President Lincoln made remarks on Independence Day in 1863 on the 7th of July. While he issued a brief statement on the 4th that referenced the Army of the Potomac’s victory at Gettysburg, he delayed making an address until the 7th because he was concerned about the outcome of the Vicksburg campaign. You will find within his brief statement themes that he eventually developed more fully in his Gettysburg Address delivered in November of 1863. Here are President Lincoln’s remarks on American Independence delivered on 7 July 1863 and sometimes referred to as the Response to a Serenade.
Fellow-citizens: I am very glad to see you to-night. But yet I will not say I thank you for this call. But I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. [Cheers.] How long ago is it? Eighty odd years since, upon the Fourth day of July, for the first time in the world, a union body of representatives was assembled to declare as a self-evident truth that all men were created equal. [Cheers.]That was the birthday of the United States of America. Since then the fourth day of July has had several very peculiar recognitions. The two most distinguished men who framed and supported that paper, including the particular declaration I have mentioned, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the one having framed it, and the other sustained it most ably in debate, the only two of the fifty-five or fifty-six who signed it, I believe, who were ever President of the United States, precisely fifty years after they put their hands to that paper it pleased the Almighty God to take away from this stage of action on the Fourth of July. This extraordinary coincidence we can understand to be a dispensation of the Almighty Ruler of Events.
Another of our Presidents, five years afterwards, was called from this stage of existence on the same day of the month, and now on this Fourth of July just past, when a gigantic rebellion has risen in the land, precisely at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow that principle “that all men are created equal,” we have a surrender of one of their most powerful positions and powerful armies forced upon them on that very day. [Cheers.] And I see in the succession of battles in Pennsylvania, which continued three days, so rapidly following each other as to be justly called one great battle, fought on the first, second and third of July; on the fourth the enemies of the declaration that all men are created equal had to turn tail and run. [Laughter and applause.]
Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme and a glorious occasion for a speech, but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the theme and worthy of the occasion. [Cries of “go on,” and applause.] I would like to speak in all praise that is due to the the [sic] many brave officers and soldiers who have fought in the cause of the Union and liberties of this country from the beginning of this war, not on occasions of success, but upon the more trying occasions of the want of success. I say I would like to speak in praise of these men, particularizing their deeds, but I am unprepared. I should dislike to mention the name of a single officer, lest in doing so I wrong some other one whose name may not occur to me. [Cheers.]
Recent events bring up certain names, gallantly prominent, but I do not want to particularly name them at the expense of others, who are as justly entitled to our gratitude as they. I therefore do not upon this occasion name a single man. And now I have said about as much as I ought to say in this impromptu manner, and if you please, I’ll take the music. [Tremendous cheering, and calls for the President to reappear.]
For years I thought of “founding fathers” as mature adults, not college age rebels.
“the more trying occasions of the want of success”
Indeed. Let us take these words to heart and be courageous.
“The enemies of the declaration that all men are created equal.” They continue to this day, encouraged on by cynical politicians and their”Southern Strategy” that is, of course, not limited to the South. May the spirit of Abe Lincon haunt their dreams.
Happy birthday to Malia Obama !
Of course I’ve known more or less forever that Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, but had no idea that Monroe died on the same date, five years later. Thank you, President Lincoln, for bringing that fact to my notice.
But while three U.S. Presidents died on July 4, only one has had a July 4 birthday — Calvin Coolidge (b. 1872).
Jeeze these guys go on without a 140-character limit, don’t they? What’s with the whole noun-verb ‘complete sentence’ stuff? SAD! #verbose #whoyoutryintoimpress #TLDR
So this play was on my local PBS last night:
The Life of Thomas Paine (The Play)
If you get a chance to see it, please do, you will not be disappointed.
Ian Ruskin has been taking it on the road to community colleges and libraries across the country. The filmed version was Haskell Wexler’s last production before his death.
I got to see it live at the Harvard Trade Union Program’s last Alumni Celebration (HTUP!) and was found that everything old is new again. Here’s hoping it becomes as ubiquitous on the 4th as Christmas Story on, well, you know.
Obama should have released this “Don’t Do This!” safety video…
Happy 4th Everyone.
It’s hard to celebrate an independence that was willingly ceded last year by a traitorous, compromised, corrupt demagogue and his craven enablers in congress. Not to mention the MAGAts who are absurdly celebrating that victory of a foreign autocrat by wrapping themselves in the American flag.
On the other hand, I’ve never related more to the struggles of the colonists who banded together and risked all to throw off the yoke of a hostile foreign power. May we have the courage to redeem their experiment.
President Whitmore’s Independence Day Address
@zhena gogolia: This times 1,000. Thank you!
Villago Delenda Est
@Betty: The GOP has not been the party of Lincoln for some time now. It has been, ever since at least 1980, the party of Jefferson Davis.
It needs to go the way of the NSDAP and the CPSU.
@Villago Delenda Est:
I know my history is rusty, but I can’t think of a Republican President who has embodied the Party of Lincoln other than Lincoln himself.
