be seen in every case in which Philip got any one finally into his power; while you reaped (and quite rightly) the fruits of the generosity which he feigned while he was bringing within his grasp all that remained. But I pass this over.

Nay, I will not even hesitate to say, that one who wished to review an orator’s career straightforwardly and without misrepresentation, would not have included in his charges such matters as you just now spoke of – making up illustrations, and mimicking words and gestures. Of course the fortune which befell the Hellenes – surely you see this? – was entirely due to my using this word instead of that, or waving my hand in one direction rather than the other! He would have inquired, by reference to the actual facts, what resources and what forces the city had at her command when I entered political life; what I subsequently collected for her when

I took control; and what was the condition of our adversaries. Then if I had diminished our forces, he would have proved that the fault lay at my door; but if I had greatly increased them, he would have abstained from deliberate misrepresentation. But since you have avoided such an inquiry, I will undertake it; and do you, gentlemen, observe whether my argument is just.

The military resources of the city included the islanders – and not all, but only the weakest. For neither Chios nor Rhodes nor Corcyra was with us. Their contribution in money came to 45 talents, and these had been collected in advance. Infantry and cavalry, besides our own, we had none. But the circumstance which was most alarming to us and most favorable to our enemies was that these men had contrived that all our neighbors should be more inclined to enmity than to friendship – the Megareans, the Thebans, and the Euboeans. Such was the position of the city at the time; and what I say admits of no contradiction. Now consider the position of Philip, with whom our conflict lay. In the first place, he held absolute sway over his followers – and this for purposes of war is the greatest of all advantages. Next, his followers had their weapons in their hands always. Then he was well off for money, and did whatever he resolved to do, without giving warning of it by decrees, or debating about it in public, or being put on trial by dishonest accusers, or defending himself against indictments for illegality, or being bound to render an account to any one. He was himself absolute master, commander, and lord of all. But I who was set to oppose him – for this inquiry too it is just to make – what had I under my control? Nothing! For, to begin with, the very right to address you – the only right I had – you extended to Philip’s hirelings in the same measure as to me; and as often as they defeated me – and this frequently happened, whatever the reason on each occasion – so often you went away leaving a resolution recorded in favor of the enemy. But in spite of all these disadvantages, I won for you the alliance of the Euboeans, Achaeans, Corinthians, Thebans, Megareans, Leucadians, and Corcyreans, from whom were collected – apart from their citizen-troops – 15,000 mercenaries and 2,000 cavalry.

And I instituted a money-contribution, on as large a scale as I could. But if you refer, Aeschines, to what was fair as between ourselves and the Thebans or the Byzantines or the Euboeans – if at this time you talk to us of equal shares – you must be ignorant, in the first place, of the fact that in former days also, out of those ships of war, three hundred in all, which fought for the Hellenes, Athens provided two hundred, and did not think herself unfairly used, or let herself be seen arraigning those who had counseled her action, or taking offence at the arrangement. It would have been shameful. No! men saw her rendering thanks to Heaven, because when a common peril beset the Hellenes, she had provided double as much as all the rest to secure the deliverance of all. Moreover, it is but a hollow benefit that you are conferring upon your countrymen by your dishonest charges against me. Why do you tell them now, what course they ought to have taken? Why did you not propose such a course at the time (for you were in Athens, and were present) if it was possible in the midst of those critical times, when we had to accept, not what we chose, but what circumstances allowed; since there was one at hand, bidding against us, and ready to welcome those whom we rejected, and to pay them into the bargain.

But if I am accused to-day, for what I have actually done, what if at the time I had haggled over these details, and the other states had gone off and joined Philip, and he had become master at once of Euboea and Thebes and Byzantium? What do you think these impious men would then have done? What would they have said? Would they not have declared that the states had been surrendered? that they had been driven away, when they wished to be on your side? ‘See,’ they would have said (would they not?), ‘he has obtained through the Byzantines the command of the Hellespont and the control of the corn trade of Hellas; and through the Thebans a trying border war has been brought into Attica; and owing to the pirates who sail from Euboea, the sea has become unnavigable,’ and much more in addition. A villainous thing, men of Athens, is the dishonest accuser always – villainous, and in every way malignant and fault-finding! Aye, and this miserable creature is a fox by nature, that has never done anything honest or gentlemanly – a very tragical ape, a clodhopping Oenomaus, a counterfeit orator! Where is the profit to your country from your cleverness? Do you instruct us now about things that are past? It is as though a doctor, when he was paying his visits to the sick, were to give them no advice or instructions to enable them to become free from their illness, but, when one of his patients died and the customary offerings were being paid him, were to explain, as he followed to the tomb, ‘if this man had done such and such things, he would not have died.’ Crazy fool! Do you tell us this now?

Nor again will you find that the defeat – if you exult at it, when you ought to groan, accursed man! – was determined by anything that was within my control. Consider the question thus. In no place to which I was sent by you as ambassador, did I ever come away defeated by the ambassadors of Philip – not from Thessaly nor from Ambracia, not from the Illyrians nor from the Thracian princes, not from Byzantium nor from any other place, nor yet, on the last occasion, from Thebes. But every place in which his ambassadors were defeated in argument, he proceeded to attack and subdue by force of arms. Do you then require those places at my hands? Are you not ashamed to jeer at a man as a coward, and in the same breath to require him to prove superior, by his own unaided efforts, to the army of Philip – and that with no weapons to use but words? For what else was at my disposal? I could not control the spirit of each soldier, or the fortune of the combatants, or the generalship displayed, of which, in your perversity, you demand an account from me.

No; but every investigation that can be made as regards those duties for which an orator should be held responsible, I bid you make. I crave no mercy. And what are those duties? To discern events in their beginnings, to foresee what is coming, and to forewarn others. These things I have done. Again, it is his duty to reduce to the smallest possible compass, wherever he finds them, the slowness, the hesitation, the ignorance, the contentiousness, which are the errors inseparably connected with the constitution of all city-states; while, on the other hand, he must stimulate men to unity, friendship, and eagerness to perform their duty. All these things I have done, and no one can discover any dereliction of duty on my part at any time. If one were to ask any person whatever, by what means Philip had accomplished the majority of his successes, every one would reply that it was by means of his army, and by giving presents and corrupting those in charge of affairs. Now I had no control or command of the forces: neither, then, does the responsibility for anything that was done in that sphere concern me. And further, in the matter of being or not being corrupted by bribes, I have defeated Philip. For just as the bidder has conquered one who accepts his money, if he effects his purchase, so one who refuses to accept it [and is not corrupted] has conquered the bidder. In all, therefore, in which I am concerned, the city has suffered no defeat.

The justification, then, with which I furnished the defendant for such a motion as he proposed with regard to me, consisted (along with many other points) of the facts which I have described, and others like them. I will now proceed to that justification which all of you supplied. For immediately after the battle, the People, who knew and had seen all that I did, and now stood in the very midst of the peril and terror, at a moment when it would not have been surprising if the majority had shown some harshness towards me – the People, I say, in the first place carried my proposals for ensuring the safety of the city; and all the measures undertaken for its protection – the disposition of the garrisons, the entrenchments, the funds for the fortifications – were all provided for by decrees which I proposed.

And, in the second place, when the People chose a corn-commissioner, out of all Athens they elected me. Subsequently all those who were interested in injuring me combined, and assailed me with indictments, prosecutions after audit, impeachments, and all such proceedings – not in their own names at first, but through the agency of men behind whom, they thought, they would best be screened against recognition. For you doubtless know and remember that during the early part of that period I was brought to trial every day; and neither the desperation of Sosicles, nor the dishonest misrepresentations of Philocrates, nor the frenzy of Diondas and Melantus, nor any other expedient, was left untried by them against me. And in all these trials, thanks to the gods above all, but secondarily to you and the rest of the Athenians, I was acquitted – and justly; for such a decision is in accordance both with truth and with the credit of jurors who have taken their oath, and given a verdict in conformity with it. So whenever I was impeached, and you absolved me and did not give the prosecutor the necessary fraction of the votes, you were voting that my policy was the best. Whenever I was acquitted upon an indictment, it was a proof that my motion and proposals were according to law. Whenever you set your seal to my accounts at an audit, you confessed in addition that I had acted throughout with uprightness and integrity. And this being so, what epithet was it fitting or just that Ctesiphon should apply to my actions? Was it not that which he saw applied by the People, and by juries on their oath, and ratified by Truth in the judgment of all men?

‘Yes,’ he replies, ‘but Cephalus’ boast was a noble one – that he had never been indicted at all.’ True, and a happy thing also it was for him. But why should one who has often been tried, but has never been convicted of crime, deserve to incur criticism any the more on that account? Yet in truth, men of Athens, so far as Aeschines is concerned, I too can make this noble boast that Cephalus made. For he has never yet preferred or prosecuted any indictment against me; so that by you at least, Aeschines, I am admitted to be no worse a citizen than Cephalus.

His want of feeling and his malignity may be seen in many ways, and not least in the remarks which he made about fortune. For my part, I think that, as a rule, when one human being reproaches another with his fortune, he is a fool. For when he who thinks himself most prosperous and fancies his fortune most excellent, does not know whether it will remain so until the evening, how can it be right to speak of one’s fortune, or to taunt another with his? But since Aeschines adopts a tone of lofty superiority upon this as upon many other subjects, observe, men of Athens, how much more truthful and more becoming in a human being my own remarks upon Aeschines’ fortune will be. I believe that the fortune of this city is good; and I see that the God of Dodona also declares this to you through his oracle. But I think that the prevailing fortune of mankind as a whole to-day is grievous and terrible. For what man, Hellene or foreigner, has not tasted abundance of evil at this present time? Now the fact that we chose the noblest course, and that we are actually better off than those Hellenes who expected to live in prosperity if they sacrificed us, I ascribe to the good fortune of the city. But in so far as we failed, in so far as everything did not fall out in accordance with our wishes, I consider that the city has received the share which was due to us of the fortune of mankind in general. But my personal fortune, and that of every individual among us, ought, I think, in fairness to be examined with reference to our personal circumstances. That is my judgment with regard to fortune, and I believe (as I think you also do) that my judgment is correct and just. But Aeschines asserts that my personal fortune has more influence than the fortune of the city as a community – the insignificant and evil more than the good and important! How can this be?

If, however, you determine at all costs to scrutinize my fortune, Aeschines, then compare it with your own; and if you find that mine is better than yours, then cease to revile it. Examine it, then, from the very beginning. And, in Heaven’s name, let no one condemn me for any want of good taste. For I neither regard one who speaks insultingly of poverty, nor one who prides himself on having been brought up in affluence, as a man of sense. But the slanders and misrepresentations of this unfeeling man oblige me to enter upon a discussion of this sort; and I will conduct it with as much moderation as the facts allow.

I then, Aeschines, had the advantage as a boy of attending the schools which became my position, and of possessing as much as one who is to do nothing ignoble owing to poverty must possess. When I passed out of boyhood, my life corresponded with my upbringing – I provided choruses and equipped warships; I paid the war-tax; I neglected none of the paths to distinction in public or private life, but gave my services both to my country and my friends; and when I thought fit to enter public life, the measures which I decided to adopt were of such a character that I have been crowned many times both by my country and by many other Hellenic peoples, while not even you, my enemies, attempt to say that my choice was not at least an honorable one. Such is the fortune which has accompanied my life, and though I might say much more about it, I refrain from doing so, in my anxiety not to annoy any one by the expression of my pride. And you – the lofty personage, the despiser of others – what has been your fortune when compared with this? – the fortune, thanks to which you were brought up as a boy in the depths of indigence, in close attendance upon the school along with your father, pounding up the ink, sponging down the forms, sweeping the attendants’ room, occupying the position of a menial, not of a free-born boy! Then, when you became a man, you used to read out the books to your mother at her initiations, and help her in the rest of the hocus-pocus, by night dressing the initiated in fawn skins, drenching them from the bowl, purifying them and wiping them down with the clay and the bran, and (when they were purified) bidding them stand up and say, ‘The ill is done, the good begun,’ priding yourself upon raising the shout of joy more loudly than any one had ever done before – and I can believe it, for, when his voice is so loud, you dare not imagine that his shout is anything but superlatively fine.

But by day you used to lead those noble companies through the streets, men crowned with fennel and white poplar, throttling the puff-adders and waving them over your head, crying out ‘Euoe, Saboe,’ and dancing to the tune of ‘Hyes Attes, Attes Hyes’ – addressed by the old hags as leader, captain, ivy-bearer, fan-bearer, and so on; and as the reward of your services getting sops and twists and barley-bannocks! Who would not congratulate himself with good reason on such things and bless his own fortune? But when you were enrolled among your fellow parishioners, by whatever means (for of that I say nothing) – when, I say, you were enrolled, you at once selected the noblest of occupations, that of a clerk and servant to petty magistrates. And when at length you escaped from this condition also, after yourself doing all that you impute to others, you in no way – Heaven knows! – disgraced your previous record by the life which you subsequently lived; for you hired yourself out to the actors Simylus and Socrates – the Roarers, they were nicknamed – and played as a third-rate actor, collecting figs and bunches of grapes and olives, like a fruiterer gathering from other peoples’ farms, and getting more out of this than out of the dramatic competitions in which you were competing for your lives; for there was war without truce or herald between yourselves and the spectators; and the many wounds you received from them make it natural for you to jeer at the cowardice of those who have had no such experiences. But I will pass over all that might be accounted for by your poverty, and proceed to my charges against your character itself.

For you chose a line of political action (when at length it occurred to you to take up politics too), in pursuance of which, when your country’s fortune was good, you lived the life of a hare, in fear and trembling, always expecting a thrashing for the crimes which lay on your conscience; whereas all have seen your boldness amid the misfortunes of others. But when a man plucks up courage at the death of a thousand of his fellow citizens, what does he deserve to suffer at the hands of the living? I have much more to say about him, but I will leave it unsaid. It is not for me, I think, to mention lightly all the infamy and disgrace which I could prove to be connected with him, but only so much as it is not discreditable to myself to speak of.

And now review the history of your life and of mine, side by side – good temperedly, Aeschines, not unkindly: and then ask these gentlemen which fortune, of the two, each of them would choose. You taught letters; I attended school. You conducted initiations; I was initiated. You were a clerk; I a member of the Assembly: you, a third-rate actor, I a spectator of the play. You used to be driven from the stage, while I hissed. Your political life has all been lived for the good of our enemies, mine for the good of my country. To pass over all besides, even on this very day, I am being examined with regard to my qualification for a crown – it is already admitted that I am clear of all crimes; while you have already the reputation of a dishonest informer, and for you the issue at stake is whether you are to continue such practices, or to be stopped once for all, through failing to obtain a fifth part of the votes. A good fortune indeed – can you not see? – is that which has accompanied your life, that you should denounce mine!

And now let me read to you the evidence of the public burdens which I have undertaken; and side by side with them, do you, Aeschines, read the speeches which you used to murder – ‘I leave the abysm of death and gates of gloom,’ and ‘Know that I am not fain ill-news to bring’, and ‘evil in evil wise’, may you be brought to perdition, by the gods above all, and then by all those here present, villainous citizen, villainous third-rate actor that you are. (To the clerk.) Read the evidence.

[The evidence is read.]

Such was I in my relation to the State. And as to my private life, unless you all know that I was open-hearted and generous and at the disposal of all who had need of me, I am silent; I prefer to tell you nothing, and to produce no evidence whatever, to show whether I ransomed some from the enemy, or helped others to give their daughters in marriage, or rendered any such services. For my principle may perhaps be expressed thus. I think that one who has received a kindness ought to remember it all his life; but that the doer of the kindness should forget it once for all; if the former is to behave like a good man, the latter like one free from all meanness. To be always recalling and speaking of one’s own benefactions is almost like upbraiding the recipients of them. I will do nothing of the kind, and will not be led into doing so. Whatever be the opinion that has been formed of me in these respects, with that I am content.

But I desire to be rid of personal topics, and to say a little more to you about public affairs. For if, Aeschines, you can mention one of all those who dwell beneath the sun above us, Hellene or foreigner, who has not suffered under the absolute sway, first of Philip, and now of Alexander, so be it! I concede that it is my fortune or misfortune, whichever you are pleased to call it, that has been to blame for everything. But if many of those who have never once even seen me or heard my voice have suffered much and terribly – and not individuals alone, but whole cities and nations – how much more just and truthful it is to regard the common fortune (as it seems to be) of all mankind, and a certain stubborn drift of events in the wrong direction, as the cause of these sufferings.

Such considerations, however, you discard. You impute the blame to me, whose political life has been lived among my own fellow countrymen – and that, though you know that your slander falls in part (if not entirely) upon all of them, and above all upon yourself. For if, when I took part in the discussion of public affairs, I had had absolute power, it would have been possible for all of you, the other orators, to lay the blame on me. But if you were present at every meeting of the Assembly; if the city always brought forward questions of policy for public consideration; if at the time my policy appeared the best to every one, and above all to you (for it was certainly from no goodwill that you relinquished to me the hopes, the admiration, the honors, which all attached themselves to my policy at that time, but obviously because the truth was too strong for you, and you had nothing better to propose); then surely you are guilty of monstrous iniquity, in finding fault to-day with a policy, than which, at the time, you could propose nothing better. Among all the rest of mankind, I observe that some such principles as the following have been, as it were, determined and ordained. If a man commits a deliberate crime, indignation and punishment are ordained against him. If he commits an involuntary mistake, instead of punishment, he is to receive pardon. If, without crime or mistake, one who has given himself up wholly to that which seems to be for the advantage of all has, in company with all, failed to achieve success, then it is just, not to reproach or revile such a man, but to sympathize with him. Moreover, it will be seen that all these principles are not so ordained in the laws alone. Nature herself has laid them down in her unwritten law, and in the moral consciousness of mankind. Aeschines, then, has so far surpassed all mankind in brutality and in the art of misrepresentation, that he actually denounces me for things which he himself mentioned under the name of misfortunes.

In addition to everything else, as though he had himself always spoken straightforwardly and in loyalty, he bade you keep your eyes on me carefully, and make sure that I did not mislead or deceive you. He called me ‘a clever speaker’, ‘a wizard’, ‘a sophist’, and so on: just as if it followed that when a man had the first word and attributed his own qualities to another, the truth was really as he stated, and his hearers would not inquire further who he himself was, that said such things. But I am sure that you all know this man, and are aware that these qualities belong to him far more than to me. And again, I am quite sure that my cleverness – yes, let the word pass; though I observe that the influence of a speaker depends for the most part on his audience; for in proportion to the welcome and the goodwill which you accord to each speaker is the credit which he obtains for wisdom; – I am sure, I say, that if I too possess any such skill, you will all find it constantly fighting on your behalf in affairs of State, never in opposition to you, never for private ends; while the skill of Aeschines, on the contrary, is employed, not only in upholding the cause of the enemy, but in attacking any one who has annoyed him or come into collision with him anywhere.

He neither employs it uprightly, nor to promote the interests of the city. For a good and honorable citizen ought not to require from a jury, who have come into court to represent the interests of the community, that they shall give their sanction to his anger, or his enmity, or any other such passion; nor ought he to come before you to gratify such feelings. It were best that he had no such passions in his nature at all; but if they are really inevitable, then he should keep them tame and subdued. Under what circumstances, then, should a politician and an orator show passion? When any of the vital interests of his country are at stake; when it is with its enemies that the People has to deal: those are the circumstances. For then is the opportunity of a loyal and gallant citizen. But that when he has never to this day demanded my punishment, either in the name of the city or in his own, for any public – nor, I will add, for any private – crime, he should have come here with a trumped-up charge against the grant of a crown and a vote of thanks, and should have spent so many words upon it – that is a sign of personal enmity and jealousy and meanness, not of any good quality. And that he should further have discarded every form of lawsuit against myself, and should have come here to-day to attack the defendant, is the very extremity of baseness. It shows, I think, Aeschines, that your motive in undertaking this suit was your desire, not to exact vengeance for any crime, but to give a display of rhetoric and elocution. Yet it is not his language, Aeschines, that deserves our esteem in an orator, nor the pitch of his voice, but his choice of the aims which the people chooses, his hatred or love of those whom his country loves or hates. He whose heart is so disposed will always speak with loyal intent; but he who serves those from whom the city foresees danger to herself, does not ride at the same anchor as the People, and therefore does not look for safety to the same quarter.

But I do, mark you! For I have made the interests of my countrymen my own, and have counted nothing as reserved for my own private advantage. What? You have not done so either? How can that be, when immediately after the battle you went your way as an ambassador to Philip, the author of the calamities which befell your country at that time; and that, despite the fact that until then you always denied this intimacy with him, as every one knows? But what is meant by a deceiver of the city? Is it not one who does not say what he thinks? Upon whom does the herald justly pronounce the curse? Is it not upon such a man as this? With what greater crime can one charge a man who is an orator, than that of saying one thing and thinking another? Such a man you have been found to be. And after this do you open your mouth, or dare to look this audience in the face? Do you imagine that they do not know who you are? or that the slumber of forgetfulness has taken such hold upon them all, that they do not remember the speeches which you used to deliver during the war, when you declared with imprecations and oaths that you had nothing to do with Philip, and that I was bringing this accusation against you, when it was not true, to satisfy my personal enmity? But so soon as the news of the battle had come, you thought no more of all this, but at once avowed and professed that you stood on a footing of friendship and guest-friendship with him; though these were nothing but your hireling-service under other names; for upon what honest or equal basis could Aeschines, the son of Glaucothea the tambourine – player, enjoy the guest-friendship, or the friendship, or the acquaintance of Philip? I cannot see. In fact, you had been hired by him to ruin the interests of these your countrymen. And yet, though your own treason has been so plainly detected – though you have been an informer against yourself after the event – you still revile me, and reproach me with crimes of which, you will find, any one is more guilty than I.

Many a great and noble enterprise, Aeschines, did this city undertake and succeed in, inspired by me; and she did not forget them. It is a proof of this, that when, immediately after the event, the People had to elect one who should pronounce the oration over the dead, and you were nominated, they did not elect you, for all your fine voice, nor Demades, who had just negotiated the Peace, nor Hegemon, nor any other member of your party: they elected me. And when you and Pythocles came forward in a brutal and shameless fashion, God knows! and made the same charges against me as you are making again to-day, and abused me, the People elected me even more decidedly. And the reason you know well; but I will tell it you nevertheless. They knew for themselves both the loyalty and zeal which inspired my conduct of affairs, and the iniquity of yourself and your friends. For what you denied with oaths when our cause was prosperous, you admitted in the hour of the city’s failure; and those, accordingly, who were only enabled by the misfortunes of their country to express their views without fear, they decided to have been enemies of their own for a long while, though only then did they stand revealed.

And further, they thought that one who was to pronounce an oration over the dead, and to adorn their valor, should not have come beneath the same roof, nor shared the same libation, as those who were arrayed against them; that he should not there join with those who with their own hands had slain them, in the revel and the triumph-song over the calamities of the Hellenes, and then come home and receive honor – that he should not play the mourner over their fate with his voice, but should grieve for them in his heart. What they required they saw in themselves and in me, but not in you; and this was why they appointed me, and not any of you. Nor, when the people acted thus, did the fathers and brothers of the slain, who were then publicly appointed to conduct the funeral, act otherwise. For since (in accordance with the ordinary custom) they had to hold the funeral-feast in the house of the nearest of kin, as it were, to the slain, they held it at my house, and with reason; for though by birth each was more nearly akin to his dead than I, yet none stood nearer to them all in common. For he who had their life and their success most at heart, had also, when they had suffered what I would they had not, the greatest share of sorrow for them all.

(To the clerk.) Read him the epitaph which the city resolved to inscribe above them at the public cost; (to Aeschines) that even by these very lines, Aeschines, you may know that you are a man destitute of feeling, a dishonest accuser, an abominable wretch!

The Inscription.

These for their country, fighting side by side
by deeds of arms dispelled the foemen’s pride
heir lives they saved not, bidding Death make clear –
Impartial Judge! – their courage or their fear.

For Greece they fought, lest, ‘neath the yoke brought low
In thraldom she th’ oppressor’s scorn should know
Now in the bosom of their fatherland
After their toil they rest – ’tis God’s command.

‘Tis God’s alone from failure free to live;
Escape from Fate to no man doth He give.

Do you hear, Aeschines [in these very lines], ‘Tis God’s alone from failure free to live’? Not to the statesman has he ascribed the power to secure success for those who strive, but to the gods. Why then, accursed man, do you revile me, for our failure, in words which I pray the gods to turn upon the heads of you and yours But, even after all the other lying accusations which he has brought against me, the thing which amazed me most of all, men of Athens, was that when he mentioned what had befallen the city, he did not think of it as a loyal and upright citizen would have thought. He shed no tears; he felt no emotion of sorrow in his heart: he lifted up his voice, he exulted, he strained his throat, evidently in the belief that he was accusing me, though in truth he was giving us an illustration, to his own discredit, of the utter difference between his feelings and those of others, at the painful events which had taken place. But surely one who professes, as Aeschines professes now, to care for the laws and the constitution, ought to show, if nothing else, at least that he feels the same grieves and the same joys as the People, and has not, by his political profession, ranged himself on the side of their opponents. That you have done the latter is manifest today, when you pretend that the blame for everything is mine, and that it is through me that the city was plunged in trouble: though it was not through my statesmanship or my policy, gentlemen, that you began to help the Hellenes: for were you to grant me this – that it was through me that you had resisted the dominion which was being

established over the Hellenes – you would have granted me a testimonial which all those that you have given to others together could not equal. But neither would I make such an assertion; for it would be unjust to you; nor, I am sure, would you concede its truth: and if Aeschines were acting honestly, he would not have been trying to deface and misrepresent the greatest of your glories, in order to satisfy his hatred towards me.

But why do I rebuke him for this, when he has made other lying charges against me, which are more outrageous by far? For when a man charges me – I call Heaven and Earth to witness! – with philippizing, what will he not say? By Heracles and all the gods, if one had to inquire truthfully, setting aside all calumny and all expression of animosity, who are in reality the men upon whose heads all would naturally and justly lay the blame for what has taken place, you would find that it was those in each city who resemble Aeschines, not those who resemble me. For they, when Philip’s power was weak and quite insignificant – when we repeatedly warned and exhorted you and showed you what was best – they, to satisfy their own avarice, sacrificed the interests of the community, each group deceiving and corrupting their own fellow citizens, until they brought them into bondage. Thus the Thessalians were treated by Daochus, Cineas, and Thrasydaeus; the Arcadians by Cercidas, Hieronymus and Eucampidas; the Argives by Myrtis, Teledamus, and Mnaseas; the Eleans by Euxitheus, Cleotimus and Aristaechmus; the Messenians by the sons of the godforsaken Philiadas – Neon and Thrasylochus; the Sicymians by Aristratus and Epichares; the Corinthians by Deinarchus and Demaretus; the Megareans by Ptoeodorus, Helixus and Perillus; the Thebans by Timolaus, Theogeiton, and Anemoetas; the Euboeans by Hipparchus and Sosistratus. Daylight will fail me before the list of the traitors is complete.

All these, men of Athens, are men who pursue the same designs in their own cities, as my opponents pursue among you – abominable men, flatterers, evil spirits, who have hacked the limbs each of his own fatherland, and like boon companions have pledged away their freedom, first to Philip and now to Alexander; men whose measure of happiness is their belly, and their lowest instincts; while as for freedom, and the refusal to acknowledge any man as lord – the standard and rule of good to the Hellenes of old – they have flung it to the ground.

Of this shameful and notorious conspiracy and wickedness – or rather (to speak with all earnestness, men of Athens), of this treason against the freedom of the Hellenes – Athens has been guiltless in the eyes of all men, in consequence of my statesmanship, as I have been guiltless in your eyes. And do you then ask me for what merits I count myself worthy to receive honor? I tell you that at a time when every politician in Hellas had been corrupted – beginning with yourself – [firstly by Philip, and now by Alexander], no opportunity that offered, no generous language, no grand promises, no hopes, no fears, nor any other motive, tempted or induced me to betray one jot of what I believed to be the rights and interests of the city; nor, of all the counsel that I have given to my fellow countrymen, up to this day, has any ever been given (as it has by you) with the scales of the mind inclining to the side of gain, but all out of an upright, honest, uncorrupted soul. I have taken the lead in greater affairs than any man of my own time, and my administration has been sound and honest throughout all. That is why I count myself worthy of honor.

But as for the fortifications and entrenchments, for which you ridiculed me, I judge them to be deserving, indeed, of gratitude and commendation – assuredly they are so – but I set them far below my own political services. Not with stones, nor with bricks, did I fortify this city. Not such are the works upon which I pride myself most. But would you inquire honestly wherein my fortifications consist? You will find them in munitions of war, in cities, in countries, in harbors, in ships, in horses, and in men ready to defend my fellow countrymen. These are the defenses I have set to protect Attica, so far as by human calculation it could be done; and with these I have fortified our whole territory – not the circuit of the Peiraeus or of the city alone. Nor in fact, did I prove inferior to Philip in calculations – far from it! – or in preparations for war; but the generals of the confederacy, and their forces, proved inferior to him in fortune. Where are the proofs of these things? They are clear and manifest. I bid you consider them.

What was the duty of a loyal citizen – one who was acting with all forethought and zeal and uprightness for his country’s good? Was it not to make Euboea the bulwark of Attica on the side of the sea, and Boeotia on that of the mainland, and on that of the regions towards the Peloponnese, our neighbors in that direction? Was it not to provide for the corn-trade, and to ensure that it should pass along a continuously friendly coast all the way to the Peiraeus? Was it not to preserve the places which were ours – Proconnesus, the Chersonese, Tenedos – by dispatching expeditions to aid them, and proposing and moving resolutions accordingly; and to secure the friendship and alliance of the rest – Byzantium, Tenedos, Euboea? Was it not to take away the greatest of the resources which the enemy possessed, and to add what was lacking to those of the city?

All this has been accomplished by my decrees and by the measures which I have taken; and all these measures, men of Athens, will be found by any one who will examine them without jealousy, to have been correctly planned, and executed with entire honesty: the opportunity for each step was not, you will find, neglected or left unrecognized or thrown away by me, and nothing was left undone, which it was within the power and the reasoning capacity of a single man to effect. But if the might of some Divine Power, or the inferiority of our generals, or the wickedness of those who were betraying your cities, or all these things together, continuously injured our whole cause, until they effected its overthrow, how is Demosthenes at fault? Had there been in each of the cities of Hellas one man, such as I was, as I stood at my own post in your midst – nay, if all Thessaly and all Arcadia had each had but one man animated by the same spirit as myself – not one Hellenic people, either beyond or on this side of Thermopylae, would have experienced the evils which they now suffer. All would have been dwelling in liberty and independence, free from all fears, secure and prosperous, each in their own land, rendering thanks for all these great blessings to you and the rest of the Athenian people, through me. But that you may know that in my anxiety to avoid jealousy, I am using language which is far from adequate to the actual facts, (to the clerk) read me this; and take and recite the list of the expeditions sent out in accordance with my decrees.

[The list of expeditions is read]

These measures, and others like them, Aeschines, were the measures which it was the duty of a loyal and gallant citizen to take. If they were successful, it was certain that we should be indisputably the strongest power, and that with justice as well as in fact: and now that they have resulted otherwise, we are left with at least an honorable name. No man casts reproach either upon the city, or upon the choice which she made: they do but upbraid Fortune, who decided the issue thus. It was not, God knows, a citizen’s duty to abandon his country’s interests, to sell his services to her opponents, and cherish the opportunities of the enemy instead of those of his country. Nor was it, on the one hand, to show his malice against the man who had faced the task of proposing and moving measures worthy of the city, and persisting in that intention; while, on the other hand, he remembered and kept his eyes fixed upon any private annoyance which another had caused him: nor was it to maintain a wicked and festering inactivity, as you so often do. Assuredly there is an inactivity that is honest and brings good to the State – the inactivity which you, the majority of the citizens, observe in all sincerity. But that is not the inactivity of Aeschines. Far from it! He, on the contrary, retires just when he chooses, from public life (and he often chooses to do so), that he may watch for the moment when you will be sated with the continual speeches of the same adviser, or when fortune has thrown some obstacle in your path, or some other disagreeable event has happened (for in the life of man many things are possible); and then, when such an opportunity comes, suddenly, like a gale of wind, out of his retirement he comes forth an orator, with his voice in training, and his phrases and his sentences collected; and these he strings together lucidly, without pausing for breath, though they bring with them no profit, no accession of anything good, but only calamity to one or another of his fellow citizens, and shame to all alike. Surely, Aeschines, if all this practice and study sprang from an honest heart, resolved to pursue the interests of your country, the fruits of it should have been noble and honorable and profitable to all – alliances of cities, supplies of funds, opening of ports, enactment of beneficial laws, acts of opposition to our proved enemies.

It was for all such services that men looked in bygone days; and the past has offered, to any loyal and gallant citizen, abundant opportunities of displaying them: but nowhere in the ranks of such men will you ever be found to have stood – not first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, nor sixth, nor in any position whatsoever; at least, not in any matters whereby your country stood to gain. For what alliance has the city gained by negotiations of yours? What assistance, what fresh access of goodwill or fame? What diplomatic or administrative action of yours has brought new dignity to the city? What department of our home affairs, or our relations with Hellenic and foreign states, over which you have presided, has shown any improvement? Where are your ships? Where are your munitions of war? Where are your dockyards? Where are the walls that you have repaired? Where are your cavalry? Where in the world is your sphere of usefulness? What pecuniary assistance have you ever given, as a good and generous fellow citizen, either to rich or poor? ‘But, my good sir, ‘you say, ‘if I have done none of these things, I have at least given my loyalty and goodwill.’ Where? When? Why, even at a time when all who ever opened their lips upon the platform contributed voluntarily to save the city, till, last of all, Aristonicus gave what he had collected to enable him to regain his civil rights – even then, most iniquitous of men! you never came forward or made any contribution whatever: and assuredly it was not from poverty, when you had inherited more than five talents out of the estate of your father-in-law Philo, and had received two talents subscribed by the leaders of the Naval Boards, for your damaging attack upon my Naval Law.

But I will say no more about this, lest by passing from subject to subject I should break away from the matter in hand. It is at least plain that your failure to contribute was not due to your poverty, but to your anxiety to do nothing in opposition to those whose interest is the guide of your whole public life. On what occasions, then, do your spirit and your brilliancy show themselves? When something must be done to injure your fellow countrymen – then your voice is most glorious, your memory most perfect; then you are a prince of actors, a Theocrines on the tragic stage!

Again, you have recalled the gallant men of old, and you do well to do so. Yet it is not just, men of Athens, to take advantage of the good feeling which you may be relied upon to entertain towards the dead, in order to examine me before you by their standard, and compare me, who am still living amongst you, with them. Who in all the world does not know that against the living there is always more or less of secret jealousy, while none, not even their enemies, hate the dead any more? And am I, in spite of this law of nature, to be judged and examined to-day by the standard of those who were before me? By no means! It would be neither just nor fair, Aeschines. But let me be compared with yourself, or with any of those who have adopted the same policy as yourself, and are still alive. And consider this also. Which of these alternatives is the more honorable? Which is better for the city? – that the good services done by men of former times – tremendous, nay even beyond all description though they may be – should be made an excuse for exposing to ingratitude and contumely those that are rendered to the present generation? or that all who act in loyalty should have a share in the honors and the kindness which our fellow citizens dispense?

Aye, and (if I must say this after all) the policy and the principles which I have adopted will be found, if rightly viewed, to resemble and to have the same aims as those of the men who in that age received praise; while yours resemble those of the dishonest assailants of such persons in those days. For in their time also there were obviously persons who disparaged the living and praised the men of old, acting in the same malicious way as yourself. Do you say then, that I am in no way like them? But are you like them, Aeschines? or your brother? or any other orator of the present day? For my part, I should say, ‘None.’ Nay, my good sir – to use no other epithet – compare the living with the living, their contemporaries, as men do in every other matter, whether they are comparing poets or choruses or competitors in the games. Because Philammon was not so powerful as Glaucus of Carystus and some other athletes of former times, he did not leave Olympia uncrowned: but because he fought better than all who entered against him, he was crowned and proclaimed victor.

Do you likewise examine me beside the orators of the day – beside yourself, beside any one in the world that you choose. I fear no man’s rivalry. For, while the city was still free to choose the best course, and all alike could compete with one another in loyalty to their country, I was found the best adviser of them all. It was by my laws, by my decrees, by my diplomacy, that all was effected. Not one of your party appeared anywhere, unless some insult was to be offered to your fellow countrymen. But when there happened, what I would had never happened – when it was not statesmen that were called to the front, but those who would do the bidding of a master, those who were anxious to earn wages by injuring their country, and to flatter a stranger – then, along with every member of your party, you were found at your post, the grand and resplendent owner of a stud; while I was weak, I confess, yet more loyal to my fellow countrymen than you. Two characteristics, men of Athens, a citizen of a respectable character (for this is perhaps the least invidious phrase that I can apply to myself) must be able to show: when he enjoys authority, he must maintain to the end the policy whose aims are noble action and the pre-eminence of his country: and at all times and in every phase of fortune he must remain loyal. For this depends upon his own nature; while his power and his influence are determined by external causes. And in me, you will find, this loyalty has persisted unalloyed.

For mark this. Not when my surrender was demanded, not when I was called to account before the Amphictyons, not in face either of threats or of promises, not when these accursed men were hounded on against me like wild beasts, have I ever been false to my loyalty towards you. For from the very first, I chose the straight and honest path in public life: I chose to foster the honor, the supremacy, the good name of my country, to seek to enhance them, and to stand or fall with them. I do not walk through the market, cheerful and exultant over the success of strangers, holding out my hand and giving the good tidings to any whom I expect to report my conduct yonder, but shuddering, groaning, bowing myself to the earth, when I hear of the city’s good fortune, as do these impious men, who make a mock of the city – not remembering that in so doing they are mocking themselves – while they direct their gaze abroad, and, whenever another has gained success through the failure of the Hellenes, belaud that state of things, and declare that we must see that it endures for all time.

Never, O all ye gods, may any of you consent to their desire! If it can be, may you implant even in these men a better mind and heart. But if they are verily beyond all cure, then bring them and them alone to utter and early destruction, by land and sea. And to us who remain, grant the speediest release from the fears that hang over us, and safety that naught can shake!

On the Crownhttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/on_the_crown.htm



Socrates (c. 469 BC – 399 BC) was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. Many would claim that Plato’s dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity.

Through his portrayal in Plato’s dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who also lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. It is Plato’s Socrates that also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of epistemology and logic, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains strong in providing a foundation for much western philosophy that followed.

As one recent commentator has put it, Plato, the idealist, offers “an idol, a master figure, for philosophy. A Saint, a prophet of the ‘Sun-God’, a teacher condemned for his teachings as a heretic.”


Apology (399 BC)

Socrates was perhaps the greatest teacher in the history of the Western world, and also Athens’ controversial philosopher.

What had happened?

Historians still scratch their heads. What we do know is what 3rd century (AD) Greek writer Diogenes Laertius reported live:

This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pitthos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece:

Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing new divinities.

He is also guilty of corrupting the youth.

There exist two reports on the events that were written by contemporaries of Socrates – Plato’s Apology and Xenophon’s Apology. Plato was an eyewitness to the trial. Xenophon was not.

By the way, the English word apology has its roots in the Greek word apologia, which means a speech in defense. The word is not used in the sense of how we would use it today. Therefore, the title of Plato’s and Xenophon’s accounts, Apology, does not refer to an excuse of an incident or course of action on Socrates’ part.

History for the Relaxed Historianhttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/socrates_apology_plato.htm

Facing charges of “corrupting youth,” Socrates delivered this speech – as rendered by Plato – to an Athens jury. This skillful piece of rhetoric underlines the realization that has propelled philosophy ever since: that human knowledge is woefully limited.


This speech is evaluated as
– one of Top 10 Greatest Speeches, Time Magazine;
– #13 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History, the website The Art of Manliness.

Note: you may find other versions of this speech. For example, see:
The Internet Classic Archive, translated by Benjamin Jowett – http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html

This version is also translated by Benjamin Jowett.

Socrates: How you, O Athenians, have been affected by my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that they almost made me forget who I was, so persuasively did they speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth. But of the many falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me; I mean when they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow yourselves to be deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless, unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for if such is their meaning, I admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have scarcely spoken the truth at all; but from me you shall hear the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their manner in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases. No, by heaven! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am confident in the justice of my cause: at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator, let no one expect it of me. And I must beg of you to grant me a favor:, If I defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using the words which I have been in the habit of using in the agora, at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised, and not to interrupt me on this account. For I am more than seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time in a court of law, I am quite a stranger to the language of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would accuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country:, Am I making an unfair request of you? Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the truth of my words, and give heed to that: let the speaker speak truly and the judge decide justly.

And first, I have to reply to the older charges and to my first accusers, and then I will go on to the later ones. For of old I have had many accusers, who have accused me falsely to you during many years; and I am more afraid of them than of Anytus and his associates, who are dangerous, too, in their own way. But far more dangerous are the others, who began when you were children, and took possession of your minds with their falsehoods, telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who speculated about the heaven above, and searched into the earth beneath, and made the worse appear the better cause. The disseminators of this tale are the accusers whom I dread; for their hearers are apt to fancy that such inquirers do not believe in the existence of the gods. And they are many, and their charges against me are of ancient date, and they were made by them in the days when you were more impressionable than you are now, in childhood, or it may have been in youth, and the cause when heard went by default, for there was none to answer. And hardest of all, I do not know and cannot tell the names of my accusers; unless in the chance case of a Comic poet(1). All who from envy and malice have persuaded you, some of them having first convinced themselves, all this class of men are most difficult to deal with; for I cannot have them up here, and cross-examine them, and therefore I must simply fight with shadows in my own defense, and argue when there is no one who answers. I will ask you then to assume with me, as I was saying, that my opponents are of two kinds; one recent, the other ancient: and I hope that you will see the propriety of my answering the latter first, for these accusations you heard long before the others, and much oftener.

Well, then, I must make my defense, and endeavor to clear away in a short time, a slander which has lasted a long time. May I succeed, if to succeed be for my good and yours, or likely to avail me in my cause. The task is not an easy one; I quite understand the nature of it. And so leaving the event with God, in obedience to the law I will now make my defense.

I will begin at the beginning, and ask what is the accusation which has given rise to the slander of my person, and in fact has encouraged Meletus to prefer this charge against me, Well, what do the slanderers say? They shall be my prosecution and I will sum up their words in an affidavit: “Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.” Such is the nature of the accusation: it is just what you have yourselves have seen in the comedy of Aristophanes, who has introduced a man whom he calls Socrates going about and saying that he walks in air and talking a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little, not that I mean to speak disparagingly of any one who is a student of natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus could bring so grave a charge against me. But the simple truth is, O Athenians, that I have nothing to do with physical speculations: many of those here present are witnesses to the truth of this, and to them I appeal. Speak then, you who have heard me, and tell your neighbors whether any of you have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many upon such matters… You hear their answer. And from what they say of this part of the charge you will be able to judge of the truth of the rest.

As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other. Although, if a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving instruction would, in my opinion, be an honor to him. There is Gorgias of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them whom they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be allowed to pay them. There is at this time a Parian philosopher residing in Athens, of whom I have heard; and I came to hear of him in this way:, I came across a man who has spent a world of money on the Sophists, Callias, the son of Hipponicus, and knowing that he had sons, I asked him: ‘“Callias,” I said, ‘if your two sons were foals or calves there would be no difficulty in finding some one to put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses, or a farmer probably, who would improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you thinking of placing over them? Is there any one who understands human and political virtue? You must have thought about the matter, for you have sons; is there any one?” ‘There is,” he said. ‘Who is he?” said I; “and of what country? and what does he charge?” “Evenus the Parian,” he replied; “he is the man, and his charge is five minae.” Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this wisdom, and teaches at such a moderate charge. Had I the same, I should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I have no knowledge of the kind.

I dare say, Athenians, that some one among you will reply, “Yes, Socrates, but what is the origin of these accusations which are brought against you; there must have been something strange which you have been doing? All these rumors and this talk about you would never have arisen if you had been like other men: tell us, then, what is the cause of them, for we should be sorry to judge hastily of you.” Now I regard this as a fair challenge, and I will endeavor to explain to you the reason why I am called wise and have such an evil fame. Please to attend then. And although some of you may think that I am joking, I declare that I will tell you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by every man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom, which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character.

And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi, he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi 2 and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether, as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt, he asked the oracle to tell him whether any one was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I’m saying.

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What then can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god, and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After long consideration, I thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, “Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.” Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him, his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom first among I selected for examination, and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and because I heard me.

So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: conceit of Man, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is, for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher pretensions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

Then I went to one man after another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: but necessity was laid upon me, the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, I must go to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!, for I must tell you the truth, the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better. I will tell you the whole of my wanderings and of the ‘Herculean’ labors, as I may call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. After the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be instantly detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them, thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I knew that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians.

At last I went to the artisans; I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets;, because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was.

This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies. And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration, as if he said, O men, he is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give attention to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.

There is another thing:–young men of the richer classes, who have not much to do, come about me of their own accord; they like to hear the pretenders examined, and they often imitate me, and proceed to examine others; there are plenty of persons, as they quickly discover, who think that they know something, but really know little or nothing; and then those who are examined by them, instead of being angry with themselves are angry with me: this confounded Socrates, they say; this villainous misleader of youth!, and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practice or teach?, they do not know, and can’t tell; but in order that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretense of knowledge has been detected, which is the truth; and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and are drawn up in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And this is the reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, have set upon me; Meletus, who has a quarrel with me on behalf of the poets; Anytus, on behalf of the craftsmen and politicians; Lycon, on behalf of the rhetoricians: and as I said at the beginning, I cannot expect to get rid of such a mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, O men of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed nothing, I have dissembled nothing. And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?, Hence has arisen the prejudice against me; and this is the reason of it, as you will find out either in this or in any future enquiry.

I have said enough in my defense against the first class of my accusers; I turn to the second class. They are headed by Meletus, that good man and true lover of his country, as he calls himself. Against these, too, I must try to make a defense:, Let their affidavit be read: it contains something of this kind: It says that Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the state, but has other new divinities of his own. Such is the charge; and now let us examine the particular counts. He says that I am a doer of evil, and corrupt the youth; but I say, O men of Athens, that Meletus is a doer of evil, in that he pretends to be in earnest when he is only in jest, and is so eager to bring men to trial from a pretended zeal and interest about matters in which he really never had the smallest interest. And the truth of this I will endeavor to prove to you.

Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You think a great deal about the improvement of youth?

Yes, I do.

Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter, and are citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the judges who their improver is., Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, and have nothing to say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of what I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter? Speak up, friend, and tell us who their improver is.

