American Elephants


Abraham Lincoln Spoke July 4, 1858 About the Meaning of the Declaration by The Elephant's Child

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln’s Fourth of July speech looked back for 82 years to the Declaration of Independence and at its meaning:

We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it.

We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long continued applause], and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. 

(The whole speech is here)



Just What Do You Really Know About the Revolution? by The Elephant's Child

Take a look at the cool website of the day, The American Revolution CenterExplore their collection, and the timeline of the struggle.

The Center commissioned the first national survey to assess adult knowledge of the American Revolution.  Ninety percent of Americans think that knowledge of the American Revolution and the principles that have united all Americans is very important.

89 percent of Americans expected to pass a test on basic knowledge of the Revolution, but they scored an average of 44 percent.  You can take the test here, to see what you know about the War of Independence, and there’s a reading list so you can bone up.  Enjoy.



Happy Fourth of July…….. by The Elephant's Child

WE hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable 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,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People
to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
laying its Foundation on such Principles,
and organizing its Powers in such Form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness.

~ Action of the Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776

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“He ran two start-ups, the army and the presidency, and chaired the most important committee meeting in history, the Constitutional Convention. His agribusiness and real estate portfolio made him into America’s richest man….Men followed him into battle; women longed to dance with him; famous men, almost as great as he was, some of them smarter, did what he told them to do. He was the Founding CEO.”

~Richard Brookhiser on George Washington

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“I have a deep-seated belief that America is unique, strong, great because of a commitment to personal freedom — in our economic system and our politics. We are a free people who consented to be governed. Not vice-versa.”

~Senator John Sununu

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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

~Ronald Reagan

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“The clear lesson of history is that individual liberty, the basic underpinning of American society, requires constant defense against the encroachment of the state”

~Walter Wriston

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“A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”

~Milton Friedman

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“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”

~Calvin Coolidge, July 4, 1926

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“For it has been said so truthfully that it is
the soldier, not the reporter, who
has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the agitator,
who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag,
whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who gives that protester
the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.”

~Zell Miller



Conservatives are happier people! by The Elephant's Child

Who would argue against freedom? We’re Americans, and freedom is our birthright, isn’t it? Surprisingly, a lot of people argue against freedom. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have a new book out in which they suggest the term “libertarian paternalism” as an alternative to “socialism”. They don’t quite say that, but it clearly is what they have in mind. The book is Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness which Roger Kimball describes thoughtfully at Pajamas Media.

Professors Thaler and Sunstein want to increase the likelihood that people will make the correct decisions that are in their own self interest by giving them little “nudges” here and there. The “correct decisions” are, of course, those that the professors choose. Oddly enough, Liberals seldom grasp the idea that they are infringing upon your freedom. They are only doing it for your own good!

Freedom is, to be sure, frightening. There is no telling what values someone will choose to hold. Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified by the monstrous principles of the Declaration of Independence. It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values, fear of knowledge and thought.

Richard Mitchell

The current crop of Democrats have been telling us, over and over, for months, how completely miserable we are. We have no hope, we are losing jobs, losing income, we cannot get ahead for they keep moving the bar, and we are in the worst depression since the Great Depression. This comes just at the time that economists are declaring the housing crisis over, employment rebounding, growth returning, and the “recession” probably at an end. What a sour bunch.

In the current issue of City Journal, Arthur C. Brooks has an essay Free People Are Happy People, which is based on his new book Gross National Happiness, ” In fact,” he says, “evidence shows that freedom and happiness are strongly linked. But what kind of freedom makes Americans happiest? And what can government best do to promote freedom and help us pursue happiness, as is our inalienable right?”

Freedom and happiness are highly correlated, then; even more significant, several studies have shown that freedom causes happiness….

The data and evidence don’t prove that all kinds of freedom bring equal happiness, or that more freedom is always better than less. For example, what about economic freedom? Pundits and politicians on the left often tell us that a free economy makes for an unhappy population; the disruptions of capitalism make us insecure, and we would prefer the security of generous welfare programs and national health care. But for most people, it turns out, that isn’t true.

Liberals are not happy with this book. (Why am I not surprised) Both book and essay suggest that the Conservative emphasis on liberty makes for happier people. Rejecting the welfare state and rejecting big government pay off. Religious freedom and faith produce happier people. Property rights, freedom to operate a business, trade with other nations (are you paying attention Speaker Pelosi?) ease of investment — all are elements that add to national happiness.

But down inside, you knew that, didn’t you? Freedom is our inalienable right, and free people look to the future with optimism. It’s the people who insist that we are miserable, that the current government is the worst ever, that the country is headed in the wrong direction — and once we feel bad enough, promise that they will make us feel better. They will do all sorts of wonderful things for us, as soon as they raise our taxes, diminish our freedom and take away our liberty — well, then they’ll help us, give us hope and change things. It’s just that the change they have in mind isn’t quite what freedom-loving people had in their minds.




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