@debbie: Teddy was ok. And Ike.
Well, relatively speaking, yes. That walking softly, carrying a big stick thing has always bothered me.
@debbie: Well, Lincoln used a big stick too.
@debbie: I believe Grant was a Republican.
ETA: As was Sherman, although he (famously) turned down the Presidency.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
The most depressing article and comment thread you’ll have seen this year. America 2017, in microcosm, as run by coal rollin’ assholes.
@Baud: Eisenhower was a Democrat (5 page .pdf), and probably would have been a good Democratic president.
@Baud: It took me a minute to process “President Whitmore”. #Baud 2020
@Baud: So did Ike. And cousin Franklin.
@Baud: Not Ike. He was the “God in politics” asshole.
Grant and Sherman were of the same period as Lincoln, so I wouldn’t be surprised at the similarities in party philosphy (though I remember writing a paper about Grant in college and thinking he had ended up being duped by both sides).
@FlyingToaster: The question is which GOP presidents reflect The Party of Lincoln. Religiosity doesn’t take one out of that class.
@debbie: Grant’s reputation has had something of a roller-coaster ride. it seems, right now, to be on the upswing (once again). In any case, I would strongly recommend reading both Grant’s and Sherman’s memoirs to anyone with even a minimal interest in American history.
@MattF: Sherman was a racist. Grant wasn’t.
Try this one
War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta
I know I read contemporary accounts for papers for Grant as well as Lincoln, but (other than Carl Sanburg) I can’t remember the authors. My brain is the dusty bin of history at this point.
It’s positively pedantic!
@Sab: Grant owned slaves (at one point). Dunno if Sherman did or not.
It’s easy to find disqualifying facts about people from different times, and sometimes one doesn’t have to look very hard. People are usually products of their times, and breaking out of that is very difficult.
@MattF: Heartily seconded as to Grant’s memoirs. The man was actually a good writer; his thoughts on dueling are incisive, and he makes the strategy and tactics of the Western campaign and the final showdown with Lee very clear. He was also capable of laughing at his own foibles.
I have Sherman’s memoirs (Library of America version, as with Grant), but haven’t gotten around to reading them.
Brooks has an “insightful” article in the NYT today, finally cracking the code as to why Republicans vote against their interests. Apparently, it’s a cultural value of self-reliance.
Of course, I would say that Democrats value self-reliance as well. They simply want to make tools available to the American public that (healthcare, education, infrastructure, etc.) that help people to achieve a self-reliant niche in a broader interdependent culture.
However, apparently Republicans are so hard-scrabble, so hard-wired for self-determination that they refer a society where you make your way and if you fuck up once, you die. You get one chance in life in Trump’s America, folks. That is unless, of course, you’re a member of the 0.1%
jake the antisoshul soshulist
Oh no you didn’t!
It seems old Abe (see original post) was something of a Godbotherer himself. I’ve been waiting for someone to flame him for it.
I know it’s petty but I just have to contrast how eloquently Lincoln acknowledges his incomplete grasp of the facts and thus curtailing his remarks to a certain recent President retweeting unconfirmed rumors in the middle of terrorist attacks.
@Kraux Pas: Read that this morning. I note that Peter Wehner has an op-ed essay– on the same page as Brooks’ weaselly opus– about Trump. Wehner is a committed conservative and doesn’t mind saying so– and he despises Trump. Interesting contrast.
I often wonder, if they were here today what Presidents Whittmore and Camacho would think of us now.
Grant was a product of his times, like Sherman was,so I don’t expect them to have modern sensibilities in all things. But I thank them instead for whatever they did to advance things a bit.
The Loyalist Blacks had it much worse at times than we did, and is a reminder that politics and location matter. They were invisible to the rest of Canada as long as they stayed where they were and were an issue for only one providence. It’s no accident that as black people moved north, our political influence increased. We were no longer invisible, no longer subject to what local officials had to say about us. Nova Scotians never spread out over Canada and were unable to apparently influence other Canadians for better treatment.
@Kraux Pas: Regarding NYT and its obsession with white people, Studio Glibly posted this hilarious thread:
His opening shot:
Fellow tweeters submit photos of themselves, cats, and dogs staring out of windows pensively, some with captions. Absolutely hilarious.
@gene108: I don’t know if he would be flattered by some of Trumps Camacho-esque traits.
@Kathleen: Holy crap, that’s funny.
Here’s a historical perspective on today’s troubles, from a historian I respect. It’s a long read, so here are some samples:
As they say, read the whole thing.
@Jim Parish: Grant dictated his memoirs on his deathbed, while dying of cancer, right?
Considering how many ex-Prezzes piffling books have been sent to pulp, recording Grant was quite a “get” for posterity.
No Drought No More
I’m pleasantly surprised that Trump didn’t commemorate the 4th by laying a wreath at at the foot of the Jeff Davis statue in Richmond, or at the memorial service in Vicksburg to commemorate the tragic surrender of the besieged fortress of freedom on this date in 1863..