The laws.

But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws.

The judges, Socrates, who are present in court.

What, do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct and improve youth?

Certainly they are.

What, all of them, or some only and not others?

All of them.

By the goddess Hera, that is good news! There are plenty of improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience, do they improve them?

Yes, they do.

And the senators?

Yes, the senators improve them.

But perhaps the members of the assembly corrupt them?, or do they too improve them?

They improve them.

Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all with the exception of myself; and I alone am their corrupter? is that what you affirm?

That is what I stoutly affirm.

I am very unfortunate if you are right. But suppose I ask you a question: How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is not the exact opposite fact does the truth? One man is able to do them good, the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? Is not that true, Meletus, of horses, or of any other animals? Most assuredly it is; whether you and Anytus say yes or no. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their improvers. But you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never had a thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your not caring about the very things which you bring against me.

And now, Meletus, I will ask you another question, by Zeus I will: Which is better, to live among bad citizens, or among good ones? Answer, friend, I say; the question is one which may be easily answered. Do not the good do their neighbors good, and the bad do them evil?


And is there any one who would rather be injured than benefited by those who live with him? Answer, my good friend, the law requires you to answer, does any one like to be injured?

Certainly not.

And when you accuse me of corrupting and deteriorating the youth, do you allege that I corrupt them intentionally or unintentionally?

Intentionally, I say.

But you have just admitted that the good do their neighbors good, and the evil do them evil. Now, is that a truth which your superior wisdom has recognized thus early in life, and am I, at my age, in such darkness and ignorance as not to know that if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him; and yet I corrupt him, and intentionally, too, so you say, although neither I nor any other human being is ever likely to be convinced by you. But either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them unintentionally; and on either view of the case you lie. If my offense is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of unintentional offenses: you ought to have taken me privately, and warned and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I should have left off doing what I only did unintentionally, no doubt I should; but you would have nothing to say to me and refused to teach me. And now you bring me up in this court, which is a place not of instruction, but of punishment.

It will be very clear to you, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has no care at all, great or small, about the matter. But still I should like to know, Meletus, in what I am affirmed to corrupt the young. I suppose you mean, as I infer from your indictment, that I teach them not to acknowledge the gods which the state acknowledges, but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies in their stead. These are the lessons by which I corrupt the youth, as you say.

Yes, that I say emphatically.

Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speaking, tell me and the court, in somewhat plainer terms, what you mean, for I do not as yet understand whether you affirm that I teach other men to acknowledge some gods, and therefore that I do believe in gods, and am not an entire atheist, this you do not lay to my charge,, but only you say that they are not the same gods which the city recognizes-, the charge is that they are different gods. Or, do you mean that I am an atheist simply, and a teacher of atheism?

I mean the latter, that you are a complete atheist.

What an extraordinary statement! Why do you think so, Meletus? Do you mean that I do not believe in the godhead of the sun or moon, like other men?

I assure you, judges, that he does not: for he says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth.

Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras: and you have but a bad opinion of the judges, if you fancy them illiterate to such a degree as not to know that these doctrines are found in the books of Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, which are full of them. And so, forsooth, the youth are said to be taught them by Socrates, when there are not infrequently exhibitions of them at the theatre (price of admission one drachma at the most); and they might pay their money, and laugh at Socrates if he pretends to father these extraordinary views. And so, Meletus, you really think that I do not believe in any god?

I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all.

Nobody will believe you, Meletus, and I am pretty sure that you do not believe yourself. I cannot help thinking, men of Athens, that Meletus is reckless and impudent, and that he has written this indictment in a spirit of mere wantonness and youthful bravado. Has he not compounded a riddle, thinking to try me? He said to himself:, I shall see whether the wise Socrates will discover my facetious contradiction, or whether I shall be able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he certainly does appear to me to contradict himself in the indictment as much as if he said that Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, and yet of believing in them, but this is not like a person who is in earnest.

I should like you, O men of Athens, to join me in examining what I conceive to be his inconsistency; and do you, Meletus, answer. And I must remind the audience of my request that they would not make a disturbance if I speak in my accustomed manner:

Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human things, and not of human beings?… I wish, men of Athens, that he would answer, and not be always trying to get up an interruption. Did ever any man believe in horsemanship, and not in horses? or in flute-playing, and not in flute players? No, my friend; I will answer to you and to the court, as you refuse to answer for yourself. There is no man who ever did. But now please to answer the next question: Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods?

He cannot.

How lucky I am to have extracted that answer, by the assistance of the court. But then you swear in the indictment that I teach and believe in divine or spiritual agencies (new or old, no matter for that); at any rate, I believe in spiritual agencies, so you say and swear in the affidavit; and yet if I believe in divine beings, how can I help believing in spirits or demigods; must I not? To be sure I must; and therefore I may assume that your silence gives consent. Now what are spirits or demigods? are they not either gods or the sons of gods?

Certainly they are.

But this is what I call the facetious riddle invented by you: the demigods or spirits are gods, and you say first that I do not believe in gods, and then again that I do believe in gods; that is, if I believe in demigods. For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by the nymphs or by any other mothers, of whom they are said to be the sons, what human being will ever believe that there are no gods if they are the sons of gods? You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that of horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only have been intended by you to make trial of me. You have put this into the indictment because you had nothing real of which to accuse me. But no one who has a particle of understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same men can believe in divine and superhuman things, and yet not believe that there are gods and demigods and heroes.

I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate defense is unnecessary; but I know only too well how many are the enmities which I have incurred, and this is what will be my destruction if I am destroyed; not Meletus nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death of many good men, and will probably be the death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them.

Some one will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong, acting the part of a good man or of a bad. Whereas, upon your view, the heroes who fell at Troy were not good for much, and the son of Thetis(3) above all, who altogether despised danger in comparison with disgrace; and when he was so eager to slay Hector, his goddess mother said to him, that if he avenged his companion Patroclus, and slew Hector, he would die himself, “Fate,” she said, in these or the like words, “waits for you next after Hector;” he, receiving this warning, utterly despised danger and death, and instead of fearing them, feared rather to live in dishonor, and not to avenge his friend. “Let me die forthwith,” he replies, “and be avenged of my enemy, rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a laughing-stock and a burden of the earth.” Had Achilles any thought of death and danger? For wherever a man’s place is, whether the place which he has chosen or that in which he has been placed by a commander, there he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of death or of anything but of disgrace. And this, O men of Athens, is a true saying.

Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, O men of Athens, if I who, when I was ordered by the generals whom you chose to command me at Potidaea and Amphipolis and Delium, remained where they placed me, like any other man, facing death, if now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfill the philosopher’s mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for denying the existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was afraid of death, fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For the fear of death is indeed the pretense of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a pretense of knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is not this ignorance of a disgraceful sort, the ignorance which is the conceit that a man knows what he does not know? And in this respect only I believe myself to differ from men in general, and may perhaps claim to be wiser than they are:–that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.

And therefore if you let me go now, all you who are not convinced by Anytus, who said that since I had been prosecuted I must be put to death; (or if not that I ought never to have been prosecuted at all; and that if I escape now, your sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words, if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate this way any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die;, if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend, a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens,, are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? And if the person with whom I am arguing, says: Yes, but I do care; then I do not leave him or let him go at once; but I proceed to interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue in him, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the greater, and overvaluing the less.

And I shall repeat the same words to every one whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For know that this is the command necessity of God; and I believe that no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person. But if any one says that this is not my teaching, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whichever you do, understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times.

Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an understanding between us that you should hear me to the end: I have something more to say, at which you may be inclined to cry out; but I believe that to hear me will be good for you, and therefore I beg that you will not cry out. I would have you know, that if you kill such an one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me. Nothing will injure me, not Meletus nor yet Anytus, they cannot, for a bad man is not permitted to injure a better than himself. I do not deny that Anytus may, perhaps, injure me; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is inflicting a great injury: but there I do not agree. For the evil of doing as he is doing, the evil of unjustly taking away the life of another, is greater far.

And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you. For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel out of temper (like a person who is suddenly awakened from sleep), and you think that you might easily strike me dead as Anytus advises, and then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you sent you another gadfly. When I say that I am given to you by God, the proof of my mission is this:, if I had been like other men, I should not have neglected all my own concerns or patiently seen the neglect of them during all these years, and have been doing yours, coming to you individually like a father or elder brother, exhorting you to regard virtue; such conduct, I say, would be unlike human nature. If I had gained anything, or if my exhortations had been paid, there would have been some sense in my doing so; but now, as you will perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers dares to say that I have ever exacted or sought pay of any one; of that they have no witness. And I have a sufficient witness to the truth of what I say, my poverty.

Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak at sundry times and in diverse places of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician. And rightly, as I think. For I am certain, O men of Athens, that if I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago, and done no good either to you or to myself. And do not be offended at my telling you the truth: for the truth is, that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly striving against the many lawless and unrighteous deeds which are done in a state, will save his life; he who will fight for the right, if he would live even for a brief space, must have a private station and not a public one.

I can give you convincing evidence of what I say, not words only, but what you value far more, actions. Let me relate to you a passage of my own life which will prove to you that I should never have yielded to injustice from any fear of death, and that ‘as I should have refused to yield’ I must have died at once. I will tell you a tale of the courts, not very interesting perhaps, but nevertheless true. The only office of state which I ever held, O men of Athens, was that of senator: the tribe Antiochis, which is my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the generals who had not taken up the bodies of the slain after the battle of Arginusae; and you proposed to try them in a body, contrary to law, as you all thought afterwards; but at the time I was the only one of the Prytanes who was opposed to the illegality, and I gave my vote against you; and when the orators threatened to impeach and arrest me, and you called and shouted, I made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law and justice with me, rather than take part in your injustice because I feared imprisonment and death. This happened in the days of the democracy.

But when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power, they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, as they wanted to put him to death. This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were always giving with the view of implicating as many as possible in their crimes; and then I showed, not in word only but in deed, that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a straw for death, and that my great and only care was lest I should do an unrighteous or unholy thing. For the strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into doing wrong; and when we came out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end. And many will witness to my words.

Now do you really imagine that I could have survived all these years, if I had led a public life, supposing that like a good man I had always maintained the right and had made justice, as I ought, the first thing? No indeed, men of Athens, neither I nor any other man. But I have been always the same in all my actions, public as well as private, and never have I yielded any base compliance to those who are slanderously termed my disciples, or to any other. Not that I have any regular disciples. But if any one likes to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether he be young or old, he is not excluded. Nor do I converse only with those who pay; but any one, whether he be rich or poor, may ask and answer me and listen to my words; and whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one, neither result can be justly imputed to me; for I never taught or professed to teach him anything. And if any one says that he has ever learned or heard anything from me in private which all the world has not heard, let me tell you that he is lying.

But I shall be asked, why do people delight in continually conversing with you? I have told you already, Athenians, the whole truth about this matter: they like to hear the cross-examination of the pretenders to wisdom; there is amusement in it. Now this duty of cross-examining other men has been imposed upon me by God; and has been signified to me by oracles, visions, and in every way in which the will of divine power was ever intimated to any one. This is true, O Athenians; or, if not true, would be refuted. If I am or have been corrupting the youth, those of them who are now grown up and have become sensible that I gave them bad advice in the days of their youth should come forward as accusers, and take their revenge; or if they do not like to come themselves, some of their relatives, fathers, brothers, or other kinsmen, should say what evil their families have suffered at my hands. Now is their time. Many of them I see in the court. There is Crito, who is of the same age and of the same deme with myself, and there is Critobulus his son, whom I also see.

Then again there is Lysanias of Sphettus, who is the father of Aeschines, he is present; and also there is Antiphon of Cephisus, who is the father of Epigenes; and there are the brothers of several who have associated with me. There is Nicostratus the son of Theosdotides, and the brother of Theodotus (now Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore he, at any rate, will not seek to stop him); and there is Paralus the son of Demodocus, who had a brother Theages; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose brother Plato(4) is present; and Aeantodorus, who is the brother of Apollodorus, whom I also see. I might mention a great many others, some of whom Meletus should have produced as witnesses in the course of his speech; and let him still produce them, if he has forgotten, I will make way for him. And let him say, if he has any testimony of the sort which he can produce. Nay, Athenians, the very opposite is the truth. For all these are ready to witness on behalf of the corrupter, of the injurer of their kindred, as Meletus and Anytus call me; not the corrupted youth only, there might have been a motive for that, but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why should they too support me with their testimony? Why, indeed, except for the sake of truth and justice, and because they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is a liar.

Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is all the defense which I have to offer. Yet one word more. Perhaps there may be some one who is offended at me, when he calls to mind how he himself on a similar, or even a less serious occasion, prayed and entreated the judges with many tears, and how he produced his children in court, which was a moving spectacle, together with a host of relations and friends; whereas I, who am probably in danger of my life, will do none of these things. The contrast may occur to his mind, and he may be set against me, and vote in anger because he is displeased at me on this account. Now if there be such a person among you, mind, I do not say that there is, to him I may fairly reply: My friend, I am a man, and like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not ‘of wood or stone,’ as Homer says; and I have a family, yes, and sons, O Athenians, three in number, one almost a man, and two others who are still young; and yet I will not bring any of them hither in order to petition you for an acquittal. And why not? Not from any self-assertion or want of respect for you. Whether I am or am not afraid of death is another question, of which I will not now speak.

But, having regard to public opinion, I feel that such conduct would be discreditable to myself, and to you, and to the whole state. One who has reached my years, and who has a name for wisdom, ought not to demean himself. Whether this opinion of me be deserved or not, at any rate the world has decided that Socrates is in some way superior to other men. And if those among you who are said to be superior in wisdom and courage, and any other virtue, demean themselves in this way, how shameful is their conduct! I have seen men of reputation, when they have been condemned, behaving in the strangest manner: they seemed to fancy that they were going to suffer something dreadful if they died, and that they would be immortal if you only allowed them to live; and I think that such are a dishonor to the state, and that any stranger coming in would have said of them that the most eminent men of Athens, to whom the Athenians themselves give honor and command, are no better than women. And I say that these things ought not to be done by those of us who have a reputation; and if they are done, you ought not to permit them; you ought rather to show that you are far more disposed to condemn the man who gets up a doleful scene and makes the city ridiculous, than him who holds his peace.

But, setting aside the question of public opinion, there seems to be something wrong in asking a favor of a judge, and thus procuring an acquittal, instead of informing and convincing him. For his duty is, not to make a present of justice, but to give judgment; and he has sworn that he will judge according to the laws, and not according to his own good and pleasure; and we ought not to encourage you, nor should you allow yourselves to be encouraged, in this habit of perjury, there can be no piety in that. Do not then require me to do what I consider dishonorable and impious and wrong, especially now, when I am being tried for impiety on the indictment of Meletus. For if, O men of Athens, by force of persuasion and entreaty I could overpower your oaths, then I should be teaching you to believe that there are no gods, and in defending should simply convict myself of the charge of not believing in them. But that is not so, far otherwise. For I do believe that there are gods, and in a sense higher than that in which any of my accusers believe in them. And to you and to God I commit my cause, to be determined by you as is best for you and me.

[Socrates is convicted by the slimmest of margins and gives a second speech.

In Athenian jurisprudential practice, the accusers asked for a certain penalty if the accused is convicted, and the accused argues for a different, usually more lenient penalty. For instance, if the accusers ask for the death penalty, it was customary for the accused to ask for banishment. The lesser punishment tended to be chosen in just about every case. Socrates’ second speech is an argument for a different penalty rather than death, but Socrates argues that he is doing a great service to the state of Athens, so that the appropriate penalty would be to pay him a stipend for the rest of his life to support him in his criticism of individual citizens of Athens. This goes over like a lead balloon, and the senate sentences him to death.

In his final speech, Socrates tells the Athenians that they will be shamed in the future for their action and explains why he doesn’t fear death:]

Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good; for one of two things, either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but the greatest king will not find many such days or nights, when compared to the others. Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night.

But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead abide, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgement there… that pilgrimage will be worth taking. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus(5) and Hesiod(6) and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again!… Above all, I shall then be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in the next; and I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not… In another world they do not put a man to death for asking questions: assuredly not. For besides being happier than we are, they will also be immortal, if what is said is true. –

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know of a certainty, that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that the time had arrived when it was better for me to die and be released from trouble…

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows.


(1) Comic poet: this is Aristophanes.

(2) Delphi: at this place was located the “Pythian Oracle,” the temple which housed the prophetess of Apollo who, in riddling oracles and obscure metaphors, predicted the future and revealed the truth about things. The motto over the Delphi Temple was “Know Yourself.”

(3) The son of Thetis is Achilles.

(4) Brother Plato: this is the young man who will become the philospher Plato, the writer of the present work. The name Plato is a nickname and means “broad forehead.”

(5) Orpheus and Musaeus: the legendary first poets of Greece.

(6) Hesiod: a rough contemporary of Homer’s, coming just a little bit later. He is considered the second great foundational poet of Greece, and his two works, The Theogeny, a poem about the creation of the universe by the gods, and The Works and Days, a type of “wisdom” poem, were almost as important in Greece as the Homeric epics.

School of Law | University of Missouri, translated by Benjamin Jowett – http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/apology.html

* * *

After hearing the arguments of both Socrates and his accusers, the jury was asked to vote on his guilt. Under Athenian law the jurors did not deliberate the point. Instead, each juror registered his judgment by placing a small disk into an urn marked either “guilty” or “not guilty.” Socrates was found guilty by a vote of 280 to 220.

The jurors were next asked to determine Socrates’ penalty. His accusers argued for the death penalty. Socrates was given the opportunity to suggest his own punishment and could probably have avoided death by recommending exile. Instead, the philosopher initially offered the sarcastic recommendation that he be rewarded for his actions. When pressed for a realistic punishment, he proposed that he be fined a modest sum of money. Faced with the two choices, the jury selected death for Socrates.

The philosopher was taken to the near-by jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by drinking a cup of poison hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.

The Suicide of Socrates, 399 BChttp://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/socrates.htm

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon (356 BC – 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon[a] and a member of the Argead dynasty. He succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.

Speech of Alexander the Great (326 BC)

In 335 BC, Alexander the Great began his campaign to recapture former Greek cities and to expand his empire. After ten years of undefeated battles, Alexander controlled an empire that included Greece, Egypt, and what had been the massive Persian Empire.

That wasn’t enough for Xander. He decided to continue his conquest into India. But after ten years of fighting and being away from home, his men lacked the will to take part in another battle, especially against an opponent like King Porus and his army. Alexander used the talent for oration he had developed while studying under Aristotle to infuse his men with the motivation they needed to continue on, to fight and to win.


This speech was delivered on Hydaspes River, India.

Three of the most important aspects of the talk are described below.

1/ Call to Action. Alexander the Great cuts right to the core of his purpose at the start. He wants to press on, and they want to stay behind. The question of what they should do is to be discussed, and he is clear that “going forward” is his choice.

2/ Humility. By tying himself to the cause and acknowledging that the cause itself is exhausting, Alexander the Great humanizes himself to his audience. His soldiers aren’t working for him, they are working together. Great leaders display humility.

3/ Challenge. Without explicitly calling out cowardice or shaming the army, Alexander uses moments like these to brush away fears and challenge his men. It has a similar ring to “are we men, or are we mice?” and achieves the same effect. Also noted within the above quote is the expert placement of the words your power. A great speech, whether it is political or otherwise, challenges its audience without insulting them.


This speech is evaluated as #8 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

I observe, gentlemen, that when I would lead you on a new venture you no longer follow me with your old spirit. I have asked you to meet me that we may come to a decision together: are we, upon my advice, to go forward, or, upon yours, to turn back?

If you have any complaint to make about the results of your efforts hitherto, or about myself as your commander, there is no more to say. But let me remind you: through your courage and endurance you have gained possession of Ionia, the Hellespont, both Phrygias, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Phoenicia, and Egypt; the Greek part of Libya is now yours, together with much of Arabia, lowland Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Susia; Persia and Media with all the territories either formerly controlled by them or not are in your hands; you have made yourselves masters of the lands beyond the Caspian Gates, beyond the Caucasus, beyond the Tanais, of Bactria, Hyrcania, and the Hyrcanian sea; we have driven the Scythians back into the desert; and Indus and Hydaspes, Acesines and Hydraotes flow now through country which is ours. With all that accomplished, why do you hesitate to extend the power of Macedon – your power – to the Hyphasis and the tribes on the other side? Are you afraid that a few natives who may still be left will offer opposition? Come, come! These natives either surrender without a blow or are caught on the run – or leave their country undefended for your taking; and when we take it, we make a present of it to those who have joined us of their own free will and fight on our side.

For a man who is a man, work, in my belief, if it is directed to noble ends, has no object beyond itself; none the less, if any of you wish to know what limit may be set to this particular campaign, let me tell you that the area of country still ahead of us, from here to the Ganges and the Eastern ocean, is comparatively small. You will undoubtedly find that this ocean is connected with the Hyrcanian Sea, for the great Stream of Ocean encircles the earth. Moreover I shall prove to you, my friends, that the Indian and Persian Gulfs and the Hyrcanian Sea are all three connected and continuous. Our ships will sail round from the Persian Gulf to Libya as far as the Pillars of Hercules, whence all Libya to the eastward will soon be ours, and all Asia too, and to this empire there will be no boundaries but what God Himself has made for the whole world.

But if you turn back now, there will remain unconquered many warlike peoples between the Hyphasis and the Eastern Ocean, and many more to the northward and the Hyrcanian Sea, with the Scythians, too, not far away; so that if we withdraw now there is a danger that the territory which we do not yet securely hold may be stirred to revolt by some nation or other we have not yet forced into submission. Should that happen, all that we have done and suffered will have proved fruitless – or we shall be faced with the task of doing it over again from the beginning. Gentlemen of Macedon, and you, my friends and allies, this must not be. Stand firm; for well you know that hardship and danger are the price of glory, and that sweet is the savor of a life of courage and of deathless renown beyond the grave.

Are you not aware that if Heracles, my ancestor, had gone no further than Tiryns or Argos – or even than the Peloponnese or Thebes – he could never have won the glory which changed him from a man into a god, actual or apparent? Even Dionysus, who is a god indeed, in a sense beyond what is applicable to Heracles, faced not a few laborious tasks; yet we have done more: we have passed beyond Nysa and we have taken the rock of Aornos which Heracles himself could not take. Come, then; add the rest of Asia to what you already possess – a small addition to the great sum of your conquests. What great or noble work could we ourselves have achieved had we thought it enough, living at ease in Macedon, merely to guard our homes, accepting no burden beyond checking the encroachment of the Thracians on our borders, or the Illyrians and Triballians, or perhaps such Greeks as might prove a menace to our comfort?

I could not have blamed you for being the first to lose heart if I, your commander, had not shared in your exhausting marches and your perilous campaigns; it would have been natural enough if you had done all the work merely for others to reap the reward. But it is not so. You and I, gentlemen, have shared the labor and shared the danger, and the rewards are for us all. The conquered territory belongs to you; from your ranks the governors of it are chosen; already the greater part of its treasure passes into your hands, and when all Asia is overrun, then indeed I will go further than the mere satisfaction of our ambitions: the utmost hopes of riches or power which each one of you cherishes will be far surpassed, and whoever wishes to return home will be allowed to go, either with me or without me. I will make those who stay the envy of those who return.

Speech of Alexander the Greathttps://www.artofmanliness.com/speech-of-alexander-the-great/

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), sometimes anglicized as Tully, was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, Roman consul and constitutionalist. He is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. The most famous of Cicero’s political orations are (i) The Catiline or Catilinarian Orations, the four speeches accusing Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline); and (ii) the Philippicae or Philippics, the fourteen Philippics condemning Mark Antony.

He introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary (with neologisms such as humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia) distinguishing himself as a linguist, translator, and philosopher.

Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance. According to German historian Tadeusz Zielinski, “Renaissance was above all things a revival of Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of Classical antiquity.” The peak of Cicero’s authority and prestige came during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment,, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu was substantial. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.

Though he was an accomplished orator and successful lawyer, Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. It was during his consulship that the Catiline conspiracy attempted the government overthrow through an attack on the city from outside forces, and Cicero suppressed the revolt by executing five conspirators without due process. During the chaotic latter half of the 1st century BC marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. Following Julius Caesar’s death Cicero became an enemy of Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series of speeches. He was proscribed as an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate and subsequently killed in 43 BC.


The First Oration against Catiline (63 BC)

Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline to his friends) was a very jealous man. Having once run against Cicero for the position of consul and lost, he became determined to win the next election by any devious method necessary. Plan A was to bribe people to vote for him, and when that didn’t work, he decided to go for bust and simply knock Cicero off on election day. This plan was ferreted out by the ever vigilant Cicero, the election was postponed, and the Senate established marital law. When the election finally was held, the murderer-cum-candidate was surprisingly trounced at the polls.

Now it was time for Catiline’s Plan C: raise an army of co-conspirators, create insurrection throughout Italy, overthrow the government, and slice and dice as many Senators as they could get their coo-ky hands on. But Cicero was again one step ahead and discovered the plan. He called the Senate together for a meeting at the Temple of Jupiter in the Capitol, an orifice only used in times of great crisis. Catiline, who seriously didn’t know when he was not welcome, decided to crash the party.

With his archenemy in attendance, Cicero began his Catiline or Catilinarian Orations, a series of speeches to the Roman Senate given in 63 BC, accusing Catiline of leading a plot to overthrow the Roman government. Cicero mentioned how he saved Rome from rebellion, the guilt of Catiline, and the need to whack he and his cronies.

As political orations go, The First Oration (Oratio in Catilinam Prima in Senatu Habita) was relatively short, some 3,400 words, and to the point. Well remembered is the famous exasperated exclamation, O tempora, o mores! (Oh, what times! Oh, what behaviour!).

Catiline was present when the speech was delivered. He replied to it by asking people not to trust Cicero because he was a self-made man with no family tradition of public office, and to trust himself because of the long experience of his family. Initially, Cicero’s words proved unpersuasive. Catiline then ran from the building, hurling threats at the Senate. Later he left the city and claimed that he was placing himself in self-imposed exile at Marseille, but really went to the camp of Manlius, who was in charge of the army of rebels. The next morning Cicero assembled the people, and gave a further oration.

This speech is evaluated as #19 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

Cicero in his First Oration against Catiline (mural painting by Cesare Maccari)
Cicero in his First Oration against Catiline (mural painting by Cesare Maccari)

When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on the Palatine Hill – do not the watches posted throughout the city – does not the alarm of the people, and the union of all good men – does not the precaution taken of assembling the senate in this most defensible place – do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you? Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which every one here possesses of it? What is there that you did last night, what the night before – where is it that you were – who was there that you summoned to meet you – what design was there which was adopted by you, with which you think that any one of us is unacquainted?

Shame on the age and on its principles! The senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this man lives. Lives! aye, he comes even into the senate. He takes a part in the public deliberations; he is watching and marking down and checking off for slaughter every individual among us. And we, gallant men that we are, think that we are doing our duty to the republic if we keep out of the way of his frenzied attacks.

You ought, O Catiline, long ago to have been led to execution by command of the consul. That destruction which you have been long plotting against us ought to have already fallen on your own head.

What? Did not that most illustrious man, Publius Scipio(1), the Pontifex Maximus, in his capacity of a private citizen, put to death Tiberius Gracchus, though but slightly undermining the constitution? And shall we, who are the consuls, tolerate Catiline, openly desirous to destroy the whole world with fire and slaughter? For I pass over older instances, such as how Caius Servilius Ahala with his own hand slew Spurius Maelius when plotting a revolution in the state. There was – there was once such virtue in this republic, that brave men would repress mischievous citizens with severer chastisement than the most bitter enemy. For we have a resolution(2) of the senate, a formidable and authoritative decree against you, O Catiline; the wisdom of the republic is not at fault, nor the dignity of this senatorial body. We, we alone, – I say it openly, – we, the consuls, are waiting in our duty.

Source: The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, literally translated by C. D. Yonge, B. A. London. Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden. 1856.


(1) This was Scipio Nasica, who called on the consul Mucius Scaevola to do his duty and save the republic; but as he refused to put any one to death without a trial, Scipio called on all the citizens to follow him, and stormed the Capitol, which Gracchus had occupied with his party, and slew many of the partisans of Gracchus, and Gracchus himself.

(2) This resolution was couched in the form Videant Consules nequid respublica detrimenti capiat; and it exempted the consuls from all obligation to attend to the ordinary forms of law, and invested them with absolute power over the lives of all the citizens who were intriguing against the republic.

The First Oration against Mark Antony (44 BC)

Delivered before the Roman senate. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge. Abridged.

BEFORE, 1 O conscript fathers, I say those things concerning the republic which I think myself bound to say at the present time, I will explain to you briefly the cause of my departure from, and of my return to the city. When I hoped that the republic was at last recalled to a proper respect for your wisdom and for your authority, I thought that it became me to remain in a sort of sentinelship, which was imposed upon me by my position as a senator and a man of consular rank. Nor did I depart anywhere, nor did I ever take my eyes off from the republic, from the day on which we were summoned to meet(1) in the temple of Tellus; in which temple I, as far as was in my power, laid the foundations of peace, and renewed the ancient precedent set by the Athenians; I even used the Greek word, which that city employed in those times in allaying discords, and gave my vote that all recollection of the existing dissensions ought to be effaced by everlasting oblivion…..1

The oration then made by Marcus Antonius was an admirable one; his disposition, too, appeared excellent; and lastly, by his means and by his sons’, peace was ratified with the most illustrious of the citizens and everything else was consistent with this beginning. He invited the chief men of the state to those deliberations which he held at his own house concerning the state of the republic; he referred all the most important matters to this order. Nothing was at that time found among the papers of Caius Cæsar except what was already well known to everybody; and he gave answers to every question that was asked of him with the greatest consistency. Were any exiles restored? He said that one was, and only one. Were any immunities granted? He answered, None. He wished us even to adopt the proposition of Servius Sulpicius(2), that most illustrious man, that no tablet purporting to contain any decree or grant of Cæsar’s should be published after the Ides of March were expired. I pass over many other things, all excellent – for I am hastening to come to a very extraordinary act of virtue of Marcus Antonius. He utterly abolished from the constitution of the republic the dictatorship, which had by this time attained to the authority of regal power. And that measure was not even offered to us for discussion. He brought with him a decree of the senate, ready drawn up, ordering what he chose to have done; and when it had been read, we all submitted to his authority in the matter with the greatest eagerness; and, by another resolution of the senate, we returned him thanks in the most honorable and complimentary language…..2

A new light, as it were, seemed to be brought over us, now that not only the kingly power which we had endured, but all fear of such power for the future, was taken away from us; and a great pledge appeared to have been given by him to the republic that he did wish the city to be free, when he utterly abolished out of the republic the name of dictator, which had often been a legitimate title, on account of our late recollection of a perpetual dictatorship. A few days afterward the senate was delivered from the danger of bloodshed, and a hook was fixed into that runaway slave who had usurped the name of Caius Marius. And all these things he did in concert with his colleag. Some other things that were done were the acts of Dolabella(3) alone; but, if his colleag had not been absent, would, I believe, have been done by both of them in concert…..3

I have now explained to you, O conscript fathers, my design in leaving the city. Now I will set before you, also, my intention in returning, which may, perhaps, appear more unaccountable. As I had avoided Brandusium, and the ordinary route into Greece, not without good reason, on the first of August I arrived at Syracuse, because the passage from that city into Greece was said to be a good one. And that city, with which I had so intimate a connection, could not, tho it was very eager to do so, detain me more than one night. I was afraid that my sudden arrival among my friends might cause some suspicion if I remained there at all. But after the winds had driven me, on my departure from Sicily, to Leucopetra, which is a promontory of the Rhegian district, I went up the gulf from that point, with the view of crossing over. And I had not advanced far before I was driven back by a foul wind to the very place which I had just quitted. And as the night was stormy, and as I had lodged that night in the villa of Publius Valerius, my companion and intimate friend, and as I remained all the next day at his house waiting for a fair wind, many of the citizens of the municipality of Rhegium came to me. And of them there were some who had lately arrived from Rome; from them I first heard of the harang of Marcus Antonius, with which I was so much pleased that, after I had read it, I began for the first time to think of returning. And not long afterward the edict of Brutus and Cassius is brought to me; which (perhaps because I love those men, even more for the sake of the republic than of my own friendship for them) appeared to me, indeed, to be full of equity. They added besides (for it is a very common thing for those who are desirous of bringing good news to invent something to make the news which they bring seem more joyful) that parties were coming to an agreement; that the senate was to meet on the first of August; that Antonius having discarded all evil counselors, and having given up the provinces of Gaul, was about to return to submission to the authority of the senate…..4

But on this I was inflamed with such eagerness to return, that no oars or winds could be fast enough for me; not that I thought that I should not arrive in time, but lest I should be later than I wished in congratulating the republic; and I quickly arrived at Velia, where I saw Brutus; how grieved I was, I can not express. For it seemed to be a discreditable thing for me myself, that I should venture to return into that city from which Brutus was departing, and that I should be willing to live safely in a place where he could not. But he himself was not agitated in the same manner that I was; for, being elevated with the consciousness of his great and glorious exploit, he had no complaints to make of what had befallen him, tho he lamented your fate exceedingly. And it was from him that I first heard what had been the language of Lucius Piso, in the senate of August; who, altho he was but little assisted (for that I heard from Brutus himself) by those who ought to have seconded him, still according to the testimony of Brutus (and what evidence can be more trustworthy?) and to the avowal of every one whom I saw afterward, appeared to me to have gained great credit. I hastened hither, therefore, in order that as those who were present had not seconded him, I might do so; not with the hope of doing any good, for I neither hoped for that, nor did I well see how it was possible; but in order that if anything happened to me (and many things appeared to be threatening me out of the regular course of nature, and even of destiny), I might still leave my speech on this day as a witness to the republic of my everlasting attachment to its interests…..5

What reason had Marcus Antonius for endeavoring, with such bitter hostility, to force me into the senate yesterday? Was I the only person who was absent? Have you not repeatedly had thinner houses than yesterday? Or was a matter of such importance under discussion, that it was desirable for even sick men to be brought down? Hannibal, I suppose, was at the gates, or there was to be a debate about peace with Pyrrhus, on which occasion it is related that even the great Appius, old and blind as he was, was brought down to the senate house. There was a motion being made about some supplications – a kind of measure when senators are not usually wanting; for they are under the compulsion, not of pledges, but of the influence of those men whose honor is being complimented; and the case is the same when the motion has reference to a triumph. The consuls are so free from anxiety at these times, that it is almost entirely free for a senator to absent himself if he pleases. And as the general custom of our body was well known to me, and as I was hardly recovered from the fatigue of my journey, and was vexed with myself, I sent a man to him, out of regard for my friendship with him, to tell him that I should not be there…..6

But he, in the hearing of you all, declared that he would come with masons to my house; this was said with too much passion and very intemperately. For what known crime is there such a heavy punishment appointed as that – that any one should venture to say in this assembly that he, with the assistance of a lot of common operatives, would pull down a house which had been built at the public expense in accordance with a vote of the senate? And who ever employed such compulsion as the threat of such an injury as that to a senator? or what severer punishment has ever been imposed for absence than the forfeiture of a pledge, or a fine? But if he had known what opinion I should have delivered on the subject, he would have remitted somewhat of the rigor of his compulsion…..7

Do you think, O conscript fathers, that I would have voted for the resolution which you adopted against your own wills, of mingling funeral obsequies with supplications? of introducing inexplicable impiety into the republic? of decreeing supplications in honor of a dead man? I say nothing about who the man was. Even had he been that great Lucius Brutus who himself also delivered the republic from kingly power, and who has produced posterity nearly five hundred years after himself of similar virtue, and equal to similar achievements – even then I could not have been induced to join any dead man in a religious observance paid to the immortal gods; so that a supplication should be addressed by public authority to a man who has nowhere a sepulcher at which funeral obsequies may be celebrated…..8

I, O conscript fathers, should have delivered my opinion, which I could easily have defended against the Roman people, if any heavy misfortune had happened to the republic, such as war, or pestilence, or famine; some of which, indeed, do exist already; and I have my fears lest others are impending. But I pray that the immortal gods may pardon this act, both to the Roman people, which does not approve of it, and to this order, which voted it with great unwillingness. What! may I not speak of the other misfortunes of the republic? At all events it is in my power, and it always will be in my power, to uphold my own dignity and to despise death. Let me have only the power to come into this house, and I will never shrink from the danger of declaring my opinion!….9

In the first place, then, I declare my opinion that the acts of Cæsar ought to be maintained; not that I approve of them (for who indeed can do that?) but because I think that we ought above all things to have regard to peace and tranquillity. I wish that Antonius himself were present, provided he had no advocates with him. But I suppose he may be allowed to feel unwell, a privilege which he refused to allow me yesterday. He would then explain to me, or rather to you, O conscript fathers, to what extent he himself defended the acts of Cæsar. Are all the acts of Cæsar which may exist in the bits of note-books, and memoranda, and loose papers, produced on his single authority, and indeed not even produced, but only recited, to be ratified? And shall the acts which he caused to be engraved on brass, in which he declared that the edicts and laws passed by the people were valid forever, be considered as of no power? I think, indeed, that there is nothing so well entitled to be called the acts of Cæsar as Cæsar’s laws. Suppose he gave any one a promise, is that to be ratified, even if it were a promise that he himself was unable to perform? As, in fact, he has failed to perform many promises made to many people. And a great many more of those promises have been found since his death, than the number of all the services which he conferred on and did to people during all the years that he was alive would amount to…..10

What law was ever better, more advantageous, more frequently demanded in the best ages of the republic, than the one which forbade the pretorian provinces to be retained more than a year, and the consular provinces more than two? If this law be abrogated, do you think that the acts of Cæsar are maintained? What! are not all the laws of Cæsar respecting judicial proceedings abrogated by the law which has been proposed concerning the third decury? And are you the defenders of the acts of Cæsar who overturn his laws? Unless, indeed, anything which, for the purpose of recollecting it, he entered in a note-book, is to be counted among his acts, and defended, however unjust or useless it may be; and that which he proposed to the people in the comitia centuriata and carried, is not to be accounted one of the acts of Cæsar. But what is that third decury? The decury of centurions, says he. What! was not the judicature open to that order by the Julian Law, and even before that by the Pompeian and Aurelian Laws? The income of the men, says he, was exactly defined. Certainly, not only in the case of a centurion, but in the case, too, of a Roman knight. Therefore, men of the highest honor and of the greatest bravery, who have acted as centurions, are and have been judges…..11

I am not asking about those men, says he. Whoever has acted as centurion let him be a judge. But if you were to propose a law, that whoever had served in the cavalry, which is a higher post, should be a judge, you would not be able to induce any one to approve of that; for a man’s fortune and worth ought to be regarded in a judge. I am not asking about those points, says he; I am going to add as judges, common soldiers of the legion of Alaudæ, for our friends say, that that is the only measure by which they can be saved. Oh, what an insulting compliment it is to those men whom you summon to act as judges tho they never expected it! For the effect of the law is to make those men judges in the third decury who do not dare to judge with freedom. And in that how great, O ye immortal gods! is the error of those men who have desired that law. For the meaner the condition of each judge is, the greater will be the severity of judgment with which he will seek to efface the idea of his meanness; and he will strive rather to appear worthy of being classed in the honorable decuries, than to have deservedly ranked in a disreputable one…..12

Men have been recalled from banishment by a dead man; the freedom of the city has been conferred, not only on individuals, but on entire nations and provinces by a dead man; our revenues have been diminished by the granting of countless exemptions by a dead man. Therefore, do we defend these measures which have been brought from his house on the authority of a single, but, I admit, a very excellent individual; and as for the laws which he, in your presence, read, and declared, and passed – in the passing of which he gloried, and on which he believed that the safety of the republic depended, especially those concerning provinces and concerning judicial proceedings – can we, I say, we who defend the acts of Cæsar, think that those laws deserve to be upset?….13

And yet, concerning those laws which were proposed, we have, at all events, the power of complaining; but concerning those which are actually passed we have not even had that privilege. For they, without any proposal of them to the people, were passed before they were framed. Men ask, what is the reason why I, or why any one of you, O conscript fathers, should be afraid of bad laws while we have virtuous tribunes of the people? We have men ready to interpose their veto; ready to defend the republic with the sanctions of religion. We ought to be strangers to fear. What do you mean by interposing the veto? says he; what are all these sanctions of religion which you are talking about? Those, forsooth, on which the safety of the republic depends. We are neglecting those things, and thinking them too old-fashioned and foolish…..14

The forum will be surrounded, every entrance of it will be blocked up; armed men will be placed in garrison, as it were, at many points. What then? – whatever is accomplished by those means will be law. And you will order, I suppose, all those regularly-passed decrees to be engraved on brazen tablets. “The consuls consulted the people in regular form” – (is this the way of consulting the people that we have received from our ancestors?) – “and the people voted it with due regularity.” What people? That which was excluded from the forum? Under what law did they do so? Under that which has been wholly abrogated by violence and arms? But I am saying all this with reference to the future, because it is the part of a friend to point out evils which may be avoided; and if they never ensue, that will be the best refutation of my speech. I am speaking of laws which have been proposed, concerning which you have still full power to decide either way. I am pointing out the defects; away with them! I am denouncing violence and arms; away with them, too!….15

You and your colleag, O Dolabella, ought not, indeed, to be angry with me for speaking in defense of the republic. Altho I do not think that you yourself will be, I know your willingness to listen to reason. They say that your colleag, in this fortune of his, which he himself thinks so good, but which would seem to me more favorable if (not to use any harsh language) he were to imitate the example set him by the consulship of his grandfathers and of his uncle, – they say that he has been exceedingly offended. And I see what a formidable thing it is to have the same man angry with me and also armed; especially at a time when men can use their swords with such impunity. But I will propose a condition which I myself think reasonable, and which I do not imagine Marcus Antonius will reject. If I have said anything insulting against his way of life or against his morals, I will not object to his being my bitterest enemy. But if I have maintained the same habits that I have already adopted in the republic – that is, if I have spoken my opinions concerning the affairs of the republic with freedom – in the first place, I beg that he will not be angry with me for that; but, in the next place, if I can not obtain my first request, I beg, at least, that he will show his anger only as he legitimately may show it to a fellow citizen…..16

Let him employ arms, if it is necessary, as he says it is, for his own defense; only let not those arms injure those men who have declared their honest sentiments in the affairs of the republic. Now, what can be more reasonable than this demand? But if, as has been said to me by some of his intimate friends, every speech which is at all contrary to his inclination is violently offensive to him, even if there be no insult in it whatever – then we will bear with the natural disposition of our friend. But those men, at the same time, say to me, “You will not have the same license granted to you who are the adversary of Cæsar as might be claimed by Piso his father-in-law.” And then they warn me of something which I must guard against; and certainly, the excuse which sickness supplies me with, for not coming to the senate, will not be a more valid one than that which is furnished by death…..17

But, in the name of the immortal gods! for while I look upon you, O Dolabella, who are most dear to me, it is impossible for me to keep silence respecting the error into which you are both falling; for I believe that you, being both men of high birth, entertaining lofty views, have been eager to acquire, not money, as some too credulous people suspect – a thing which has at all times been scorned by every honorable and illustrious man – nor power procured by violence and authority such as never ought to be endured by the Roman people, but the affection of your fellow citizens, and glory. But glory is praise for deeds which have been done, and the fame earned by great services to the republic; which is approved of by the testimony borne in its favor, not only by every virtuous man, but also by the multitude. I would tell you, O Dolabella, what the fruit of good actions is, if I did not see that you have already learned it by experience beyond all other men…..18

What day can you recollect in your whole life, as ever having beamed on you with a more joyful light than the one on which, having purified the forum, having routed the throng of wicked men, having inflicted due punishment on the ringleaders in wickedness, and having delivered the city from conflagration and from fear of massacre, you returned to your house? What order of society, what class of people, what rank of nobles even was there who did not then show their zeal in praising and congratulating you? Even I, too, because men thought that you had been acting by my advice in those transactions, received the thanks and congratulations of good men in your name. Remember, I pray you, O Dolabella, the unanimity displayed on that day in the theater, when every one, forgetful of the causes on account of which they had been previously offended with you, showed that in consequence of your recent service they had banished all recollection of their former indignation. Could you, O Dolabella – (it is with great concern that I speak) – could you, I say, forfeit this dignity with equanimity?….19

And you, O Marcus Antonius – (I address myself to you, tho in your absence) – do you not prefer that day on which the senate was assembled in the temple of Tellus, to all those months during which some who differ greatly in opinion from me think that you have been happy? What a noble speech was that of yours about unanimity! From what apprehensions were the veterans, and from what anxiety was the whole state relieved by you on that occasion! when, having laid aside your enmity against him, you on that day first consented that your present colleag should be your colleag, forgetting that the auspices had been announced by yourself as augur of the Roman people; and when your little son was sent by you to the Capitol to be a hostage for peace. On what day was the senate ever more joyful than on that day? or when was the Roman people more delighted? which had never met in greater numbers in any assembly whatever.

