George Washington's Birthday
Today is the 277th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. No finer paean in fewer words has ever been given to the first President of the United States than that given by the man who would become the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, to conclude an address given 167 years ago today:
Washington is the mightiest name of earth long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.
Because of his service as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington played no role in drafting, debating, or signing the Declaration of Independence. By that service, however, and by his presidency of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and by his presidency of the United States, George Washington's words, deeds, and life more than that of any other individual made as real as possible the grand vision the Declaration proclaimed:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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....
Today, let us remember Washington's words of warning about "the exclusion of religious principle" from national life:
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 labour 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.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Sun. 02/22/09 09:08:39 AM
Categorized as Historical & Speeches and Suchlike.