It’s even being rumored that Trump had to be be dissuaded from designating the 4th as a national day of mourning (I know this because I started the rumor)..
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
That is so perfect.
@Kathleen: I don’t know what’s funnier, the tweets, or the Studio Ghibli nod (to the eclectic crowd assembled at BJ).
Just read it, thanks for pointing it out. I will note that while he does an excellent job illustrating how destructive Trump is and faults Republican acquiescence, this line troubles me:
It’s like Trump’s dishonest, destructive politics just dropped out of the sky in 2016 and were, to that point, nowhere to be found in the Republican party.
What? Non-white-folk can’t be suicidally self-reliant? /SJW
Haha, they were, indeed.
@Another Scott: After watching the video, I think the wording in the Declaration needs a bit of editing ‘ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that at least some men are created dumber than a bag of rocks’.
@Kathleen: On a serious note I saw a tweet reaction to this
Paraphrasing asked where is the article about ‘how black people about living in a majority white conservative state’.
Thanks for the laughs!
@Baud: Wesley Lowery tweeted that Studio Glibly should be appointed new NYT public editor.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
Ancestry’s Fourth of July ad shows how the country has changed
@Kraux Pas: Well, yes. Although Wehner actually hedges a bit, saying Rs have ‘historically’ valued order, which could mean nearly anything, and leaves out that business with the War Between The States.
Nobodt since Lincoln has entirely lived up to it, sadly. The party has basically been in a downward spiral since Lincoln died.
@Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
Saw that a while ago and put it up on my FB page. It’s a moving tribute to the essential truths contained in the words of the document whose signing we celebrate today.
@Jim Parish: If I remember right, Mark Twain was involved in the effort to get Grant’s memoirs published as a means of obtaining financial support for the former president when he needed it. I’ve wondered what extent Twain had a hand in preparing Grant’s text.
@Jacel: Twain was actually the original publisher. He basically rescued Grant from the clutches of an exploitative publishing contract. Grant had a habit of trusting the wrong people.
Resistance Near You
Anne Laurie noted Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech in the previous post. Today, sports writer Dave Zirin linked to the entire speech in his 2012 reprinting of it in The Nation. It’s a long read, but after celebrating the holiday, might be something worth settling in with.
What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
by Frederick Douglass
July 5, 1852
A lot of the content of Grant’s memoirs comes from original field orders and primary documents that he got from the participants. The clarity of his writing under the pressure of battle is remarkable and makes his work worth reading alone.
My favorite one.
@Kathleen: @Baud: lulz aplenty!
Very funny stuff! Thanks for the bit of whimsy.
I’m glad everyone enjoyed Glibly’s Twitter feed. I needed a good laugh today myself.
Adam L Silverman
@debbie: US Grant.
Rude Pundit has a post about Francis Hopkinson. I was unfamiliar with Hopkinson.
“Every conviction of error is a violence done to the mind, inasmuch as the forcible eradication of a prejudice must be attended with a painful sensation. The blind man is happy in his blindness, and the ignorant content with his ignorance. The wisest of men has somewhere told us that the increase of wisdom is the increase of sorrow.”
Happy 4th, Juicers!
Last year we visited Grant’s cottage. Everything is as it was. The clock his son stopped at the minute of Grant’s death is still on the mantel. His favorite chair. The bed he died in. On a shelf is a bottle of the cocaine mixture he was prescribed for pain.
On the grounds, there is a marker on his favorite spot; quite a view. Unfortunately, several signs were covered in bullet holes. We asked an groundskeeper who he thought shot at the signs. He said he suspected some departing guards from a nearby prison that closed a few years back.
@Cheryl Rofer: Nice. Thanks for the pointer.
@Adam L Silverman: He was born “Hiram Ulysses Grant”. My mom told me that when he went off to West Point he was ribbed mercilessly for having “H.U.G.” on his trunk. (Apparently it’s apocryphal.)
The memoir excerpts that TNC posted when he was in his “all things US Grant” phase were amazing. It’s been on my List since then.
Adam L Silverman
@Another Scott: The Dunning School, and fellow travelers, did a number on him and his reputation. Most of the more recent histories and biographies have gone a long way to rehabilitating him to his proper place and reputation.
@d58826: The MSM is only concerned with White folks. Hence the multiple stories about White Conservatives suffering despite electing their god last November. You’d think they’d be happy and celebrating about taking over Congress completely. But instead we’re constantly getting stories about how depressed/distressed they are as if they are victims. Sick of it.
Did they ever figure out who was buried in Grant’s tomb?
ETA. Old jokes, like old soldiers, never die.
@Brachiator: The correct answer is “no one,” since Grant and his wife are entombed in sarcophagi above ground in an atrium rather than being buried in the ground.
J R in WV
@Adam L Silverman:
I suspect President Grant was a better General than he was President. No pesky congress to work with… etc. But still a good Republican president, as he didn’t destroy the Republic.