Then, at last, we did appear to have been really delivered by brave men, because, as they had willed it to be, peace was following liberty. On the next day, on the day after that, on the third day, and on all the following days, you went on without intermission, giving every day, as it were, some fresh present to the republic; but the greatest of all presents was that when you abolished the name of the dictatorship. This was in effect branding the name of the dead Cæsar with everlasting ignominy, and it was your doing – yours I say. For as, on account of the wickedness of one Marcus Manlius, by a resolution of the Manlian family it is unlawful that any patrician should be called Manlius, so you, on account of the hatred excited by one dictator, have utterly abolished the name of dictator…..20

When you had done these mighty exploits for the safety of the republic, did you repent of your fortune, or of the dignity and renown and glory which you had acquired? Whence then is this sudden change? I can not be induced to suspect that you have been caught by the desire of acquiring money; every one may say what he pleases, but we are not bound to believe such a thing, for I never saw anything sordid or anything mean in you. Altho a man’s intimate friends do sometimes corrupt his natural disposition, still I know your firmness; and I only wish that, as you avoid that fault, you had been able also to escape all suspicion of it…..21

What I am more afraid of is lest, being ignorant of the true path to glory, you should think it glorious for you to have more power by yourself than all the rest of the people put together, and lest you should prefer being feared by your fellow citizens to being loved by them. And if you do think so, you are ignorant of the road to glory. For a citizen to be dear to his fellow citizens, to deserve well of the republic, to be praised, to be respected, to be loved, is glorious; but to be feared, and to be an object of hatred, is odious, detestable; and moreover, pregnant with weakness and decay. And we see that, even in the play, the very man who said,

“What care I tho all men should hate my name,
So long as fear accompanies their hate?”

found that it was a mischievous principle to act upon…..22

I wish, O Antonius, that you could recollect your grandfather, of whom, however, you have repeatedly heard me speak. Do you think that he would have been willing to deserve even immortality, at the price of being feared in consequence of his licentious use of arms? What he considered life, what he considered prosperity, was the being equal to the rest of the citizens in freedom, and chief of them all in worth. Therefore, to say no more of the prosperity of your grandfather, I should prefer that most bitter day of his death to the domination of Lucius Cinna, by whom he was most barbarously slain…..23

But why should I seek to make an impression on you by my speech? For, if the end of Caius Cæsar cannot influence you to prefer being loved to being feared, no speech of any one will do any good or have any influence with you; and those who think him happy are themselves miserable. No one is happy who lives on such terms that he may be put to death not merely with impunity, but even to the great glory of his slayer. Wherefore, change your mind, I entreat you, and look back upon your ancestors, and govern the republic in such a way that your fellow citizens may rejoice that you were born; without which no one can be happy nor illustrious…..24

And, indeed, you have both of you had many judgments delivered respecting you by the Roman people, by which I am greatly concerned that you are not sufficiently influenced. For what was the meaning of the shouts of the innumerable crowd of citizens collected at the gladiatorial games? or of the verses made by the people? or of the extraordinary applause at the sight of the statue of Pompeius? and at that sight of the two tribunes of the people who are opposed to you? Are these things a feeble indication of the incredible unanimity of the entire Roman people? What more? Did the applause at the games of Apollo, or, I should rather say, testimony and judgment there given by the Roman people, appear to you of small importance? Oh! happy are those men who, tho they themselves were unable to be present on account of the violence of arms, still were present in spirit, and had a place in the breasts and hearts of the Roman people. Unless, perhaps, you think that it was Accius who was applauded on that occasion, and who bore off the palm sixty years after his first appearance, and not Brutus, who was absent from the games which he himself was exhibiting, while at that most splendid spectacle the Roman people showed their zeal in his favor tho he was absent, and soothed their own regret for their deliverer by uninterrupted applause and clamor…..25

I myself, indeed, am a man who have at all times despised that applause which is bestowed by the vulgar crowd; but at the same time, when it is bestowed by those of the highest, and of the middle, and of the lowest rank, and, in short, by all ranks together, and when those men who were previously accustomed to aim at nothing but the favor of the people kept aloof, I then think that, not mere applause, but a deliberate verdict. If this appears to you unimportant, which is in reality most significant, do you also despise the fact of which you have had experience – namely, that the life of Aulus Hirtius(5) is so dear to the Roman people? For it was sufficient for him to be esteemed by the Roman people as he is; to be popular among his friends, in which respect he surpasses everybody; to be beloved by his own kinsmen, who do love him beyond measure; but in whose case before do we ever recollect such anxiety and such fear being manifested? Certainly in no one’s…..26

What, then, are we to do? In the name of the immortal gods, can you interpret these facts, and see what is their purport? What do you think that those men think of your lives, to whom the lives of those men who they hope will consult the welfare of the republic are so dear? I have reaped, O conscript fathers, the reward of my return, since I have said enough to bear testimony of my consistency whatever event may befall me, and since I have been kindly and attentively listened to by you. And if I have such opportunities frequently without exposing both myself and you to danger, I shall avail myself of them. If not, as far as I can I shall reserve myself not for myself, but rather for the republic. I have lived long enough for the course of human life, or for my own glory. If any additional life is granted to me, it shall be bestowed not so much on myself as on you and on the republic…..27


(1) summoned to meet: this meeting took place on the third day after Cæsar’s death. – Yonge.

(2) Servius Sulpicius: a close friend of Cicero, who was consul in 51 BC.

(3) Dolabella: Cicero’s son-in-law, who had joined Cæsar in the Civil War, and after Cæsar’s death became consul, acting with Mark Antony.

(4) Aulus Hirtius: the close personal and political friend of Julius Cæsar. After Cæsar’s death he became consul with Pansa. Hirtius opposed Mark Antony’s ambitious schemes and defeated him in battle, but was himself killed while leading an assault. He is believed to have written the eighth book of the “Commentaries on the Gallic War.” It has been thought that Hirtius, had he possessed a loftier ambition or a more imperial mind, might have prevented the ascendency of Octavius and Antony.

The First Oration Against Mark Antonyhttps://www.bartleby.com/268/2/14.html


Muhammad, in full Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, (c. 570-632), is the founder of Islam and the proclaimer of the Qurʾān. Muhammad is traditionally said to have been born in 570 in Mecca and to have died in 632 in Medina, where he had been forced to emigrate to with his adherents in 622.

The Qurʾān yields little concrete biographical information about the Islamic Prophet: it addresses an individual “messenger of God,” whom a number of verses call Muhammad (e.g., 3:144), and speaks of a pilgrimage sanctuary that is associated with the “valley of Mecca” and the Kaʿbah (e.g., 2:124–129, 5:97, 48:24–25). Certain verses assume that Muhammad and his followers dwell at a settlement called al-madīnah (“the town”) or Yathrib (e.g., 33:13, 60) after having previously been ousted by their unbelieving foes, presumably from the Meccan sanctuary (e.g., 2:191). Other passages mention military encounters between Muhammad’s followers and the unbelievers. These are sometimes linked with place-names, such as the passing reference to a victory at a place called Badr at 3:123. However, the text provides no dates for any of the historical events it alludes to, and almost none of the Qurʾānic messenger’s contemporaries are mentioned by name (a rare exception is at 33:37). Hence, even if one accepts that the Qurʾānic corpus authentically documents the preaching of Muhammad, taken by itself it simply does not provide sufficient information for even a concise biographical sketch.

Most of the biographical information that the Islamic tradition preserves about Muhammad thus occurs outside the Qurʾān, in the so-called sīrah (Arabic: “biography”) literature. Arguably the single most important work in the genre is Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq’s (died 767–768) Kitāb al-maghāzī (“Book of [the Prophet’s] Military Expeditions”). However, this work is extant only in later reworkings and abridgements, of which the best known is ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Hishām’s (died 833–834) Sīrat Muḥammad rasūl Allāh (“Life of Muhammad, the Messenger of God”). Ibn Isḥāq’s original book was not his own composition but rather a compilation of autonomous reports about specific events that took place during the life of Muhammad and also prior to it, which Ibn Isḥāq arranged into what he deemed to be their correct chronological order and to which he added his own comments. Each such report is normally introduced by a list of names tracing it through various intermediaries back to its ultimate source, which in many cases is an eyewitness – for example, the Prophet’s wife ʿĀʾishah. Variants of the material compiled by Ibn Isḥāq, as well as further material about events in Muhammad’s life, are preserved in works by other authors, such as Abd al-Razzāq (died 827), al-Wāqidī (died 823), Ibn Saʿd (died 845), and al-Ṭabarī (died 923).

The fact that such biographical narratives about Muhammad are encountered only in texts dating from the 8th or 9th century or even later is bound to raise the problem of how confident one can be in the sīrah literature’s claim to relay accurate historical information. This is not to suggest that there was necessarily an element of deliberate fabrication at work, at least at the level of a compiler like Ibn Isḥāq, who was clearly not inventing stories from scratch. Nonetheless, some accretion of popular legend around a figure as seminal as Muhammad would be entirely expected. At least to historians who are reluctant to admit reports of divine intervention, the problem is reinforced by the miraculous elements of some of the material included in Ibn Isḥāq’s work. Moreover, some of the narratives in question are patently adaptations of biblical motifs designed to present Muhammad as equal or superior to earlier prophetic figures such as Moses and Jesus. For example, before Muhammad’s emigration to Medina he is said to have received an oath of allegiance by twelve inhabitants of the city, an obvious parallel to the Twelve Apostles, and during the digging of a defensive trench around Medina Muhammad is said to have miraculously sated all the workers from a handful of dates, recalling Jesus’ feeding of the multitude. Finally, it is distinctly possible that some reports about events in Muhammad’s life emerged not from historical memory but from exegetical speculation about the historical context of particular verses of the Qurʾān.

By carefully comparing alternative versions of one and the same biographical narrative, scholars have been able to show that a certain number of traditions about Muhammad’s life – for instance, an account of the Prophet’s emigration from Mecca to Medina – were in circulation already by the end of the 7th century. An important collector of such early traditions was ʿUrwah ibn al-Zubayr, a relative of ʿĀʾishah who was probably born in 643–644 and who is plausibly viewed as having had firsthand access to former companions of the Prophet. Moreover, a number of rudimentary details about Muhammad are confirmed by non-Islamic sources dating from the first decades after Muhammad’s traditional date of death. For instance, a Syriac chronicle dating from about 640 mentions a battle between the Romans and “the Arabs of Muhammad,” and an Armenian history composed about 660 describes Muhammad as a merchant who preached to the Arabs and thereby triggered the Islamic conquests. Such evidence provides sufficient confirmation of the historical existence of an Arab prophet by the name of Muhammad. Certain tensions with the Islamic narrative of the Prophet’s life remain, however. For example, some of the non-Islamic sources present Muhammad as having still been alive when the Arab conquerors invaded Palestine (634–640), in contrast to the Islamic view that the Prophet had already passed away at this point.

All things considered, there is no compelling reason to suggest that the basic scaffolding of the traditional Islamic account of Muhammad’s life is unhistorical. At the same time, the nature of the sources is not such as to inspire confidence that we possess historically certain knowledge about the Prophet’s life that is as detailed as many earlier scholars tended to assume. Especially the customary chronological framework for Muhammad’s life appears to have been worked out by later transmitters and collectors such as Ibn Isḥāq, rather than being traceable to the earliest layer of Islamic traditions about Muhammad. Thus, statements of the sort that on March 21 of the year 625, Meccan forces entered the oasis of Medina are inherently problematic. The following section will nonetheless provide a concise digest mainly of Ibn Isḥāq’s version of the life of the Prophet. This digest does not aim to separate historical fact from later legend. For instance, unlike many earlier Western accounts, no attempt will be made to remove supernatural elements from the narrative in the interest of transforming it into an account that appears plausible by modern historiographical standards.

Written By: Nicolai Sinai,
William Montgomery Watt

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Muhammad, Prophet of Islamhttps://www.britannica.com/biography/Muhammad

Farewell Sermon (632)

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) delivered his last sermon (Khutbah) on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah (12th and last month of the Islamic year), 10 years after Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah) in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat. His words were quite clear and concise and were directed to the entire humanity.

“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things. O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone. All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”. O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

Learn Quranic Wisdomhttp://www.iqrasense.com/about-islam/the-last-sermon-khutbah-of-prophet-muhammad-farewell-sermon.html

Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II (c. 1035–1099), born Odo of Châtillon or Otho de Lagery, was Pope 1088 to his death in 1099. Urban II was a native of France.

Before his papacy he was the abbot of Cluny and Bishop of Ostia under the name Eudes. As the Pope he would have to deal with many issues including the antipope Clement III, infighting of various Christian nations, and the Muslim incursions into Europe. He is best known for initiating the First Crusade (1095–99) and setting up the modern-day Roman Curia in the manner of a royal ecclesiastical court to help run the Church. He promised forgiveness and pardon for all of the past sins of those who would fight to reclaim the holy land, and free the eastern churches.[8] This pardon would also apply to those that would fight the Moors in Spain.

Pope Leo XIII beatified him on 14 July 1881.

Speech at Clermont (1095)

This is the speech that launched the crusades and changed history. Four years after this speech, Jerusalem was captured by the Christians in a bloodbath that stunned the Muslim world; every inhabitant was killed. The Christians held Jerusalem for 87 years until it was re-captured by Saladin.

There are at least 5 versions of this speech. All versions agree that Pope Urban II, the first French Pope, spoke out of doors to the common people as well as church leaders and nobles on 27 November 1095 at Clermont in France. According to all reports, the crowd was deeply moved by this powerful speech.

This is the Robert the Monk version. Pope Urban’s reference to “King Charles the Great” means “Charlemagne”.

Oh, race of Franks, race from across the mountains, race chosen and beloved by God as shines forth in very many of your works set apart from all nations by the situation of your country, as well as by your catholic faith and the honor of the holy church! To you our discourse is addressed and for you our exhortation is intended. We wish you to know what a grievous cause has led us to Your country, what peril threatening you and all the faithful has brought us.

From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it cannot be traversed in a march of two months. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you.

Let the deeds of your ancestors move you and incite your minds to manly achievements; the glory and greatness of king Charles the Great, and of his son Louis, and of your other kings, who have destroyed the kingdoms of the pagans, and have extended in these lands the territory of the holy church. Let the holy sepulcher of the Lord our Savior, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially incite you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with their filthiness. Oh, most valiant soldiers and descendants of invincible ancestors, be not degenerate, but recall the valor of your progenitors.

But if you are hindered by love of children, parents and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life.” Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulcher; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says “floweth with milk and honey,” was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified by residence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the centre of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.

When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, “It is the will of God! It is the will of God!” When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:

Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!

And we do not command or advise that the old or feeble, or those unfit for bearing arms, undertake this journey; nor ought women to set out at all, without their husbands or brothers or legal guardians. For such are more of a hindrance than aid, more of a burden than advantage. Let the rich aid the needy; and according to their wealth, let them take with them experienced soldiers. The priests and clerks of any order are not to go without the consent of their bishop; for this journey would profit them nothing if they went without permission of these. Also, it is not fitting that laymen should enter upon the pilgrimage without the blessing of their priests.

Whoever, therefore, shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a, living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast. When,’ truly’,’ having fulfilled his vow be wishes to return, let him place the cross on his back between his shoulders. Such, indeed, by the twofold action will fulfill the precept of the Lord, as He commands in the Gospel, “He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

Source: Dana C. Munro, Urban and the Crusaders, Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 5-8

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) was born into a wealthy family at Assisi, Italy, the son of a cloth merchant. Francis received little formal education and during his youth was mostly preoccupied with having fun.

When armed conflict broke out between the men of Assisi and a neighboring city in 1202, Francis eagerly volunteered for the cavalry but wound up getting captured after the first big battle and spent a year in captivity.

Francis returned to Assisi hailed as a hero, but unknown to his friends he had undergone a transformation in his outlook during his captivity. Although he was once again the life of the party, he was now questioning his reason for existence.

After much contemplation, including vivid dreams and mystic visions, he turned away from the pursuit of all worldly pleasures, sold all his property and donated the money to the Church. He then began a lifelong passion of caring for society’s castoffs, the sick and poor, including lepers. A separate order for women was formed, now known as the Franciscan Nuns or Poor Clares.

Francis had much love for animals with special fondness for the birds. He liked to refer to animals as his brothers and sisters. Legend has it that wild animals had no fear of Francis and even came to him seeking refuge from harm.

After his death in 1226, Francis was declared a saint by Pope Gregory IX. For several centuries now, his Franciscan order has experienced continuous growth and is still active today caring for the poor, educating youth, and performing many other good deeds.


Sermon to the birds (1220)

It follows the full text transcript of the Sermon to the Birds by St. Francis of Assisi. The sermon could have been delivered around the year 1220 near Bevagna, Italy.

My little sisters the birds,

Ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places, because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and for your offspring.

St Francis of Assisi - Sermon to the Birds (Giotto)
St Francis of Assisi – Sermon To the Birds (Giotto)

Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noah that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap.

He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favored you with such bounties.

Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God.

Sermon to the Birdshttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/sermon_to_the_birds.htm

Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507. He came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church; in particular, he disputed the view on indulgences. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge, and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.

Those who identify with these, and all of Luther’s wider teachings, are called Lutherans, though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical (German: evangelisch) as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ.

In two of his later works, Luther expressed antagonistic views towards Jews. His rhetoric was not directed at Jews alone, but also towards Roman Catholics, Anabaptists, and nontrinitarian Christians. Luther died in 1546 with Pope Leo X’s excommunication still effective.


“Here I stand” (1521)

This is a speech delivered by Martin Luther at the Imperial Diet of Worms on 18 April 1521

Martin Luther, who through the church’s excommunication was practically declared a heretic, was invited to Worms by the Emperor who had been pressured by a few princes. Both the church and Emperor wanted Luther to recant his teachings while he was there. The princes who supported Luther hoped that through the forthcoming events the political power of Rome over Germany would be weak-end.

Luther’s powerful sovereign, Elector Friedrich the Wise of Saxon, demanded that Luther not be outlawed and imprisoned without a hearing.

Luther began his trip to Worms on 2 April 1521. Luther’s journey to the Imperial Diet did not embody the repentance the church had hoped for. The journey to Worms was more like a victory march; Luther was welcomed enthusiastically in all of the towns he went through.

He preached in Erfurt, Gotha and Eisenach. He arrived in Worms on 16 April and was also cheered and welcomed by the people.

Luther’s appearance at the Imperial Diet was described as objective, clever and well thought out. He had to appear before the Emperor twice; each time he was clearly told to take back his teachings. Luther didn’t see any proof against his theses or views which would move him to recant.


Most Serene Emperor, Illustrious Princes, Gracious Lords:

I this day appear before you in all humility, according to your command, and I implore your majesty and your august highnesses, by the mercies of God, to listen with favor to the defense of a cause which I am well assured is just and right. I ask pardon, if by reason of my ignorance, I am wanting in the manners that befit a court; for I have not been brought up in king’s palaces, but in the seclusion of a cloister; and I claim no other merit than that of having spoken and written with the simplicity of mind which regards nothing but the glory of God and the pure instruction of the people of Christ.

Luther at the Diet of Worms by Anton von Werner 1877
Luther at the Diet of Worms (Anton von Werner, 1877)

Two questions were yesterday put to me by his imperial majesty; the first, whether I was the author of the books whose titles were read; the second, whether I wished to revoke or defend the doctrine I have taught. I answered the first directly, and I adhere to that answer: that these books are mine and published by me, except so far as they may have been altered or interpolated by the craft or officiousness of opponents. As for the second question, I am now about to reply to it; and I must first entreat your Majesty and your Highnesses to deign to consider that I have composed writings on very different subjects. In some I have discussed Faith and Good Works, in a spirit at once so pure, clear, and Christian, that even my adversaries themselves, far from finding anything to censure, confess that these writings are profitable, and deserve to be perused by devout persons. The pope’s bull, violent as it is, acknowledges this. What, then, should I be doing if I were now to retract these writings? Wretched man! I alone, of all men living, should be abandoning truths approved by the unanimous voice of friends and enemies, and should be opposing doctrines that the whole world glories in confessing!

I have composed, secondly, certain works against the papacy, wherein I have attacked such as by false doctrines, irregular lives, and scandalous examples, afflict the Christian world, and ruin the bodies and souls of men. And is not this confirmed by the grief of all who fear God? Is it not manifest that the laws and human doctrines of the popes entangle, vex, and distress the consciences of the faithful, while the crying and endless extortions of Rome engulf the property and wealth of Christendom, and more particularly of this illustrious nation? Yet it is a perpetual statute that the laws and doctrines of the pope be held erroneous and reprobate when they are contrary to the Gospel and the opinions of the church fathers.

If I were to revoke what I have written on that subject, what should I do but strengthen this tyranny, and open a wider door to so many and flagrant impieties? Bearing down all resistance with fresh fury, we should behold these proud men swell, foam, and rage more than ever! And not merely would the yoke which now weighs down Christians be made more grinding by my retractation it would thereby become, so to speak, lawful, for, by my retractation, it would receive confirmation from your most serene majesty, and all the States of the Empire. Great God! I should thus be like to an infamous cloak, used to hide and cover over every kind of malice and tyranny.

In the third and last place, I have written some books against private individuals, who had undertaken to defend the tyranny of Rome by destroying the faith. I freely confess that I may have attacked such persons with more violence than was consistent with my profession as an ecclesiastic: I do not think of myself as a saint; but neither can I retract these books. Because I should, by so doing, sanction the impieties of my opponents, and they would thence take occasion to crush God’s people with still more cruelty.

Yet, as I am a mere man, and not God, I will defend myself after the example of Jesus Christ, who said: “If I have spoken evil, bear witness against me; but if well, why doest thou strike me?” [John xviii:23]. How much more should I, who am but dust and ashes, and so prone to error, desire that every one should bring forward what he can against my doctrine. Therefore, most serene emperor, and you illustrious princes, and all, whether high or low, who hear me, I implore you by the mercies of God to prove to me by the writings of the prophets and apostles that I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly retract all my errors, and will myself be the first to seize my writings, and commit them to the flames.

What I have just said will, I think, clearly show that I have well considered and weighed, not only the dangers to which I am exposing myself, but also the parties and dissensions excited in the world by means of my doctrine, of which I was yesterday so gravely admonished. But far from being dismayed by them, I rejoice exceedingly to see the Gospel this day, as of old, a cause of disturbance and disagreement; for such is the character and destiny of God’s word. “I came not to send peace unto the earth, but a sword,” said Jesus Christ. “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foees shall be those of his own household.” [Matthew x:34-36]

God is wonderful and terrible in His counsels. Let us have a care, lest in our endeavors to arrest discords, we be bound to fight against the holy word of God and bring down upon our heads a frightful deluge of inextricable dangers, present disaster, and everlasting desolations. Let us have a care that the reign of the young and noble prince, the Emperor Charles, on whom, next to God, we build so many hopes, should not only commence, but continue and terminate its course, under the most favorable auspices.

I might cite examples drawn from the oracles of God. I might speak of Pharaohs, of kings of Babylon, or of Israel, who were never more contributing to their own ruin than when, by measures in appearances most prudent, they thought to establish their authority! God removeth the mountains and they know not [Job ix:5]. In speaking thus, I do not suppose that such noble princes have need of my poor judgment; but I wish to acquit myself of a duty whose fulfillment my native Germany has a right to expect from her children. And so commending myself to your august majesty, and your most serene highnesses, I beseech you in all humility, not to permit the hatred of my enemies to rain upon me an indignation I have not deserved. I have done.

[Having delivered this speech in German, Luther was now asked to repeat it in Latin. After some hesitation, he did so. He was then reminded that he should answer a simple question: whether he would retract or not. Thus he continued:]

Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.

Source: Lowne, C. (ed.) 2005). Speeches that changed the world. Bounty Books, London, U.K.

* * *

After Luther left the negotiations room, he said “I am finished.” And he was for the time finished; Luther was dismissed, and not arrested because he had a letter of safe conduct (Schutzbrief) which guaranteed him 21 days of safe travel through the land. He headed home on 25 April.

When Luther and the princes who supported him left Worms, the Emperor imposed an Imperial Act (Wormser Edikt): Luther is declared an outlaw (he may be killed by anyone without threat of punishment).


The Diet of Worms 1521 (German: Reichstag zu Worms) was an imperial diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire called by King Charles V. It was held at the Heylshof Garden in Worms, then an Imperial Free City of the Empire. An imperial diet was a formal deliberative assembly of the whole Empire. Other imperial diets took place at Worms in the years 829, 926, 1076, 1122, 1495, and 1545, but unless plainly qualified, the term “Diet of Worms” usually refers to the assembly of 1521.

Queen Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I (1533–1603) was queen regnant of England and Ireland during 1558–1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels..

In 1558 upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir; however, despite numerous courtships, she never did.

In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. In religion, she was relatively tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. By the mid–1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history.

Elizabeth I c. 1588 to commemorate defeat of Spanish Armada
Portrait of Elizabeth I, c. 1588

Elizabeth’s reign became known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when government was ramshackle and limited, and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.

Elizabeth I of Englandhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_I_of_England

The Spanish Armada Speech (1588)

See: “Let tyrants fear” – Elizabeth Ihttps://tamdiepblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/let-tyrants-fear-elizabeth-i/

Golden Speech/ Farewell Speech (1601)

The 45-year reign of Elizabeth I as queen of England and Ireland (1558–1603) was so influential it became known as the Elizabethan Age. During her rule, Elizabeth helped shaped the future of England, creating a stable monarchy, developing legal institutions, encouraging commerce, establishing the Protestant religion as England’s faith, and defending the nation against Spanish forces.

On 30 November 1601, near the end of her reign, Elizabeth delivered to 141 members of the House of Commons, what came to be known as her Golden Speech. The speech demonstrates Elizabeth’s skills of oratory as well as her devotion to her people.

This is the last speech delivered by Queen Elizabeth I of England, so it is also call the Farewell Speech.

Elizabeth was famous for her speeches, and the “Golden Speech” is a perfect example of her intelligent self-projection as a competent figurehead to a Parliament of men. The ‘Golden’ label was first coined in a commonwealth pamphlet which bore a header beginning “This speech ought to be set in letters of gold”.

Mr Speaker,

We have heard your declaration and perceive your care of our estate. I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. And, though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a people. Therefore I have cause to wish nothing more than to content the subject and that is a duty which I owe. Neither do I desire to live longer days than I may see your prosperity and that is my only desire. And as I am that person still yet, under God, hath delivered you and so I trust by the almighty power of God that I shall be his instrument to preserve you from every peril, dishonour, shame, tyranny and oppression, partly by means of your intended helps which we take very acceptably because it manifesteth the largeness of your good loves and loyalties unto your sovereign.

Of myself I must say this: I never was any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait fast-holding Prince, nor yet a waster. My heart was never set on any worldly goods. What you bestow on me, I will not hoard it up, but receive it to bestow on you again. Therefore render unto them I beseech you Mr Speaker, such thanks as you imagine my heart yieldeth, but my tongue cannot express. Mr Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand up for I shall yet trouble you with longer speech. Mr Speaker, you give me thanks but I doubt me I have greater cause to give you thanks, than you me, and I charge you to thank them of the Lower House from me. For had I not received a knowledge from you, I might have fallen into the lapse of an error, only for lack of true information.

Since I was Queen, yet did I never put my pen to any grant, but that upon pretext and semblance made unto me, it was both good and beneficial to the subject in general though a private profit to some of my ancient servants, who had deserved well at my hands. But the contrary being found by experience, I am exceedingly beholden to such subjects as would move the same at first. And I am not so simple to suppose but that there be some of the Lower House whom these grievances never touched. I think they spake out of zeal to their countries and not out of spleen or malevolent affection as being parties grieved. That my grants should be grievous to my people and oppressions to be privileged under colour of our patents, our kingly dignity shall not suffer it. Yea, when I heard it, I could give no rest unto my thoughts until I had reformed it. Shall they, think you, escape unpunished that have oppressed you, and have been respectless of their duty and regardless our honour? No, I assure you, Mr Speaker, were it not more for conscience’ sake than for any glory or increase of love that I desire, these errors, troubles, vexations and oppressions done by these varlets and lewd persons not worthy of the name of subjects should not escape without condign punishment. But I perceive they dealt with me like physicians who, ministering a drug, make it more acceptable by giving it a good aromatical savour, or when they give pills do gild them all over.

I have ever used to set the Last Judgement Day before mine eyes and so to rule as I shall be judged to answer before a higher judge, and now if my kingly bounties have been abused and my grants turned to the hurt of my people contrary to my will and meaning, and if any in authority under me have neglected or perverted what I have committed to them, I hope God will not lay their culps and offenses in my charge. I know the title of a King is a glorious title, but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding, but that we well know and remember that we also are to yield an account of our actions before the great judge. To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of a King or royal authority of a Queen as delighted that God hath made me his instrument to maintain his truth and glory and to defend his kingdom as I said from peril, dishonour, tyranny and oppression. There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my subjects and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety than myself. For it is my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving.

‘For I, oh Lord, what am I, whom practices and perils past should not fear? Or what can I do? That I should speak for any glory, God forbid.’ And turning to the Speaker and her councilors she said, ‘And I pray to you Mr Comptroller, Mr Secretary and you of my Council, that before these gentlemen go into their countries, you bring them all to kiss my hand.’

The Elizabeth Files as recorded by diarist Hayward Townshend – http://www.elizabethfiles.com/30-november–1601-elizabeth-is-golden-speech/5936/

Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the “father of modern physics”, or even the “father of science”.

His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.

From an early age, Galileo showed his scientific skills. At age nineteen, he discovered the isochronism of the pendulum. By age twenty-two, he had invented the hydrostatic balance. By age twenty-five, Galileo assumed his first lectureship, at the University of Pisa. Within a few more years, Galileo earned a reputation throughout Europe as a scientist and superb lecturer. Eventually, he would be recognized as the father of experimental physics. Galileo’s motto might have been “follow knowledge wherever it leads us.”

Defense at the trial (1633)

Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism(1) was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism(2). He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could only be supported as a possibility, not as an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.

He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

In the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei, two worlds come into cosmic conflict. Galileo’s world of science and humanism, delivered on 10 May 1633, collides with the world of Scholasticism and absolutism that held power in the Catholic Church. The result is a tragedy that marks both the end of Galileo’s liberty and the end of the Italian Renaissance.

In the 1999 Encarta Yearbook, Galileo was considered to be one of the “ten who changed the millennium.”

When asked if I had signified to the Reverend Father, the Master of the Holy Palace, the injunction privately laid upon me, about sixteen years ago, by the order of the Holy Office, not to hold, defend, or “ina any way” teach the doctrine of the motion of the Earth and the stability of the Sun, I answered that I had not done so. And, not being questioned as to the reason why I had not intimated it, I had no opportunity to add anything further. It now appears to me necessary to state the reason, in order to demonstrate the purity of my intention, ever foreign to the practice of simulation or deceit in any operation I engage in.

I say, then, that, as at that time reports were spread abroad by evil-disposed persons to the effect that I had been summoned by the Lord Cardinal Bellarmine to abjure certain of my opinions and teachings and also to submit to penitence for them, I was thus constrained to apply to his Eminence and to solicit him to furnish me with an attestation, explaining the cause for which I had been summoned before him; which attestation I obtained in his own handwriting, and it is the same that I now produce with the present document. From this it clearly appears that it was merely announced to me that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus, of the motion of the Earth and the stability of the Sun, must not be held or defended; but that, beyond this general announcement affecting everyone, there should have been ordered anything to me in particular, no trace thereof appears in it.

Having, then, as a reminder, this authentic attestation in the handwriting of the very person who informed me of the command, I made no further application of thought or memory with regard to the words employed in orally announcing to me the said order not to hold or defend the doctrine in question; so that the two articles of the order – in addition to the injunction not to “hold” or “defend” it – to wit, the words “not to teach it” and “in any way whatsoever” – which, I hear, are contained in the order enjoined on me, and registered – struck me as quite novel and as if I had not heard them before; and I do not think I ought to be disbelieved when I urge that in the course of fourteen or sixteen years I had lost all recollection of them, especially as I had no need to give any particular thought to them, having in my possession so authentic a reminder in writing. Now, if the said two articles accompanying attestation, there is no doubt that the injunction contained in the latter is the same command as that contained in the decree of the Holy Congregation of the Index. Hence it appears to me that I have a reasonable excuse for not having notified to the Master of the Holy Palace about the command privately imposed upon me, it being the same as that of the Congregation of the Index.

Now, if so be my book was not subject to a stricter censorship than that made binding by the decree of the Index, it will, it appears to me, be sufficiently plain that I adopted the surest and most becoming method of having it guaranteed and purged of all shadow of taint, inasmuch as I handed it to the Supreme Inquisitor at the very time when many books dealing with the same matters were being prohibited solely by virtue of the said decree. After what I have now stated, I would confidently hope that the idea of my having knowingly and deliberately violated the command imposed upon me will henceforth be entirely banished from the minds of my most eminent and wise judges; hence those faults which are seen scattered throughout my book have not been artfully introduced with any concealed or other than sincere intention but have only inadvertently fallen from my pen, owing to a vainglorious ambition and complacency in desiring to appear more subtle than the generality of popular writers, as indeed in another deposition I have confessed; which fault I shall be ready to correct with all possible industry whenever I may be commanded or permitted by Their Most Eminent Lordships.

Lastly, it remains for me to beg you to take into consideration my pitiable state of bodily indisposition, to which, at the age of seventy years, I have been reduced by ten months of constant mental anxiety and the fatigue of a long and toilsome journey at the most inclement season – together with the loss of a greater part of the years to which, from my previous condition of health, I had the prospect. I am persuaded and encouraged to do so by the faith I have in the clemency and goodness of the most Eminent Lords, my judges; with the hope that they may be pleased, in answer to my prayer, to remit what may appear in their entire justice the rightful addition that is still lacking to such sufferings to make up an adequate punishment for my crimes, out of consideration for my declining age, which, too, humbly commends itself to them. And I would equally commend to their consideration my honor and reputation, against the calumnies of ill-wishers, whose persistence in detracting from my good name may be inferred from the necessity which constrained me to procure from the Lord Cardinal Bellarmine the attestation which accompanies this.

Galileo’s Defense – https://www.famous-trials.com/galileotrial/1013-defense

* * *

Seven of the ten cardinals signed the sentence: formal imprisonment.

In late 1633, Galileo received permission to move into his own small farmhouse in Arcetri, where he would grow blind and, in 1642, die.

On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture. In December 2008, during events to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s earliest telescopic observations, Pope Benedict XVI praised his contributions to astronomy.


(1) Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe.

(2) Geocentrism: or the Ptolemaic system, tn astronomy, is the superseded theory that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that all other objects orbit around it. This geocentric model served as the predominant cosmological system in many ancient civilizations such as ancient Greece.

Charles I of England

Charles I (1600–1649) was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 1625 until his execution in 1649, and is a saint in the Church of England. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles believed was divinely ordained. Many of his English subjects opposed his actions, in particular his interference in the English and Scottish churches and the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent which grew to be seen as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch.

Religious conflicts permeated Charles’s reign. His failure to successfully aid Protestant forces during the Thirty Years’ War(1), coupled with such actions as marrying a Roman Catholic princess, generated deep mistrust concerning the king’s dogma. Charles further allied himself with controversial religious figures, such as the ecclesiastic Richard Montagu and William Laud, whom Charles appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Many of Charles’ subjects felt this brought the Church of England too close to the Roman Catholic Church. Charles’ later attempts to force religious reforms upon Scotland led to the Bishops’ Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate the his own downfall.

Charles’ last years were marked by the English Civil War, in which he fought the forces of the English and Scottish parliaments, which challenged his attempts to overrule and negate parliamentary authority, whilst simultaneously using his position as head of the English Church to pursue religious policies which generated the antipathy of reformed groups such as the Puritans. Charles was defeated in the First Civil War (1642–45), after which Parliament expected him to accept its demands for a constitutional monarchy. He instead remained defiant by attempting to forge an alliance with Scotland and escaping to the Isle of Wight. This provoked the Second Civil War (1648–49) and a second defeat for Charles.

Charles I of Englandhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_I_of_England

Speech before execution (1649)

On 27 January 1649, Charles I was sentenced to death as a tyrant, murderer, and enemy of the nation. His trial and execution were unprecedented in Europe. The judicial procedure and usurpation of traditional royal powers shocked contemporaries even though monarchs had been deposed and executed before. Charles met his death with quiet courage and kingly composure. Of the large crowd that had gathered to witness his last moments, only those nearest Charles heard his final speech, which contributed toward his image as a martyr in the cause of unfettered royal supremacy.

30 January 1649

I shall be very little heard of anybody here; I shall therefore speak a word unto you here; indeed I could hold my peace very well, if I did not think that holding my peace would make some men think that I did submit to the guilt, as well as to the punishment; but I think it is my duty to God first and then to my country for to clear myself both as an honest man and a good king and a good Christian. I shall begin first with my innocency. In troth I think it not very needful for me to insist long upon this, for all the world knows that I never did begin a war with the two Houses of Parliament, and I call God to witness, to whom I must shortly make my account, that I never did intend for to encroach upon their privileges; they began upon me, it is the militia, they began upon, they contest that the militia was mine, but they thought it fit for to have it from me; and to be short, if anybody will look to the dates of the commissions, of their commissions and mine, and likewise to the declarations, will see clearly that they began these unhappy troubles, not I; so that as the guilt of these enormous crimes that are laid against me, I hope in God that God will clear me of it, I will not, I am in charity; God forbid that I should lay it upon the two Houses of Parliament; there is no necessity of either, I hope they are free of this guilt, for I do believe that ill instruments between them and me has been the chief cause of all this bloodshed; so that by way of speaking as I find myself clear of this, I hope (and pray God) that they may too: yet for all this, God forbid that I should be so ill a Christian as not to say that God’s judgements are just upon me: many times he does pay justice by an unjust sentence, that is ordinary; I will only say this, that an unjust sentence that I suffered for to take effect is punished now, by an unjust sentence upon me; that is, so far I have said, to show you that I am an innocent man.

Now for to show you that I am a good Christian: I hope there is a good man that will bear me witness, that I have forgiven all the world; even those in particular that have been the chief causes of my death; who they are, God knows, I do not desire to know, I pray God forgive them. But this is not all; my charity must go farther, I wish that they may repent, for indeed they have committed a great sin in that particular; I pray God with Saint Stephen that they may take the right way to the peace of the kingdom, for my charity commands me not only to forgive particular men, but my charity commands me to endeavour to the last gasp the peace of the kingdom: so, sirs, I do with all my soul, and I do hope (there is some here will carry it further) that they may endeavour the peace of the kingdom. Now, sirs, I must show you both how you are out of the way and will put you in a way; first, you are out of the way, for certainly all the way you ever had yet as I could find by anything is in the way of conquest; certainly this is an ill way, for conquest, sir, in my opinion is never just, except there be a good just cause, either for the matter of wrong or just title, and then if you go beyond it, the first quarrel that you have to it, that makes it unjust at the end, that was just as first: But if it be only matter of conquest, then it is a great robbery; as a pirate said to Alexander, that he was the great robber, he was but a petty robber; and so, sir, I do think the way that you are in, is much out of the way.

Now, sir, for to put you in the way, believe it you will never do right, nor God will never prosper you, until you give God his due, the King his due (that is, my successor), and the people their due; I am as much for them as any of you; you must give God his due by regulating rightly his church according to his Scripture which is now out of order: for to set you in a way particularly now I cannot, but only this, a national synod freely called, freely debating among themselves, must settle this, when that every opinion is freely and clearly heard.

For the King: the laws of the land will clearly instruct you for that; therefore, because it concerns my own particular, I only give you a touch of it.

For the people. And truly I desire their liberty and freedom, as much as anybody whomsoever; but I must tell you that their liberty and their freedom consists in having of government those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in government, sir, that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things; and therefore, until they do that, I mean, that you do put the people in that liberty as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves.

Sirs, it was for this that now I am come here: if I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the power of the sword, I needed not to have come here; and therefore, I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people.

In troth, sirs, I shall not hold you much longer; for I will only say this to you, that in truth I could have desired some little time longer, because that I would have put this I have said in a little more order, and a little better digested, than I have done; and therefore I hope you will excuse me.

I have delivered my conscience, I pray God, that you do take those courses that are best for the kingdom, and your own salvation.

In troth, sirs, my conscience in religion, I think, is very well known to the world; and therefore I declare before you all that I die a Christian according to the profession of the church of England, as I found it left me by my father;… Sirs, excuse me for this same. I have a good cause, and I have a gracious God; I will say no more. I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.

Microsoft Encarta 2009


(1) The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history. The conflict lasted, unceasing, for 30 years, making it the longest continuous war in modern history.

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658) was leader in the English Revolution (1640–1660) and the first commoner to rule England. Cromwell governed as Lord Protector during 1653–1658 under England’s only written constitution, the Instrument of Government. During the English Civil War (1642–1649), Cromwell rose from obscurity on the basis of his devout Calvinism, natural military genius, and forceful personality. These characteristics helped him hold together the competing groups that had overthrown King Charles I in the first phase of the civil war. Cromwell conquered Ireland and Scotland, made England a feared military power in Europe, and expanded its overseas empire.

After Charles I, king of England, was executed in 1649, the Rump Parliament prevented Oliver Cromwell from convening an interim council to formulate a new constitution. Cromwell was the dominant figure in the victory over Charles I, but the Rump Parliament was a more conservative assembly than the body that had agreed to execute the king and abolish the monarchy. In 1653, after learning that Parliament was attempting to stay in session despite an agreement to dissolve, Cromwell’s patience ran out. He dismissed the assembled members with this speech. The “shining bauble” referred to is the parliamentary staff, which must be present, by convention, in order for Parliament to sit.

“In the name of God, go” (1653)

20 April 1653

Oliver Cromwell throwing out the Parliament - 1653
Oliver Cromwell throwing out the Parliament – 1653

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!

Dismissal of the Rump Parliamenthttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/dismissal_of_the_rump_parliament.htm

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry (1736–1799) was American orator and statesman, a self-educated lawyer, and a leading patriot of the American Revolution. He was one of the most eloquent advocates of individual freedom and states’ rights in the early years of United States history.

Patrick Henry (1736–1799), American orator and statesman, a self-educated lawyer, and a leading patriot of the American Revolution. Henry was one of the most eloquent advocates of individual freedom and states’ rights in the early years of United States history. After the British Parliament’s Intolerable Acts of 1774 forced the colonists to provide lodging for British soldiers, the colonists organized local militia units to prevent what they saw as further violations of their rights. In March 1775 Henry called for independence at the revolutionary convention of Virginia, inflaming already high anti-British sentiment and contributing to the opening of armed hostilities the following month at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. His famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death!” 23 March 1775, became the watchword of the revolutionaries, and later, a part of the American heritage.

Microsoft Encarta 2008

“Give me liberty, or give me death” (1775)

“Give me liberty, or give me death!” is a quotation attributed to Patrick Henry from a speech he made to the Virginia Convention. It was given on 23 March 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and is credited with having swung the balance in convincing the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War(1). Among the delegates to the convention were future U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Reportedly, those in attendance, upon hearing the speech, shouted, “give me liberty or give me death!”

The text of this speech first appeared in print in Life and Character of Patrick Henry by William Wirt which was first published in 1816, seventeen years after Patrick Henry’s death. In 1815, Wirt wrote to a friend, “from 1763 to 1789… not one of his speeches lives in print, writing or memory. All that is told me is, that on such and such an occasion, he made a distinguished speech”. Wirt corresponded with men who had heard the speech and others who were acquainted with people who were there at the time. Wirt wrote to Judge St. George Tucker, who had been present for the speech, that “I have taken almost entirely Mr. Henry’s speech in the Convention of ‘75 from you, as well as your description of its effect on you verbatim.”

Give me liberty, or give me death!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_me_Liberty,_or_give_me_Death!

This speech is evaluated as
– one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Speeches;
– #25 of the 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort.

I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.

And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!

In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 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!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable-and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Give me liberty, or give me death!http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Give_me_liberty_or_give_me_death


(1) Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence in July 1776 as the United States of America.

George Washington

George Washington (1732–1799) was first president of the United States (1789–1797) and one of the most important leaders in United States history. His role in gaining independence for the American colonies and later in unifying them under the new U.S. federal government cannot be overestimated. Laboring against great difficulties, he created the Continental Army, which fought and won the American Revolution (1775–1783), out of what was little more than an armed mob. After an eight-year struggle, his design for victory brought final defeat to the British at Yorktown, Virginia, and forced Great Britain to grant independence to its overseas possession.

In the 1999 Encarta Yearbook, he was considered to be one of the “ten who changed the millennium.”

Resignation Speech (1783)

As the Revolutionary War drew to a close, there was much speculation that George Washington, then Major General and Commander-in-Chief, would follow in the footsteps of former world leaders by making a grab for supreme power. Some even wished he would do so, hoping he would become the king of a new nation. Yet Washington knew that such a move would wither the fragile beginnings of the new republic. Looking to the Roman general Cincinnatus an exemplar, Washington rejected the temptations of power and resigned his position as Commander-in-Chief.

Choosing the right is almost never easy, and as Washington read his speech in front of the Continental Congress, the great statesman trembled so much that he had to hold the parchment with two hands to keep it steady. “The spectators all wept, and there was hardly a member of Congress who did not drop tears. His voice faltered and sunk, and the whole house felt his agitations.” When finished, Washington bolted from the door of the Annapolis State House, mounted his horse, and galloped away into the sunset.

This speech is evaluated as #14 in the 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

George Washington resigning his commission (John Trumbull)
George Washington resigning his commission (John Trumbull)

23 December 1783

The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The Successful termination of the War has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.

Resignation Speech of George Washingtonhttps://www.artofmanliness.com/resignation-speech-of-george-washington/

First Inaugural Address (1789)

On 30 April 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the first American president and delivered the first inaugural speech at Federal Hall in New York City. Elements of the ceremony set tradition; presidential inaugurations have deviated little in the two centuries since Washington’s inauguration.

In front of 10,000 spectators, Washington appeared in a plain brown broadcloth suit holding a ceremonial army sword. At 6′3 [1.9m], Washington presented an impressive and solemn figure as he took the oath of office standing on the second balcony of Federal Hall. With Vice President John Adams standing beside him, Washington repeated the words prompted by Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, kissed the bible and then went to the Senate chamber to deliver his inaugural address.

George Washington took his first oath of office
George Washington took his first oath of office

Observers noted that Washington appeared as if he would have preferred facing cannon and musket fire to taking the political helm of the country. He fidgeted, with his hand in one pocket, and spoke in a low, sometimes inaudible voice while he reiterated the mixed emotions of anxiety and honor he felt in assuming the role of president. For the most part, his address consisted of generalities, but he directly addressed the need for a strong Constitution and Bill of Rights and frequently emphasized the public good. He told the House of Representatives that he declined to be paid beyond such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.


Washington’s First Inaugural Address is generally considered to be his best.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years-a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.

To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

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Farewell Address (1796)

At the time, the thought of the United States without George Washington as its president caused concern among many Americans. Jefferson, who disagreed with many of the president’s policies and would later lead the Democratic-Republicans in opposition to many Federalist policies, joined his political rival Hamilton, the leader of the Federalists. He convinced the president to delay his retirement and serve a second term, fearing that without his leadership the nation would be torn apart. Washington most likely referred to this when he told the American people that he had wanted to retire before the last election, but was convinced by people “entitled to my confidence” that it was his duty to serve a second term.

Understanding these concerns, Washington sought to convince the American people that his service was no longer necessary by, once again, as he had in his first inaugural address, telling them that he truly believed he was never qualified to be president and, if he accomplished anything during his presidency, it was as a result of their support and efforts to help the country survive and prosper. Despite his confidence that the country would survive without his leadership, Washington used the majority of the letter to offer advice as a “parting friend” on what he believed were the greatest threats to the survival of the nation.

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April 1793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Washington’s Farewell Address 1796https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

* * *

In 1825, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison recommended the use of Washington’s Farewell Address at the University of Virginia, as one of the best guides to the principles of American government. And on 22 February 1862, in the midst of the American Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling on Americans to mark the birthday of “the Father of his Country,” with public readings of “his immortal Farewell Address.” Today as then, this practical guide to maintaining a shared commitment to the principles and institutions of free government endures as one of Washington’s greatest legacies.


Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau (1749–1791) was a leader of the early stages of the French Revolution. A noble, he had been involved in numerous scandals before the start of the Revolution in 1789 that had left his reputation in ruins. Nonetheless, he rose to the top of the French political hierarchy in the years 1789–1791 and acquired the reputation of a voice of the people. A successful orator, he was the leader of the moderate position among revolutionaries by favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain.

When he died (of natural causes) he was a great national hero, even though support for his moderate position was slipping away. The later discovery that he was in the pay of King Louis XVI and the Austrian enemies of France beginning in 1790 brought him into posthumous disgrace. Historians are deeply split on whether he was a great leader who almost saved the nation from the Terror, a venal demagogue lacking political or moral values, or a traitor in the pay of the enemy.

Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeauhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_Gabriel_Riqueti,_comte_de_Mirabeau

“Woe to the privileged orders!” (1789)

French nobleman Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, spoke for the common people during the early stages of the French Revolution (1789–1799). In early 1789 he sought election to the Estates-General, the French representative body that was to convene that May for the first time in 175 years. Mirabeau sought a place as a representative of the third estate, which constituted the majority of the population. This passage from one of his campaign speeches exemplifies his passionate arguments against the privileges of the aristocracy.

3 February 1789

In all countries, in all ages, have aristocrats implacably pursued the friends of the people; and when, by I know not what combination of fortune, such a friend has uprisen from the very bosom of the aristocracy, it has been at him pre-eminently that they have struck, eager to inspire wider terror by the elevation of their victim. So perished the last of the Gracchi [Roman tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus] by the hands of the patricians. But, mortally smitten, he flung dust towards heaven, calling the avenging gods to witness: and from that dust sprang [Roman statesman and general Gaius] Marius–Marius, less illustrious for having exterminated the Cimbri [an invading Germanic tribe] than for having beaten down the despotism of the nobility in Rome.

But you, Commons, listen to one who, unseduced by your applauses, yet cherishes them in his heart. Man is strong only by union; happy only by peace. Be firm, not obstinate; courageous, not turbulent; free, not undisciplined; prompt, not precipitate. Stop not, except at difficulties of moment; and be then wholly inflexible. But disdain the contentions of self-love, and never thrust into the balance the individual against the country. Above all, hasten, as much as in you lies, the epoch of those States-General from which you are charged with flinching–the more acrimoniously charged, the more your accusers dread the results; of those States-General through which so many pretensions will be scattered, so many rights re-established, so many evils reformed, of those States-General, in short, through which the monarch himself desires that France should regenerate herself.

For myself, who, in my public career, have had no other fear but that of wrongdoing–who, girt with my conscience and armed with my principles, would brave the universe–whether it shall be my fortune to serve you with my voice and my exertions in the national assembly, or whether I shall be enabled to aid you there with my prayers only, be sure that the vain clamours, the wrathful menaces, the injurious protestations–all the convulsions, in a word, of expiring prejudices–shall not intimidate me! What! shall he now pause in his civic course who, first among all the men of France, emphatically proclaimed his opinions on national affairs, at a time when circumstances were much less urgent than now and the task one of much greater peril?

Never! No measure of outrages shall bear down my patience. I have been, I am, I shall be, even to the tomb, the man of the public liberty, the man of the Constitution. If to be such be to become the man of the people rather than of the nobles, then woe to the privileged orders! For privileges shall have an end, but the people is eternal!

Microsoft Encarta 2009. Source: MacArthur, B. (ed.) (1996). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. Penguin Books.

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (1759–1833) was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to support the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.

William Wilberforcehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce

“Horrors of the slave trade”/ “Abolition Speech” (1789)

When William Wilberforce converted to Christianity, he began to earnestly seek to reform the evils he found within himself and the world around him. One of the glaring moral issues of the day was slavery, and after reading up on the subject and meeting with anti-slavery activists, Wilberforce became convinced that God was calling him to be an abolitionist. Wilberforce decided to concentrate on ending the slave trade rather than slavery itself, reasoning that the abolition of one would logically lead to the demise of the other.

On 12 May 1789, Wilberforce made his first speech on the abolition of the slave trade before the House of Commons. Therefore, this speech is also known as The “Abolition Speech”. He passionately made his case for why the trade was reprehensible and needed to cease. Wilberforce introduced a bill to abolish the trade, but it failed, a result he would become quite familiar with in the ensuing years. Yet Wilberforce never gave up, reintroducing the bill year after year, and the Slave Trade Act was finally passed in 1807.

Abolition Speech” by William Wilberforcehttp://artofmanliness.com/2008/08/01/the-35-greatest-speeches-in-history/

On 12 May 1789 – exactly two weeks after Fletcher Christian led a mutiny on HMS Bounty – William Wilberforce used his best oratory skills to lay before Parliament the abuses of the slave-trade. At the time, speeches were attended by newsmen who recorded them – as accurately as possible – for publication in the local papers.

In this first effort, Wilberforce faced a room filled with skeptical men. What chance did this youngster think he had to end such a profitable enterprise? Undaunted, William presented his irrefutable evidence.


This speech is evaluated as #9 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

In opening, concerning the nature of the slave trade, I need only observe that it is found by experience to be just such as every man who uses his reason would infallibly conclude it to be. For my own part, so clearly am I convinced of the mischiefs inseparable from it, that I should hardly want any further evidence than my own mind would furnish, by the most simple deductions. Facts, however, are now laid before the House. A report has been made by his majesty’s privy council, which, I trust, every gentleman has read, and which ascertains the slave trade to be just as we know. What should we suppose must naturally be the consequence of our carrying on a slave trade with Africa? With a country vast in its extent, not utterly barbarous, but civilized in a very small degree? Does any one suppose a slave trade would help their civilization? Is it not plain that she must suffer from it; that civilization must be checked; that her barbarous manners must be made more barbarous; and that the happiness of her millions of inhabitants must be prejudiced with her intercourse with Britain? Does not every one see that a slave trade carried on around her coasts must carry violence and desolation to her very center? That in a continent just emerging from barbarism, if a trade in men is established, if her men are all converted into goods, and become commodities that can be bartered, it follows they must be subject to ravage just as goods are; and this, too, at a period of civilization, when there is no protecting legislature to defend this, their only sort of property, in the same manner as the rights of property are maintained by the legislature of every civilized country.

We see then, in the nature of things, how easily the practises of Africa are to be accounted for. Her kings are never compelled to war, that we can hear of, by public principles, by national glory, still less by the love of their people. In Europe it is the extension of commerce, the maintenance of national honor, or some great public object, that is ever the motive to war with every monarch; but, in Africa, it is the personal avarice and sensuality of their kings. These two vices of avarice and sensuality, the most powerful and predominant in natures thus corrupt, we tempt, we stimulate in all these African princes, and we depend upon these vices for the very maintenance of the slave trade. Does the king of Barbessin want brandy? He has only to send his troops, in the night-time, to burn and desolate a village; the captives will serve as commodities, that may be bartered with the British trader.

The slave trade, in its very nature, is the source of such kind of tragedies; nor has there been a single person, almost, before the privy council, who does not add something by his testimony to the mass of evidence upon this point. Some, indeed, of these gentlemen, and particularly the delegates from Liverpool, have endeavored to reason down this plain principle; some have palliated it; but there is not one, I believe, who does not more or less admit it. Some, nay most, I believe, have admitted the slave trade to be the chief cause of wars in Africa.

Having now disposed of the first part of this subject, I must speak of the transit of the slaves to the West Indies. This, I confess, in my own opinion, is the most wretched part of the whole subject. So much misery condensed in so little room is more than the human imagination had ever before conceived. I will not accuse the Liverpool merchants. I will allow them, nay, I will believe them, to be men of humanity; and I will therefore believe, if it were not for the multitude of these wretched objects, if it were not for the enormous magnitude and extent of the evil which distracts their attention from individual cases, and makes them think generally, and therefore less feelingly on the subject, they never would have persisted in the trade. I verily believe, therefore, if the wretchedness of any one of the many hundred negroes stowed in each ship could be brought before their view, and remain within the sight of the African merchant, that there is no one among them whose heart would bear it.

Let any one imagine to himself six or seven hundred of these wretches chained two and two, surrounded with every object that is nauseous and disgusting, diseased, and struggling under every kind of wretchedness! How can we bear to think of such a scene as this? One would think it had been determined to heap on them all the varieties of bodily pain, for the purpose of blunting the feelings of the mind; and yet, in this very point (to show the power of human prejudice), the situation of the slaves has been described by Mr. Norris, one of the Liverpool delegates, in a manner which I am sure will convince the House how interest can draw a film over the eyes, so thick that total blindness could do no more; and how it is our duty therefore to trust not to the reasonings of interested men, nor to their way of coloring a transaction.

“Their apartments,” says Mr. Norris, “are fitted up as much for their advantage as circumstances will admit. The right ankle of one, indeed, is connected with the left ankle of another by a small iron fetter, and if they are turbulent, by another on their wrists. They have several meals a day–some of their own country provisions, with the best sauces of African cookery; and by the way of variety, another meal of pulse, etc., according to European taste. After breakfast they have water to wash themselves, while their apartments are perfumed with frankincense and lime juice. Before dinner they are amused after the manner of their country. The song and the dance are promoted,” and, as if the whole were really a scene of pleasure and dissipation, it is added that games of chance are furnished. “The men play and sing, while the women and girls make fanciful ornaments with beads, with which they are plentifully supplied.” Such is the sort of strain in which the Liverpool delegates, and particularly Mr. Norris, gave evidence before the privy council. What will the House think when, by the concurring testimony of other witnesses, the true history is laid open? The slaves, who are sometimes described as rejoicing at their captivity, are so wrung with misery at leaving their country, that it is the constant practise to set sail in the night, lest they should be sensible of their departure. The pulse which Mr. Norris talks of are horse beans; and the scantiness of both water and provision was suggested by the very legislature of Jamaica, in the report of their committee, to be a subject that called for the interference of Parliament.

Mr. Norris talks of frankincense and lime juice: when the surgeons tell you the slaves are stored so close that there is not room to tread among them; and when you have it in evidence from Sir George Young, that even in a ship which wanted two hundred of her complement, the stench was intolerable. The song and the dance are promoted, says Mr. Norris. It had been more fair, perhaps, if he had explained that word “promoted.” The truth is, that for the sake of exercise, these miserable wretches, loaded with chains, oppressed with disease and wretchedness, are forced to dance by the terror of the lash, and sometimes by the actual use of it. “I,” says one of the other evidences, “was employed to dance the men, while another person danced the women.” Such, then, is the meaning of the word “promoted”; and it may be observed, too, with respect to food, that an instrument is sometimes carried out in order to force them to eat, which is the same sort of proof how much they enjoy themselves in that instance also.

As to their singing, what shall we say when we are told that their songs are songs of lamentation upon their departure which, while they sing, are always in tears, insomuch that one captain (more humane as I should conceive him, therefore, than the rest) threatened one of the women with a flogging, because the mournfulness of her song was too painful for his feelings. In order, however, not to trust too much to any sort of description, I will call the attention of the House to one species of evidence, which is absolutely infallible. Death, at least, is a sure ground of evidence, and the proportion of deaths will not only confirm, but, if possible, will even aggravate our suspicion of their misery in the transit. It will be found, upon an average of all ships of which evidence has been given at the privy council, that exclusive of those who perish before they sail, not less than twelve and one-half per cent perish in the passage. Besides these, the Jamaica report tells you that not less than four and one-half per cent die on shore before the day of sale, which is only a week or two from the time of landing. One-third more die in the seasoning, and this in a country exactly like their own, where they are healthy and happy, as some of the evidences would pretend. The diseases, however, which they contract on shipboard, the astringent washes which are to hide their wounds, and the mischievous tricks used to make them up for sale, are, as the Jamaica report says–a most precious and valuable report, which I shall often have to advert to–one principal cause of this mortality. Upon the whole, however, here is a mortality of about fifty per cent, and this among negroes who are not bought unless quite healthy at first, and unless (as the phrase is with cattle) they are sound in wind and limb.

When we consider the vastness of the continent of Africa; when we reflect how all other countries have for some centuries past been advancing in happiness and civilization; when we think how in this same period all improvement in Africa has been defeated by her intercourse with Britain; when we reflect that it is we ourselves that have degraded them to that wretched brutishness and barbarity which we now plead as the justification of our guilt; how the slave trade has enslaved their minds, blackened their character, and sunk them so low in the scale of animal beings that some think the apes are of a higher class, and fancy the orang-outang has given them the go-by. What a mortification must we feel at having so long neglected to think of our guilt, or attempt any reparation! It seems, indeed, as if we had determined to forbear from all interference until the measure of our folly and wickedness was so full and complete; until the impolicy which eventually belongs to vice was become so plain and glaring that not an individual in the country should refuse to join in the abolition; it seems as if we had waited until the persons most interested should be tired out with the folly and nefariousness of the trade, and should unite in petitioning against it.

Let us then make such amends as we can for the mischiefs we have done to the unhappy continent; let us recollect what Europe itself was no longer ago than three or four centuries. What if I should be able to show this House that in a civilized part of Europe, in the time of our Henry VII., there were people who actually sold their own children? What if I should tell them that England itself was that country? What if I should point out to them that the very place where this inhuman traffic was carried on was the city of Bristol? Ireland at that time used to drive a considerable trade in slaves with these neighboring barbarians; but a great plague having infested the country, the Irish were struck with a panic, suspected (I am sure very properly) that the plague was a punishment sent from heaven for the sin of the slave trade, and therefore abolished it. All I ask, therefore, of the people of Bristol is, that they would become as civilized now as Irishmen were four hundred years ago. Let us put an end at once to this inhuman traffic–let us stop this effusion of human blood.

The true way to virtue is by withdrawing from temptation; let us then withdraw from these wretched Africans those temptations to fraud, violence, cruelty, and injustice, which the slave trade furnishes. Wherever the sun shines, let us go round the world with him, diffusing our benevolence; but let us not traffic, only that we may set kings against their subjects, subjects against their kings, sowing discord in every village, fear and terror in every family, setting millions of our fellow creatures a-hunting each other for slaves, creating fairs and markets for human flesh through one whole continent of the world, and, under the name of policy, concealing from ourselves all the baseness and iniquity of such a traffic.

It will appear from everything which I have said, that it is not regulation, it is not mere palliatives, that can cure this enormous evil. Total abolition is the only possible cure for it. The Jamaica report, indeed, admits much of the evil, but recommends it to us so to regulate the trade that no persons should be kidnapped or made slaves contrary to the custom of Africa. But may they not be made slaves unjustly, and yet by no means contrary to the custom of Africa? I have shown they may, for all the customs of Africa are rendered savage and unjust through the influence of this trade; besides, how can we discriminate between the slaves justly and unjustly made? Or, if we could, does any man believe that the British captains can, by any regulation in this country, be prevailed upon to refuse all such slaves as have not been fairly, honestly, and uprightly enslaved? But granting even that they should do this, yet how would the rejected slaves be recompensed? They are brought, as we are told, from three or four thousand miles off, and exchanged like cattle from one hand to another, until they reach the coast. We see then that it is the existence of the slave trade that is the spring of all this infernal traffic, and that the remedy can not be applied without abolition.

And, sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God? Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this trade are now laid open to us; we can no longer plead ignorance, we can not evade it; it is now an object placed before us, we can not pass it; we may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we can not turn aside so as to avoid seeing it; for it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this House must decide, and must justify to all the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitude of the grounds and principles of their decision.

William Wilberforce Speech Horrors of the Slave Tradehttp://www.famous-speeches-and-speech-topics.info/famous-speeches/william-wilberforce-speech-horrors-of-the-slave-trade.htm


Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (1758–1794) was a French lawyer and politician who was one of the best known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, and the abolition of both celibacy for the clergy and of slavery. Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defense. Robespierre played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.

As one of the leading members of the insurrectionary Paris Commune, Robespierre was elected as a deputy to the French Convention in early September 1792, but was soon criticized for trying to establish either a triumvirate or a dictatorship. In July 1793, he was appointed as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety.

Robespierre is best known for his role during the “reign of Terror”, during which he exerted his influence to suppress the Girondins to the right, the Hébertists to the left and the Dantonists in the centre. Robespierre was eventually brought down by his obsession with the vision of an ideal republic and his indifference to the human costs of installing it. The Terror ended with Robespierre’s arrest on 9 Thermidor and his execution on the day after, events that initiated a period known as the Thermidorian Reaction.

Robespierre’s personal responsibility for the excesses of the Terror remains the subject of intense debate among historians of the French Revolution. For some, Robespierre was the incarnation of Terror during Year II (of the French Revolutionary calendar); for others, he was its principal ideologist and embodies the country’s first democratic experience, marked by the French Constitution of 1793.

Maximilien Robespierrehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilien_Robespierre

“Louis must perish because our country must live!” (1792)

When King Louis XVI was overthrown in August 1792, Robespierre called for a republic to replace the monarchy. Robespierre spoke before the National Convention on 3 December, declaring the king a traitor to his people and demanding his death.

THE ASSEMBLY has unwittingly been drawn far from the actual question. There is no question of a trial. Louis is not an accused; you are not judges; you are only, you can be only, statesmen, and the representatives of the nation. You have no sentence to render for or against a man; but a measure of public safety to take, an act of national providence to perform. A dethroned king, in a Republic, is good only for two purposes–either to trouble the tranquillity of the State and to unsettle liberty, or to establish both. But I maintain that the character which your deliberation has hitherto taken on tends directly against the goal.

Louis was king and the Republic is founded; the great question which occupies you is decided by these words alone. Louis has been dethroned for his crimes; Louis denounced the French people as rebels; to chastise them he has invoked the arms of his brother tyrants. Victory and the people have decided that he was the rebel: hence Louis can not be judged; he is judged already. He is condemned, or the Republic is not absolved. To propose a trial for Louis XVI. in any way whatever is to retrograde toward royal and constitutional despotism; it is a counter-revolutionary idea, for it is putting the revolution itself on trial.

Indeed, if Louis can still be the object of a trial, Louis can be absolved; he can be innocent. What do I say? He is presumed to be so until he is judged. But if Louis is absolved, if Louis can be presumed to be innocent, what does the Revolution become? If Louis is innocent, all the defenders of liberty become calumniators. All the rebels were friends of truth and the defenders of oppressed innocence; all the manifestoes of foreign courts are but legitimate protestations against a ruling faction. Even the confinement which Louis has suffered until the present time is an unjust persecution; the confederates, the people of Paris, all the patriots of the French dominion are guilty; and this great trial pending in the court of nature, between crime and virtue, between liberty and tyranny, is finally decided in favor of crime and tyranny.

When a nation has been forced to resort to the right of insurrection it returns to a state of nature as regards its tyrant. How can the latter invoke the social compact? He has annihilated it. The nation can preserve it still, if it thinks fit, in whatever concerns the interrelations of its citizens: but the effect of tyranny and insurrection is to break it entirely as regards the tyrant; it is to throw them into mutual war; the tribunals, the judiciary procedures, are made for the members of the city. It is a gross contradiction to suppose that the Constitution can preside over this new state of things; that would be to suppose that it survived itself. What are the laws which replace it? Those of nature, which is the basis of society itself; the safety of the people. The right to punish the tyrant and that to dethrone him are the same thing. The one does not admit of different forms from the other. The tyrant’s trial is insurrection; his judgment is the fall of his power; his penalty, whatever the liberty of the people demands.

Peoples do not judge like judiciary courts. They pass no sentences; they hurl the thunderbolt. They do not condemn kings: they thrust them back into oblivion; and this justice is not inferior to that of courts. If they arm themselves against their oppressors for their own safety, why should they be bound to adopt a mode of punishing them which would be a new danger to themselves?

We have allowed ourselves to be misled by foreign examples which have nothing in common with us. Since Cromwell caused Charles I. to be judged by a tribunal which he controlled, and Elizabeth had Mary Queen of Scots condemned in the same way, it is natural that tyrants who sacrifice their kind, not to the people, but to their own ambition, should seek to deceive the crowd by illusive forms. It is a question neither of principles, nor of liberty, but of trickery and intrigue. But the people! What other law can they follow but justice and reason supported by their omnipotence?

A trial for Louis XVI.! But what is this trial, if it is not the call of insurrection to a tribunal or to some other assembly? When a king has been annihilated by the people, who has the right to resuscitate him in order to make of him a new pretext for trouble and rebellion? And what other effects can this system produce? In opening an arena to the champions of Louis XVI. you resuscitate all the strife of despotism against liberty; you consecrate the right to blaspheme against the Republic and against the people, because the right to defend the former despot involves the right to say everything that concerns his cause. You arouse all the factions; you revive, you encourage dying royalism. The people might freely take part for or against it. What more legitimate, what more natural than to repeat everywhere the maxims that his defenders would be free to profess at your bar and from your very tribune? What kind of a Republic is it whose founders raise up adversaries on every side to attack it in its cradle!

It is a great cause, it is said, which must be judged with wise and slow circumspection. It is you who make a great cause of it. What do I say? I say that it is you who make a cause of it. What do you find great in it? Is it its difficulty? No. Is it the person? In the eyes of liberty there is none more vile; in the eyes of humanity there is none more guilty. He can impose again only on those who are more cowardly than himself. Is it the utility of the result? That is one more reason for hastening it. A great cause is a project of popular law; a great cause is that of an unfortunate oppressed by despotism. What is the motive of these everlasting delays which you recommend to us? Are you afraid of wounding popular opinion? As if the people themselves feared anything but the weakness or ambition of their mandatories! As if the people were a vile troop of slaves, stupidly attached to the stupid tyrant whom they have proscribed, desiring at whatever price to wallow in baseness and servitude! You speak of opinion; is it not for you to direct it, to fortify it? If it goes astray, if it becomes depraved, who must it blame for it if not you yourselves? Are you afraid of displeasing the foreign kings leagued against us? Oh! without doubt, the way to conquer them is to appear to fear them: the way to confound the criminal conspiracy of the despots of Europe is to respect their accomplice. Are you afraid of foreign peoples? Then you still believe in the inborn love of tyranny.

Why then do you aspire to the glory of emancipating the human race? By what contradiction do you suppose that the nations which have not been astonished by the proclamation of the rights of humanity will be terrified by the chastisement of one of its most cruel oppressors? Finally, you fear, it is said, the verdict of posterity. Yes, posterity will be astonished indeed at your inconsistency and your weakness; and our descendants will laugh both at the presumption and the prejudices of their ancestors. It has been said that genius is necessary to penetrate this question. I maintain that it requires only good faith: it is much less a matter of self-enlightenment than of not wilfully blinding one’s self. Why does a thing which seems clear to us at one time seem obscure at another?

I have heard the defenders of inviolability advance a bold principle which I should have almost hesitated to express myself. They said that those who would have slain Louis XVI. on the tenth of August would have performed a virtuous action. But the sole basis of this opinion can be the crimes of Louis XVI. and the rights of the people. Has an interval of three months changed his crimes or the rights of the people? If then he was snatched away from public indignation it was without doubt solely that his punishment, solemnly ordered by the National Convention in the name of the nation, should be more imposing to the enemies of humanity; but to bring up the question whether he is guilty or whether he can be punished is to betray the trust of the French people.

Of what importance to the people is the contemptible person of the last of the kings? Representatives, what is important to them, what is important to yourselves, is that you fulfil the duties which their confidence has imposed upon you. You have proclaimed the Republic, but have you given it to us? We have not yet made a single law which justifies that name; we have not yet reformed a single abuse of despotism. Away with names; we have still tyranny complete, and in addition, factions more vile and charlatans more immoral, with new ferments of troubles, and of civil war. The Republic! and Louis still lives! and you still place the person of the king between us and liberty! Let us fear to make criminals of ourselves on account of our scruples; let us fear that by showing too much indulgence for the guilty we may place ourselves in his place.

A new difficulty! To what punishment shall we condemn Louis? The punishment of death is too cruel. No, says another, life is more cruel still. I ask that he may live. Advocates of the king, is it through pity or cruelty that you wish to save him from the penalty of his crimes? As for me, I abhor the penalty of death so lavish in your laws, and I have neither love nor hatred for Louis. Crimes only I hate. I have asked the Assembly, which you still call Constituent, for the abolition of the death penalty, and it is not my fault if the first principles of reason seem to it moral and political heresies. But if you never bethought yourselves to invoke them in favor of so many unfortunates whose offenses are less their own than those of the government, by what fatality do you remember them only to plead the cause of the greatest of all criminals? You ask an exception to the death penalty for him alone against whom it can be legitimate! Yes, the penalty of death generally is a crime, and for that reason alone, according to the indestructible principles of nature, it can be justified only in cases when it is necessary for the safety of individuals or the social body. Public safety never demands it against ordinary offenses, because society can always guard against them by other means and make the offender powerless to harm it. But a dethroned king in the bosom of a revolution which is anything but cemented by laws, a king whose name suffices to draw the scourge of war on the agitated nation, neither prison nor exile can render his existence immaterial to the public welfare: and this cruel exception to ordinary laws which justice approves can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes.

It is with regret that I utter this fatal truth. But Louis must die, because the country must live. Among a people at peace, free and respected at home and abroad, the counsels to generosity given you might be entertained. But a people whose liberty is still contested after so many sacrifices and combats; a people among whom the laws are still inexorable only toward the unfortunate; a people among whom the crimes of tyranny are still the subjects of debate, must long for vengeance; and the generosity with which we are flattered would seem too much like that of a band of brigands dividing the spoils.

I move to resolve forthwith upon the fate of Louis XVI. As for his wife, you will send her back to the courts, as well as all other persons accused of the same criminal attempts. His son shall be guarded at the Temple, until such time as peace and public liberty shall have been established. As for him, I ask that the Convention declare him, from this moment, a traitor to the French nation, a criminal toward humanity. I ask that it make a great example before the world on the very spot where died, the tenth of August, the noble martyrs of liberty. I ask that this memorable event be commemorated by a monument designed to nourish in the hearts of the people the consciousness of their rights and the horror of tyrants; and in the souls of tyrants a salutary terror of the people’s justice.

Source: Great books online, translated by Scott Robinson – http://www.bartleby.com/268/7/23.html

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was third president of the United States (1801–1809) and author of the Declaration of Independence. He was one of the most brilliant individuals in history. His interests were boundless, and his accomplishments were great and varied. He was a philosopher, educator, naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, pioneer in scientific farming, musician, and writer, and he was the foremost spokesman for democracy of his day.

“Equal and exact justice to all men” (1801)

Thomas Jefferson delivered this address on 4 March 1801.

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye-when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue, and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair did not the presence of many whom I here see remind me that in the other high authorities provided by our Constitution I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety.

But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter-with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens-a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people-a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.

These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.

I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country’s love and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage is a great consolation to me for the past, and my future solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.

Microsoft Encarta 2008.

James Madison

James Madison
James Madison

James Madison, Jr. (1751–1836) was an American statesman and political theorist. He is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and as the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights. He was the fourth President of the United States (1809–1817).

After the constitution had been drafted, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify it. His collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay produced the Federalist Papers (1788). Circulated only in New York at the time, they would later be considered among the most important polemics in support of the Constitution. During the drafting and ratification of the constitution, he favored a strong national government, though later he grew to favor stronger state governments, before settling between the two extremes late in his life.

In 1789, Madison became a leader in the new House of Representatives, drafting many basic laws. He is notable for drafting the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights”.

As Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation’s size. After his election to the presidency, he presided over renewed prosperity for several years. As president (1809–17), after the failure of diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against Great Britain, he led the nation into the War of 1812. Madison found the war to be an administrative nightmare, as the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system; as a result, he afterward supported a stronger national government and a strong military, as well as the national bank, which he had long opposed.

Special Message/ War Message (1812)

Madison asks that Congress declare war against Britain, listing four major grievances to justify action: impressment, illegal blockades, the Orders in Council, and British responsibility for renewing Indian warfare in the northwest. The President insists that a state of war already existed and to ignore these grievances would undermine U.S. sovereignty through an implicit acceptance of British actions.

1 June 1812

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

I communicate to Congress certain documents, being a continuation of those heretofore laid before them on the subject of our affairs with Great Britain.

Without going back beyond the renewal in 1803 of the war in which Great Britain is engaged, and omitting unrepaired wrongs of inferior magnitude, the conduct of her Government presents a series of acts hostile to the United States as an independent and neutral nation.

British cruisers have been in the continued practice of violating the American flag on the great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it, not in the exercise of a belligerent right rounded on the law of nations against an enemy, but of a municipal prerogative over British subjects. British jurisdiction is thus extended to neutral vessels in a situation where no laws can operate but the law of nations and the laws of the country to which the vessels belong, and a self-redress is assumed which, if British subjects were wrongfully detained and alone concerned, is that substitution of force for a resort to the responsible sovereign which falls within the definition of war. Could the seizure of British subjects in such cases be regarded as within the exercise of a belligerent right, the acknowledged laws of war, which forbid an article of captured property to be adjudged without a regular investigation before a competent tribunal, would imperiously demand the fairest trial where the sacred rights of persons were at issue. In place of such a trial these rights are subjected to the will of every petty commander.

The practice, hence, is so far from affecting British subjects alone that, under the pretext of searching for these, thousands of American citizens, under the safeguard of public law and of their national flag, have been torn from their country and from everything dear to them; have been dragged on board ships of war of a foreign nation and exposed, under the severities of their discipline, to be exiled to the most distant and deadly climes, to risk their lives in the battles of their oppressors, and to be the melancholy instruments of taking away those of their own brethren.

Against this crying enormity, which Great Britain would be so prompt to avenge if committed against herself, the United States have in vain exhausted remonstrances and expostulations, and that no proof might be wanting of their conciliatory dispositions, and no pretext left for a continuance of the practice, the British Government was formally assured of the readiness of the United States to enter into arrangements such as could not be rejected if the recovery of British subjects were the real and the sole object. The communication passed without effect.

British cruisers have been in the practice also of violating the rights and the peace of our coasts. They hover over and harass our entering and departing commerce. To the most insulting pretensions they have added the most lawless proceedings in our very harbors, and have wantonly spilt American blood within the sanctuary of our territorial jurisdiction. The principles and rules enforced by that nation, when a neutral nation, against armed vessels of belligerents hovering near her coasts and disturbing her commerce are well known. When called on, nevertheless, by the United States to punish the greater offenses committed by her own vessels, her Government has bestowed on their commanders additional marks of honor and confidence.

Under pretended blockades, without the presence of an adequate force and sometimes without the practicability of applying one, our commerce has been plundered in every sea, the great staples of our country have been cut off from their legitimate markets, and a destructive blow aimed at our agricultural and maritime interests. In aggravation of these predatory measures they have been considered as in force from the dates of their notification, a retrospective effect being thus added, as has been done in other important cases, to the unlawfulness of the course pursued. And to render the outrage the more signal these mock blockades have been reiterated and enforced in the face of official communications from the British Government declaring as the true definition of a legal blockade “that particular ports must be actually invested and previous warning given to vessels bound to them not to enter.”

Not content with these occasional expedients for laying waste our neutral trade, the cabinet of Britain resorted at length to the sweeping system of blockades, under the name of orders in council, which has been molded and managed as might best suit its political views, its commercial jealousies, or the avidity of British cruisers.

To our remonstrances against the complicated and transcendent injustice of this innovation the first reply was that the orders were reluctantly adopted by Great Britain as a necessary retaliation on decrees of her enemy proclaiming a general blockade of the British Isles at a time when the naval force of that enemy dared not issue from his own ports. She was reminded without effect that her own prior blockades, unsupported by an adequate naval force actually applied and continued, were a bar to this plea; that executed edicts against millions of our property could not be retaliation on edicts confessedly impossible to be executed; that retaliation, to be just, should fall on the party setting the guilty example, not on an innocent party which was not even chargeable with an acquiescence in it.

When deprived of this flimsy veil for a prohibition of our trade with her enemy by the repeal of his prohibition of our trade with Great Britain, her cabinet, instead of a corresponding repeal or a practical discontinuance of its orders, formally avowed a determination to persist in them against the United States until the markets of her enemy should be laid open to British products, thus asserting an obligation on a neutral power to require one belligerent to encourage by its internal regulations the trade of another belligerent, contradicting her own practice toward all nations, in peace as well as in war, and betraying the insincerity of those professions which inculcated a belief that, having resorted to her orders with regret, she was anxious to find an occasion for putting an end to them.

Abandoning still more all respect for the neutral rights of the United States and for its own consistency, the British Government now demands as prerequisites to a repeal of its orders as they relate to the United States that a formality should be observed in the repeal of the French decrees nowise necessary to their termination nor exemplified by British usage, and that the French repeal, besides including that portion of the decrees which operates within a territorial jurisdiction, as well as that which operates on the high seas, against the commerce of the United States should not be a single and special repeal in relation to the United States, but should be extended to whatever other neutral nations unconnected with them may be affected by those decrees. And as an additional insult, they are called on for a formal disavowal of conditions and pretensions advanced by the French Government for which the United States are so far from having made themselves responsible that, in official explanations which have been published to the world, and in a correspondence of the American minister at London with the British minister for foreign affairs such a responsibility was explicitly and emphatically disclaimed.

It has become, indeed, sufficiently certain that the commerce of the United States is to be sacrificed, not as interfering with the belligerent rights of Great Britain; not as supplying the wants of her enemies, which she herself supplies; but as interfering with the monopoly which she covets for her own commerce and navigation. She carries on a war against the lawful commerce of a friend that she may the better carry on a commerce with an enemy – a commerce polluted by the forgeries and perjuries which are for the most part the only passports by which it can succeed.

Anxious to make every experiment short of the last resort of injured nations, the United States have withheld from Great Britain, under successive modifications, the benefits of a free intercourse with their market, the loss of which could not but outweigh the profits accruing from her restrictions of our commerce with other nations. And to entitle these experiments to the more favorable consideration they were so framed as to enable her to place her adversary under the exclusive operation of them. To these appeals her Government has been equally inflexible, as if willing to make sacrifices of every sort rather than yield to the claims of justice or renounce the errors of a false pride. Nay, so far were the attempts carried to overcome the attachment of the British cabinet to its unjust edicts that it received every encouragement within the competency of the executive branch of our Government to expect that a repeal of them would be followed by a war between the United States and France, unless the French edicts should also be repealed. Even this communication, although silencing forever the plea of a disposition in the United States to acquiesce in those edicts originally the sole plea for them, received no attention.

If no other proof existed of a predetermination of the British Government against a repeal of its orders, it might be found in the correspondence of the minister plenipotentiary of the United States at London and the British secretary for foreign affairs in 1810, on the question whether the blockade of May 1806, was considered as in force or as not in force. It had been ascertained that the French Government, which urged this blockade as the ground of its Berlin decree, was willing in the event of its removal to repeal that decree, which, being followed by alternate repeals of the other offensive edicts, might abolish the whole system on both sides. This inviting opportunity for accomplishing an object so important to the United States, and professed so often to be the desire of both the belligerents, was made known to the British Government. As that Government admits that an actual application of an adequate force is necessary to the existence of a legal blockade, and it was notorious that if such a force had ever been applied its long discontinuance had annulled the blockade in question, there could be no sufficient objection on the part of Great Britain to a formal revocation of it, and no imaginable objection to a declaration of the fact that the blockade did not exist. The declaration would have been consistent with her avowed principles of blockade, and would have enabled the United States to demand from France the pledged repeal of her decrees, either with success, in which case the way would have been opened for a general repeal of the belligerent edicts, or without success, in which case the United States would have been justified in turning their measures exclusively against France. The British Government would, however, neither rescind the blockade nor declare its nonexistence, nor permit its nonexistence to be inferred and affirmed by the American plenipotentiary. On the contrary, by representing the blockade to be comprehended in the orders in council, the United States were compelled so to regard it in their subsequent proceedings.

There was a period when a favorable change in the policy of the British cabinet was justly considered as established. The minister plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty here proposed an adjustment of the differences more immediately endangering the harmony of the two countries. The proposition was accepted with the promptitude and cordiality corresponding with the invariable professions of this Government. A foundation appeared to be laid for a sincere and lasting reconciliation. The prospect, however, quickly vanished. The whole proceeding was disavowed by the British Government without any explanations which could at that time repress the belief that the disavowal proceeded from a spirit of hostility to the commercial rights and prosperity of the United States; and it has since come into proof that at the very moment when the public minister was holding the language of friendship and inspiring confidence in the sincerity of the negotiation with which he was charged a secret agent of his Government was employed in intrigues having for their object a subversion of our Government and a dismemberment of our happy union.

In reviewing the conduct of Great Britain toward the United States our attention is necessarily drawn to the warfare just renewed by the savages on one of our extensive frontiers – a warfare which is known to spare neither age nor sex and to be distinguished by features peculiarly shocking to humanity. It is difficult to account for the activity and combinations which have for some time been developing themselves among tribes in constant intercourse with British traders and garrisons without connecting their hostility with that influence and without recollecting the authenticated examples of such interpositions heretofore furnished by the officers and agents of that Government.

Such is the spectacle of injuries and indignities which have been heaped on our country, and such the crisis which its unexampled forbearance and conciliatory efforts have not been able to avert. It might at least have been expected that an enlightened nation, if less urged by moral obligations or invited by friendly dispositions on the part of the United States, would have found in its true interest alone a sufficient motive to respect their rights and their tranquillity on the high seas; that an enlarged policy would have favored that free and general circulation of commerce in which the British nation is at all times interested, and which in times of war is the best alleviation of its calamities to herself as well as to other belligerents; and more especially that the British cabinet would not, for the sake of a precarious and surreptitious intercourse with hostile markets, have persevered in a course of measures which necessarily put at hazard the invaluable market of a great and growing country, disposed to cultivate the mutual advantages of an active commerce.

Other counsels have prevailed. Our moderation and conciliation have had no other effect than to encourage perseverance and to enlarge pretensions. We behold our seafaring citizens still the daily victims of lawless violence, committed on the great common and highway of nations, even within sight of the country which owes them protection. We behold our vessels, freighted with the products of our soil and industry, or returning with the honest proceeds of them, wrested from their lawful destinations, confiscated by prize courts no longer the organs of public law but the instruments of arbitrary edicts, and their unfortunate crews dispersed and lost, or forced or inveigled in British ports into British fleets, whilst arguments are employed in support of these aggressions which have no foundation but in a principle equally supporting a claim to regulate our external commerce in all cases whatsoever.

We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Britain a state of war against the United States, and on the side of the United States a state of peace toward Great Britain.

Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs, or, opposing force to force in defense of their national rights, shall commit a just cause into the hands of the Almighty Disposer of Events, avoiding all connections which might entangle it in the contest or views of other powers, and preserving a constant readiness to concur in an honorable reestablishment of peace and friendship, is a solemn question which the Constitution wisely confides to the legislative department of the Government. In recommending it to their early deliberations I am happy in the assurance that the decision will be worthy the enlightened and patriotic councils of a virtuous, a free, and a powerful nation.

Having presented this view of the relations of the United States with Great Britain and of the solemn alternative growing out of them, I proceed to remark that the communications last made to Congress on the subject of our relations with France will have shewn that since the revocation of her decrees, as they violated the neutral rights of the United States, her Government has authorized illegal captures by its privateers and public ships, and that other outrages have been practiced on our vessels and our citizens. It will have been seen also that no indemnity had been provided or satisfactorily pledged for the extensive spoliations committed under the violent and retrospective orders of the French Government against the property of our citizens seized within the jurisdiction of France. I abstain at this time from recommending to the consideration of Congress definitive measures with respect to that nation, in the expectation that the result of unclosed discussions between our minister plenipotentiary at Paris and the French Government will speedily enable Congress to decide with greater advantage on the course due to the rights, the interests, and the honor of our country.

Special Messagehttps://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/special-message-887

Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821) was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.

As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic Code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars. He established hegemony over most of continental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchy which restored aspects of the deposed ancien régime. Due to his success in these wars, often against numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time.

Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry, and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d’état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts–the Napoleonic Wars–involving every major European power.

After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states. Napoleon’s campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world.

The Peninsular War and 1812 French invasion of Russia marked turning points in Napoleon’s fortunes. His Grande Armée was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, although this claim has sparked significant debate, as some scholars have held that he was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

Farewell to the Old Guard (1814)

On 6 April 1814, Napoleon signed his abdication.

Napoleon’s Farewell to the Imperial Guard, his bodyguards, was delivered in the Cour du Cheval Blanc, the courtyard of Cheval-Blanc, at the Chateau de Fontainebleau, which is located about 40 miles or 65 km south-southeast of Paris.

On 20 April 1814, Napoleon gave his Farewell to the Old Guard speech, took his knapsack, and was exiled to Elba, where he arrived on 4 May 1814.

Napoleon adieu

Soldats de ma vieille Garde,

Je vous fais mes adieux.

Depuis vingt ans, je vous ai trouvés constamment sur le chemin de l’honneur et de la gloire. Dans ces derniers temps, comme dans ceux de notre prospérité, vous n’avez cessé d’être des modèles de bravoure et de fidélité.

Avec des hommes tels que vous, notre cause n’était pas perdue. Mais la guerre était interminable; c’eut été la guerre civile, et la France n’en serait devenue que plus malheureuse. J’ai donc sacrifié tous nos intérêts à ceux de la patrie; je pars. Vous, mes amis, continuez de servir la France.

Son bonheur était mon unique pensée; il sera toujours l’objet de mes voeux! Ne plaignez pas mon sort; si j’ai consenti à me survivre, c’est pour servir encore à notre gloire; je veux écrire les grandes choses que nous avons faites ensemble!

Adieu, mes enfants! je voudrais vous presser tous sur mon coeur; que j’embrasse au moins votre drapeau!

[Après avoir serré dans ses bras le général Petit, et embrassé le drapeau, Napoléon reprend:]

Adieu encore une fois, mes vieux compagnons!

Que ce dernier baiser passe dans vos coeurs!

English translation

Soldiers of my Old Guard:

I bid you farewell.

For twenty years I have constantly accompanied you on the road to honor and glory. In these latter times, as in the days of our prosperity, you have invariably been models of courage and fidelity.

With men such as you our cause could not be lost; but the war would have been interminable; it would have been civil war, and that would have entailed deeper misfortunes on France.

I have sacrificed all of my interests to those of the country.

I go, but you, my friends, will continue to serve France. Her happiness was my only thought. It will still be the object of my wishes.

Do not regret my fate; if I have consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. I intend to write the history of the great achievements we have performed together.

Adieu, my friends.

Would I could press you all to my heart.

Adieux de Napoléon à la Garde Impérialehttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/adieux_a_la_garde_imperiale.htm

Simón Bolívar

Simon BolivarSimón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco (1783–1830), commonly known as Simón Bolívar, was a Venezuelan military and political leader. Together with José de San Martín, he played a key role in Hispanic-Spanish America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in Latin American history.

Following the triumph over the Spanish Monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, which was named Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Bolívar remains regarded in Hispanic-America as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator. During his lifetime, he led Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia to independence, and helped lay the foundations for democratic ideology in much of Latin America.


Simón Bolívar (1783–1830), South American revolutionary, military leader, and politician known as the Liberator for his leading role in the wars of Spanish American Independence. More than anyone else, Bolívar was responsible for the independence of five countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

“Letter from Jamaica” (1815)

In 1815, the fight for the independence of the Spanish colonies in Latin America was on the defensive. Simón Bolívar, a member of the Venezuelan planter class and a leading figure in the movement, was in exile.

In this essay, written in Kingston, Jamaica, on 6 September 1815, Simón Bolívar discusses his plans to liberate Spanish America from Spanish colonial rule and establish an independent republic as the state of New Granada.

Over the next 10 years, Bolívar did just that, emerging as the leader of the Spanish American Independence War, which raged on the South and Central American continents until 1826, when Spanish rule was finally overthrown.

My dear Sir:

I hasten to reply to the letter of the 29th ultimo which you had the honor of sending me and which I received with the greatest satisfaction.

Sensible though I am of the interest you desire to take in the fate of my country, and of your commiseration with her for the tortures she has suffered from the time of her discovery until the present at the hands of her destroyers, the Spaniards, I am no less sensible of the obligation which your solicitous inquiries about the principal objects of American policy place upon me. Thus, I find myself in conflict between the desire to reciprocate your confidence, which honors me, and the difficulty of rewarding it, for lack of documents and books and because of my own limited knowledge of a land so vast, so varied, and so little known as the New World. In my opinion it is impossible to answer the questions that you have so kindly posed [. . .] because, although some of the facts about America and her development are known, I dare say the better part are shrouded in mystery. Accordingly, only conjectures that are more or less approximate can be made, especially with regard to her future and the true plans of the Americans, inasmuch as our continent has within it potentialities for every facet of development revealed in the history of nations, by reason of its physical characteristics and because of the hazards of war and the uncertainties of politics.

As I feel obligated to give due consideration to your esteemed letter and to the philanthropic intentions prompting it, I am impelled to write you these words, wherein you will certainly not find the brilliant thoughts you seek but rather a candid statement of my ideas.

“Three centuries ago,” you say, “began the atrocities committed by the Spaniards on this great hemisphere of Columbus.” Our age has rejected these atrocities as mythical, because they appear to be beyond the human capacity for evil. Modern critics would never credit them were it not for the many and frequent documents testifying to these horrible truths. The humane Bishop of Chiapas, that apostle of America, Las Casas, has left to posterity a brief description of these horrors, extracted from the trial records in Seville relating to the cases brought against the conquistadores . . . . Every impartial person has admitted the zeal, sincerity, and high character of that friend of humanity, who so fervently and so steadfastly denounced to his government and to his contemporaries the most horrible acts of sanguinary frenzy.

With what a feeling of gratitude I read that passage in your letter in which you say to me: “I hope that the success which then followed Spanish arms may now turn in favor of their adversaries, the badly oppressed people of South America.” I take this hope as a prediction, if it is justice that determines man’s contests. Success will crown our efforts, because the destiny of America has been irrevocably decided; the tie that bound her to Spain has been severed. Only a concept maintained that tie and kept the parts of that immense monarchy together. That which formerly bound them now divides them. The hatred that the Peninsula has inspired in us is greater than the ocean between us. It would be easier to have the two continents meet than to reconcile the spirits of the two countries. The habit of obedience; a community of interest, of understanding, of religion; mutual goodwill; a tender regard for the birthplace and good name of our forefathers; in short, all that gave rise to our hopes, came to us from Spain. As a result there was born principle of affinity that seemed eternal, notwithstanding the misbehavior of our rulers, which weakened that sympathy, or, rather, that bond enforced by the domination of their rule.

At present the contrary attitude persists: we are threatened with the fear of death, dishonor, and every harm; there is nothing we have not suffered at the hands of that unnatural stepmother-Spain. The veil has been torn asunder. We have already seen the light, and it is not our desire to be thrust back into darkness. The chains have been broken; we have been freed, and now our enemies seek to enslave us anew. For this reason America fights desperately, and seldom has desperation failed to achieve victory.

Because successes have been partial and spasmodic, we must not lose faith. In some regions the Independents triumph, while in others the tyrants have the advantage. What is the end result? Is not the entire New World in motion, armed for defense? We have but to look around us on this hemisphere to witness a simultaneous struggle at every point.

The war-like state of the La Plata River provinces has purged that territory and led their victorious armies to Upper Peru, arousing Arequipa and worrying the royalists in Lima. Nearly one million inhabitants there now enjoy liberty.

The territory of Chile, populated by 800,000 souls, is fighting the enemy who is seeking her subjugation; but to no avail, because those who long ago put an end to the conquests of this enemy, the free and indomitable Araucarias, are their neighbors and compatriots. Their sublime example is proof to those fighting in Chile that a people who love independence will eventually achieve it.

The viceroyalty of Peru, whose population approaches a million and a half inhabitants, without doubt suffers the greatest subjection and is obliged to make the most sacrifices for the royal cause; and, although the thought of cooperating with that part of America may be vain, the fact remains that it is not tranquil, nor is it capable of restraining the torrent that threatens most of its provinces.

New Granada, which is, so to speak, the heart of America, obeys a general government, save for the territory of Quito which is held only with the greatest difficulty by its enemies, as it is strongly devoted to the country’s cause; and the provinces of Panamá and Santa Marta endure, not without suffering, the tyranny of their masters. Two and a half million people inhabit New Granada and are actually defending that territory against the Spanish army under General Morillo, who will probably suffer defeat at the impregnable fortress of Cartagena. But should he take that city, it will be at the price of heavy casualties, and he will then lack sufficient forces to subdue the unrestrained and brave inhabitants of the interior.

With respect to heroic and hapless Venezuela, events there have moved so rapidly and the devastation has been such that it is reduced to frightful desolation and almost absolute indigence, although it was once among the fairest regions that are the pride of America. Its tyrants govern a desert, and they oppress only those unfortunate survivors who, having escaped death, lead a precarious existence. A few women, children, and old men are all that remain. Most of the men have perished rather than be slaves; those who survive continue to fight furiously on the fields and in the inland towns, until they expire or hurl into the sea those who, insatiable in their thirst for blood and crimes, rival those first monsters who wiped out America’s primitive race. Nearly a million persons formerly dwelt in Venezuela, and it is no exaggeration to say that one out of four has succumbed either to the land, sword, hunger, plague, flight, or privation, all consequences of the war, save the earthquake.

According to Baron von Humboldt, New Spain, including Guatemala, had 7,800,000 inhabitants in 1808. Since that time, the insurrection, which has shaken virtually all of her provinces, has appreciably reduced that apparently correct figure, for over a million men have perished, as you can see in the report of Mr. Walton, who describes faithfully the bloody crimes committed in that abundant kingdom. There the struggle continues by dint of human and every other type of sacrifice, for the Spaniards spare nothing that might enable them to subdue those who have had the misfortune of being born on this soil, which appears to be destined to flow with the blood of its offspring. In spite of everything, the Mexicans will be free. They have embraced the country’s cause, resolved to avenge their forefathers or follow them to the grave. Already they say with Raynal: The time has come at last to repay the Spaniards torture for torture and to drown that race of annihilators in its own blood or in the sea.

The islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba, with a combined population of perhaps 700,000 to 800,000 souls, are the most tranquil possessions of the Spaniards, because they are not within range of contact with the Independents. But are not the people of those islands Americans? Are they not maltreated? Do they not desire a better life?

This picture represents, on a military map, an area of 2,000 longitudinal and 900 latitudinal leagues at its greatest point, wherein 16,000,000 Americans either defend their rights or suffers repression at the hands of Spain, which, although once the world’s greatest empire, is now too weak, with what little is left her, to rule the new hemisphere or even to maintain herself in the old. And shall Europe, the civilized, the merchant, the lover of liberty allow an aged serpent, bent only on satisfying its venomous rage, devour the fairest part of our globe? What! Is Europe deaf to the clamor of her own interests? Has she no eyes to see justice? Has she grown so hardened as to become insensible? The more I ponder these questions, the more I am confused. I am led to think that America’s disappearance is desired; but this is impossible because all Europe is not Spain. What madness for our enemy to hope to reconquer America when she has no navy, no funds, and almost no soldiers! Those troops which she has are scarcely adequate to keep her own people in a state of forced obedience and to defend herself from her neighbors. On the other hand, can that nation carry on the exclusive commerce of one-half the world when it lacks manufactures, agricultural products, crafts and sciences, and even a policy? Assume that this mad venture were successful, and further assume that pacification ensued, would not the sons of the Americans of today, together with the sons of the European reconquistadores twenty years hence, conceive the same patriotic designs that are now being fought for?

Europe could do Spain a service by dissuading her from her rash obstinacy, thereby at least sparing her the costs she is incurring and the blood she is expending. And if she will fix her attention on her own precincts she can build her prosperity and power upon more solid foundations than doubtful conquests, precarious commerce, and forceful exactions from remote and powerful peoples. Europe herself, as a matter of common sense policy, should have prepared and executed the project of American independence, not alone because the world balance of power so necessitated, but also because this is the legitimate and certain means through which Europe can acquire overseas commercial establishments. A Europe that is not moved by the violent passions of vengeance, ambition, and greed, as is Spain, would seem to be entitled, by all the rules of equity, to make clear to Spain where her best interests lie.

All of the writers who have treated this matter agree on this point. Consequently, we have had reason to hope that the civilized nations would hasten to our aid in order that we might achieve that which must prove to be advantageous to both hemispheres. How vain has been this hope! Not only the Europeans but even our brothers of the North have been apathetic bystanders in this struggle which, by its very essence, is the most just, and in its consequences the most noble and vital of any which have been raised in ancient or in modern times. Indeed, can the far-reaching effects of freedom for the hemisphere that Columbus discovered ever be calculated?


“These several months,” you add, “I have given much thought to the situation in America and to her hopes for the future. I have a great interest in her development, but I lack adequate information respecting her present state and the aspirations of her people. I greatly desire to know about the politics of each province, also its peoples, and whether they desire a republic or a monarchy; or whether they seek to form one unified republic or a single monarchy? If you could supply me with this information or suggest the sources I might consult, I should deem it a very special favor.”

Generous souls always interest themselves in the fate of a people who strive to recover the rights to which the Creator and Nature have entitled them, and one must indeed be wedded to error and passion not to harbor this noble sentiment. You have given thought to my country and are concerned in its behalf, and for your kindness I am warmly grateful.


The role of the inhabitants of the American hemisphere has for centuries been purely passive. Politically they were nonexistent. We are still in a position lower than slavery, and therefore it is more difficult for us to rise to the enjoyment of freedom. Permit me these transgressions in order to establish the issue. States are slaves because of either the nature or the misuse of their constitutions; a people are therefore enslaved when the government, by its nature or its vices, infringes on and usurps the rights of the citizen or subject. Applying these principles, we find that America was denied not only its freedom but even an active and effective tyranny. Let me explain. Under absolutism there are no recognized limits to the exercise of governmental powers. The will of the great sultan, khan, bey, and other despotic rulers is the supreme law, carried out more or less arbitrarily by the lesser pashas, khans, and satraps of Turkey and Persia, who have an organized system of oppression in which inferiors participate according to the authority vested in them. To them is entrusted the administration of civil, military, political, religious, and tax matters. But, after all is said and done, the rulers of Isfahan are Persians; the viziers of the Grand Turk are Turks; and the sultans of Tartary are Tartars. China does not bring its military leaders and scholars from the land of Genghis Khan, her conqueror, notwithstanding that the Chinese of today are the lineal descendants of those who were reduced to subjection by the ancestors of the present-day Tartars.

How different is our situation! We have been harassed by a conduct which has not only deprived us of our rights but has kept us in a sort of permanent infancy with regard to public affairs. If we could at least have managed our domestic affairs and our internal administration, we could have acquainted ourselves with the processes and mechanics of public affairs. We should also have enjoyed a personal consideration, thereby commanding a certain unconscious respect from the people, which is so necessary to preserve amidst revolutions. That is why I say we have even been deprived of an active tyranny, since we have not been permitted to exercise its functions.

Americans today, and perhaps to a greater extent than ever before, who live within the Spanish system occupy a position in society no better than that of serfs destined for labor, or at best they have no more status than that of mere consumers. Yet even this status is surrounded with galling restrictions, such as being forbidden to grow European crops, or to store products which are royal monopolies, or to establish factories of a type the Peninsula itself does not possess. To this add the exclusive trading privileges, even in articles of prime necessity, and the barriers between American provinces, designed to prevent all exchange of trade, traffic, and understanding. In short, do you wish to know what our future held? — Simply the cultivation of the fields of indigo, grain, coffee, sugar cane, cacao, and cotton; cattle raising on the broad plains; hunting wild game in the jungles; digging in the earth to mine its gold–but even these limitations could never satisfy the greed of Spain.

So negative was our existence that I can find nothing comparable in any other civilized society, examine as I may the entire history of time and the politics of all nations. Is it not an outrage and a violation of human rights to expect a land so splendidly endowed, so vast, rich, and populous, to remain merely passive?

As I have just explained, we were cut off and, as it were, removed from the world in relation to the science of government and administration of the state. We were never viceroys or governors, save in the rarest of instances; seldom archbishops and bishops; diplomats never; as military men, only subordinates; as nobles, without royal privileges. In brief, we were neither magistrates nor financiers and seldom merchants–all in flagrant contradiction to our institutions.

Emperor Charles V made a pact with the discoverers, conquerors, and settlers of America, and this, as Guerra puts it, is our social contract. The monarchs of Spain made a solemn agreement with them, to be carried out on their own account and at their own risk, expressly prohibiting them from drawing on the royal treasury. In return, they were made the lords of the land, entitled to organize the public administration and act as the court of last appeal, together with many other exemptions and privileges that are too numerous to mention. The King committed himself never to alienate the American provinces, inasmuch as he had no jurisdiction but that of sovereign domain. Thus, for themselves and their descendants, the conquistadores possessed what were tantamount to feudal holdings. Yet there are explicit laws respecting employment in civil, ecclesiastical, and tax-raising establishments. These laws favor, almost exclusively, the natives of the country who are of Spanish extraction. Thus, by an outright violation of the laws and the existing agreements, those born in America have been despoiled of their constitutional rights as embodied in the code.


The Americans have risen rapidly without previous knowledge of, and, what is more regrettable, without previous experience in public affairs, to enact upon the world stage the eminent roles of legislator, magistrate, minister of the treasury, diplomat, general, and every position of authority, supreme or subordinate, that comprises the hierarchy of a fully organized state.

When the French invasion, stopped only by the walls of Cadiz, routed the fragile governments of the Peninsula, we were left orphans. Prior to that invasion, we had been left to the mercy of a foreign usurper. Thereafter, the justice due us was dangled before our eyes, raising hopes that only came to naught. Finally, uncertain of our destiny, and facing anarchy for want of a legitimate, just, and liberal government, we threw ourselves headlong into the chaos of revolution. Attention was first given to obtaining domestic security against enemies within our midst, and then it was extended to the procuring of external security. Authorities were set up to replace those we had deposed, empowered to direct the course of our revolution and to take full advantage of the fortunate turn of events; thus we were able to found a constitutional government worthy of our century and adequate to our situation.

Creating the Rule of Law:

The establishment of juntas of the people marks the first steps of all the new governments. These juntas speedily draft rules for the calling of congresses, which produce great changes. Venezuela erected a democratic and federal government, after declaring for the rights of man. A system of checks and balances was established, and general laws were passed granting civil liberties, such as freedom of the press and others. In short, an independent government was created. New Granada uniformly followed the political institutions and reforms introduced by Venezuela, taking as the fundamental basis of her constitution the most elaborate federal system ever to be brought into existence. Recently the powers of the chief executive have been increased, and he has been given all the powers that are properly his.

I understand that Buenos Aires and Chile have followed this same line of procedure, but, as the distance is so great and documents are so few and the news reports so unreliable, I shall not attempt even briefly to sketch their progress.

Events in Mexico have been too varied, confused, swift, and unhappy to follow clearly the course of that revolution. We lack, moreover, the necessary documentary information to enable us to form a judgment. The Independents of Mexico, according to our information, began their insurrection in September 1810, and a year later they erected a central government in Zitacuaro, where a national junta was installed under the auspices of Ferdinand VII, in whose name the government was carried on. The events of the war caused this junta to move from place to place; and, having undergone such modifications as events have determined, it may still be in existence.

It is reported that a generalissimo or dictator [sic] has been appointed and that he is the illustrious General Morelos, though others mention the celebrated General Rayón. It is certain that one or both of these two great men exercise the supreme authority in that country. And recently a constitution has been created as a framework of government. In March 1812 the government, then residing in Zultepec, submitted a plan for peace and war to the Viceroy of Mexico that had been conceived with the utmost wisdom. It acclaimed the law of nations and established principles that are true and beyond question. The junta proposed that the war be fought as between brothers and countrymen; that it need not be more cruel than a war between foreign nations; that the rules of nations and of war, held inviolable even by infidels and barbarians, must be more binding upon Christians, who are, moreover, subject to one sovereign and to the same laws; that prisoners not be treated as guilty of lèse majesté, nor those surrendering arms slain, but rather held as hostages for exchange; and that peaceful towns not be put to fire and sword. The junta concluded its proposal by warning that if this plan were not accepted rigorous reprisal would be taken. This proposal was received with scorn: no reply was made to the national junta. The original communications were publicly burned in the plaza in Mexico City by the executioner, and the Spaniards have continued the war of extermination with their accustomed fury; meanwhile, the Mexicans and the other American nations have refrained from instituting a war to the death respecting Spanish prisoners. Here it can be seen that as a matter of expediency an appearance of allegiance to the King and even to the Constitution of the monarchy has been maintained. The national junta, it appears, is absolute in the exercise of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, and its membership is very limited.

Events in Costa Firme have proved that institutions which are wholly representative are not suited to our character, customs, and present knowledge. In Caracas party spirit arose in the societies, assemblies, and popular elections; these parties led us back into slavery. Thus, while Venezuela has been the American republic with the most advanced political institutions, she has also been the clearest example of the inefficacy of the democratic and federal system for our newborn states. In New Granada, the large number of excess powers held by the provincial governments and the lack of centralization in the general government have reduced that fair country to her present state. For this reason, her foes, though weak, have been able to hold out against all odds. As long as our countrymen do not acquire the abilities and political virtues that distinguish our brothers of the north, wholly popular systems, far from working to our advantage, will, I greatly fear, bring about our downfall. Unfortunately, these traits, to the degree in which they are required, do not appear to be within our reach. On the contrary, we are dominated by the vices that one learns under the rule of a nation like Spain, which has only distinguished itself in ferocity, ambition, vindictiveness, and greed.

[. . .] There is no reasonable probability to bolster our hopes.

More than anyone, I desire to see America fashioned into the greatest nation in the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and wealth as by her freedom and glory. Although I seek perfection for the government of my country, I cannot persuade myself that the New World can, at the moment, be organized as a great republic. Since it is impossible, I dare not desire it; yet much less do I desire to have all America a monarchy because this plan is not only impracticable but also impossible. Wrongs now existing could not be righted, and our emancipation would be fruitless. The American states need the care of paternal governments to heal the sores and wounds of despotism and war. The parent country, for example, might be Mexico, the only country fitted for the position by her intrinsic strength, and without such power there can be no parent country. Let us assume it were to be the Isthmus of Panamá, the most central point of this vast continent. Would not all parts continue in their lethargy and even in their present disorder? For a single government to infuse life into the New World; to put into use all the resources for public prosperity; to improve, educate, and perfect the New World, that government would have to possess the authority of a god, much less the knowledge and virtues of mankind.

The party spirit that today keeps our states in constant agitation would assume still greater proportions were a central power established, for that power–the only force capable of checking this agitation–would be elsewhere. Furthermore, the chief figures of the capitals would not tolerate the preponderance of leaders at the metropolis, for they would regard these leaders as so many tyrants. Their resentments would attain such heights that they would compare the latter to the hated Spaniards. Any such monarchy would be a misshapen colossus that would collapse of its own weight at the slightest disturbance.

Mr. de Pradt has wisely divided America into fifteen or seventeen mutually independent states, governed by as many monarchs. I am in agreement on the first suggestion, as America can well tolerate seventeen nations; as to the second, though it could easily be achieved, it would serve no purpose. Consequently, I do not favor American monarchies. My reasons are these: The well-understood interest of a republic is limited to the matter of its preservation, prosperity, and glory. Republicans, because they do not desire powers, which represent a directly contrary viewpoint, have no reason for expanding the boundaries of their nation to the detriment of their own resources, solely for the purpose of having their neighbors share a liberal constitution. They would not acquire rights or secure any advantage by conquering their neighbors, unless they were to make them colonies, conquered territory, or allies, after the example of Rome. But such thought and action are directly contrary to the principles of justice, which characterize republican systems; and, what is more, they are in direct opposition to the interests of their citizens, because a state, too large of itself or together with its dependencies, ultimately falls into decay. Its free govemment becomes a tyranny. The principles that should preserve the government are disregarded, and finally it degenerates into despotism. The distinctive feature of small republics is permanence: that of large republics varies, but always with a tendency toward empire. Almost all small republics have had long lives. Among the larger republics, only Rome lasted for several centuries, for its capital was a republic. The rest of her dominions were governed by given laws and institutions.

The policy of a king is very different. His constant desire is to increase his possessions, wealth, and authority; and with justification, for his power grows with every acquisition, both with respect to his neighbors and his own vassals, who fear him because his power is as formidable as his empire, which he maintains by war and conquest. For these reasons I think that the Americans, being anxious for peace, science, art, commerce, and agriculture, would prefer republics to kingdoms. And, further, it seems to me that these desires conform to the aims of Europe.


From the foregoing, we can draw these conclusions: The American provinces are fighting for their freedom, and they will ultimately succeed. Some provinces as a matter of course will form federal and some central republics; the larger areas will inevitably establish monarchies, some of which will fare so badly that they will disintegrate in either present or future revolutions. To consolidate a great monarchy will be no easy task, but it will be utterly impossible to consolidate a great republic.

It is a grandiose idea to think of consolidating the New World into a single nation, united by pacts into a single bond. It is reasoned that, as these parts have a common origin, language, customs, and religion, they ought to have a single government to permit the newly formed states to unite in a confederation. But this is not possible. Actually, climatic differences, geographic diversity, conflicting interests, and dissimilar characteristics separate America. How beautiful it would be if the Isthmus of Panamá could be for us what the Isthmus of Corinth was for the Greeks! Would to God that some day we may have the good fortune to convene there an august assembly of representatives of republics, kingdoms, and empires to deliberate upon the high interests of peace and war with the nations of the other three-quarters of the globe. This type of organization may come to pass in some happier period of our regeneration. But any other plan, such as that of Abbé St. Pierre, who in laudable delirium conceived the idea of assembling a European congress to decide the fate and interests of those nations, would be meaningless.

Among the popular and representative systems, I do not favor the federal system. It is over-perfect, and it demands political virtues and talents far superior to our own. For the same reason I reject a monarchy that is part aristocracy and part democracy, although with such a government England has achieved much fortune and splendor. Since it is not possible for us to select the most perfect and complete form of government, let us avoid falling into demagogic anarchy or monocratic tyranny. These opposite extremes would only wreck us on similar reefs of misfortune and dishonor; hence, we must seek a mean between them. I say: Do not adopt the best system of government, but the one that is most likely to succeed.

By the nature of their geographic location, wealth, population, and character, I expect that the Mexicans, at the outset, intend to establish a representative republic in which the executive will have great powers. These will be concentrated in one person, who, if he discharges his duties with wisdom and justice, should almost certainly maintain his authority for life. If through incompetence or violence he should excite a popular revolt and it should be successful, this same executive power would then, perhaps, be distributed among the members of an assembly. If the dominant party is military or aristocratic, it will probably demand a monarchy that would be limited and constitutional at the outset, and would later inevitably degenerate into an absolute monarchy; for it must be admitted that there is nothing more difficult in the political world than the maintenance of a limited monarchy. Moreover, it must also be agreed that only a people as patriotic as the English are capable of controlling the authority of a king and of sustaining the spirit of liberty under the rule of scepter and crown.

The states of the Isthmus of Panamá as far as Guatemala will perhaps form a confederation. Because of their magnificent position between two mighty oceans, they may in time become the emporium of the world. Their canals will shorten distances throughout the world, strengthen commercial ties between Europe, America, and Asia, and bring to that happy area tribute from the four quarters of the globe. There some day, perhaps, the capital of the world may be located-reminiscent of the Emperor Constantine’s claim that Byzantium was the capital of the ancient world.

New Granada will unite with Venezuela, if they can agree to the establishment of a central republic. Their capital may be Maracaibo or a new city to be named Las Casas (in honor of that humane hero) to be built on the borders of the two countries, in the excellent: port area of Bahía-Honda. This location, though little known, is the most advantageous in all respects. It is readily accessible, and its situation is so strategic that it can be made impregnable. It has a fine, healthful climate, a soil as suitable for agriculture as for cattleraising, and a superabundance of good timber. The Indians living there can be civilized, and our territorial possessions could be increased with the acquisition of the Guajira Peninsula. This nation should be called Colombia as a just and grateful tribute to the discoverer of our hemisphere. Its government might follow the English pattern, except that in place of a king there will be an executive who will be elected, at most, for life, but his office will never be hereditary, if a republic is desired. There will be a hereditary legislative chamber or senate. This body can interpose itself between the violent demands of the people and the great powers of the government during periods of political unrest. The second representative body will be a legislature with restrictions no greater than those of the lower house in England. The Constitution will draw on all systems of government, but I do not want it to partake of all their vices. As Colombia is my country, I have an indisputable right to desire for her that form of government, which, in my opinion, is best. It is very possible that New Granada may not care to recognize a central government, because she is greatly addicted to federalism; in such event, she will form a separate state, which, if it endures, may prosper, because of its great and varied resources.


Surely unity is what we need to complete our work of regeneration. The division among us, nevertheless, is nothing extraordinary, for it is characteristic of civil wars to form two parties, conservatives and reformers. The former are commonly the more numerous, because the weight of habit induces obedience to established powers; the latter are always fewer in number although more vocal and learned. Thus, the physical mass of the one is counterbalanced by the moral force of the other; the contest is prolonged, and the results are uncertain. Fortunately, in our case, the mass has followed the learned.

I shall tell you with what we must provide ourselves in order to expel the Spaniards and to found a free government. It is union, obviously; but such union will come about through sensible planning and well-directed actions rather than by divine magic. America stands together because it is abandoned by all other nations. It is isolated in the center of the world. It has no diplomatic relations, nor does it receive any military assistance; instead, America is attacked by Spain, which has more military supplies than any we can possibly acquire through furtive means.

When success is not assured, when the state is weak, and when results are distantly seen, all men hesitate; opinion is divided, passions rage, and the enemy fans these passions in order to win an easy victory because of them. As soon as we are strong and under the guidance of a liberal nation which will lend us her protection, we will achieve accord in cultivating the virtues and talents that lead to glory. Then will we march majestically toward that great prosperity for which South America is destined. Then will those sciences and arts which, born in the East, have enlightened Europe, wing their way to a free Colombia, which will cordially bid them welcome.

Such, Sir, are the thoughts and observations that I have the honor to submit to you, so that you may accept or reject them according to their merit. I beg you to understand that I have expounded them because I do not wish to appear discourteous and not because I consider myself competent to enlighten you concerning these matters.

I am, Sir, etc., etc.



Source: Translated by Lewis Bertrand in Selected Writings of Bolivar (New York: The Colonial Press Inc., 1951).

James Monroe

James Monroe
James Monroe

James Monroe (1758–1831) was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father who served as the fifth president of the United States from 1817 to 1825. He also served as the governor of Virginia, a member of the United States Senate, the U.S. ambassador to France and Britain, the seventh Secretary of State, and the eighth Secretary of War. He is perhaps best known for issuing the Monroe Doctrine, a policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas.

As President Jefferson’s special envoy, Monroe helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, through which the United States nearly doubled in size. Monroe fell out with his long-time friend, James Madison, after the latter rejected the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty that Monroe negotiated with Britain. He unsuccessfully challenged Madison in the 1808 presidential election, but in April 1811 he joined Madison’s administration as Secretary of State. During the later stages of the War of 1812, Monroe simultaneously served as Madison’s Secretary of State and Secretary of War.

Monroe’s presidency was coterminous with the Era of Good Feelings, as the Federalist Party collapsed as a national political force. As president, Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state and banned slavery from territories north of the parallel 36°30′ north. In foreign affairs, Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams favored a policy of conciliation with Britain and a policy of expansionism against the Spanish Empire. In the 1819 Adams–Onís Treaty with Spain, the United States secured Florida and established its western border with New Spain. In 1823, Monroe announced the United States’ opposition to any European intervention in the recently independent countries of the Americas with the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy.

James Monroehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Monroe

First Inaugural Address (1817)

On 4 March 1817, United States President James Monroe delivered his first inaugural address to a people truly beginning to think of themselves as part of a nation, rather than a collection of allied states. In the aftermath of the difficult War of 1812 (1812–1815), in which the United States suffered several humiliating defeats, Monroe stressed the need to fortify the country with army posts and a navy that could withstand attack from other nations. He also called for improvements in roads and canals in order to promote the development of interstate trade and bind the states in the young nation more closely together.

I should be destitute of feeling if I was not deeply affected by the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their confidence in calling me to the high office whose functions I am about to assume. As the expression of their good opinion of my conduct in the public service, I derive from it a gratification which those who are conscious of having done all that they could to merit it can alone feel. My sensibility is increased by a just estimate of the importance of the trust and of the nature and extent of its duties, with the proper discharge of which the highest interests of a great and free people are intimately connected. Conscious of my own deficiency, I cannot enter on these duties without great anxiety for the result. From a just responsibility I will never shrink, calculating with confidence that in my best efforts to promote the public welfare my motives will always be duly appreciated and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations.

In commencing the duties of the chief executive office it has been the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective Administrations. In following their venerated example my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed in a principal degree to produce the present happy condition of the United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future.

From the commencement of our Revolution to the present day almost forty years have elapsed, and from the establishment of this Constitution twenty-eight. Through this whole term the Government has been what may emphatically be called self-government. And what has been the effect? To whatever object we turn our attention, whether it relates to our foreign or domestic concerns, we find abundant cause to felicitate ourselves in the excellence of our institutions. During a period fraught with difficulties and marked by very extraordinary events the United States have flourished beyond example.…

Under this Constitution our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations and between the States; new States have been admitted into our Union; our territory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original States; the States, respectively protected by the National Government under a mild, parental system against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholesome laws well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals what a proud spectacle does it exhibit! On whom has oppression fallen in any quarter of our Union? Who has been deprived of any right of person or property? Who restrained from offering his vows in the mode which he prefers to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed in their fullest extent.…

Some who might admit the competency of our Government to these beneficent duties might doubt it in trials which put to the test its strength and efficiency as a member of the great community of nations. Here too experience has afforded us the most satisfactory proof in its favor. Just as this Constitution was put into action several of the principal States of Europe had become much agitated and some of them seriously convulsed. Destructive wars ensued, which have of late only been terminated. In the course of these conflicts the United States received great injury from several of the parties. It was their interest to stand aloof from the contest, to demand justice from the party committing the injury, and to cultivate by a fair and honorable conduct the friendship of all. War became at length inevitable, and the result has shown that our Government is equal to that, the greatest of trials, under the most unfavorable circumstances. Of the virtue of the people and of the heroic exploits of the Army, the Navy, and the militia I need not speak.

Such, then, is the happy Government under which we live-a Government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a Government elective in all its branches, under which every citizen may by his merit obtain the highest trust recognized by the Constitution; which contains within it no cause of discord, none to put at variance one portion of the community with another; a Government which protects every citizen in the full enjoyment of his rights, and is able to protect the nation against injustice from foreign powers.

Other considerations of the highest importance admonish us to cherish our Union and to cling to the Government which supports it. Fortunate as we are in our political institutions, we have not been less so in other circumstances on which our prosperity and happiness essentially depend. Situated within the temperate zone, and extending through many degrees of latitude along the Atlantic, the United States enjoy all the varieties of climate, and every production incident to that portion of the globe. Penetrating internally to the Great Lakes and beyond the sources of the great rivers which communicate through our whole interior, no country was ever happier with respect to its domain. Blessed, too, with a fertile soil, our produce has always been very abundant, leaving, even in years the least favorable, a surplus for the wants of our fellow-men in other countries. Such is our peculiar felicity that there is not a part of our Union that is not particularly interested in preserving it. The great agricultural interest of the nation prospers under its protection. Local interests are not less fostered by it. Our fellow-citizens of the North engaged in navigation find great encouragement in being made the favored carriers of the vast productions of the other portions of the United States, while the inhabitants of these are amply recompensed, in their turn, by the nursery for seamen and naval force thus formed and reared up for the support of our common rights. Our manufactures find a generous encouragement by the policy which patronizes domestic industry, and the surplus of our produce a steady and profitable market by local wants in less-favored parts at home.

Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it is the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist they ought to be ascertained and guarded against.

In explaining my sentiments on this subject it may be asked, What raised us to the present happy state? How did we accomplish the Revolution? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our Union, by infusing into the National Government sufficient power for national purposes, without impairing the just rights of the States or affecting those of individuals? How sustain and pass with glory through the late war? The Government has been in the hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositaries of their trust is the credit due. Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.

Dangers from abroad are not less deserving of attention. Experiencing the fortune of other nations, the United States may be again involved in war, and it may in that event be the object of the adverse party to overset our Government, to break our Union, and demolish us as a nation. Our distance from Europe and the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our Government may form some security against these dangers, but they ought to be anticipated and guarded against. Many of our citizens are engaged in commerce and navigation, and all of them are in a certain degree dependent on their prosperous state. Many are engaged in the fisheries. These interests are exposed to invasion in the wars between other powers, and we should disregard the faithful admonition of experience if we did not expect it. We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.

To secure us against these dangers our coast and inland frontiers should be fortified, our Army and Navy, regulated upon just principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and our militia be placed on the best practicable footing. To put our extensive coast in such a state of defense as to secure our cities and interior from invasion will be attended with expense, but the work when finished will be permanent, and it is fair to presume that a single campaign of invasion by a naval force superior to our own, aided by a few thousand land troops, would expose us to greater expense, without taking into the estimate the loss of property and distress of our citizens, than would be sufficient for this great work. Our land and naval forces should be moderate, but adequate to the necessary purposes-the former to garrison and preserve our fortifications and to meet the first invasions of a foreign foe, and, while constituting the elements of a greater force, to preserve the science as well as all the necessary implements of war in a state to be brought into activity in the event of war; the latter, retained within the limits proper in a state of peace, might aid in maintaining the neutrality of the United States with dignity in the wars of other powers and in saving the property of their citizens from spoliation. In time of war, with the enlargement of which the great naval resources of the country render it susceptible, and which should be duly fostered in time of peace, it would contribute essentially, both as an auxiliary of defense and as a powerful engine of annoyance, to diminish the calamities of war and to bring the war to a speedy and honorable termination.

But it ought always to be held prominently in view that the safety of these States and of everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia. Invasions may be made too formidable to be resisted by any land and naval force which it would comport either with the principles of our Government or the circumstances of the United States to maintain. In such cases recourse must be had to the great body of the people, and in a manner to produce the best effect. It is of the highest importance, therefore, that they be so organized and trained as to be prepared for any emergency. The arrangement should be such as to put at the command of the Government the ardent patriotism and youthful vigor of the country. If formed on equal and just principles, it can not be oppressive. It is the crisis which makes the pressure, and not the laws which provide a remedy for it. This arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the better prepared for war. With such an organization of such a people the United States have nothing to dread from foreign invasion. At its approach an overwhelming force of gallant men might always be put in motion.

Other interests of high importance will claim attention, among which the improvement of our country by roads and canals, proceeding always with a constitutional sanction, holds a distinguished place. By thus facilitating the intercourse between the States we shall add much to the convenience and comfort of our fellow-citizens, much to the ornament of the country, and, what is of greater importance, we shall shorten distances, and, by making each part more accessible to and dependent on the other, we shall bind the Union more closely together. Nature has done so much for us by intersecting the country with so many great rivers, bays, and lakes, approaching from distant points so near to each other, that the inducement to complete the work seems to be peculiarly strong. A more interesting spectacle was perhaps never seen than is exhibited within the limits of the United States-a territory so vast and advantageously situated, containing objects so grand, so useful, so happily connected in all their parts!

Our manufacturers will likewise require the systematic and fostering care of the Government. Possessing as we do all the raw materials, the fruit of our own soil and industry, we ought not to depend in the degree we have done on supplies from other countries. While we are thus dependent the sudden event of war, unsought and unexpected, can not fail to plunge us into the most serious difficulties. It is important, too, that the capital which nourishes our manufacturers should be domestic, as its influence in that case instead of exhausting, as it may do in foreign hands, would be felt advantageously on agriculture and every other branch of industry. Equally important is it to provide at home a market for our raw materials, as by extending the competition it will enhance the price and protect the cultivator against the casualties incident to foreign markets.

With the Indian tribes it is our duty to cultivate friendly relations and to act with kindness and liberality in all our transactions. Equally proper is it to persevere in our efforts to extend to them the advantages of civilization.

The great amount of our revenue and the flourishing state of the Treasury are a full proof of the competency of the national resources for any emergency, as they are of the willingness of our fellow-citizens to bear the burdens which the public necessities require. The vast amount of vacant lands, the value of which daily augments, forms an additional resource of great extent and duration. These resources, besides accomplishing every other necessary purpose, put it completely in the power of the United States to discharge the national debt at an early period. Peace is the best time for improvement and preparation of every kind; it is in peace that our commerce flourishes most, that taxes are most easily paid, and that the revenue is most productive.

The Executive is charged officially in the Departments under it with the disbursement of the public money, and is responsible for the faithful application of it to the purposes for which it is raised. The Legislature is the watchful guardian over the public purse. It is its duty to see that the disbursement has been honestly made.… I shall do all I can to secure economy and fidelity in this important branch of the Administration, and I doubt not that the Legislature will perform its duty with equal zeal. A thorough examination should be regularly made, and I will promote it.

It is particularly gratifying to me to enter on the discharge of these duties at a time when the United States are blessed with peace. It is a state most consistent with their prosperity and happiness. It will be my sincere desire to preserve it, so far as depends on the Executive, on just principles with all nations, claiming nothing unreasonable of any and rendering to each what is its due.

Equally gratifying is it to witness the increased harmony of opinion which pervades our Union. Discord does not belong to our system. Union is recommended as well by the free and benign principles of our Government, extending its blessings to every individual, as by the other eminent advantages attending it. The American people have encountered together great dangers and sustained severe trials with success. They constitute one great family with a common interest. Experience has enlightened us on some questions of essential importance to the country. The progress has been slow, dictated by a just reflection and a faithful regard to every interest connected with it. To promote this harmony in accord with the principles of our republican Government and in a manner to give them the most complete effect, and to advance in all other respects the best interests of our Union, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions.

Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy. In contemplating what we have still to perform, the heart of every citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our Government has approached to perfection; that in respect to it we have no essential improvement to make; that the great object is to preserve it in the essential principles and features which characterize it, and that is to be done by preserving the virtue and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security against foreign dangers to adopt such arrangements as are indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights and liberties. If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us.

In the Administrations of the illustrious men who have preceded me in this high station, with some of whom I have been connected by the closest ties from early life, examples are presented which will always be found highly instructive and useful to their successors. From these I shall endeavor to derive all the advantages which they may afford. Of my immediate predecessor, under whom so important a portion of this great and successful experiment has been made, I shall be pardoned for expressing my earnest wishes that he may long enjoy in his retirement the affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted talents and the most faithful and meritorious service. Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.

Microsoft Encarta 2008.

The Monroe Doctrine (1823)

Monroe’s most recognized accomplishment was the Monroe Doctrine, which he presented to Congress in 1823 – proclaiming that America should be self-sustaining and free from European interests, colonization and interference. He further proclaimed that the United States would stay neutral between Europe’s superpowers.

The Monroe Doctrine was never a ratified law or anything of that sort. It was just a general guideline according to which the US resolved to handle their foreign affairs.

At the time of this statement, nobody outside of the United States really cared about the announcement. In fact, it took at least 30 years after Monroe’s speech until the Monroe Doctrine was called Monroe Doctrine. But future U.S. governmental officials kept referring to the proclamation and other nations realized that the U.S. was serious about the Monroe Doctrine.


It follows the full text transcript of President James Monroe’s Seventh Annual Message to Congress, delivered at Washington D.C. – 2 December 1823.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present session, of which I shall endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence, from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat and of their great importance to every portion of our Union. I enter on it with zeal from a thorough conviction that there never was a period since the establishment of our Revolution when, regarding the condition of the civilized world and its bearing on us, there was greater necessity for devotion in the public servants to their respective duties, or for virtue, patriotism, and union in our constituents.

Meeting in you a new Congress, I deem it proper to present this view of public affairs in greater detail than might otherwise be necessary. I do it, however, with peculiar satisfaction, from a knowledge that in this respect I shall comply more fully with the sound principles of our Government.

The people being with us exclusively the sovereign, it is indispensable that full information be laid before them on all important subjects, to enable them to exercise that high power with complete effect. If kept in the dark, they must be incompetent to it. We are all liable to error, and those who are engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject to excitement and to be led astray by their particular interests and passions than the great body of our constituents, who, living at home in the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, are calm but deeply interested spectators of events and of the conduct of those who are parties to them.

To the people every department of the Government and every individual in each are responsible, and the more full their information the better they can judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued and of the conduct of each in regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment much aid may always be obtained, while their approbation will form the greatest incentive and most gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure the best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests in all vital questions are the same, and the bond, by sentiment as well as by interest, will be proportionably strengthened as they are better informed of the real state of public affairs, especially in difficult conjunctures. It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies are surmounted, and that a national policy extending its fostering care and protection to all the great interests of our Union, is formed and steadily adhered to.

A precise knowledge of our relations with foreign powers as respects our negotiations and transactions with each is thought to be particularly necessary. Equally necessary is it that we should for a just estimate of our resources, revenue, and progress in every kind of improvement connected with the national prosperity and public defense. It is by rendering justice to other nations that we may expect it from them. It is by our ability to resent injuries and redress wrongs that we may avoid them.

The commissioners under the 5th article of the treaty of Ghent, having disagreed in their opinions respecting that portion of the boundary between the Territories of the United States and of Great Britain the establishment of which had been submitted to them, have made their respective reports in compliance with that article, that the same might be referred to the decision of a friendly power. It being manifest, however, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any power to perform that office without great delay and much inconvenience to itself, a proposal has been made by this Government, and acceded to by that of Great Britain, to endeavor to establish that boundary by amicable negotiation.

It appearing from long experience that no satisfactory arrangement could be formed of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British colonies in this hemisphere by legislative acts while each party pursued its own course without agreement or concert with the other, a proposal has been made to the British Government to regulate this commerce by treaty, as it has been to arrange in like manner the just claim of the citizens of the United States inhabiting the States and Territories bordering on the lakes and rivers which empty into the St. Lawrence to the navigation of that river to the ocean. For these and other objects of high importance to the interests of both parties a negotiation has been opened with the British Government which it is hoped will have a satisfactory result.

The commissioners under the 6th and 7th articles of the treaty of Ghent having successfully closed their labors in relation to the 6th, have proceeded to the discharge of those relating to the 7th. Their progress in the extensive survey required for the performance of their duties justifies the presumption that it will be completed in the ensuing year.

The negotiation which had been long depending with the French Government on several important subjects, and particularly for a just indemnity for losses sustained in the late wars by the citizens of the United States under unjustifiable seizures and confiscations of their property, has not as yet had the desired effect. As this claim rests on the same principle with others which have been admitted by the French Government, it is not perceived on what just ground it can be rejected. A minister will be immediately appointed to proceed to France and resume the negotiation on this and other subjects which may arise between the two nations.

At the proposal of the Russian Imperial Government, made through the minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburg to arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the North West coast of this continent. A similar proposal had been made by His Imperial Majesty to the Government of Great Britain, which has likewise been acceded to. The Government of the United States has been desirous by this friendly proceeding of manifesting the great value which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor and their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his Government. In the discussions to which this interest has given rise and in the arrangements by which they may terminate the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

Since the close of the last session of Congress the commissioners and arbitrators for ascertaining and determining the amount of indemnification which may be due to citizens of the United States under the decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in conformity to the convention concluded at St. Petersburg on [1822-07-12], have assembled in this city, and organized themselves as a board for the performance of the duties assigned to them by that treaty. The commission constituted under the 11th article of the treaty of [1819-02-22], between the United States and Spain is also in session here, and as the term of three years limited by the treaty for the execution of the trust will expire before the period of the next regular meeting of Congress, the attention of the Legislature will be drawn to the measures which may be necessary to accomplish the objects for which the commission was instituted.

In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives adopted at their last session, instructions have been given to all the ministers of the United States accredited to the powers of Europe and America to propose the proscription of the African slave trade by classing it under the denomination, and inflicting on its perpetrators the punishment, of piracy. Should this proposal be acceded to, it is not doubted that this odious and criminal practice will be promptly and entirely suppressed. It is earnestly hoped that it will be acceded to, from the firm belief that it is the most effectual expedient that can be adopted for the purpose.

At the commencement of the recent war between France and Spain it was declared by the French Government that it would grant no commissions to privateers, and that neither the commerce of Spain herself nor of neutral nations should be molested by the naval force of France, except in the breach of a lawful blockade. This declaration, which appears to have been faithfully carried into effect, concurring with principles proclaimed and cherished by the United States from the first establishment of their independence, suggested the hope that the time had arrived when the proposal for adopting it as a permanent and invariable rule in all future maritime wars might meet the favorable consideration of the great European powers. Instructions have accordingly been given to our ministers with France, Russia, and Great Britain to make those proposals to their respective Governments, and when the friends of humanity reflect on the essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would result from the abolition of private war on the sea and on the great facility by which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that they will ultimately be successful.

The ministers who were appointed to the Republics of Colombia and Buenos Ayres during the last session of Congress proceeded shortly afterwards to their destinations. Of their arrival there official intelligence has not yet been received. The minister appointed to the Republic of Chile will sail in a few days. An early appointment will also be made to Mexico. A minister has been received from Colombia, and the other Governments have been informed that ministers, or diplomatic agents of inferior grade, would be received from each, accordingly as they might prefer the one or the other.

The minister appointed to Spain proceeded soon after his appointment for Cadiz, the residence of the Sovereign to whom he was accredited. In approaching that port the frigate which conveyed him was warned off by the commander of the French squadron by which it was blockaded and not permitted to enter, although apprised by the captain of the frigate of the public character of the person whom he had on board, the landing of whom was the sole object of his proposed entry. This act, being considered an infringement of the rights of ambassadors and of nations, will form a just cause of complaint to the Government of France against the officer by whom it was committed.

The actual condition of the public finances more than realizes the favorable anticipations that were entertained of it at the opening of the last session of Congress. On the first of January there was a balance in the Treasury of $4,237,427.55. From that time to the 30th of September the receipts amounted to upward of $16.1M, and the expenditures to $11.4M. During the 4th quarter of the year it is estimated that the receipts will at least equal the expenditures, and that there will remain in the Treasury on the first day of January next a surplus of nearly $9M.

On [1825-01-01], a large amount of the war debt and a part of the Revolutionary debt become redeemable. Additional portions of the former will continue to become redeemable annually until the year 1835. it is believed, however, that if the United States remain at peace the whole of that debt may be redeemed by the ordinary revenue of those years during that period under the provision of the act of [1817-03-03], creating the sinking fund, and in that case the only part of the debt that will remain after the year 1835 will be the $7M of 5% stock subscribed to the Bank of the United States, and the 3% Revolutionary debt, amounting to $13,296,099.06, both of which are redeemable at the pleasure of the Government.

The state of the Army in its organization and discipline has been gradually improving for several years, and has now attained a high degree of perfection. The military disbursements have been regularly made and the accounts regularly and promptly rendered for settlement. The supplies of various descriptions have been of good quality, and regularly issued at all of the posts. A system of economy and accountability has been introduced into every branch of the service which admits of little additional improvement. This desirable state has been attained by the act reorganizing the staff of the Army, passed on [1818-04–14].

The moneys appropriated for fortifications have been regularly and economically applied, and all the works advanced as rapidly as the amount appropriated would admit. Three important works will be completed in the course of this year – that is, Fort Washington, Fort Delaware, and the fort at the Rigolets, in Louisiana.

The Board of Engineers and the Topographical Corps have been in constant and active service in surveying the coast and projecting the works necessary for its defense.

The Military Academy has attained a degree of perfection in its discipline and instruction equal, as is believed, to any institution of its kind in any country.

The money appropriated for the use of the Ordnance Department has been regularly and economically applied. The fabrication of arms at the national armories and by contract with the Department has been gradually improving in quality and cheapness. It is believed that their quality is now such as to admit of but little improvement.

The completion of the fortifications renders it necessary that there should be a suitable appropriation for the purpose of fabricating the cannon and carriages necessary for those works.

Under the appropriation of $5,000 for exploring the Western waters for the location of a site for a Western armory, a commission was constituted, consisting of Colonel McRee, Colonel Lee, and Captain Talcott, who have been engaged in exploring the country. They have not yet reported the result of their labors, but it is believed that they will be prepared to do it at an early part of the session of Congress.

During the month of June last General Ashley and his party, who were trading under a license from the Government, were attacked by the Ricarees while peaceably trading with the Indians at their request. Several of the party were killed and wounded and their property taken or destroyed.

Colonel Leavenworth, who commanded Fort Atkinson, at the Council Bluffs, the most western post, apprehending that the hostile spirit of the Ricarees would extend to other tribes in that quarter, and that thereby the lives of the traders on the Missouri and the peace of the frontier would be endangered, took immediate measures to check the evil.

With a detachment of the regiment stationed at the Bluffs he successfully attacked the Ricaree village, and it is hoped that such an impression has been made on them as well as on the other tribes on the Missouri as will prevent a recurrence of future hostility.

The report of the Secretary of War, which is herewith transmitted, will exhibit in greater detail the condition of the Department in its various branches, and the progress which has been made in its administration during the three first quarters of the year.

I transmit a return of the militia of the several States according to the last reports which have been made by the proper officers in each to the Department of War. by reference to this return it will be seen that it is not complete, although great exertions have been made to make it so. As the defense and even the liberties of the country must depend in times of imminent danger on the militia, it is of the highest importance that it be well organized, armed, and disciplined throughout the Union.

The report of the Secretary of War shews the progress made during the three first quarters of the present year by the application of the fund appropriated for arming the militia. Much difficulty is found in distributing the arms according to the act of Congress providing for it from the failure of the proper departments in many of the States to make regular returns. The act of [1820-05-12] provides that the system of tactics and regulations of the various corps of the Regular Army shall be extended to the militia. This act has been very imperfectly executed from the want of uniformity in the organization of the militia, proceeding from the defects of the system itself, and especially in its application to that main arm of the public defense. It is thought that this important subject in all its branches merits the attention of Congress.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy, which is now communicated, furnishes an account of the administration of that Department for the three first quarters of the present year, with the progress made in augmenting the Navy, and the manner in which the vessels in commission have been employed.

The usual force has been maintained in the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and along the Atlantic coast, and has afforded the necessary protection to our commerce in those seas.

In the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico our naval force has been augmented by the addition of several small vessels provided for by the “act authorizing an additional naval force for the suppression of piracy”, passed by Congress at their last session. That armament has been eminently successful in the accomplishment of its object. The piracies by which our commerce in the neighborhood of the island of Cuba had been afflicted have been repressed and the confidence of our merchants in a great measure restored.

The patriotic zeal and enterprise of Commodore Porter, to whom the command of the expedition was confided, has been fully seconded by the officers and men under his command. And in reflecting with high satisfaction on the honorable manner in which they have sustained the reputation of their country and its Navy, the sentiment is alloyed only by a concern that in the fulfillment of that arduous service the diseases incident to the season and to the climate in which it was discharged have deprived the nation of many useful lives, and among them of several officers of great promise.

In the month of August a very malignant fever made its appearance at Thompsons Island, which threatened the destruction of our station there. Many perished, and the commanding officer was severely attacked. Uncertain as to his fate and knowing that most of the medical officers had been rendered incapable of discharging their duties, it was thought expedient to send to that post an officer of rank and experience, with several skilled surgeons, to ascertain the origin of the fever and the probability of its recurrence there in future seasons; to furnish every assistance to those who were suffering, and, if practicable, to avoid the necessity of abandoning so important a station. Commodore Rodgers, with a promptitude which did him honor, cheerfully accepted that trust, and has discharged it in the manner anticipated from his skill and patriotism. Before his arrival Commodore Porter, with the greater part of the squadron, had removed from the island and returned to the United States in consequence of the prevailing sickness. Much useful information has, however, been obtained as to the state of the island and great relief afforded to those who had been necessarily left there.

Although our expedition, cooperating with an invigorated administration of the government of the island of Cuba, and with the corresponding active exertions of a British naval force in the same seas, have almost entirely destroyed the unlicensed piracies from that island, the success of our exertions has not been equally effectual to suppress the same crime, under other pretenses and colors, in the neighboring island of Porto Rico. They have been committed there under the abusive issue of Spanish commissions.

At an early period of the present year remonstrances were made to the governor of that island, by an agent who was sent for the purpose, against those outrages on the peaceful commerce of the United States, of which many had occurred. That officer, professing his own want of authority to make satisfaction for our just complaints, answered only by a reference of them to the Government of Spain. The minister of the United States to that court was specially instructed to urge the necessity of immediate and effectual interposition of that Government, directing restitution and indemnity for wrongs already committed and interdicting the repetition of them. The minister, as has been seen, was debarred access to the Spanish Government, and in the mean time several new cases of flagrant outrage have occurred, and citizens of the United States in the island of Porto Rico have suffered, and others been threatened with assassination for asserting their unquestionable rights even before the lawful tribunals of the country.

The usual orders have been given to all our public ships to seize American vessels in the slave trade and bring them in for adjudication, and I have the gratification to state that not one so employed has been discovered, and there is good reason to believe that our flag is now seldom, if at all, disgraced by that traffic.

It is a source of great satisfaction that we are always enabled to recur to the conduct of our Navy with price and commendation. As a means of national defense it enjoys the public confidence, and is steadily assuming additional importance. It is submitted whether a more efficient and equally economical organization of it might not in several respects be effected. It is supposed that higher grades than now exist by law would be useful. They would afford well-merited rewards to those who have long and faithfully served their country, present the best incentives to good conduct, and the best means of insuring a proper discipline; destroy the inequality in that respect between military and naval services, and relieve our officers from many inconveniences and mortifications which occur when our vessels meet those of other nations, ours being the only service in which such grades do not exist.

A report of the Postmaster-General, which accompanies this communication, will shew the present state of the Post-Office Department and its general operations for some years past.

There is established by law 88,600 miles of post roads, on which the mail is now transported 85,700 miles, and contracts have been made for its transportation on all the established routes, with one or 2 exceptions. There are 5,240 post offices in the Union, and as many post masters. The gross amount of postage which accrued from [1822-07-01] to [1823-07-01] was $1,114,345.12. During the same period the expenditures of the Post-Office Department amounted to $1,169,885.51 and consisted of the following items, viz.

Compensation to post masters, $353,995.98;
incidental expenses, $30,866.37;
transportation of the mail, $784,600.08;
payments into the Treasury, $423.08.

On the first of July last there was due to the Department from post masters $135,245.28;
from late post masters and contractors, $256,749.31;

making a total amount of balances due to the Department of $391,994.59.

These balances embrace all delinquencies of post masters and contractors which have taken place since the organization of the Department. There was due by the Department to contractors on the first of July last $26,548.64.

The transportation of the mail within five years past has been greatly extended, and the expenditures of the Department proportionably increased. Although the postage which has accrued within the last three years has fallen short of the expenditures $262,821.46, it appears that collections have been made from the outstanding balances to meet the principal part of the current demands.

It is estimated that not more than $250,000 of the above balances can be collected, and that a considerable part of this sum can only be realized by a resort to legal process. Some improvements in the receipts for postage is expected. A prompt attention to the collection of moneys received by post masters, it is believed, will enable the Department to continue its operations without aid from the Treasury, unless the expenditures shall be increased by the establishment of new mail routes.

A revision of some parts of the post office law may be necessary; and it is submitted whether it would not be proper to provide for the appointment of post masters, where the compensation exceeds a certain amount, by nomination to the Senate, as other officers of the General Government are appointed.

Having communicated my views to Congress at the commencement of the last session respecting the encouragement which ought to be given to our manufactures and the principle on which it should be founded, I have only to add that those views remain unchanged, and that the present state of those countries with which we have the most immediate political relations and greatest commercial intercourse tends to confirm them. Under this impression I recommend a review of the tariff for the purpose of affording such additional protection to those articles which we are prepared to manufacture, or which are more immediately connected with the defense and independence of the country.

The actual state of the public accounts furnishes additional evidence of the efficiency of the present system of accountability in relation to the public expenditure. Of the moneys drawn from the Treasury since [1817-03-04], the sum remaining unaccounted for on the 30th of September last is more than $1.5M less than on the 30th of September preceding; and during the same period a reduction of nearly $1M has been made in the amount of the unsettled accounts for moneys advanced previously to [1817-03-04]. It will be obvious that in proportion as the mass of accounts of the latter description is diminished by settlement the difficulty of settling the residue is increased from the consideration that in many instances it can be obtained only by legal process. For more precise details on this subject I refer to a report from the first Comptroller of the Treasury.

The sum which was appropriated at the last session for the repairs of the Cumberland road has been applied with good effect to that object. A final report has not been received from the agent who was appointed to superintend it. As soon as it is received it shall be communicated to Congress.

Many patriotic and enlightened citizens who have made the subject an object of particular investigation have suggested an improvement of still greater importance. They are of the opinion that the waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio may be connected together by one continued canal, and at an expense far short of the value and importance of the object to be obtained. If this could be accomplished it is impossible to calculate the beneficial consequences which would result from it.

A great portion of the produce of the very fertile country through which it would pass would find a market through that channel. Troops might be moved with great facility in war, with cannon and every kind of munition, and in either direction. Connecting the Atlantic with the Western country in a line passing through the seat of the National Government, it would contribute essentially to strengthen the bond of union itself.

Believing as I do that Congress possess the right to appropriate money for such a national object (the jurisdiction remaining to the States through which the canal would pass), I submit it to your consideration whether it may not be advisable to authorize by an adequate appropriation the employment of a suitable number of the officers of the Corps of Engineers to examine the unexplored ground during the next season and to report their opinion thereon. It will likewise be proper to extend their examination to the several routes through which the waters of the Ohio may be connected by canals with those of Lake Erie.

As the Cumberland road will require annual repairs, and Congress have not thought it expedient to recommend to the States an amendment to the Constitution for the purpose of vesting in the United States a power to adopt and execute a system of internal improvement, it is also submitted to your consideration whether it may not be expedient to authorize the Executive to enter into an arrangement with the several States through which the road passes to establish tolls, each within its limits, for the purpose of defraying the expense of future repairs and of providing also by suitable penalties for its protection against future injuries.

The act of Congress of [1822-05-07], appropriated the sum of $22,700 for the purpose of erecting two piers as a shelter for vessels from ice near Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay. To effect the object of the act the officers of the Board of Engineers, with Commodore Bainbridge, were directed to prepare plans and estimates of piers sufficient to answer the purpose intended by the act. It appears by their report, which accompanies the documents from the War Department, that the appropriation is not adequate to the purpose intended; and as the piers would be of great service both to the navigation of the Delaware Bay and the protection of vessels on the adjacent parts of the coast, I submit for the consideration of Congress whether additional and sufficient appropriations should not be made.

The Board of Engineers were also directed to examine and survey the entrance of the harbor of the port of Presquille, in PA, in order to make an estimate of the expense of removing the obstructions to the entrance, with a plan of the best mode of effecting the same, under the appropriation for that purpose by act of Congress passed 3rd of March last. The report of the Board accompanies the papers from the War Department, and is submitted for the consideration of Congress.

A strong hope has been long entertained, founded on the heroic struggle of the Greeks, that they would succeed in their contest and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth. It is believed that the whole civilized world take a deep interest in their welfare. Although no power has declared in their favor, yet none according to our information, has taken part against them. Their cause and their name have protected them from dangers which might ere this have overwhelmed any other people. The ordinary calculations of interest and of acquisition with a view to aggrandizement, which mingles so much in the transactions of nations, seem to have had no effect in regard to them. From the facts which have come to our knowledge there is good cause to believe that their enemy has lost forever all dominion over them; that Greece will become again an independent nation. That she may obtain that rank is the object of our most ardent wishes.

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great effort was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked that the result has been so far very different from what was then anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe, with which we have so much intercourse and from which we derive our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators.

The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.

It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers.

The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.

We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere, but with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

In the war between those new Governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal shew that Europe is still unsettled. Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced than that the allied powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed by force in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such interposition may be carried, on the same principle, is a question in which all independent powers whose governments differ from theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none more so than the United States.

Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none.

But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and those new Governments, and their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

If we compare the present condition of our Union with its actual state at the close of our Revolution, the history of the world furnishes no example of a progress in improvement in all the important circumstances which constitute the happiness of a nation which bears any resemblance to it. At the first epoch our population did not exceed 3,000,000. by the last census it amounted to about 10,000,000, and, what is more extraordinary, it is almost altogether native, for the immigration from other countries has been inconsiderable.

At the first epoch half the territory within our acknowledged limits was uninhabited and a wilderness. Since then new territory has been acquired of vast extent, comprising within it many rivers, particularly the Mississippi, the navigation of which to the ocean was of the highest importance to the original States. Over this territory our population has expanded in every direction, and new States have been established almost equal in number to those which formed the first bond of our Union. This expansion of our population and accession of new States to our Union have had the happiest effect on all its highest interests.

That it has eminently augmented our resources and added to our strength and respectability as a power is admitted by all, but it is not in these important circumstances only that this happy effect is felt. It is manifest that by enlarging the basis of our system and increasing the number of States the system itself has been greatly strengthened in both its branches. Consolidation and disunion have thereby been rendered equally impracticable.

Each Government, confiding in its own strength, has less to apprehend from the other, and in consequence each, enjoying a greater freedom of action, is rendered more efficient for all the purposes for which it was instituted.

It is unnecessary to treat here of the vast improvement made in the system itself by the adoption of this Constitution and of its happy effect in elevating the character and in protecting the rights of the nation as well as individuals. To what, then, do we owe these blessings? It is known to all that we derive them from the excellence of our institutions. Ought we not, then, to adopt every measure which may be necessary to perpetuate them?

The Monroe Doctrinehttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/the_monroe_doctrine.htm

Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster (1782–1852) was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests. Webster’s increasingly nationalistic views, and his effectiveness as a speaker, made him one of the most famous orators and influential Whig leaders of the Second Party System. During his 40 years in national politics, Webster served in the House of Representatives for 10 years (representing New Hampshire), in the Senate for 19 years (representing Massachusetts), and was appointed the Secretary of State under three presidents.

Webster took part in several key U.S. Supreme Court cases which established important constitutional precedents that bolstered the authority of the federal government. Chiefly recognized for his Senate tenure, Webster was a key figure in the institution’s “Golden days”.

Webster wanted to see the Union preserved and civil war averted. Webster tried and failed three times to become President of the United States. In 1957, a Senate Committee selected Webster as one of the five greatest U.S. Senators with Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Robert La Follette, and Robert Taft.


Plymouth oration (1820)

Daniel Webster’s famous Plymouth Oration did much to establish the Pilgrims as the forefathers of America. After this speech delivered on 22 December 1820, the journey of the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts became the nation’s founding myth, and by 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day which has been celebrated ever since.


Standing in relation tour ancestors and our posterity, we are assembled on this memorable spot, to perform the duties which that relation and the present occasion impose upon us. We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and to establish. And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof that we have endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles and private virtue, in our veneration of religion and piety, in our devotion to civil and religions liberty, in our regard for whatever advances human knowledge or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of our origin.

There is a local feeling connected with this occasion, too strong to be resisted; a sort of genius of the place, which inspires and awes us. We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first places; where Christianity, and civilization, and letters made their first lodgement, in a vast extent of country, covered with a wilderness, and peopled by roving barbarians. We are here, at the season of the year at which the event took place. The imagination irresistibly and rapidly draws around us the principal features and the leading characters in the original scene. We cast our eyes abroad on the ocean, and we see where the little bark, with the interesting group upon its deck, made its slow progress to the shore. We look around us, and behold the hills and promontories where the anxious eyes of our fathers first saw the places of habitation and of rest. We feel the cold which benumbed, and listen to the winds which pierced them. Beneath us is the Rock, on which New England received the feet of the Pilgrrims. We seem even to behold them, as they struggle with the elements, and, with toilsome efforts, gain the shore. We listen to the chiefs in council; we see the unexampled exhibition of female fortitude and resignation; we hear the whisperings of youthful impatience, and we see, what a painter of our own has also represented by his pencil, chilled anbd shivering childhood, houseless, but for a mother’s arms, couchless, but for a mother’s breast, till our own blood almost freezes. The mild dignity of CARVER and of BRADFORD; the decisive and soldierlike air and manner of STANDISH; the devout BREWSTER; the enterprising ALLERTON; the general firmness and thoughtfulness of the whole band; their conscious joy for dangers escaped; their deep solicitude about danger to come; their trust in Heaven; their high religious faith, full of confidence and anticipation; all of these seem to belong to this place, and to be present upon this occasion, to fill us with reverence and admiration…

The nature and constitution of society and government in this country are interesting topics, to which I would devote what remains of the time allowed to this occasion. Of our system of government the first thing to be said is, that it is really and practically a free system. It originates entirely with the people and rests on no other foundation than their assent. To judge of its actual operation, it is not enough to look merely at the form of its construction. The practical character of government depends often on a variety of considerations, besides the abstract frame of its constitutional organization. Among these are the condition and tenure of property; the laws regulating its alienation and descent; the presence or absence of a military power; an armed or unarmed yeomanry; the spirit of the age, and the degree of general intelligence. In these respects it cannot be denied that the circumstances of this country are most favorable to the hope of maintaining a government of a great nation on principles entirely popular. In the absence of military power, the nature of government must essentially depend on the manner in which property is holden and distributed. There is a natural influence belonging to property, whether it exists in many hands or few; and it is on the rights of property that both despotism and unrestrained poppular violence ordinarily commence their attacks. Our ancestors began their system of government here under a condition of comparative equality in regard to wealth, and their early laws were of a nature to favor and continue this equality.

A republicon form of government rests not more on political constitutions, than on those laws which regulate the descent and transmission of property. Governments like ours could not have been maintained, where property was holden according to the principles of the feudal system; nor, on the other hand, could the feudal constitution possibly exist with us. Our New England ancestors brought hither no great capitals from Europe; and if they had, there was nothing productive in which they could have been invested. They left behind them the whole feudal policy of the other continent. They broke away at once from the system of military service established in the Dark Ages, and which continues, down even to the present time, more or less to affect the condition of property all over Europe. They came to a new country. There were, as yet, no lands yielding rent, and no tenants rendering service. The whole soil was unreclaimed from barbarism. They were themselves, either from their original condition, or from the necessity of their common interest, nearly on a general level in respect to property. Their situation demanded a parcelling out and division of hte lands, and it may be fairly siad, that this necessary ace fixed the future frame and form of their government. The character of their political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting property. The laws rendered estates divisible among sons and daughters. The right of primogeniture, at first limited and curtailed, was afterwards abolished. The property was all freehold. The entailment of estates, long trustss, and the other processes for fettering and tying up inheritances, were not applicable to the condition of society, and seldom made use of.

The true principle of a free and popular government would seem to be, so to construct it as to give to all, or at least to a very great majority, an interest in its preservation; to round it, as other things are rounded, on men’s interest. The stability of government demands that those who desire its continuance should be more powerful than those who desire its dissolution. This power, of course, is not always to be measured by mere numbers. Education, wealth, talents, are all parts and elements of the general aggregate of power; but numbers, nevertheless, constitute ordinarily the most important consideration, unless, indeed, there be a military force in the hands of the few, by which they can control the many. In this country we have actually existing systems of government, in the maintenance of which, it should seem, a great majority, both in numbers and in other means of power and influence must see their interest. But this state of things is not brought about solely by written political constitutions, or the mere manner of organizing government; but also by the laws which regulate the descent and transmission of property. The freest government, if it could exist, would not be long acceptable, if the tendency of the laws were to create a rapid accumulation of property in few hands, and to render the great mass of the population dependent and penniless. In such a case, the popular power would be likely to break limit and control the exercise of popular power. Universal suffrage, for example, could not long exist in a community where there was great inequality of property. The holders of estates would be obliged, in such case, in some way to restrain the right of suffrage, or else such right of suffrage would, before, long, divide the property. In the nature of things, those who have not property, and see their neighbors possess much more than they think them need, cannot be favorable to laws made for the protection of property. WHen this class becomes numerous, it glows clamorous. It looks on property as its prey and plunder, and is naturally ready, at all times, for violence and revolution.

It would seem, then, to be the part of political wisdom to found government on property; and to establish such distribution of property, by the laws which regulate its transmission and alienation, as to interest the great majority of society in the support of the government. This is, I imagine, the true theory and the actual practice of our republican institutions…

I deem it my duty on this occasion to suggest, that the land is not yet wholly free from the contamination of a traffic, at which every feeling of humanity must for ever revolt, – I mean the African slave-trade. Neither public sentiment, nor the law, has hitherto been able entirely to put an end tohis odious and abominable trade. At the moment when God in his mercy has blessed the Christian world with a universal peace, there is reason to fear, that, to the disgrace of the Christian name and character, new efforts are making for the extension of this trade by subjects and citizens of Christian states, in whose hearts there dwell no sentiments of humanity or of justice, and over whom neither the fear of God nor the fear of man exercises a control. In the sight of our law, the African slave-trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. There is no brighter page of our history, than that which records the measures which have been adopted by the government at an early day, and at different times since, for the suppression of this traffic; and I would call on all the true sons of New England to cooperate with the laws of man, and the justice of Heaven. If there be, within the extent of our knowledge or influence, any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of the Pilgrims should bear the shame longer. I hear the sound of the hammer, I see the smoke of the furnaces where manacles and fetters are still forged for human limbs. I see the visages of those who by stealth and at midnight labor in this work of hell, foul and dark, as may become the artificers of such instruments of misery and torture. Let that spot be purified, or let it cease to be of New England. Let it be purified, or let it be set aside from the Christian world; let it be put out of the circle of human sympathies and human regards, and let civilized man henceforth have no communion with it…

The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be passed. Neither we nor our children can be expected to behold its return. They are in the distant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all-creating power of God, who shall stand here a hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country, during the lapse of a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New England’s advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas.

We would leave for consideration of those who shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty; some proof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long distance of a hundred years, they shall look back uopn us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections, which, running backward and warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being.

Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies and the verdant fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritence which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. We welcome you to me treasures of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth!!

Plymouth Oration – http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dwebster/speeches/plymouth-oration.html

Daniel O’Connell

Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847) was a great Irish statesman, called the Liberator of Ireland. He led a movement that successfully forced the British to pass the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, allowing Roman Catholics to become members of the British House of Commons.

Until 1800, Ireland had its own separate Parliament which included many Catholic members. However, the British Act of Union abolished local political control by establishing the United Kingdom of England and Ireland. King George III permitted only Church of England Irish to participate in the British Parliament, which had a centuries-old history of discrimination against Catholics.

This left the majority of Irish Catholics without proper representation. O’Connell worked to pressure the British to end this discrimination.

In 1828 he even ran for Parliament and received a huge margin of Irish votes. Although he could not be seated, his victory favorably impressed the British prime minister and reform finally occurred in 1829 with the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act. O’Connell then became a full fledged member of the House of Commons and an eloquent spokesman for the Irish cause. He succeeded in getting more reforms enacted improving the treatment of the Irish.

“Justice for Ireland” (1836)

On 4 February 1836, O’Connell gave this speech in the House of Commons calling for equal justice.

It appears to me impossible to suppose that the House will consider me presumptuous in wishing to be heard for a short time on this question, especially after the distinct manner in which I have been alluded to in the course of the debate. If I had no other excuse, that would be sufficient; but I do not want it; I have another and a better – the question is one in the highest degree interesting to the people of Ireland. It is, whether we mean to do justice to that country – whether we mean to continue the injustice which has been already done to it, or to hold out the hope that it will be treated in the same manner as England and Scotland. That is the question. We know what “lip service” is; we do not want that. There are some men who will even declare that they are willing to refuse justice to Ireland; while there are others who, though they are ashamed to say so, are ready to consummate the iniquity, and they do so.

England never did do justice to Ireland – she never did. What we have got of it we have extorted from men opposed to us on principle – against which principle they have made us such concessions as we have obtained from them. The right honorable baronet opposite [Sir Robert Peel] says he does not distinctly understand what is meant by a principle. I believe him. He advocated religious exclusion on religious motives; he yielded that point at length, when we were strong enough to make it prudent for him to do so.

Here am I calling for justice to Ireland; but there is a coalition tonight – not a base unprincipled one – God forbid! – it is an extremely natural one; I mean that between the right honorable baronet and the noble lord the member for North Lancashire [Lord Stanley]. It is a natural coalition, and it is impromptu; for the noble lord informs us he had not even a notion of taking the part he has until the moment at which he seated himself where he now is. I know his candor; he told us it was a sudden inspiration which induced him to take part against Ireland. I believe it with the most potent faith, because I know that he requires no preparation for voting against the interests of the Irish people. [Groans.] I thank you for that groan – it is just of a piece with the rest. I regret much that I have been thrown upon arguing this particular question, because I should have liked to have dwelt upon the speech which has been so graciously delivered from the throne today – to have gone into its details, and to have pointed out the many great and beneficial alterations and amendments in our existing institutions which it hints at and recommends to the House. The speech of last year was full of reforms in words, and in words only; but this speech contains the great leading features of all the salutary reforms the country wants; and if they are worked out fairly and honestly in detail, I am convinced the country will require no further amelioration of its institutions, and that it will become the envy and admiration of the world. I, therefore, hail the speech with great satisfaction.

It has been observed that the object of a king’s speech is to say as little in as many words as possible; but this speech contains more things than words – it contains those great principles which, adopted in practice, will be most salutary not only to the British Empire, but to the world. When speaking of our foreign policy, it rejoices in the cooperation between France and this country; but it abstains from conveying any ministerial approbation of alterations in the domestic laws of that country which aim at the suppression of public liberty, and the checking of public discussion, such as call for individual reprobation, and which I reprobate as much as any one. I should like to know whether there is a statesman in the country who will get up in this House and avow his approval of such proceedings on the part of the French government. I know it may be done out of the House amid the cheers of an assembly of friends; but the government have, in my opinion, wisely abstained from reprobating such measures in the speech, while they have properly exulted in such a union of the two countries as will contribute to the national independence and the public liberty of Europe.

Years are coming over me, but my heart is as young and as ready as ever in the service of my country, of which I glory in being the pensionary and the hired advocate. I stand in a situation in which no man ever stood yet – the faithful friend of my country – its servant – its stave, if you will – I speak its sentiments by turns to you and to itself. I require no L2o,ooo,ooo on behalf of Ireland – I ask you only for justice: will you – can you – I will not say dare you refuse, because that would make you turn the other way. I implore you, as English gentlemen, to take this matter into consideration now, because you never had such an opportunity of conciliating. Experience makes fools wise; you are not fools, but you have yet to be convinced. I cannot forget the year 1825. We begged then as we would for a beggar’s boon; we asked for emancipation by all that is sacred amongst us, and I remember how my speech and person were treated on the Treasury Bench, when I had no opportunity of reply. The other place turned us out and sent us back again, but we showed that justice was with us. The noble lord says the other place has declared the same sentiments with himself; but he could not use a worse argument. It is the very reason why we should acquiesce in the measure of reform, for we have no hope from that House – all our hopes are centered in this; and I am the living representative of those hopes. I have no other reason for adhering to the ministry than because they, the chosen representatives of the people of England, are anxiously determined to give the same measure of reform to Ireland as that which England has received. I have not fatigued myself, but the House, in coming forward upon this occasion. I may be laughed and sneered at by those who talk of my power; but what has created it but the injustice that has been done in Ireland? That is the end and the means of the magic, if you please – the groundwork of my influence in Ireland. If you refuse justice to that country, it is a melancholy consideration to me to think that you are adding substantially to that power and influence, while you are wounding my country to its very heart’s core; weakening that throne, the monarch who sits upon which, you say you respect; severing that union which, you say, is bound together by the tightest links, and withholding that justice from Ireland which she will not cease to seek till it is obtained; every man must admit that the course I am taking is the legitimate and proper course – I defy any man to say it is not. Condemn me elsewhere as much as you please, but this you must admit. You may taunt the ministry with having coalesced me, you may raise the vulgar cry of “Irishman and Papist” against me, you may send out men called ministers of God to slander and calumniate me; they may assume whatever garb they please, but the question comes into this narrow compass. I demand, I respectfully insist: on equal justice for Ireland, on the same principle by which it has been administered to Scotland and England. I will not take less. Refuse me that if you can.

Modern History Sourcebook: Daniel O’Connell: Justice for Ireland, Feb 4, 1836 – https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1836oconnell.asp

On American slavery (1860)

Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847), called The Liberator, leader of the fight to win political rights for the Irish Roman Catholics in the early 19th century.

The story of the British anti-slavery and abolitionist movements has been dominated by the twin figures of Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce. Yet, the success of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 benefited from the votes of Irish MPs who, since the Act of Union of 1800, had sat in the Westminster Parliament. Daniel O’Connell, Irish campaigner for Catholic Emancipation and Repeal of the Act of Union, played a prominent role in the anti-slavery movement, both in the British empire and in the United States.

Here are extracts from speeches of O’Connell on 11 May 1860.

I am an Abolitionist. I am for speedy, immediate abolition. I care not what caste, creed, or color, slavery may assume. Whether it be personal or political, mental or corporeal, intellectual or spiritual, I am for its total, its instant abolition. I enter into no compromise with slavery. I am for justice, in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God… My soul object is to rouse the attention of England and Europe to all that is cruel, criminal, and in every sense of the word, infamous, in the system of negro slavery in North America… no American slaveholder ought to be received on a footing of equality by any of the civilized inhabitants of Europe.

Daniel O’Connell on American Slaveryhttp://theliberatorfiles.com/daniel-oconnell-on-american-slavery/

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid–19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. Following this ground-breaking work, he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. considered to be America’s “Intellectual Declaration of Independence”.

Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first, then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays – Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series, published respectively in 1841 and 1844 – represent the core of his thinking, and include such well-known essays as Self-Reliance, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet and Experience. Together with Nature, these essays made the decade from the mid–1830s to the mid–1840s Emerson’s most fertile period.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson’s “nature” was more philosophical than naturalistic; “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.”

While his writing style can be seen as somewhat impenetrable, and was thought so even in his own time, Emerson’s essays remain among the linchpins of American thinking, and Emerson’s work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was “the infinitude of the private man.”

“The American scholar” (1837)

The American scholar was a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson on 31 August 1837, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge. He was invited to speak in recognition of his groundbreaking work Nature, published a year earlier, in which he established a new way for America’s fledgling society to regard the world. Sixty years after declaring independence, American culture was still heavily influenced by Europe, and Emerson, for possibly the first time in the country’s history, provided a visionary philosophical framework for escaping “from under its iron lids” and building a new, distinctly American cultural identity.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. – an American physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author – declared this speech to be America’s “Intellectual Declaration of Independence”. Building on the growing attention he was receiving from the essay Nature, this speech solidified Emerson’s popularity and weight in America, a level of reverence he would hold throughout the rest of his life. Phi Beta Kappa’s literary quarterly, The American scholar, was named after the speech, and when printed, sold well.


Mr. President and Gentlemen,

I greet you on the re-commencement of our literary year. Our anniversary is one of hope, and, perhaps, not enough of labor. We do not meet for games of strength or skill, for the recitation of histories, tragedies, and odes, like the ancient Greeks; for parliaments of love and poesy, like the Troubadours; nor for the advancement of science, like our cotemporaries in the British and European capitals. Thus far, our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to letters any more. As such, it is precious as the sign of an indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time is already come, when it ought to be, and will be, something else; when the sluggard intellect of this continent will look from under its iron lids, and fill the postponed expectation of the world with something better than the exertions of mechanical skill. Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close. The millions, that around us are rushing into life, cannot always be fed on the sere remains of foreign harvests. Events, actions arise, that must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can doubt, that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole-star for a thousand years?

In this hope, I accept the topic which not only usage, but the nature of our association, seem to prescribe to this day, – the American Scholar. Year by year, we come up hither to read one more chapter of his biography. Let us inquire what light new days and events have thrown on his character, and his hopes.

It is one of those fables, which, out of an unknown antiquity, convey an unlooked-for wisdom, that the gods, in the beginning, divided Man into men, that he might be more helpful to himself; just as the hand was divided into fingers, the better to answer its end.

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and sublime; that there is One Man, – present to all particular men only partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state, these functions are parcelled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. The fable implies, that the individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, – a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.

Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship.

In this distribution of functions, the scholar is the delegated intellect. In the right state, he is, Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other men’s thinking.

In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the theory of his office is contained. Him nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory pictures; him the past instructs; him the future invites. Is not, indeed, every man a student, and do not all things exist for the student’s behoof? And, finally, is not the true scholar the only true master? But the old oracle said, `All things have two handles: beware of the wrong one.’ In life, too often, the scholar errs with mankind and forfeits his privilege. Let us see him in his school, and consider him in reference to the main influences he receives.

  1. The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him? There is never a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find, – so entire, so boundless. Far, too, as her splendors shine, system on system shooting like rays, upward, downward, without centre, without circumference, – in the mass and in the particle, nature hastens to render account of herself to the mind. Classification begins. To the young mind, every thing is individual, stands by itself. By and by, it finds how to join two things, and see in them one nature; then three, then three thousand; and so, tyrannized over by its own unifying instinct, it goes on tying things together, diminishing anomalies, discovering roots running under ground, whereby contrary and remote things cohere, and flower out from one stem. It presently learns, that, since the dawn of history, there has been a constant accumulation and classifying of facts. But what is classification but the perceiving that these objects are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law which is also a law of the human mind? The astronomer discovers that geometry, a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the measure of planetary motion. The chemist finds proportions and intelligible method throughout matter; and science is nothing but the finding of analogy, identity, in the most remote parts. The ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another, reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and their law, and goes on for ever to animate the last fibre of organization, the outskirts of nature, by insight.

Thus to him, to this school-boy under the bending dome of day, is suggested, that he and it proceed from one root; one is leaf and one is flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that Root? Is not that the soul of his soul? – A thought too bold, – a dream too wild. Yet when this spiritual light shall have revealed the law of more earthly natures, – when he has learned to worship the soul, and to see that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall see, that nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal, and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient precept, “Know thyself,” and the modern precept, “Study nature,” become at last one maxim.

  1. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar, is, the mind of the Past, – in whatever form, whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of the influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth, – learn the amount of this influence more conveniently, – by considering their value alone.

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone, of transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the completeness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product be. But none is quite perfect. As no air-pump can by any means make a perfect vacuum, so neither can any artist entirely exclude the conventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a remote posterity, as to cotemporaries, or rather to the second age. Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.

Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation, – the act of thought, – is transferred to the record. The poet chanting, was felt to be a divine man: henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled, the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly, the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry, if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books.

Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence, the book-learned class, who value books, as such; not as related to nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. Hence, the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees.

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although, in almost all men, obstructed, and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence, it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they, – let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and not forward. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead: man hopes: genius creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his; – cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind’s own sense of good and fair.

On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it receive from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over influence. The literature of every nation bear me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakspearized now for two hundred years.

Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instruments. Books are for the scholar’s idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come, as come they must, – when the sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining, – we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is. We hear, that we may speak. The Arabian proverb says, “A fig tree, looking on a fig tree, becometh fruitful.”

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us with the conviction, that one nature wrote and the same reads. We read the verses of one of the great English poets, of Chaucer, of Marvell, of Dryden, with the most modern joy, – with a pleasure, I mean, which is in great part caused by the abstraction of all time from their verses. There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought and said. But for the evidence thence afforded to the philosophical doctrine of the identity of all minds, we should suppose some preestablished harmony, some foresight of souls that were to be, and some preparation of stores for their future wants, like the fact observed in insects, who lay up food before death for the young grub they shall never see.

I would not be hurried by any love of system, by any exaggeration of instincts, to underrate the Book. We all know, that, as the human body can be nourished on any food, though it were boiled grass and the broth of shoes, so the human mind can be fed by any knowledge. And great and heroic men have existed, who had almost no other information than by the printed page. I only would say, that it needs a strong head to bear that diet. One must be an inventor to read well. As the proverb says, “He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the Indies.” There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world. We then see, what is always true, that, as the seer’s hour of vision is short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record, perchance, the least part of his volume. The discerning will read, in his Plato or Shakespeare, only that least part, – only the authentic utterances of the oracle; – all the rest he rejects, were it never so many times Plato’s and Shakespeare’s.

Of course, there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office, – to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow richer every year.

III. There goes in the world a notion, that the scholar should be a recluse, a valetudinarian, – as unfit for any handiwork or public labor, as a penknife for an axe. The so-called `practical men’ sneer at speculative men, as if, because they speculate or see, they could do nothing. I have heard it said that the clergy, – who are always, more universally than any other class, the scholars of their day, – are addressed as women; that the rough, spontaneous conversation of men they do not hear, but only a mincing and diluted speech. They are often virtually disfranchised; and, indeed, there are advocates for their celibacy. As far as this is true of the studious classes, it is not just and wise. Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential. Without it, he is not yet man. Without it, thought can never ripen into truth. Whilst the world hangs before the eye as a cloud of beauty, we cannot even see its beauty. Inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action. Only so much do I know, as I have lived. Instantly we know whose words are loaded with life, and whose not.

The world, – this shadow of the soul, or other me, lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into this resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of those next me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its fear; I dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. So much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the wilderness have I vanquished and planted, or so far have I extended my being, my dominion. I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructers in eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power.

It is the raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products. A strange process too, this, by which experience is converted into thought, as a mulberry leaf is converted into satin. The manufacture goes forward at all hours.

The actions and events of our childhood and youth, are now matters of calmest observation. They lie like fair pictures in the air. Not so with our recent actions, – with the business which we now have in hand. On this we are quite unable to speculate. Our affections as yet circulate through it. We no more feel or know it, than we feel the feet, or the hand, or the brain of our body. The new deed is yet a part of life, – remains for a time immersed in our unconscious life. In some contemplative hour, it detaches itself from the life like a ripe fruit, to become a thought of the mind. Instantly, it is raised, transfigured; the corruptible has put on incorruption. Henceforth it is an object of beauty, however base its origin and neighborhood. Observe, too, the impossibility of antedating this act. In its grub state, it cannot fly, it cannot shine, it is a dull grub. But suddenly, without observation, the selfsame thing unfurls beautiful wings, and is an angel of wisdom. So is there no fact, no event, in our private history, which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, and astonish us by soaring from our body into the empyrean. Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and berries, and many another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone already; friend and relative, profession and party, town and country, nation and world, must also soar and sing.

Of course, he who has put forth his total strength in fit actions, has the richest return of wisdom. I will not shut myself out of this globe of action, and transplant an oak into a flower-pot, there to hunger and pine; nor trust the revenue of some single faculty, and exhaust one vein of thought, much like those Savoyards, who, getting their livelihood by carving shepherds, shepherdesses, and smoking Dutchmen, for all Europe, went out one day to the mountain to find stock, and discovered that they had whittled up the last of their pine-trees. Authors we have, in numbers, who have written out their vein, and who, moved by a commendable prudence, sail for Greece or Palestine, follow the trapper into the prairie, or ramble round Algiers, to replenish their merchantable stock.

If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous of action. Life is our dictionary. Years are well spent in country labors; in town, – in the insight into trades and manufactures; in frank intercourse with many men and women; in science; in art; to the one end of mastering in all their facts a language by which to illustrate and embody our perceptions. I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech. Life lies behind us as the quarry from whence we get tiles and copestones for the masonry of to-day. This is the way to learn grammar. Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the work-yard made.

But the final value of action, like that of books, and better than books, is, that it is a resource. That great principle of Undulation in nature, that shows itself in the inspiring and expiring of the breath; in desire and satiety; in the ebb and flow of the sea; in day and night; in heat and cold; and as yet more deeply ingrained in every atom and every fluid, is known to us under the name of Polarity, – these “fits of easy transmission and reflection,” as Newton called them, are the law of nature because they are the law of spirit.

The mind now thinks; now acts; and each fit reproduces the other. When the artist has exhausted his materials, when the fancy no longer paints, when thoughts are no longer apprehended, and books are a weariness, – he has always the resource to live. Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary. The stream retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think. Does he lack organ or medium to impart his truths? He can still fall back on this elemental force of living them. This is a total act. Thinking is a partial act. Let the grandeur of justice shine in his affairs. Let the beauty of affection cheer his lowly roof. Those ‘far from fame,’ who dwell and act with him, will feel the force of his constitution in the doings and passages of the day better than it can be measured by any public and designed display. Time shall teach him, that the scholar loses no hour which the man lives. Herein he unfolds the sacred germ of his instinct, screened from influence. What is lost in seemliness is gained in strength. Not out of those, on whom systems of education have exhausted their culture, comes the helpful giant to destroy the old or to build the new, but out of unhandselled savage nature, out of terrible Druids and Berserkirs, come at last Alfred and Shakspeare.

I hear therefore with joy whatever is beginning to be said of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade, for learned as well as for unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are invited to work; only be this limitation observed, that a man shall not for the sake of wider activity sacrifice any opinion to the popular judgments and modes of action.

I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books, and by action. It remains to say somewhat of his duties.

They are such as become Man Thinking. They may all be comprised in self-trust. The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid task of observation. Flamsteed and Herschel, in their glazed observatories, may catalogue the stars with the praise of all men, and, the results being splendid and useful, honor is sure. But he, in his private observatory, cataloguing obscure and nebulous stars of the human mind, which as yet no man has thought of as such, – watching days and months, sometimes, for a few facts; correcting still his old records; – must relinquish display and immediate fame. In the long period of his preparation, he must betray often an ignorance and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the disdain of the able who shoulder him aside. Long he must stammer in his speech; often forego the living for the dead. Worse yet, he must accept, – how often! poverty and solitude. For the ease and pleasure of treading the old road, accepting the fashions, the education, the religion of society, he takes the cross of making his own, and, of course, the self-accusation, the faint heart, the frequent uncertainty and loss of time, which are the nettles and tangling vines in the way of the self-relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual hostility in which he seems to stand to society, and especially to educated society. For all this loss and scorn, what offset? He is to find consolation in exercising the highest functions of human nature. He is one, who raises himself from private considerations, and breathes and lives on public and illustrious thoughts. He is the world’s eye. He is the world’s heart. He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism, by preserving and communicating heroic sentiments, noble biographies, melodious verse, and the conclusions of history. Whatsoever oracles the human heart, in all emergencies, in all solemn hours, has uttered as its commentary on the world of actions, – these he shall receive and impart. And whatsoever new verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces on the passing men and events of to-day, – this he shall hear and promulgate.

These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confidence in himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He and he only knows the world. The world of any moment is the merest appearance. Some great decorum, some fetish of a government, some ephemeral trade, or war, or man, is cried up by half mankind and cried down by the other half, as if all depended on this particular up or down. The odds are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought which the scholar has lost in listening to the controversy. Let him not quit his belief that a popgun is a popgun, though the ancient and honorable of the earth affirm it to be the crack of doom. In silence, in steadiness, in severe abstraction, let him hold by himself; add observation to observation, patient of neglect, patient of reproach; and bide his own time, – happy enough, if he can satisfy himself alone, that this day he has seen something truly. Success treads on every right step. For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns, that in going down into the secrets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds. He learns that he who has mastered any law in his private thoughts, is master to that extent of all men whose language he speaks, and of all into whose language his own can be translated. The poet, in utter solitude remembering his spontaneous thoughts and recording them, is found to have recorded that, which men in crowded cities find true for them also. The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his frank confessions, – his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses, – until he finds that he is the complement of his hearers; – that they drink his words because he fulfils for them their own nature; the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretest presentiment, to his wonder he finds, this is the most acceptable, most public, and universally true. The people delight in it; the better part of every man feels, This is my music; this is myself.

In self-trust, all the virtues are comprehended. Free should the scholar be, – free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom, “without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own constitution.” Brave; for fear is a thing, which a scholar by his very function puts behind him. Fear always springs from ignorance. It is a shame to him if his tranquillity, amid dangerous times, arise from the presumption, that, like children and women, his is a protected class; or if he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts from politics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an ostrich in the flowering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and turning rhymes, as a boy whistles to keep his courage up. So is the danger a danger still; so is the fear worse. Manlike let him turn and face it. Let him look into its eye and search its nature, inspect its origin, – see the whelping of this lion, – which lies no great way back; he will then find in himself a perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he will have made his hands meet on the other side, and can henceforth defy it, and pass on superior. The world is his, who can see through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown error you behold, is there only by sufferance, – by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.

Yes, we are the cowed, – we the trustless. It is a mischievous notion that we are come late into nature; that the world was finished a long time ago. As the world was plastic and fluid in the hands of God, so it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance and sin, it is flint. They adapt themselves to it as they may; but in proportion as a man has any thing in him divine, the firmament flows before him and takes his signet and form. Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind. They are the kings of the world who give the color of their present thought to all nature and all art, and persuade men by the cheerful serenity of their carrying the matter, that this thing which they do, is the apple which the ages have desired to pluck, now at last ripe, and inviting nations to the harvest. The great man makes the great thing. Wherever Macdonald sits, there is the head of the table. Linnaeus makes botany the most alluring of studies, and wins it from the farmer and the herb-woman; Davy, chemistry; and Cuvier, fossils. The day is always his, who works in it with serenity and great aims. The unstable estimates of men crowd to him whose mind is filled with a truth, as the heaped waves of the Atlantic follow the moon.

For this self-trust, the reason is deeper than can be fathomed, – darker than can be enlightened. I might not carry with me the feeling of my audience in stating my own belief. But I have already shown the ground of my hope, in adverting to the doctrine that man is one. I believe man has been wronged; he has wronged himself. He has almost lost the light, that can lead him back to his prerogatives. Men are become of no account. Men in history, men in the world of to-day are bugs, are spawn, and are called `the mass’ and `the herd.’ In a century, in a millennium, one or two men; that is to say, – one or two approximations to the right state of every man. All the rest behold in the hero or the poet their own green and crude being, – ripened; yes, and are content to be less, so that may attain to its full stature. What a testimony, – full of grandeur, full of pity, is borne to the demands of his own nature, by the poor clansman, the poor partisan, who rejoices in the glory of his chief. The poor and the low find some amends to their immense moral capacity, for their acquiescence in a political and social inferiority. They are content to be brushed like flies from the path of a great person, so that justice shall be done by him to that common nature which it is the dearest desire of all to see enlarged and glorified. They sun themselves in the great man’s light, and feel it to be their own element. They cast the dignity of man from their downtrod selves upon the shoulders of a hero, and will perish to add one drop of blood to make that great heart beat, those giant sinews combat and conquer. He lives for us, and we live in him.

Men such as they are, very naturally seek money or power; and power because it is as good as money, – the “spoils,” so called, “of office.” And why not? for they aspire to the highest, and this, in their sleep-walking, they dream is highest. Wake them, and they shall quit the false good, and leap to the true, and leave governments to clerks and desks. This revolution is to be wrought by the gradual domestication of the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are the materials strown along the ground. The private life of one man shall be a more illustrious monarchy, – more formidable to its enemy, more sweet and serene in its influence to its friend, than any kingdom in history. For a man, rightly viewed, comprehendeth the particular natures of all men. Each philosopher, each bard, each actor, has only done for me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The books which once we valued more than the apple of the eye, we have quite exhausted. What is that but saying, that we have come up with the point of view which the universal mind took through the eyes of one scribe; we have been that man, and have passed on. First, one; then, another; we drain all cisterns, and, waxing greater by all these supplies, we crave a better and more abundant food. The man has never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot be enshrined in a person, who shall set a barrier on any one side to this unbounded, unboundable empire. It is one central fire, which, flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the capes of Sicily; and, now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and vineyards of Naples. It is one light which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which animates all men.

But I have dwelt perhaps tediously upon this abstraction of the Scholar. I ought not to delay longer to add what I have to say, of nearer reference to the time and to this country.

Historically, there is thought to be a difference in the ideas which predominate over successive epochs, and there are data for marking the genius of the Classic, of the Romantic, and now of the Reflective or Philosophical age. With the views I have intimated of the oneness or the identity of the mind through all individuals, I do not much dwell on these differences. In fact, I believe each individual passes through all three. The boy is a Greek; the youth, romantic; the adult, reflective. I deny not, however, that a revolution in the leading idea may be distinctly enough traced.

Our age is bewailed as the age of Introversion. Must that needs be evil? We, it seems, are critical; we are embarrassed with second thoughts; we cannot enjoy any thing for hankering to know whereof the pleasure consists; we are lined with eyes; we see with our feet; the time is infected with Hamlet’s unhappiness, –

Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.

Is it so bad then? Sight is the last thing to be pitied. Would we be blind? Do we fear lest we should outsee nature and God, and drink truth dry? I look upon the discontent of the literary class, as a mere announcement of the fact, that they find themselves not in the state of mind of their fathers, and regret the coming state as untried; as a boy dreads the water before he has learned that he can swim. If there is any period one would desire to be born in, – is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side, and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old, can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

I read with joy some of the auspicious signs of the coming days, as they glimmer already through poetry and art, through philosophy and science, through church and state.

One of these signs is the fact, that the same movement which effected the elevation of what was called the lowest class in the state, assumed in literature a very marked and as benign an aspect. Instead of the sublime and beautiful; the near, the low, the common, was explored and poetized. That, which had been negligently trodden under foot by those who were harnessing and provisioning themselves for long journeys into far countries, is suddenly found to be richer than all foreign parts. The literature of the poor, the feelings of the child, the philosophy of the street, the meaning of household life, are the topics of the time. It is a great stride. It is a sign, – is it not? of new vigor, when the extremities are made active, when currents of warm life run into the hands and the feet. I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; what is Greek art, or Provencal minstrelsy; I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds. What would we really know the meaning of? The meal in the firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body; – show me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an eternal law; and the shop, the plough, and the leger, referred to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing; – and the world lies no longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order; there is no trifle; there is no puzzle; but one design unites and animates the farthest pinnacle and the lowest trench.

This idea has inspired the genius of Goldsmith, Burns, Cowper, and, in a newer time, of Goethe, Wordsworth, and Carlyle. This idea they have differently followed and with various success. In contrast with their writing, the style of Pope, of Johnson, of Gibbon, looks cold and pedantic. This writing is blood-warm. Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean. A man is related to all nature. This perception of the worth of the vulgar is fruitful in discoveries. Goethe, in this very thing the most modern of the moderns, has shown us, as none ever did, the genius of the ancients.

There is one man of genius, who has done much for this philosophy of life, whose literary value has never yet been rightly estimated; – I mean Emanuel Swedenborg. The most imaginative of men, yet writing with the precision of a mathematician, he endeavored to engraft a purely philosophical Ethics on the popular Christianity of his time. Such an attempt, of course, must have difficulty, which no genius could surmount. But he saw and showed the connection between nature and the affections of the soul. He pierced the emblematic or spiritual character of the visible, audible, tangible world. Especially did his shade-loving muse hover over and interpret the lower parts of nature; he showed the mysterious bond that allies moral evil to the foul material forms, and has given in epical parables a theory of isanity, of beasts, of unclean and fearful things.

Another sign of our times, also marked by an analogous political movement, is, the new importance given to the single person. Every thing that tends to insulate the individual, – to surround him with barriers of natural respect, so that each man shall feel the world is his, and man shall treat with man as a sovereign state with a sovereign state; – tends to true union as well as greatness. “I learned,” said the melancholy Pestalozzi, “that no man in God’s wide earth is either willing or able to help any other man.” Help must come from the bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future. He must be an university of knowledges. If there be one lesson more than another, which should pierce his ear, it is, The world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for you to dare all. Mr. President and Gentlemen, this confidence in the unsearched might of man belongs, by all motives, by all prophecy, by all preparation, to the American Scholar. We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe. The spirit of the American freeman is already suspected to be timid, imitative, tame. Public and private avarice make the air we breathe thick and fat. The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic consequence. The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself. There is no work for any but the decorous and the complaisant. Young men of the fairest promise, who begin life upon our shores, inflated by the mountain winds, shined upon by all the stars of God, find the earth below not in unison with these, – but are hindered from action by the disgust which the principles on which business is managed inspire, and turn drudges, or die of disgust, – some of them suicides. What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career, do not yet see, that, if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. Patience, – patience; – with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for solace, the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work, the study and the communication of principles, the making those instincts prevalent, the conversion of the world. Is it not the chief disgrace in the world, not to be an unit; – not to be reckoned one character; – not to yield that peculiar fruit which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which we belong; and our opinion predicted geographically, as the north, or the south? Not so, brothers and friends, – please God, ours shall not be so. We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. The study of letters shall be no longer a name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. The dread of man and the love of man shall be a wall of defence and a wreath of joy around all. A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.

The American Scholar By Ralph Waldo Emerson http://www.emersoncentral.com/amscholar.htm

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (circa 1879)
Frederick Douglass (circa 1879)

Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (c. 1818–1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Many Northerners also found it hard to believe that such a great orator had been a slave.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his experiences in slavery in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became influential in its support for abolition. After the Civil War, Douglass remained active in the United States’ struggle to reach its potential as a “land of the free”. Douglass actively supported women’s suffrage. Without his approval he became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull on the impracticable and small Equal Rights Party ticket. Douglass held multiple public offices.

Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, famously quoted as saying, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”


“The hypocrisy of American slavery” (1852)

Invited to speak as part of 4 July festivities in his adopted hometown of Rochester, N.Y., the abolitionist took the opportunity to rage at the injustice of slavery. He delivered a scathing attack on the hypocrisy of a nation celebrating freedom and independence with speeches, parades and platitudes, while, within its borders, nearly four million humans were being kept as slaves.

This speech is evaluated as
– one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Speeches;
– one of the 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions? Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you, that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation (Babylon) whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin.

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!”

To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is “American Slavery.” I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July.

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity, which is outraged, in the name of liberty, which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery – the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate – I will not excuse.” I will use the severest language I can command, and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slave-holder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some of my audience say it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother Abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more and denounce less, would you persuade more and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slave-holders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of these same crimes will subject a white man to like punishment.

What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments, forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read and write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then I will argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; that we are engaged in all the enterprises common to other men – digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave – we are called upon to prove that we are men?

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to understand? How should I look today in the presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What! Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No – I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may – I cannot. The time for such argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Frederick Douglass – The Hypocrisy of American Slaveryhttp://www.historyplace.com/speeches/douglass.htm

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was the 16th President of the United States (1861–1865). He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization.

After opposing the expansion of slavery in the United States in his campaign debates and speeches, Lincoln secured the Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860. Before Lincoln took office in March, seven southern slave states declared their secession and formed the Confederacy. When war began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, Lincoln concentrated on both the military and political dimensions of the war effort, seeking to reunify the nation. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention without trial of thousands of suspected secessionists. He prevented British recognition of the Confederacy by skillfully handling the Trent affair late in 1861. He issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding general Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. Under his leadership, the Union set up a naval blockade that shut down the South’s normal trade, took control of the border slave states at the start of the war, gained control communications with gunboats on the southern river systems, and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865. An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, he reached out to War Democrats and managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election.

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln found his policies and personality were “blasted from all sides”: Radical Republicans demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats desired more compromise, Copperheads despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists plotted his death. Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. It was an iconic statement of America’s dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. But six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre. His death was the first assassination of a U.S. president and sent the northern parts of the country into mourning. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars and the public as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.


The monstrous injustice of slavery” (1854)

Abraham Lincoln had settled into his Illinois law practice in 1854 when the United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This law removed the north-south dividing line between free and slave territory that had been created by the 1820 Missouri Compromise, and allowed the two new states to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. Galvanized by the law, Lincoln began to campaign fervently for antislavery Whig politicians in Illinois and against Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, who authored the act. Lincoln delivered the speech excerpted here in Peoria, Illinois, on 16 October 1854.

I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong; wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska – and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.

This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world – enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites – causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty-criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.…

…If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to … their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible.… What then? Free them all and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon.

What next? Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that the great mass of white peoples will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well- or ill-founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.…

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for permitting slavery to go into our own free territory than it would for reviving the African slave trade by law.……one great argument in the support of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is still to come. That argument is “the sacred right of self-government.”…

The doctrine of self-government is right – absolutely and eternally right – but it has no just application as here attempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such just application depends upon whether a Negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, why in that case he who is a man may, as a matter of self-government, do just as he pleases with him. But if the Negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man governs himself that is self-government; but when he governs himself, and also governs another man, that is more than self-government-that is despotism. If the Negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal’; and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.

Judge Douglas [Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas] frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm, paraphrases our argument by saying ‘The white people of Nebraska are good enough to govern themselves, but they are not good enough to govern a few miserable Negroes!’

Well I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are, and will continue to be, as good as the average of people elsewhere. I do not say the contrary. What I do say is, that no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent. I say this is the leading principle-the sheet anchor of American republicanism. Our Declaration of Independence says:

‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’

I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that according to our ancient faith the just powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of masters and slaves is, pro tanto [to a certain extent], a total violation of this principle. The master not only governs the slave without his consent; but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-government…

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for its restoration, lest they be thrown in company with the abolitionist. Will they allow me as an old Whig to tell them good humoredly that I think this is very silly? Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong. Stand with the abolitionist in restoring the Missouri Compromise; and stand against him when he attempts to repeal the fugitive slave law. In the latter case you stand with the southern disunionist. What of that? you are still right. In both cases you are right. In both cases you oppose the dangerous extremes. In both you stand on middle ground and hold the ship level and steady. In both you are national and nothing less than national. This is good old Whig ground. To desert such ground, because of any company, is to be less than a Whig-less than a man-less than an American…

Little by little, but steadily as man’s march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith. Near eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a ‘sacred right of self-government.’ These principles cannot stand together. They are as opposite as God and Mammon [false god of riches described in the Bible]; and whoever holds to the one must despise the other…

Fellow countrymen-Americans South, as well as North, shall we make no effort to arrest this? Already the Liberal party throughout the world express the apprehension ‘that the one retrograde institution in America is undermining the principles of progress, and fatally violating the noblest political system the world ever saw.’ This is not the taunt of enemies, but the warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard it-to despise it? Is there no danger to liberty itself in discarding the earliest practice and first precept of our ancient faith? In our greedy chase to make profit of the Negro, let us beware, lest we ‘cancel and tear to pieces’ even the white man’s charter of freedom.

Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit if not the blood of the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its claims of ‘moral right,’ back upon its existing legal rights, and its arguments of ‘necessity.’ Let us return it to the position our fathers gave it; and there let it rest in peace. Let us readopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it the practices and policy which harmonize with it. Let North and South – let all Americans – let all lovers of liberty everywhere – join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; but we shall have so saved it as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving. We shall have so saved it that the succeeding millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise up and call us blessed, to the latest generations.

Source: MacArthur, B. (ed.) (1996). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. Penguin Books.

Cooper Union Speech (1860)

In October 1859 Abraham Lincoln accepted an invitation to lecture at Henry Ward Beecher’s church in Brooklyn, New York, and chose a political topic which required months of painstaking research. His law partner William Herndon observed, “No former effort in the line of speech-making had cost Lincoln so much time and thought as this one,” a remarkable comment considering the previous year’s debates with Stephen Douglas.

The carefully crafted speech examined the views of the 39 signers of the Constitution. Lincoln noted that at least 21 of them – a majority – believed Congress should control slavery in the territories, rather than allow it to expand. Thus, the Republican stance of the time was not revolutionary, but similar to the Founding Fathers, and should not alarm Southerners, for radicals had threatened to secede if a Republican was elected President.

The speech electrified Lincoln’s listeners and gained him important political support in Seward’s home territory. Said a New York writer, “No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience.” After being printed by New York newspapers, the speech was widely circulated as campaign literature.

Easily one of Lincoln’s best efforts, it revealed his singular mastery of ideas and issues in a way that justified loyal support. Here we can see him pursuing facts, forming them into meaningful patterns, pressing relentlessly toward his conclusion.

With a deft touch, Lincoln exposed the roots of sectional strife and the inconsistent positions of Senator Stephen Douglas and Chief Justice Roger Taney. He urged fellow Republicans not to capitulate to Southern demands to recognize slavery as being right, but to “stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively.”


Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech was one of his longest, at more than 7,000 words. And it is not one of his speeches with passages that are often quoted. Yet, due to the careful research and Lincoln’s forceful argument, it was stunningly effective.

Lincoln was able show that the founding fathers had intended Congress to regulate slavery. He named the men who had signed the Constitution and who had later voted, while in Congress, to regulate slavery. He also demonstrated that George Washington himself, as President, had signed a bill into law that regulated slavery.

The New York City newspapers carried the text of his speech the next day, with the New York Times running the speech on the front page. The favorable publicity was astounding, and Lincoln went on to speak in several other cities in the east before returning to Illinois.

That summer the Republican Party held its nominating convention in Chicago. Abraham Lincoln, beating out better known candidates, received his party’s nomination. And historians tend to agree that it could never have happened if not for the address delivered months earlier on a cold winter night in New York City.


Mr. President and fellow citizens of New York:

The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the inferences and observations following that presentation.

In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in The New-York Times, Senator Douglas said:

“Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now.”

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: “What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?”

What is the frame of government under which we live?

The answer must be: “The Constitution of the United States.” That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the “thirty-nine” who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.

I take these “thirty-nine,” for the present, as being “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.”

What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood “just as well, and even better than we do now?”

It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue – this question – is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood “better than we.”

Let us now inquire whether the “thirty-nine,” or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it – how they expressed that better understanding?

In 1784, three years before the Constitution – the United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other, the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in that Territory; and four of the “thirty-nine” who afterward framed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory. The other of the four – James M’Henry – voted against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the only territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the Confederation; and two more of the “thirty-nine” who afterward signed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were William Blount and William Few; and they both voted for the prohibition – thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of ’87.

The question of federal control of slavery in the territories, seems not to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the “thirty-nine,” or any of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on that precise question.

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of ’87, including the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported by one of the “thirty-nine,” Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.

This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory; else both their fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.

Again, George Washington, another of the “thirty-nine,” was then President of the United States, and, as such approved and signed the bill; thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government, to control as to slavery in federal territory.

No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting the State of Tennessee; and a few years later Georgia ceded that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded territory. Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it – take control of it – even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization, they prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory, from any place without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so bought. This act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the “thirty-nine” who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read and Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States; but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did interfere with it – take control of it – in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the provision therein made, in relation to slaves, was:

First. That no slave should be imported into the territory from foreign parts.

Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.

Third. That no slave should be carried into it, except by the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.

This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress which passed it, there were two of the “thirty-nine.” They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local from federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution.

In 1819-20, came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the general question. Two of the “thirty-nine” – Rufus King and Charles Pinckney – were members of that Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that, in his understanding, there was some sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the “thirty-nine,” or of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover.

To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-20 – there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read each twice, and Abraham Baldwin, three times. The true number of those of the “thirty-nine” whom I have shown to have acted upon the question, which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.

Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers “who framed the government under which we live,” who have, upon their official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which the text affirms they “understood just as well, and even better than we do now;” and twenty-one of them – a clear majority of the whole “thirty-nine” – so acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper division between local and federal authority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of slavery in the federal territories, in the instances in which they acted upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known. They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local from federal authority, or some provision or principle of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted against the prohibition, on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the prohibition, as having done so because, in their understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.

The remaining sixteen of the “thirty-nine,” so far as I have discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of federal control of slavery in the federal territories. But there is much reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at all.

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the “thirty-nine” even, on any other phase of the general question of slavery. If we should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the foreign slave trade, and the morality and policy of slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct question of federal control of slavery in federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen were several of the most noted anti-slavery men of those times – as Dr. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris – while there was not one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.

The sum of the whole is, that of our thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty-one – a clear majority of the whole – certainly understood that no proper division of local from federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories; while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the question “better than we.”

But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the question manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I have already stated, the present frame of “the Government under which we live” consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist that federal control of slavery in federal territories violates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, that all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which provides that no person shall be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of law;” while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution – the identical Congress which passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, but they were the identical, same individual men who, at the same session, and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and in progress toward maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act prohibiting slavery in all the territory the nation then owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance of ’87; so that, during the whole pendency of the act to enforce the Ordinance, the Constitutional amendments were also pending.

The seventy-six members of that Congress, including sixteen of the framers of the original Constitution, as before stated, were pre- eminently our fathers who framed that part of “the Government under which we live,” which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories.

Is it not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to affirm that the two things which that Congress deliberately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does not such affirmation become impudently absurd when coupled with the other affirmation from the same mouth, that those who did the two things, alleged to be inconsistent, understood whether they really were inconsistent better than we – better than he who affirms that they are inconsistent?

It is surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six members of the Congress which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who may be fairly called “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” And so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the present century, (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century,) declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give, not only “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live,” but with them all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with them.

Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience – to reject all progress – all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.

If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live” were of the same opinion – thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely believes “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live,” used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from federal authority or some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands their principles better than they did themselves; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that they “understood the question just as well, and even better, than we do now.”

But enough! Let all who believe that “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now,” speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask – all Republicans desire – in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guarantees those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.

And now, if they would listen – as I suppose they will not – I would address a few words to the Southern people.

I would say to them: – You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us a reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Republicans.” In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of “Black Republicanism” as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite – license, so to speak – among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section – gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section, is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started – to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you really believe that the principle which “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live” thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment’s consideration.

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it, he wrote LaFayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time have a confederacy of free States.

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or in our hands against you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.

But you say you are conservative – eminently conservative – while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;” while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty;” but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.

Again, you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we made it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist, your innovation; and thence comes the greater prominence of the question. Would you have that question reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that old policy. What has been will be again, under the same conditions. If you would have the peace of the old times, readopt the precepts and policy of the old times.

You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper’s Ferry! John Brown!! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper’s Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper’s Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not held to and made by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declarations are accompanied with a continual protest against any interference whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves. Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt. True, we do, in common with “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live,” declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not hear us declare even this. For anything we say or do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for your misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. In your political contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood and thunder among the slaves.

Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were before the Republican party was organized. What induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which, at least three times as many lives were lost as at Harper’s Ferry? You can scarcely stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that Southampton was “got up by Black Republicanism.” In the present state of things in the United States, I do not think a general, or even a very extensive slave insurrection is possible. The indispensable concert of action cannot be attained. The slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can incendiary freemen, black or white, supply it. The explosive materials are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be supplied, the indispensable connecting trains.

Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for their masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true. A plot for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the life of a favorite master or mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule; and the slave revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected with slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, averted the calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts extending to a score or so, will continue to occur as the natural results of slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I think, can happen in this country for a long time. Whoever much fears, or much hopes for such an event, will be alike disappointed.

In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, “It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and their places be, pari passu, filled up by free white laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up.”

Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the power of emancipation is in the Federal Government. He spoke of Virginia; and, as to the power of emancipation, I speak of the slaveholding States only. The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the power of restraining the extension of the institution – the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall never occur on any American soil which is now free from slavery.

John Brown’s effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed. That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts, related in history, at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution. Orsini’s attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown’s attempt at Harper’s Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. The eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, and on New England in the other, does not disprove the sameness of the two things.

And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of John Brown, Helper’s Book, and the like, break up the Republican organization? Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling – that sentiment – by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel? What would that other channel probably be? Would the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation?

But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial of your Constitutional rights.

That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right, plainly written down in the Constitution. But we are proposing no such thing.

When you make these declarations, you have a specific and well-understood allusion to an assumed Constitutional right of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. But no such right is specifically written in the Constitution. That instrument is literally silent about any such right. We, on the contrary, deny that such a right has any existence in the Constitution, even by implication.

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. But waiving the lawyer’s distinction between dictum and decision, the Court have decided the question for you in a sort of way. The Court have substantially said, it is your Constitutional right to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it was made in a divided Court, by a bare majority of the Judges, and they not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that it is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken statement of fact – the statement in the opinion that “the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not “distinctly and expressly affirmed” in it. Bear in mind, the Judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that such right is impliedly affirmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their veracity that it is “distinctly and expressly” affirmed there – “distinctly,” that is, not mingled with anything else – “expressly,” that is, in words meaning just that, without the aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other meaning.

If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right is affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to others to show that neither the word “slave” nor “slavery” is to be found in the Constitution, nor the word “property” even, in any connection with language alluding to the things slave, or slavery; and that wherever in that instrument the slave is alluded to, he is called a “person;” – and wherever his master’s legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is spoken of as “service or labor which may be due,” – as a debt payable in service or labor. Also, it would be open to show, by contemporaneous history, that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of speaking of them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man.

To show all this, is easy and certain.

When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?

And then it is to be remembered that “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live” – the men who made the Constitution – decided this same Constitutional question in our favor, long ago – decided it without division among themselves, when making the decision; without division among themselves about the meaning of it after it was made, and, so far as any evidence is left, without basing it upon any mistaken statement of facts.

Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me – my money – was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.

A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even though the southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can. Judging by all they say and do, and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them.

Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, “Let us alone, do nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery.” But we do let them alone – have never disturbed them – so that, after all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying.

I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, demanded the overthrow of our Free-State Constitutions. Yet those Constitutions declare the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis, than do all other sayings against it; and when all these other sayings shall have been silenced, the overthrow of these Constitutions will be demanded, and nothing be left to resist the demand. It is nothing to the contrary, that they do not demand the whole of this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right, and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal right, and a social blessing.

Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality – its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension – its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

Cooper Union Address http://www.mrlincolnandnewyork.org/inside.asp?ID=15&subjectID=2

First Inaugural Speech (1861)

President Abraham Lincoln’s first address as head of state was delivered on 4 March 1861, in front of the nation’s still-unfinished Capitol building. Avoiding empty flights of rhetoric, free of the clichés and platitudes customary on such occasions, Lincoln’s inaugural address presented, in a lawyer’s logic, a plea for national unity. Conciliatory yet firm, it set forth the policies that the new president would follow during his term in office.

… Lincoln, a skilled lawyer, made his primary appeal to reason. Allusions to God, the Bible, or religion–which would become more prominent in later speeches–were largely absent from the first inaugural speech. Thus, at the beginning of his presidency, Lincoln made no grandiose promises and looked for no miracles. He fervently believed that the hopes of all humankind rested on the success of the democratic experiment in the New World. Now he simply asked his fellow countrymen to live up to the promise of their nation’s founders.

… Unlike later presidents, with their staffs of speech writers, Lincoln composed his own speeches, this one included. He did, however, submit drafts of the first inaugural to several friends and associates, most notably to his secretary of state, William H. Seward. Especially responsive to Seward’s suggestions, Lincoln added a few of the flourishes that would soon come to characterize Lincolnian rhetoric. For example, Seward had suggested a concluding reference to “the guardian angel of the nation.” Lincoln substituted simply, and famously, “angels of our better nature.”

With his strong awareness of the auditory power of words, Lincoln was able, even in this pragmatic speech given under great duress, to effectively employ alliteration, assonance, and parallel structure of words, sentences, and thoughts. Biographers have noted that in his youth Lincoln had access to few, though excellent, books and was thus spared the reading of mediocre publications. The King James Version of the Bible was his chief influence, although later, as an enthusiastic theatergoer, he would savor the Elizabethan glamour of William Shakespeare’s language. From these sources and from the homespun yarns he had heard growing up in the hinterland, Lincoln had developed a poetic and rhythmic style that would set him apart from other American leaders. When he finished his speech, he immediately left the dais and returned to the White House.


In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of this office.”

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that:

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause – as cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labour. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution – to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause “shall be delivered up” their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly equal unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by State authority, but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him or to others by which authority it is done. And should anyone in any case be content that his oath shall go un-kept on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again: In any law upon this subject ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not in any case surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States”?

I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules; and while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand un-repealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our National Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens have in succession administered the executive branch of the Government. They have conducted it through many perils, and generally with great success. Yet, with all this scope of precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it – break it, so to speak – but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.”

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favourable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed unless current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper, and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events and are glad of any pretext to do it I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ones you fly from, will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly written in the Constitution has been denied? I think not. Happily, the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might in a moral point of view justify revolution; certainly would if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the Government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, can not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other.

Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favour rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution – which amendment, however, I have not seen – has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose, but the Executive as such has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favoured land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Inaugural Speech by Abraham Lincolnhttp://www.famousquotes.me.uk/speeches/Abraham_Lincoln/1.htm

The Gettysburg Address (1863)

This speech is evaluated as
– one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Speeches;
– one of the 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.

See: The Gettysburg Address – Abraham Lincolnhttps://tamdiepblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/the-gettysburg-address-abraham-lincoln/

Second Inaugural Address (1865)

The Union’s victory was but a month away as Abraham Lincoln began his second term as president of a bitterly ruptured United States. Like the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln keeps this speech only as long as needful. While there are those who still debate whether the Civil War was truly fought over slavery or not, Lincoln certainly believed so. To him, slavery was a great national sin, and the blood shed during the war was the atoning sacrifice for that evil.

He does not relish the prospect of coming victory; instead, he appeals to his countrymen to remember that the war was truly fought between brothers. When the war was over and the Confederacy forced to return to the Union, Lincoln was prepared to treat the South with relative leniency. He did not believe secession was truly possible, and thus the South had never truly left the Union. Reconstruction would not mean vengeance, but the return home of a terribly errant son.


Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on 4 March 1865, during his second inauguration as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of sadness. Some see this speech as a defense of his pragmatic approach to Reconstruction, in which he sought to avoid harsh treatment of the defeated South by reminding his listeners of how wrong both sides had been in imagining what lay before them when the war began four years earlier. Lincoln balanced that rejection of triumphalism, however, with recognition of the unmistakable evil of slavery, which he described in the most concrete terms possible. He could not know that John Wilkes Booth, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Lewis Paine, John Surratt and Edmund Spangler, some of the conspirators involved with his assassination, were present in the crowd at the inauguration. The address is inscribed, along with the Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln used his Second Inaugural Address to touch on the question of Divine providence. He wondered what God’s will might have been in allowing the war to come, and why it had assumed the terrible dimensions it had taken. He endeavored to address some of these dilemmas, using allusions taken from the Bible.


This speech is evaluated as #24 of 35 Greatest Speeches in History by the website The Art of Manliness.


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

Abraham Lincoln 2nd inaugural address

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it – all sought to avert it. While the inaugeral [sic] address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war-seeking to dissole [sic] the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope-fervently do we pray-that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Microsoft Encarta 2008

Lincoln simplified

Lincoln: It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.

Simpified: It might be weird that people will ask for God’s help in getting money from other people’s work, but don’t judge them unless you want to be judged.

Lincoln: The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.

Simpified: The slaves and the free man’s prayers cannot be answered; neither one has been answered completely.

Lincoln: If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?

Simpified: If we think that Slavery is one of those crimes that’s in God’s will and will be here because of God, but now He decides to stop it and give to each side what they deserve, do you suppose that it’s any different because he wants to stop it? Isn’t he still God?

Lincoln: Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

Simpified: But if it’s God’s will that the war goes on until all the money is lost from the bond-man’s 259 yr work, or until every drop of blood from that was from a whip is paid by another drop of blood from a sword, think about what was said 3,000 years ago, it should be said again, “The judgements of the Lord are true and correct, always.”

Lincoln: Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said the ‘judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

Simpified: I assume he means that he hopes that the war will be over with soon, but if it has to continue he will still believe that it’s Gods will to make up for the cruelty of slavery.

George Graham Vest

George Graham Vest (1830–1904) was a U.S. politician, serving as U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903. Born in Frankfort, Kentucky, he was known for his skills in oration and debate. Vest, a lawyer as well as a politician, served as a Missouri Congressman, a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator. He is best known for his “a man’s best friend” closing arguments from the trial in which damages were sought for the killing of a dog named Old Drum on 18 October 1869.


“Tribute to the dog” (c. 1855)

This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog. During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.

Gentlemen of the Jury:

The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

George Graham Vest – Tribute to the Doghttp://www.historyplace.com/speeches/vest.htm

Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi, Joseph Marie Garibaldi at birth (1807–1882), was an Italian general, politician and patriot who helped free the Italians from foreign rule and unify the country. He is considered, with Camillo Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II and Giuseppe Mazzini, as one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland”. He was a master of guerrilla warfare and raised volunteers beginning in 1848 to conduct daring military campaigns to overcome the rule of Imperial Austria.

Garibaldi was a central figure in the Italian Risorgimento, since he personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the formation of unified Italy. He generally tried to act on behalf of a legitimate power, which does not make him exactly a revolutionary: for example, he was appointed general by the provisional government of Milan in 1848, General of the Roman Republic in 1849 by the Minister of War, and led the Expedition of the Thousand(1) on behalf and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II.

He has been called the “Hero of Two Worlds” because of his military enterprises which he conducted in both South America and Europe. These earned him a considerable reputation both in Italy and abroad. This is also due to the exceptional international media coverage that he received at the time. Many of the greatest intellectuals of his time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, showed him their admiration. The United Kingdom and the United States helped him a great deal, offering him financial and military support in difficult circumstances.


Encouraging his soldiers (1860)

In 1860, Garibaldi’s thousand “red shirts” took Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. Thousands of volunteers then rushed to join Garibaldi’s army.

In August, he crossed to the mainland to march on Naples, where he was greeted by jubilant crowds singing the national anthem, now known as Garibaldi’s Hymn. After turning over the city to Victor Emmanuel II, Garibaldi resumed a humble life on the island of Caprera.

The speech below is an eloquent appeal he made to his soldiers in 1860. A year later, as a result of his daring military leadership and the political leadership of fellow patriots, Giuseppe Mazzini and Camillo Cavour, the independent Kingdom of Italy was finally proclaimed.


We must now consider the period which is just drawing to a close as almost the last stage of our national resurrection, and prepare ourselves to finish worthily the marvelous design of the elect of twenty generations, the completion of which Providence has reserved for this fortunate age.

Yes, young men, Italy owes to you an undertaking which has merited the applause of the universe. You have conquered and you will conquer still, because you are prepared for the tactics that decide the fate of battles. You are not unworthy of the men who entered the ranks of a Macedonian phalanx, and who contended not in vain with the proud conquerors of Asia. To this wonderful page in our country’s history another more glorious still will be added, and the slave shall show at last to his free brothers a sharpened sword forged from the links of his fetters.

To arms, then, all of you! all of you! And the oppressors and the mighty shall disappear like dust. You, too, women, cast away all the cowards from your embraces; they will give you only cowards for children, and you who are the daughters of the land of beauty must bear children who are noble and brave. Let timid doctrinaires depart from among us to carry their servility and their miserable fears elsewhere. This people is its own master. It wishes to be the brother of other peoples, but to look on the insolent with a proud glance, not to grovel before them imploring its own freedom. It will no longer follow in the trail of men whose hearts are foul. No! No! No!

Providence has presented Italy with Victor Emmanuel. Every Italian should rally round him. By the side of Victor Emmanuel every quarrel should be forgotten, all rancor depart. Once more I repeat my battle-cry: “To arms, all-all of you!” If March 1861, does not find one million of Italians in arms, then alas for liberty, alas for the life of Italy. Ah, no, far be from me a thought which I loathe like poison. March of 1861, or if need be February, will find us all at our post-Italians of Calatafimi, Palermo, Ancona, the Volturno, Castelfidardo, and Isernia, and with us every man of this land who is not a coward or a slave. Let all of us rally round the glorious hero of Palestro and give the last blow to the crumbling edifice of tyranny. Receive, then, my gallant young volunteers, at the honored conclusion of ten battles, one word of farewell from me.

I utter this word with deepest affection and from the very bottom of my heart. Today I am obliged to retire, but for a few days only. The hour of battle will find me with you again, by the side of the champions of Italian liberty. Let those only return to their homes who are called by the imperative duties which they owe to their families, and those who by their glorious wounds have deserved the credit of their country. These, indeed, will serve Italy in their homes by their counsel, by the very aspect of the scars which adorn their youthful brows. Apart from these, let all others remain to guard our glorious banners. We shall meet again before long to march together to the redemption of our brothers who are still slaves of the stranger. We shall meet again before long to march to new triumphs.

Giuseppe Garibaldi – Encourages His Soldiershttp://www.historyplace.com/speeches/garibaldi.htm


(1) The Expedition of the Thousand (Italian Spedizione dei Mille) was a military campaign led by the revolutionary general Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1860. A force of volunteers defeated the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, leading to its dissolution and annexation by the Kingdom of Sardinia, an important step in the creation of a newly unified Kingdom of Italy.

Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1815–1898), known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated European affairs from the 1860s until 1890. He was Minister President of Prussia (1862–1890) and Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867–1871) then the German Empire (1871–1890).

He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation’s defeat of France, he formed the German Empire (which excluded Austria) and united Germany.

Bismarck’s main achievement was the German Empire, which – unfortunately for him – lasted only twenty years longer than Otto could hang on himself.

Blood and Iron Speech (1862)

Blood and Iron (German: Blut und Eisen) is the title of a speech by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck given in 1862 about the unification of the German territories. It is also a transposed phrase that Bismarck uttered near the end of the speech that has become one of his most widely known quotations.

In September 1862, when the Prussian Landtag was refusing to approve an increase in military spending desired by King Wilhelm I, the king appointed Bismarck as Minister-President and Foreign Minister. A few days later, Bismarck appeared before the Landtag’s Budget Committee and stressed the need for military preparedness. He concluded his speech with the following statement:

“The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its liberalism but by its power… Prussia must concentrate its strength and hold it for the favorable moment, which has already come and gone several times. Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided – that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.”(1)

Although Bismarck was an outstanding diplomat, the phrase “blood and iron” has become a popular description of his foreign policy partly because he did on occasion resort to war in a highly effective manner to aid in the unification of Germany and the expansion of its continental power.


It follows an excerpt transcript of Otto von Bismarck’s Blood and Iron Speech, delivered before the Prussian Parliament, Berlin, Germany –30 September 1862.

Bismarck responds to Max von Forckenbeck’s lengthy arguments about appropriation rights and Art. 99 of the constitution and the people’s wish for a shortened military service:

He would like to go into the budget for 1862, though without making a prejudicial statement. An abuse of constitutional rights could be undertaken by any side; this would then lead to a reaction from the other side.

The Crown for example could dissolve parliament twelve times in a row, that would certainly be permitted according to the letter of the constitution, but it would be an abuse.

It could just as easily reject cuts in the budget, immoderately. It would be hard to tell where to draw the line there. Would it be at 6 million? At 16? Or at 60?

There are members of the National Association [Nationalverein] of this association that has achieved a reputation owing to the justness of its demands, highly esteemed members who have stated that all standing armies are superfluous. Well, what if a public assembly had this view! Would not a government have to reject this?

There was talk about the sobriety of the Prussian people. Yes, the great independence of the individual makes it difficult in Prussia to govern with the constitution or to consolidate the constitution.

In France things are different, there this individual independence is lacking. A constitutional crisis would not be disgraceful, but honorable instead.

Furthermore, we are perhaps too well-educated to support a constitution. We are too critical. The ability to assess government measures and records of the public assembly is too common. In the country there are a lot of catiline [conspiratorial] characters who have a great interest in upheavals. This may sound paradoxical, but everything proves how hard constitutional life is in Prussia.

Furthermore, one is too sensitive about the government’s mistakes, as if it were enough to say this and that cabinet minister made mistakes, as if one wasn’t adversely affected oneself. Public opinion changes, the press is not the same as public opinion. One knows how the press is written.

Members of parliament have a higher duty, to lead opinion, to stand above it. We are too hot-blooded. We have a preference for putting on armor that is too big for our small body. And now we’re actually supposed to utilize it.

Germany is not looking to Prussia’s liberalism, but to its power. Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden may indulge liberalism, and yet no one will assign them Prussia’s role.

Prussia has to coalesce and concentrate its power for the opportune moment, which has already been missed several times. Prussia’s borders according to the Vienna Treaties of 1814–15 are not favorable for a healthy, vital state.

It is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided – that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.

Last year’s appropriation has been carried out, for whatever reasons, it is a matter of indifference, he [Bismarck himself] is sincerely seeking the path of agreement whether he finds it does not depend on him alone.

It would have been better if one had not made a fait accompli on the part of the Chamber of Deputies. If no budget comes about, then there is a tabula rasa. The constitution offers no way out, for then it is one interpretation against another interpretation. Summum ius, summa iniuria [Cicero: The highest law can be the greatest injustice]; the letter killeth.

He is pleased that the speaker’s remark about the possibility of another resolution of the House on account of a possible bill allows for the prospect of agreement. He, too, is looking for this bridge. When it might be found is uncertain.

Bringing about a budget this year is hardly possible given the time. We are in exceptional circumstances. The principle of promptly presenting the budget is also recognized by the government, but it is said that this was already promised and not kept. And now it’s “You can certainly trust us as honest people.”

He does not agree with the interpellation that it is unconstitutional to make expenditures whose authorization had been refused. For every interpretation, it is necessary to agree on the three factors.

Blood and Ironhttp://www.emersonkent.com/speeches/blood_and_iron.htm


(1) German History in Documents and Images: Excerpt from Bismarck’s “Blood and Iron” Speech (1862) – http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=250&language=english

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman’s movement, along with Susan B. Anthony. Her Declaration of Sentiments(1), presented at the first women’s rights convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, is often credited with initiating the first organized woman’s rights and woman’s suffrage movements in the United States.

Before Stanton narrowed her political focus almost exclusively to women’s rights, she was an active abolitionist together with her husband, Henry Brewster Stanton and cousin, Gerrit Smith. Unlike many of those involved in the woman’s rights movement, Stanton addressed various issues pertaining to women beyond voting rights. Her concerns included women’s parental and custody rights, property rights, employment and income rights, divorce laws, the economic health of the family, and birth control. She was also an outspoken supporter of the 19th-century temperance movement.

After the American Civil War, Stanton’s commitment to female suffrage caused a schism in the woman’s rights movement when she, together with Susan B. Anthony, declined to support passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. She opposed giving added legal protection and voting rights to African American men while women, black and white, were denied those same rights. Her position on this issue, together with her thoughts on organized Christianity and women’s issues beyond voting rights, led to the formation of two separate women’s rights organizations that were finally rejoined, with Stanton as president of the joint organization, approximately twenty years after her break from the original women’s suffrage movement.


In the 1999 Encarta Yearbook, Stanton (the only woman) was considered to be one of the “ten who changed the millennium.”

“The true woman” (1868)

Cady Stanton’s views on certain issues, including divorce, reproduction, and religion, separated her from more conservative advocates of women’s rights.

Women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave this powerful speech in 1868 at the Women’s Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. Stanton worked tirelessly for more than half a century to obtain voting rights for American women and also questioned the social and political norms of her day which excluded women.

I urge a sixteenth amendment, because ‘manhood suffrage,’ or a man’s government, is civil, religious, and social disorganization. The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!

The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. Society is but the reflection of man himself, untempered by woman’s thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the church, the state, and the home. No one need wonder at the disorganization, at the fragmentary condition of everything, when we remember that man, who represents but half a complete being, with but half an idea on every subject, has undertaken the absolute control of all sublunary matters.

People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say ‘the right of suffrage will make the women masculine.’ That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood are repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition. To keep a foothold in society, woman must be as near like man as possible, reflect his ideas, opinions, virtues, motives, prejudices, and vices. She must respect his statutes, though they strip her of every inalienable right, and conflict with that higher law written by the finger of God on her own soul.

She must look at everything from its dollar-and-cent point of view, or she is a mere romancer. She must accept things as they are and make the best of them. To mourn over the miseries of others, the poverty of the poor, their hardships in jails, prisons, asylums, the horrors of war, cruelty, and brutality in every form, all this would be mere sentimentalizing. To protest against the intrigue, bribery, and corruption of public life, to desire that her sons might follow some business that did not involve lying, cheating, and a hard, grinding selfishness, would be arrant nonsense.

In this way man has been molding woman to his ideas by direct and positive influences, while she, if not a negation, has used indirect means to control him, and in most cases developed the very characteristics both in him and herself that needed repression. And now man himself stands appalled at the results of his own excesses, and mourns in bitterness that falsehood, selfishness, and violence are the law of life. The need of this hour is not territory, gold mines, railroads, or specie payments but a new evangel of womanhood, to exalt purity, virtue, morality, true religion, to lift man up into the higher realms of thought and action.

We ask woman’s enfranchisement, as the first step toward the recognition of that essential element in government that can only secure the health, strength, and prosperity of the nation. Whatever is done to lift woman to her true position will help to usher in a new day of peace and perfection for the race.

In speaking of the masculine element, I do not wish to be understood to say that all men are hard, selfish, and brutal, for many of the most beautiful spirits the world has known have been clothed with manhood; but I refer to those characteristics, though often marked in woman, that distinguish what is called the stronger sex. For example, the love of acquisition and conquest, the very pioneers of civilization, when expended on the earth, the sea, the elements, the riches and forces of nature, are powers of destruction when used to subjugate one man to another or to sacrifice nations to ambition.

Here that great conservator of woman’s love, if permitted to assert itself, as it naturally would in freedom against oppression, violence, and war, would hold all these destructive forces in check, for woman knows the cost of life better than man does, and not with her consent would one drop of blood ever be shed, one life sacrificed in vain.

With violence and disturbance in the natural world, we see a constant effort to maintain an equilibrium of forces. Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony, and beauty may reign supreme. There is a striking analogy between matter and mind, and the present disorganization of society warns us that in the dethronement of woman we have let loose the elements of violence and ruin that she only has the power to curb. If the civilization of the age calls for an extension of the suffrage, surely a government of the most virtuous educated men and women would better represent the whole and protect the interests of all than could the representation of either sex alone.


(1) The Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, is a document signed in 1848 by 68 women and 32 men, 100 out of some 300 attendees at the first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York, now known as the Seneca Falls Convention. The principal author of the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who based it on the form of the United States Declaration of Independence. According to the North Star, published by Frederick Douglass, whose attendance at the convention and support of the Declaration helped pass the resolutions put forward, the document was the “grand basis for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”

In: MacArthur, B. (ed.) (1996). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. Penguin Books.

“Solitude of self” (1892)

This is the speech before the U.S. Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage, 20 February 1892

Commentary by Marcia B. Dinneen, Bridgewater State College

Many consider Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Solitude of self to be Stanton’s best work, as did Stanton herself. Solitude of self was delivered three times in Washington, D.C. First, the speech was sent in written form, on 18 January 1892, to the congressional Committee of the Judiciary. That afternoon Stanton delivered the address at the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention, as retiring president of the organization. On 20 January she personally gave the speech to the Senate Committee on Woman Suffrage. Solitude of self proclaims the principles and values underlying the struggle for woman’s rights. She states the main theme of the speech as “the individuality of each human soul.” She demands equal rights for all individuals, proclaiming that each person must have the tools of survival for his or her voyage through life.


The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul; our Protestant idea, the right of individual conscience and judgment; our republican idea, individual citizenship. In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own, the arbiter of her own destiny, an imaginary Robinson Crusoe, with her woman, Friday, on a solitary island. Her rights under such circumstances are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.

Secondly, if we consider her as a citizen, as a member of a great nation, she must have the same rights as all others members, according to the fundamental principles of our Government.

Thirdly, viewed as a woman, an equal factor in civilization, her rights and duties are still the same—individual happiness and development.

Fourthly, it is only the incidental relations of life, such as mother, wife, sister, daughter, which may involve some special duties and training…

The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, her forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear—is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency, they must know something of the laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch the winds and waves, and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman; nature, having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.

To appreciate the importance of fitting every human soul for independent action, think for a moment of the immeasurable solitude of self. We come into the world alone, unlike all who have gone before us, we leave it alone, under circumstances peculiar to ourselves. No mortal ever has been, no mortal ever will be like the soul just launched on the sea of life. There can never again be just such a combination of prenatal influences; never again just such environments as make up the infancy, youth and manhood of this one. Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another. No one has ever found two blades of ribbon grass alike, and no one will ever find two human beings alike. Seeing, then, what must be the infinite diversity in human character, we can in a measure appreciate the loss to a nation when any class of the people is uneducated and unrepresented in the government.

We ask for the complete development of every individual, first, for his own benefit and happiness. In fitting out an army, we give each soldier his own knapsack, arms, powder, his blanket, cup, knife, fork and spoon. We provide alike for all their individual necessities; then each man bears his own burden.

Again, we ask complete individual development for the general good; for the consensus of the competent on the whole round of human interests, on all questions of national life; and here each man must bear his share of the general burden. It is sad to see how soon friendless children are left to bear their own burdens, before they can analyze their feelings; before they can even tell their joys and sorrows, they are thrown on their own resources. The great lesson that nature seems to teach us at all ages in self-dependence, self-protection, self-support…

In youth our most bitter disappointments, our brightest hopes and ambitions, are known only to ourselves. Even our friendship and love we never fully share with another; there is something of every passion, in every situation, we conceal. Even so in our triumphs and our defeats…

We ask no sympathy from others in the anxiety and agony of a broken friendship or shattered love. When death sunders our nearest ties, alone we sit in the shadow of our affliction. Alike amid the greatest triumphs and darkest tragedies of life, we walk alone. On the divine heights of human attainment, eulogized and worshipped as a hero or saint, we stand alone. In ignorance, poverty and vice, as a pauper or criminal, alone we starve or steal; alone we suffer the sneers and rebuffs of our fellows; alone we are hunted and hounded through dark courts and alleys, in by-ways and high-ways; alone we stand in the judgment seat; alone in the prison cell we lament our crimes and misfortunes; alone we expiate them on the gallows. In hours like these we realize the awful solitude of individual life, its pains, its penalties, its responsibilities, hours in which the youngest and most helpless are thrown on their own resources for guidance and consolation. Seeing, then, that life must ever be a march and a battle that each soldier must be equipped for his own protection, it is the height of cruelty to rob the individual of a single natural right.

To throw obstacles in the way of a complete education is like putting out the eyes; to deny the rights of property is like cutting off the hands. To refuse political equality is to rob the ostracized of all self-respect; of credit in the market place; of recompense in the world of work, of a voice in choosing those who make and administer the law, a choice in the jury before whom they are tried, and in the judge who decides their punishment. Think of… woman’s position! Robbed of her natural rights, handicapped by law and custom at every turn, yet compelled to fight her own battles, and in the emergencies of life to fall back on herself for protection…

The young wife and mother, at the head of some establishment, with a kind husband to shield her from the adverse winds of life, with wealth, fortune and position, has a certain harbor of safety, secure against the ordinary ills of life. But to manage a household, have a desirable influence in society, keep her friends and the affections of her husband, train her children and servants well, she must have rare common sense, wisdom, diplomacy, and a knowledge of human nature. To do all this, she needs the cardinal virtues and the strong points of character that the most successful statesman possesses. An uneducated woman trained to dependence, with no resources in herself, must make a failure of any position in life. But society says women do not need a knowledge of the world, the liberal training that experience in public life must give, all the advantages of collegiate education; but when for the lack of all this, the woman’s happiness is wrecked, alone she bears her humiliation; and the solitude of the weak and the ignorant is indeed pitiable. In the wild chase for the prizes of life, they are ground to powder.

In age, when the pleasures of youth are passed, children grown up, married and gone, the hurry and bustle of life in a measure over, when the hands are weary of active service, when the old arm chair and the fireside are the chosen resorts, then men and women alike must fall hack on their own resources. If they cannot find companionship in books, if they have no interest in the vital questions of the hour, no interest in watching the consummation of reforms with which they might have been identified, they soon pass into their dotage. The more fully the faculties of the mind are developed and kept in use, the longer the period of vigor and active interest in all around us continues. If, from a life-long participation in public affairs, a woman feels responsible for the laws regulating our system of education, the discipline of our jails and prisons, the sanitary condition of our private homes, public buildings and thoroughfares, an interest in commerce, finance, our foreign relations, in any or all these questions, her solitude will at least be respectable, and she will not be driven to gossip or scandal for entertainment.

The chief reason for opening to every soul the doors to the whole round of human duties and pleasures is the individual development thus attained, the resources thus provided under all circumstances to mitigate the solitude that at times must come to everyone…

Inasmuch, then, as woman shares equally the joys and sorrows of time and eternity, is it not the height of presumption in man to propose to represent her at the ballot box and the throne of grace, to do her voting in the state, her praying in the church, and to assume the position of high priest at the family altar?

Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility. Nothing adds such dignity to character as the recognition of one’s self-sovereignty; the right to an equal place, everywhere conceded—a place earned by personal merit, not an artificial attainment by inheritance, wealth, family and position. Conceding, then, that the responsibilities of life rest equally on man and woman, that their destiny is the same, they need the same preparation for time and eternity. The talk of sheltering woman from the fierce storms of life is the sheerest mockery, for they beat on her from every point of the compass, just as they do on man, and with more fatal results, for he has been trained to protect himself, to resist, and to conquer. Such are the facts in human experience, the responsibilities of individual sovereignty. Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious, man and woman; it is ever the same, each soul must depend wholly on itself.

Whatever the theories may be of woman’s dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life, he cannot bear her burdens. Alone she goes to the gates of death to give life to every man that is born into the world; no one can share her fears, no one can mitigate her pangs; and if her sorrow is greater than she can bear, alone she passes beyond the gates into the vast unknown.

From the mountain-tops of Judea long ago, a heavenly voice bade his disciples, “Bear ye one another’s burdens”; but humanity has not yet risen to that point of self-sacrifice; and if ever so willing, how few the burdens are that one soul can bear for another!…

So it ever must be in the conflicting scenes of life, in the long, weary march, each one walks alone. We may have many friends, love, kindness, sympathy and charity, to smooth our pathway in everyday life, but in the tragedies and triumphs of human experience, each mortal stands alone.

But when all artificial trammels are removed, and women are recognized as individuals, responsible for their own environments, thoroughly educated for all positions in life they may be called to fill; with all the resources in themselves that liberal thought and broad culture can give; guided by their own conscience and judgment, trained to self-protection, by a healthy development of the muscular system, and skill in the use of weapons and defence; and stimulated to self-support by a knowledge of the business world and the pleasure that pecuniary independence must ever give; when women are trained in this way, they will in a measure be fitted for those hours of solitude that come alike to all, whether prepared or otherwise. As in our extremity we must depend on ourselves, the dictates of wisdom point to complete individual development.

In talking of education, how shallow the argument that each class must be educated for the special work it proposes to do, and that all those faculties not needed in this special work must lie dormant and utterly wither for want of use, when, perhaps, these will be the very faculties needed in life’s greatest emergencies! Some say, “Where is the use of drilling girls in the languages, the sciences, in law, medicine, theology. As wives, mothers, housekeepers, cooks, they need a different curriculum from boys who are to fill all positions. The chief cooks in our great hotels and ocean steamers are men. In our large cities, men run the bakeries; they make our bread, cake and pies. They manage the laundries; they are now considered our best milliners and dressmakers. Because some men fill these departments of usefulness, shall we regulate the curriculum in Harvard and Yale to their present necessities? If not, why this talk in our best colleges of a curriculum for girls who are crowding into the trades and professions, teachers in all our public schools, rapidly filling many lucrative and honorable positions in life?”. . .

Women are already the equals of men in the whole realm of thought, in art, science, literature and government… The poetry and novels of the century are theirs, and they have touched the keynote of reform, in religion, politics and social life. They fill the editor’s and professor’s chair, plead at the bar of justice, walk the wards of the hospital, speak from the pulpit and the platform. Such is the type of womanhood that an enlightened public sentiment welcomes to-day, and such the triumph of the facts of life over the false theories of the past.

Is it, then, consistent to hold the developed woman of this day within the same narrow political limits as the dame with the spinning wheel and knitting needle occupied in the past? No, no! Machinery has taken the labors of woman as well as man on its tireless shoulders; the loom and the spinning wheel are but dreams of the past; the pen, the brush, the easel, the chisel, have taken their places, while the hopes and ambitions of women are essentially changed.

We see reason sufficient in the outer conditions of human beings for individual liberty and development, but when we consider the self-dependence of every human soul, we see the need of courage, judgment and the exercise of every faculty of mind and body, strengthened and developed by use, in woman as well as man.

Whatever may be said of man’s protecting power in ordinary conditions, amid all the terrible disasters by land and sea, in the supreme moments of danger, alone woman must ever meet the horrors of the situation. The Angel of Death even makes no royal pathway for her. Man’s love and sympathy enter only into the sunshine of our lives. In that solemn solitude of self, that links us with the immeasurable and the eternal, each soul lives alone forever. A recent writer says: “I remember once, in crossing the Atlantic, to have gone upon the deck of the ship at midnight, when a dense black cloud enveloped the sky, and the great deep was roaring madly under the lashes of demoniac winds. My feeling was not of danger or fear (which is a base surrender of the immortal soul) but of utter desolation and loneliness; a little speck of life shut in by a tremendous darkness…”

And yet, there is a solitude which each and every one of us has always carried with him, more inaccessible than the ice-cold mountains, more profound than the midnight sea; the solitude of self. Our inner being which we call ourself, no eye nor touch of man or angel has ever pierced. It is more hidden than the caves of the gnome; the sacred adytum of the oracle; the hidden chamber of Eleusinian mystery, for to it only omniscience is permitted to enter.

Such is individual life. Who, I ask you, can take, dare take on himself the rights, the duties, the responsibilities of another human soul?

Source: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Solitude of Self” The Woman’s Column, January 1882, 2–3. Reprinted in Ellen Carol DuBois, ed., Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, and Speeches (New York, 1981).

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820–1906) was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage into the United States. She was co-founder of the first Women’s Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President. She also co-founded the women’s rights journal, The Revolution. She traveled the United States and Europe, and averaged 75 to 100 speeches per year. She was one of the important advocates in leading the way for women’s rights to be acknowledged and instituted in the American government.

Before retiring, Anthony was asked if all women in the United States would ever be given the right to vote. She replied by stating, “it will come, but I shall not see it… It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation.” “Failure is impossible” were the words she left with her “girls” to encourage them on in the long discouraging struggle ahead.

Fourteen years after Anthony’s death, following assiduous campaigning, women’s right to vote was affirmed on August 26, 1920, by passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which Anthony and Stanton wrote.


On women’s rights (1873)

Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for casting an illegal ballot in the 1872 presidential election. Seething at the injustice, she embarked on a speaking tour in support of female voting rights, during which she gave this speech. The 19th Amendment enfranchised women in 1920.


Susan B. Anthony, outstanding American reformer, who led the struggle to gain the vote for women. She devoted 50 years to overcoming the nation’s resistance to woman suffrage, but died before the 19th Amendment was finally ratified (August 18, 1920).

When reformer Susan B. Anthony voted in the 1872 presidential election, women in the United States did not have the right to vote, and Anthony was arrested. In this 1873 speech, Anthony defended her position on women’s suffrage.

Microsoft Encarta 2008.

This speech is evaluated as one of Time Magazine Top 10 Greatest Speeches.

Friends and fellow citizens:

I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.

The preamble of the federal Constitution says:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people-women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot.

For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is to pass a bill of attainder, or an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity.

To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household-which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as in every one against Negroes.

On Women’s Rights to Votehttp://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Women%27s_Rights_to_Vote

Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph
Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph (1840–1904), succeeded his father Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) as the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce, a Native American tribe indigenous to the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, in the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

He led his band during the most tumultuous period in their contemporary history when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley by the United States federal government and forced to move northeast, onto the significantly reduced reservation in Lapwai, Idaho Territory. A series of events which culminated in episodes of violence led those Nez Perce who resisted removal including Joseph’s band and an allied band of the Palouse tribe to take flight to attempt to reach political asylum, ultimately with the Sioux chief Sitting Bull in Canada.

They were pursued by the U.S. Army in a campaign led by General Oliver O. Howard. This epic 1,170-mile (1,900 km) fighting retreat by the Nez Perce in 1877 became known as the Nez Perce War. The skill in which the Nez Perce fought and the manner in which they conducted themselves in the face of incredible adversity led to widespread admiration among their military adversaries and the American public.

Coverage of the war in United States newspapers led to widespread recognition of Joseph and the Nez Perce. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker. However, modern scholars like Robert McCoy and Thomas Guthrie argue that this coverage, as well as Joseph’s speeches and writings, distorted the true nature of Joseph’s thoughts and gave rise to a “mythical” Chief Joseph as a “red Napoleon” that served the interests of the Anglo-American narrative of manifest destiny.

“I will fight no more forever” (1877)

In 1877 the United States opened up Nez Perce lands in the Oregon Territory to mining and other public use. Rather than relocate to a reservation, a group of the Nez Perce people led by Chief Joseph chose to retreat to Canada. With United States Army troops led by General Oliver O. Howard and others in pursuit, the group traveled all the way to the northern edge of the Bear Paw Mountains in Montana, where they were attacked and engaged in heavy fighting for several days. Chief Joseph surrendered on 5 October 1877. His statement is among the most well-known surrender speeches in history.

This speech is evaluated #5 in 35 Greatest Speeches in History, the website The Art of Manliness.

Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart.

I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking-Glass is dead, Ta-Hool-Hool-Shute is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men [Chief Joseph’s brother] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are–perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.

Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. Source: MacArthur, B. (ed.) (1996). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. Penguin Books.

William Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898) was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times (1868–1874, 1880–1885, February-July 1886 and 1892–1894). Gladstone was also Britain’s oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time.

Gladstone’s first ministry saw many reforms including Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and the introduction of secret voting. After his electoral defeat in 1874, Gladstone resigned as leader of the Liberal Party, but from 1876 began a comeback based on opposition to Turkey’s Bulgarian atrocities. Gladstone’s Midlothian Campaign of 1879–1880 was an early example of many modern political campaigning techniques. After the 1880 election, he formed his second ministry, which saw crises in Egypt (culminating in the death of General Gordon in 1885), and in Ireland, where the government passed repressive measures but also improved the legal rights of Irish tenant farmers. The government also passed the Third Reform Act.

Back in office in early 1886, Gladstone proposed Irish Home rule but this was defeated in the House of Commons in July. The resulting split in the Liberal Party helped keep them out of office, with one short break, for twenty years. In 1892 Gladstone formed his last government at the age of 82. The Second Irish Home Rule Bill passed the Commons but was defeated in the Lords in 1893. Gladstone resigned in March 1894, in opposition to increased naval expenditure. He left Parliament in 1895 and died three years later aged 88.

Gladstone is famous for his oratory, for his rivalry with the Conservative Leader Benjamin Disraeli and his poor relations with Queen Victoria, who once complained, “He always addresses me as if I were a public meeting.”

Irish Home Rule Speech (1886)

In his famous three-hour Irish Home Rule speech, Gladstone beseeched parliament to pass the Bill and grant Home Rule to Ireland in honour rather than being compelled to one day in humiliation.


A speech by William Ewart Gladstone MP, British Prime Minister, to the House of Commons on Home Rule for Ireland, given on 7 June 1886. This speech is abridged.

I wish now to refer to another matter. I hear constantly used the terms Unionists and Separatists. But what I want to know is, who are the Unionists? I want to know who are the Separatists? I see this Bill described in newspapers of great circulation, and elsewhere, as a Separation Bill. Several Gentlemen opposite adopt and make that style of description their own. Speaking of that description, I say that it is the merest slang of vulgar controversy. Do you think this Bill will tend to separation? Well, your arguments, and even your prejudices, are worthy of all consideration and respect; but is it a fair and rational mode of conducting a controversy to attach these hard names to measures on which you wish to argue, and on which, I suppose, you desire to convince by argument? Let me illustrate. I go back to the Reform Act of Lord Grey (passed in 1832). When that Reform Bill was introduced, it was conscientiously and honestly believed by great masses of men, and intelligent men, too, that the Bill absolutely involved the destruction of the Monarchy. The Duke of Wellington propounded a doctrine very much to this effect; but I do not think that any of those Gentlemen, nor the newspapers that supported them, ever descended so low in their choice of weapons as to call the measure “the Monarchy Destruction Bill.” Such language is a mere begging of the question. Now, I must make a large demand on your patience and your indulgence – we conscientiously believe that there are Unionists and Disunionists; but that it is our policy that leads to union and yours to separation. This involves a very large and deep historical question. Let us try, for a few moments, to look at it historically.

The arguments used on the other side of the House appear to me to rest in principle and in the main upon one of two suppositions. One of them, which I will not now discuss, is the profound incompetency of the Irish people; but there is another, and it is this. It is, I believe, the conscientious conviction of honourable Gentlemen opposite that when two or more countries, associated but not incorporated together, are in disturbed relations with each other, the remedy is to create an absolute legislative incorporation. On the other hand, they believe that the dissolution of such an incorporation is clearly the mode to bring about the dissolution of the political relations of those countries. I do not deny that there may be cases in which legislative incorporation may have been the means of constituting a great country, as in the case of France. But we believe, as proved by history, that where there are those disturbed relations between countries associated, but not incorporated, the true principle is to make ample provision for local independence, subject to Imperial unity. These are propositions of the greatest interest and importance. Gentlemen speak of tightening the ties between England and Ireland as if tightening the tie were always the means to be adopted. Tightening the tie is frequently the means of making it burst, whilst relaxing the tie is very frequently the way to provide for its durability, and to enable it to stand a stronger strain; so that it is true, as was said by the honourable Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen), that the separation of Legislatures is often the union of countries, and the union of Legislatures is often the severance of countries. Can you give me a single instance from all your historical inquiries where the acknowledgment of local independence has been followed by the severance of countries? (Cries of “Turkey!” “Servia!”) I was just going to refer to those countries, and to make this admission – that what I have said does not apply where a third Power has intervened, and has given liberty in defiance of the Sovereign Power to the subject State. But do you purpose to wait until some third Power shall intervene in the case of Ireland, as it intervened in the case of America? (An honourable Member: We are not afraid.) I never asked the honourable Gentleman whether he was afraid. It does not matter much whether he is afraid or not; but I would inculcate in him that early and provident fear which, in the language of Mr. Burke, is the mother of safety. I admit that where some third Power interferes, as France interfered in the case of America, you can expect nothing to result but severance with hostile feeling on both sides.

But I am not speaking of such cases. That is not the case before us. But I ask you to give me a single instance where, apart from the intervention of a third Power, the independence of the Legislatures was followed by the severance of the nations? I can give several instances where total severance of countries has been the consequence of an attempt to tighten the bond – in the case of England and America, in the case of Belgium and Holland. The attempt to make Belgians conform to the ways and ideas and institutions of Holland led to the severance of the two countries. (Mr. Gladstone then gave examples of the efficacy of home rule in preventing separation.)

I can understand, then, the disinclination which honourable Gentlemen opposite have to go into history as to these cases; but it will be unfolded more and more as these debates proceed, if the controversy be prolonged – it will more and more appear how strong is the foundation upon which we stand now, and upon which Mr. Grattan stood over 86 years ago, when he contended that a union of the Legislatures was the way to a moral and a real separation between the two countries.

It has been asked in this debate, why have we put aside all the other Business of Parliament, and why have we thrown the country into all this agitation for the sake of the Irish Question? (“Hear, hear!”) That cheer is the echo that I wanted. Well, Sir, the first reason is this – because in Ireland the primary purposes of Government are not attained. What said the honourable Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) in his eloquent speech? That in a considerable part of Ireland distress was chronic, disaffection was perpetual, and insurrection was smouldering. What is implied by those who speak of the dreadful murder that lately took place in Kerry? And I must quote the Belfast outrage along with it; not as being precisely of the same character, but as a significant proof of the weakness of the tie which binds the people to the law. Sir, it is that you have not got that respect for the law, that sympathy with the law on the part of the people without which real civilization cannot exist.

That is our first reason. I will not go back at this time on the dreadful story of the Union; but that, too, must be unfolded in all its hideous features if this controversy is to be prolonged – that Union of which I ought to say that, without qualifying in the least any epithet I have used, I do not believe that that Union can or ought to be repealed, for it has made marks upon history that cannot be effaced. But I go on to another pious belief which prevails on the other side of the House, or which is often professed in controversies on the Irish Question. It is supposed that all the abuses of English power in Ireland relate to a remote period of history, and that from the year 1800 onwards from the time of the Union there has been a period of steady redress of grievances.

Sir, I am sorry to say that there has been nothing of the kind. There has been a period when grievances have been redressed under compulsion, as in 1829, when Catholic Emancipation was granted to avoid civil war. There have been grievances mixed up with the most terrible evidence of the general failure of Government, as was exhibited by the Devon Commission in the year 1843. On a former night I made a quotation from the Report which spoke of the labourer. Now I have a corresponding quotation which is more important, and which speaks of the cottier. What was the proportion of the population which more than 40 years after the Union was described by the Devon Report as being in a condition worse and more disgraceful than any population in Europe? Mr. O’Connell has estimated it in this House at 5,000,000 out of 7,000,000; and Sir James Graham, in debate with him, declined to admit that it was 5,000,000, but did admit that it was 3,500,000.

Well, Sir, in 1815 Parliament passed an Act of Irish legislation. What was the purpose of that Act? The Act declared that, from the state of the law in Ireland, the old intertangled usages and provisions containing effectual protection for the tenant against the landlord could not avail. These intertangled usages, which had replaced in an imperfect manner the tribal usages on which the tenure of land in Ireland was founded – Parliament swept them away and did everything to expose the tenant to the action of the landlord, but nothing to relieve or to deal with, by any amendment, of the law, the terrible distress which was finally disclosed by the Devon Commission.

Again, what was the state of Ireland with regard to freedom? In the year 1820 the Sheriff of Dublin and the gentry of that county and capital determined to have a county meeting to make compliments to George IV. – the trial of Queen Caroline being just over. They held their county meeting; the people went to the county meeting, and a counter-address was moved, warm in professions of loyalty, but setting out the grievances of the country and condemning the trial and proceedings against the Queen. The Sheriff refused to bear it. He put his own motion, but refused to put the other motion; he left the meeting, which continued the debate, and he sent in the military to the meeting, which was broken up by force. That was the state of Ireland as to freedom of Petition and remonstrance 20 years after the Union. Do you suppose that would have been the case if Ireland had retained her own Parliament? No, Sir. Other cases I will not dwell upon at this late hour, simply on account of the lateness of the hour. From 1857, when we passed an Act which enable the landlords of Ireland to sell improvements on their tenants’ holdings over their heads, down to 1880, when a most limited and carefully framed Bill, the product of Mr. Forster’s benevolence, was passed by this House and rejected by an enormous majority in the House of Lords, thereby precipitating the Land Act of 1881, it is impossible to stand by the legislation of this House as a whole since the Union.

I have sometimes heard it said, You have had all kinds of remedial legislation. The two chief items are the Disestablishment of the Church and the reform of the Land Laws? But what did you say of these? Why, you said the change in the Land Laws was confiscation and the Disestablishment of the Church was sacrilege. You cannot at one and the same time condemn these measures as confiscation and sacrilege, and at the same time quote them as proofs of the justice with which you have acted to Ireland.

I must further say that we have proposed this measure because Ireland wants to make her own laws. It is not enough to say that you are prepared to make good laws. You were prepared to make good laws for the Colonies. You did make good laws for the Colonies according to the best of your light. The Colonists were totally dissatisfied with them. You accepted their claim to make their own laws. Ireland, in our opinion, has a claim not less urgent.

Now, Sir, what is before us? What is before us in the event of the rejection of this Bill? What alternatives have been proposed? Here I must for a moment comment on the fertile imagination of my right honourable Friend the Member for West Birmingham. (Mr Joseph Chamberlain) He has proposed alternatives, and plenty of them. My right honourable Friend says that a Dissolution has no terrors for him. I do not wonder at it. I do not see how a Dissolution can have any terrors for him. He has trimmed his vessel and he has touched his rudder in such a masterly way that in whichever direction the winds of Heaven may blow they must fill his sails.

Let me illustrate my meaning. I will suppose different cases. Supposing at the Election – I mean that an Election is a thing like Christmas, it is always coming – supposing that at an Election public opinion should very strong in favour of the Bill. My right honourable Friend would then be perfectly prepared to meet that public opinion, and tell it – “I declared strongly that I adopted the principle of the Bill.” On the other hand, if public opinion was very adverse to the Bill, my right honourable Friend, again, is in complete armour, because he says – “Yes, I voted against the Bill.” Supposing, again, public opinion is in favour of a very large plan for Ireland.

My right honourable Friend is perfectly provided for that case also. The Government plan was not large enough for him, and he proposed in his speech on the introduction of the Bill that we should have a measure on the basis of federation, which goes beyond this Bill. Lastly – and now I have very nearly boxed the compass – supposing that public opinion should take quite a different turn, and instead of wanting very large measures for Ireland should demand very small measures for Ireland, still the resources of my right honourable Friend are not exhausted, because then he is able to point out that the last of his plans was four Provincial Councils controlled from London.

Under other circumstances I should, perhaps, have been tempted to ask the secret of my right honourable Friend’s recipe; as it is, I am afraid I am too old to learn it. But I do not wonder that a Dissolution has no terrors for him, because he is prepared in such a way and with such a series of expedients to meet all the possible contingencies of the case. Well, Sir, when I come to look at these practical alternatives and provisions, I find that they are visibly creations of the vivid imagination born of the hour and perishing with the hour, totally and absolutely unavailable for the solution of a great and difficult problem, the weight of which, and the urgency of which, my right honourable Friend himself in other days has seemed to feel.

But I should not say now that our plan has possession of the field without a rival. Lord Salisbury has given us a rival plan. My first remark is that Lord Salisbury’s policy has not been disavowed. It is, therefore, adopted. What is it? (A laugh.) Another laugh? It has been disavowed; what is it? Great complaints are made because it has been called a policy of coercion; and Lord Salisbury is stated to have explained in “another place” that he is not favourable to coercion, but only to legislative provisions for preventing interference by one man with the liberty of another, and for insuring the regular execution of the law. And that, you say, is not coercion? Was that your view six months ago? What did the Liberal Government propose when they went out of Office? They proposed to enact clauses against the – (Cries of “No, no!” from the Opposition.)

Lord Randolph Churchill: They never made any proposal.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Perhaps not; but it was publicly stated. It was stated by me in a letter to the right honourable Gentleman.

Sir Michael Hicks-Beach: In October.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Certainly; but it was stated in order to correct a rather gross error of the right honourable Gentleman. It was stated as what we had intended when we were going out of Office – unless I am greatly mistaken, it was publicly stated in this House long before. However, it is not very important. What were the proposals that we were about to make, or that we were supposed to be about to make? Well, a proposal about “Boycotting” – to prevent one man interfering with the liberty of another; and a proposal about a change of venue to insure the execution of the ordinary law. And how were these proposals viewed? Did not the Tories go to the Elections putting upon their placards – “Vote for the Tories and no Coercion?”

Sir Walter B. Barttelot: No, no!

Mr. W. E. Gladstone: I do not say that every Tory did it. The honourable and gallant Baronet cries “No.” No doubt he did not do it; but he had no Irish voters.

Sir Walter B. Barttelot: If I had I would have done it.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Then it means this – that these proposals which we were about to make were defined as coercion by the Tories at the Election, and Lord Salisbury now denies them to be coercion; and it is resented with the loudest manifestations of displeasure when anyone on this side of the House states that Lord Salisbury has recommended 20 years of coercion. Lord Salisbury recommended, as be says himself, 20 years of those measures which last year were denounced by the Tories. But what did Lord Salisbury call them himself? What were his own words? His words were –

“My alternative policy is that Parliament should enable the Government of England to govern Ireland.”

What is the meaning of those words? Their meaning, in the first instance, is this – The Government does not want the aid of Parliament to exercise their Executive power; it wants the aid of Parliament for fresh legislation. The demand that the Parliament should enable the Government of England to govern Ireland is a demand for fresh legislative power. This fresh legislative power, how are they to use?

“Apply that recipe honestly, consistently, and resolutely for 20 years, and at the end of that time you will find Ireland will be fit to accept any gift in the way of local government or repeal of Coercion Laws that you may wish to give.”

And yet objections and complaints of misrepresentation teem from that side of the House when anyone on this side says that Lord Salisbury recommended coercion, when he himself applies that same term in his own words. A question was put to me by my honourable Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Thorold Rogers), in the course of his most instructive speech. My honourable Friend had a serious misgiving as to the point of time. Were we right in introducing this measure now? He did not object to the principle; he intimated a doubt as to the moment. I may ask my honourable Friend to consider what would have happened had we hesitated as to the duty before us, had we used the constant efforts that would have been necessary to keep the late Government in Office, and allowed them to persevere in their intentions. On the 26th of January they proposed what we termed a measure of coercion, and I think we were justified in so terming it, because anything attempting to put down a political association can hardly have another name. Can it be denied that that legislation must have been accompanied by legislation against the Press, legislation against public meetings, and other legislation without which it would have been totally ineffective? Would it have been better if a great controversy cannot be avoided – and I am sensible of the evil of this great controversy – I say it is better that Parties should be matched in conflict upon a question of giving a great boon to Ireland, rather than – as we should have been if the policy of January 26 had proceeded – that we should have been matched and brought into conflict, and the whole country torn with dispute and discussion upon the policy of a great measure of coercion. That is my first reason.

My second reason is this. Let my honourable Friend recollect that this is the earliest moment in our Parliamentary history when we have the voice of Ireland authentically expressed in our hearing. Majorities of Home Rulers there may have been upon other occasions; a practical majority of Irish Members never has been brought together for such a purpose. Now, first, we can understand her; now, first, we are able to deal with her; we are able to learn authentically what she wants and wishes, what she offers and will do; and as we ourselves enter into the strongest moral and honourable obligations by the steps which we take in this House, so we have before us practically an Ireland under the representative system able to give us equally authentic information, able morally to convey to us an assurance the breach and rupture of which would cover Ireland with disgrace.

There is another reason, but not a very important one. It is this. I feel that any attempt to palter with the demands of Ireland, so conveyed in forms known to the Constitution, and any rejection of the conciliatory policy, might have an effect that none of us could wish in strengthening that Party of disorder which is behind the back of the Irish Representatives, which skulks in America, which skulks in Ireland, which I trust is losing ground and is losing force, and will lose ground and will lose force in proportion as our policy is carried out, and which I cannot altogether dismiss from consideration when I take into view the consequences that might follow upon its rejection.

What is the case of Ireland at this moment? Have honourable Gentlemen considered that they are coming into conflict with a nation? Can anything stop a nation’s demand, except its being proved to be immoderate and unsafe? But here are multitudes, and, I believe, millions upon millions, out-of-doors, who feel this demand to be neither immoderate nor unsafe. In our opinion, there is but one question before us about this demand. It is as to the time and circumstance of granting it. There is no question in our minds that it will be granted, We wish it to be granted in the mode prescribed by Mr. Burke, Mr. Burke said, in his first speech at Bristol –

“I was true to my old-standing invariable principles, that all things which came from Great Britain should issue as a gift of her bounty and beneficence rather than as claims recovered against struggling litigants, or at least, if your beneficence obtained no credit in your concessions, yet that they should appear the salutary provisions of your wisdom and foresight – not as things wrung from you with your blood by the cruel gripe of a rigid necessity.”

The difference between giving with freedom and dignity on the one side, with acknowledgment and gratitude on the other, and giving under compulsion – giving with disgrace, giving with resentment dogging you at every step of your path – this difference is, in our eyes, fundamental, and this is the main reason not only why we have acted, but why we have acted now. This, if I understand it, is one of the golden moments of our history – one of those opportunities which may come and may go, but which rarely return, or, if they return, return at long intervals, and under circumstances which no man can forecast. There have been such golden moments even in the tragic history of Ireland, as her poet says –

“One time the harp of Innisfail Was tuned to notes of gladness.”

And then he goes on to say –

“But yet did oftener tell a tale Of more prevailing sadness.”

But there was such a golden moment – it was in 1795 – it was on the mission of Lord Fitzwilliam. At that moment it is historically clear that the Parliament of Grattan was on the point of solving the Irish problem. The two great knots of that problem were – in the first place, Roman Catholic Emancipation; and, in the second place, the Reform of Parliament. The cup was at her lips, and she was ready to drink it, when the hand of England rudely and ruthlessly dashed it to the ground in obedience to the wild and dangerous intimations of an Irish faction.

Ex illo fluere ac retro sublapsa referri, Spes Danaum.” (From then onwards the tide of fortune left the shores of Troy and ebbed faster than it flowed earlier)

There has been no great day of hope for Ireland, no day when you might hope completely and definitely to end the controversy till now – more than 90 years. The long periodic time has at last run out, and the star has again mounted into the heavens. What Ireland was doing for herself in 1795 we at length have done. The Roman Catholics have been emancipated – emancipated after a woeful disregard of solemn promises through 29 years, emancipated slowly, sullenly, not from goodwill, but from abject terror, with all the fruits and consequences which will always follow that method of legislation.

The second problem has been also solved, and the representation of Ireland has been thoroughly reformed; and I am thankful to say that the franchise was given to Ireland on the re-adjustment of last year with a free heart, with an open hand, and the gift of that franchise was the last act required to make the success of Ireland in her final effort absolutely sure. We have given Ireland a voice: we must all listen for a moment to what she says. We must all listen – both sides, both Parties, I mean as they are, divided on this question – divided, I am afraid, by an almost immeasurable gap. We do not undervalue or despise the forces opposed to us. I have described them as the forces of class and its dependents; and that as a general description – as a slight and rude outline of a description – is, I believe, perfectly true. I do not deny that many are against us whom we should have expected to be for us. I do not deny that some whom we see against us have caused us by their conscientious action the bitterest disappointment. You have power, you have wealth, you have rank, you have station, you have organization. What have we? We think that we have the people’s heart; we believe and we know we have the promise of the harvest of the future.

As to the people’s heart, you may dispute it, and dispute it with perfect sincerity. Let that matter make its own proof. As to the harvest of the future, I doubt if you have so much confidence, and I believe that there is in the breast of many a man who means to vote against us to-night a profound misgiving, approaching even to a deep conviction, that the end will be as we foresee, and not as you do – that the ebbing tide is with you and the flowing tide is with us. Ireland stands at your bar expectant, hopeful, almost suppliant. Her words are the words of truth and soberness. She asks a blessed oblivion of the past and in that oblivion our interest is deeper than even hers.

My right honourable Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) asks us to-night to abide by the traditions of which we are the heirs. What traditions? By the Irish traditions? Go into the length and breadth of the world, ransack the literature of all countries, find, if you can, a single voice, a single book, find, I would almost say, as much as a single newspaper article, unless the product of the day, in which the conduct of England towards Ireland is anywhere treated except with profound and bitter condemnation. Are these the traditions by which we are exhorted to stand? No; they are a sad exception to the glory of our country. They are a broad and black blot upon the pages of its history; and what we want to do is to stand by the traditions of which we are the heirs in all matters except our relations with Ireland, and to make our relations with Ireland to conform to the other traditions of our country. So we treat our traditions – so we hail the demand of Ireland for what I call a blessed oblivion of the past. She asks also a boon for the future; and that boon for the future, unless we are much mistaken, will be a boon to us in respect of honour, no less than a boon to her in respect of happiness, prosperity, and peace. Such, Sir, is her prayer. Think, I beseech you, think well, think wisely, think, not for the moment, but for the years that are to come, before you reject this Bill.

Irish Home Rule Speechhttp://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Irish_Home_Rule_Speech

Arthur Balfour

Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour (1848–1930) was a British Conservative politician and statesman. He served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1902–1905, and was later Foreign Secretary (1916–1919).

At first seen as something of a dilettante, he attained prominence as Chief Secretary for Ireland during 1887–1891. In this post, he authored the Perpetual Crimes Act (1887) (or Coercion Act) aimed at the prevention of boycotting, intimidation and unlawful assembly in Ireland during the Irish Land War.

Balfour succeeded his uncle Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader in July 1902. As Prime Minister, Balfour oversaw such events as the Entente Cordiale, but his party was split over tariff reform and in December 1905 he relinquished power to the Liberals. The general election the following January was a disaster for the Conservatives and their Liberal Unionist allies, left with a mere 157 seats in Parliament. He continued as Leader of the Opposition throughout the crisis over the Lloyd George People’s Budget and the Parliament Act, but after failing to win either of the two General Elections in 1910 he resigned as leader in November 1911.

He returned to the Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty in the coalition government formed in May 1915, then in David Lloyd George’s coalition government he was Foreign Secretary (1916–1919). In this post, he authored the Balfour Declaration of 1917, supporting the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and for which his name perhaps remains best known today. Balfour retired from the House of Commons at the 1922 general election, and was granted an Earldom. In the late 1920s he served as an elder statesman in the second government of Stanley Baldwin.


“The benefits of reading” (1887)

A speech given by Arthur Balfour MP, Chief Secretary for Ireland, on the benefits of reading. Given to St Andrews University, Scotland in December 1887.

Truly it is a subject for astonishment that, instead of expanding to the utmost the employment of this pleasure-giving faculty, so many persons should set themselves to work to limit its exercise by all kinds of arbitrary regulations.

Some persons, for example, tell us that the acquisition of knowledge is all very well, but that it must be useful knowledge, -meaning usually thereby that it must enable a man to get on in a profession, pass an examination, shine in conversation, or obtain a reputation for learning. But even if they mean something higher than this-even if they mean that knowledge, to be worth anything, must subserve ultimately, if not immediately, the material or spiritual interests of mankind-the doctrine is one which should be energetically repudiated.

I admit, of course, at once, that discoveries the most apparently remote from human concerns have often proved themselves of the utmost commercial or manufacturing value. But they require no such justification for their existence, nor were they striven for with any such object.

Navigation is not the final cause of astronomy, nor telegraphy of electro-dynamics, nor dyeworks of chemistry. And if it be true that the desire of knowledge for the sake of knowledge was the animating motives of the great men who first wrested her secrets from nature, why should it not also be enough for us, to whom it is not given to discover, but only to learn as best we may what has been discovered by others? Another maxim, more plausible but equally pernicious, is that superficial knowledge is worse than no knowledge at all. That “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is a saying which has now got currency as a proverb stamped in the mint of Pope’s versification, -of Pope who, with the most imperfect knowledge of Greek, translated Homer; with the most imperfect knowledge of the Elizabethan drama, edited Shakespeare; and with the most imperfect knowledge of philosophy, wrote the “Essay on Man.”

But what is this “little knowledge” which is supposed to be so dangerous? What is it “little” in relation to? If in relation to what there is to know, then all human knowledge is little. If in relation to what actually is known by somebody, then we must condemn as “dangerous” the knowledge which Archimedes possessed of mechanics, or Copernicus of astronomy; for a shilling primer and a few weeks’ study will enable any student to outstrip in mere information some of the greatest teachers of the past

No doubt that little knowledge which thinks itself to be great may possibly be a dangerous, as it certainly is a most ridiculous, thing. We have all suffered under that eminently absurd individual who, on the strength of one or two volumes, imperfectly apprehended by himself and long discredited in the estimation of every one else, is prepared to supply you on the shortest notice with a dogmatic solution of every problem suggested by this “unintelligible world”; or the political variety of the same pernicious genus whose statecraft consists in the ready application to the most complex question of national interest of some high-sounding commonplace which has done weary duty on a thousand platforms, and which even in its palmiest days was never fit for anything better than a peroration.

I say, then, that so far from a little knowledge being dangerous, a little knowledge is all that on most subjects any of us can hope to attain, and that as a source, not of worldly profit, but of personal pleasure, it may be of incalculable value to its possessor.

But it will naturally be asked, “How are we to select from among the infinite number of things which may be known those which it is best worth while for us to know?” We are constantly being told to concern ourselves with learning what is important, and not to waste our energies upon what is insignificant.

But what are the marks by which we shall recognize the important, and how is it to be distinguished from the insignificant? A precise and complete answer to this question which shall be true for all men can not be given. I am considering knowledge, recollect, as it ministers to enjoyment, and from this point of view each unit of information is obviously of importance in proportion as it increases the general sum of enjoyment which we obtain from knowledge. This, of course, makes it impossible to lay down precise rules which shall be an equally sure guide to all sorts and conditions of men; for in this, as in other matters, tastes must differ, and against real difference of taste there is no appeal.

There is, however, one caution which it may be worth your while to keep in view: Do not be persuaded into applying any general proposition on this subject with a foolish impartiality to every kind of knowledge. There are those who tell you that it is the broad generalities and the far-reaching principles which govern the world, which are alone worthy of your attention.

A fact which is not an illustration of a law, in the opinion of these persons, appears to lose all its value. Incidents which do not fit into some great generalization, events which are merely picturesque, details which are merely curious they dismiss as unworthy the interest of a reasoning being.

Now, even in science, this doctrine in its extreme form does not hold good. The most scientific of men have taken profound interest in the investigation of the facts from the determination of which they do not anticipate any material addition to our knowledge of the laws which regulate the universe. In these matters I need hardly say that I speak wholly without authority. But I have always been under the impression that an investigation which has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds; which has stirred on three occasions the whole scientific community throughout the civilized world; on which has been expended the utmost skill in the construction of instruments and their application to purposes of research (I refer to the attempts made to determine the distance of the sun by observations of the transit of Venus), would, even if they had been brought to a successful issue, have furnished mankind with the knowledge of no new astronomical principle.

The laws which govern the motions of the solar system, the proportions which the various elements in that system bear to one another, have long been known. The distance of the sun itself is known within limits of error, relatively speaking, not very considerable. Were the measuring rod we apply to the heavens, based on an estimate of the sun’s distance from the earth, which was wrong by (say) three per cent, it would not, to the lay mind, seem to affect very materially our view either of the distribution of the heavenly bodies or of their motions. And yet this information, this piece of celestial gossip, would seem to be that which was chiefly expected from the successful prosecution of an investigation in which whole nations have interested themselves.

But tho no one can, I think, pretend that science does not concern itself, and properly concern itself, with facts which are not in themselves, to all appearance, illustrations of law, it is undoubtedly true that for those who desire to extract the greatest pleasure from science, a knowledge, however elementary, of the leading principles of investigation and the larger laws of nature, is the acquisition most to be desired. To him who is not a specialist, a comprehension of the broad outlines of the universe as it presents itself to the scientific imagination, is the thing most worth striving to attain.

But when we turn from science to what is rather vaguely called history, the same principles of study do not, I think, altogether apply, and mainly for this reason-that while the recognition of the reign of the law is the chief among the pleasures imparted by science, our inevitable ignorance makes it the least among the pleasures imparted by history.

It is no doubt true that we are surrounded by advisers who tell us that all study of the past is barren except in so far as it enables us to determine the laws by which the evolution of human societies is governed. How far such an investigation has been up to the present time fruitful in results I will not inquire. That it will ever enable us to trace with accuracy the course which States and nations are destined to pursue in the future, or to account in detail for their history in the past, I do not believe.

We are borne along like travelers on some unexplored stream. We may know enough of the general configuration of the globe to be sure that we are making our way toward the ocean. We may know enough by experience or theory of the laws regulating the flow of liquids, to conjecture how the river will behave under the varying influences to which it may be subject. More than this we can not know. It will depend largely upon causes which, in relation to any laws which we are ever likely to discover, may properly be called accidental, whether we are destined sluggishly to drift among fever-stricken swamps, to hurry down perilous rapids, or to glide gently through fair scenes of peaceful cultivation.

But leaving on one side ambitious sociological speculations, and even those more modest but hitherto more successful investigations into the causes which have in particular cases been principally operative in producing great political changes, there are still two modes in which we can derive what I may call “spectacular” enjoyment from the study of history.

There is first the pleasure which arises from the contemplation of some great historic drama, or some broad and well-marked phase of social development. The story of the rise, greatness, and decay of a nation is like some vast epic which contains as subsidiary episodes the varied stories of the rise, greatness, and decay of creeds, of parties and of statesmen. The imagination is moved by the slow unrolling of this great picture of human mutability, as it is moved by contrasted permanence of the abiding stars. The ceaseless conflict, the strange echoes of long-forgotten controversies, the confusion of purpose, the successes which lay deep the seeds of future evils, the failures that ultimately divert the otherwise inevitable danger, the heroism which struggles to the last for a cause foredoomed to defeat, the wickedness which sides with right, and the wisdom which huzzas at the triumph of folly-fate, meanwhile, through all this turmoil and perplexity, working silently toward the predestined end-all these form together a subject the contemplation of which need surely never weary.

But there is yet another and very different species of enjoyment to be derived from the records of the past, which require a somewhat different method of study in order that it may be fully tasted. Instead of contemplating, as it were, from a distance, the larger aspects of the human drama, we may elect to move in familiar fellowship amid the scenes and actors of special periods.

We may add to the interest we derive from the contemplation of contemporary politics, a similar interest derived from a not less minute and probably more accurate knowledge of some comparatively brief passage in the political history of the past. We may extend the social circle in which we move-a circle perhaps narrowed and restricted through circumstances beyond our control-by making intimate acquaintances, perhaps even close friends, among a society long departed, but which, when we have once learnt the trick of it, it rests with us to revive.

It is this kind of historical reading which is usually branded as frivolous and useless, and persons who indulge in it often delude themselves into thinking that the real motive of their investigation into bygone scenes and ancient scandals is philosophic interest in an important historical episode, whereas in truth it is not the philosophy which glorifies the details, but the details which make tolerable the philosophy.

Consider, for example, the case of the French Revolution. The period from the taking of the Bastile to the fall of Robespierre is about the same length as very commonly intervenes between two of our general elections. On these comparatively few months libraries have been written. The incidents of every week are matters of familiar knowledge. The character and the biography of every actor in the drama has been made the subject of minute study; and by common admission, there is no more fascinating page in the history of the world.

But the interest is not what is commonly called philosophic; it is personal. Because the Revolution is the dominant fact in modern history, therefore people suppose that the doings of this or that provincial lawyer, tossed into temporary eminence and eternal infamy by some freak of the revolutionary wave, or the atrocities committed by this or that mob, half-drunk with blood, rhetoric and alcohol, are of transcendent importance.

In truth their interest is great, but their importance is small. What we are concerned to know as students of the philosophy of history is, not the character of each turn and eddy in the great social cataract, but the manner in which the currents of the upper stream drew surely in toward the final plunge, and slowly collected themselves after the catastrophe, again to pursue, at a different level, their renewed and comparatively tranquil course.

Now, if so much of the interest of the French Revolution depends upon our minute knowledge of each passing incident, how much more necessary is such knowledge when we are dealing with the quiet nooks and corners of history-when we are seeking an introduction, let us say, into the literary society of Johnson or the fashionable society of Walpole! Society, dead or alive, can have no charm without intimacy, and no intimacy without interest in trifles which I fear Mr. Harrison would describe as “merely curious.”

If we would feel at our ease in any company, if we wish to find humor in its jokes and point in its repartees, we must know something of the beliefs and the prejudices of its various members-their loves and their hates, their hopes and their fears, their maladies, their marriages, and their flirtations. If these things are beneath our notice, we shall not be the less qualified to serve our queen and country, but need make no attempt to extract pleasure out of one of the most delightful departments of literature.

That there is such a thing as trifling information, I do not of course question; but the frame of mind in which the reader is constantly weighing the exact importance to the universe at large of each circumstance which the author presents to his notice, is not one conducive to the true enjoyment of a picture whose effect depends upon a multitude of slight and seemingly insignificant touches, which impress the mind often without remaining in the memory.

The best method of guarding against the danger of reading what is useless is to read only what is interesting-a truth which will seem a paradox to a whole class of readers, fitting objects of our commiseration, who may be often recognized by their habit of asking some adviser for a list of books, and then marking out a scheme of study in the course of which all these are to be conscientiously perused.

These unfortunate persons apparently read a book principally with the object of getting to the end of it. They reach the word “Finis” with the same sensation of triumph as an Indian feels who strings a fresh scalp to his girdle. They are not happy unless they mark by some definite performance each step in the weary path of self-improvement. To begin a volume and not to finish it would be to deprive themselves of this satisfaction; it would be to lose all the reward of their earlier self-denial by a lapse from virtue at the end. The skip, according to their literature code, is a form of cheating: it is a mode of obtaining credit for erudition on false pretenses; a plan by which the advantages of learning are surreptitiously obtained by those who have not won them by honest toil. But all this is quite wrong. In matters literary, works have no saving efficacy. He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the even more refined accomplishments of skipping and of skimming; and the first step has hardly been taken in the direction of making literature a pleasure, until interest in the subject and not a desire to spare (so to speak) the author’s feelings, or to accomplish an appointed task, is the prevailing motive of the reader.

The Benefits of Readinghttp://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Benefits_of_Reading

References and Bibliography

AmericanRhetoric – 100 American Speeches of the 20th Century. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html

Encarta Yearbook 1999, “Ten Who Changed the Millennium”.

Lowne, C. (ed.) 2005). Speeches that changed the world. Bounty Books, London, U.K.

MacArthur, B. (ed.) (1996). The Penguin Book of Historic Speeches. Penguin Books, U.K.

The Art of Manliness – The 35 Greatest Speeches in History. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-35-greatest-speeches-in-history/

The History Place – Great speeches collection. http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/previous.htm

The TelegraphTop 25 political speeches of all time, Ranks 12-1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/2448979/Top-25-political-speeches-of-all-time-12-1.html

The TelegraphTop 25 political speeches of all time, Ranks 25-13. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/2446609/Top-25-political-speeches-of-all-time-25-13.html

Time MagazineTop 10 Greatest Speeches. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1841228,00.html

TopTenz.net – Top 10 Greatest Speeches. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-greatest-speeches.php

Wikipedia – List of speeches. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_speeches

Compiled by Diep Minh Tam


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