Rebirth of American Greatness: Restoring Fiscal Responsibility and Moral Integrity to Our Nation

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Thus the American creed emerged from within, but also against, the predominant culture. The Revolution justified itself ultimately by an appeal to human nature, not to culture, and in the name of human nature and the American people, the Revolutionaries set out to form an American Union with its own culture. Immigration and Education. They understood, that is, that the American republic needed a culture to help uphold its creed. The formal political theory of the creed was a version of social contract theory, amended to include a central role for Founding Fathers.

He wants to make clear that political power, which arises from consent, has nothing to do with the power of fathers over their children. And so, against the arguments of absolutist patriarchal monarchy, he attempted clearly to distinguish paternal power from contractual or political power. But in the American case we have combined these, to an extent, almost from the beginning. The fathers of the republic are our demi-gods, as Thomas Jefferson, of all people, called them. They are our heroes, who establish the sacred space of American politics, and citizens and those who would be are expected to share a general reverence for them and their constitutional handiwork.

In fact, the American creed, together with its attendant culture, illuminates at least two issues highly relevant to national identity, namely, immigration and education. On immigration, the founders taught that civil society is based on a contract, a contract presupposing the unanimous consent of the individuals who come together to make a people. When newcomers appear, they may join that society if they and the society concur. In other words, from the nature of the people as arising from a voluntary contract, consent remains a two-way street: an immigrant must consent to come, and the society must consent to receive him.

Otherwise, there is a violation of the voluntary basis of civil society. The universal rights of human nature translate via the social compact into a particular society, an "us" distinct from "them," distinct even from any other civil society constituted by a social contract. Any individual has, in Jefferson's words, the right to emigrate from a society in which chance, not choice, has placed him. But no society has a standing natural duty to receive him or to take him in.

Thus it is no violation of human rights to pick and choose immigrants based on what a particular civil society needs. In America's case, the founders disagreed among themselves about whether, say, farmers or manufacturers should be favored as immigrants, but they agreed, as Thomas G. West and Edward J. Erler have shown, that the country needed newcomers who knew English, had a strong work ethic, and possessed republican sentiments and habits. For its first century or so, the United States had naturalization laws but no immigration laws, so that, technically speaking, we had open borders.

Effectively, however, the frontiers were not so open: most immigrants had to cross several thousand miles of perilous ocean to reach us. Nonetheless, American statesmen wanted to influence as much as they could who was coming and why. Benjamin Franklin, for instance, wrote a famous essay in called "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America," in which he cautioned his European readers that America was the "Land of Labor": if they were planning to emigrate they had better be prepared to work hard.

America was not the kind of country, he wrote, where "the Fowls fly about ready roasted, crying, Come eat me!

John Adams - Wikiquote

But Jefferson's suggestion that therefore all contracts, laws, and constitutions should expire every generation 19 years, he calculated was never acted on by him, much less by any other founder. Instead of continual interruptions or perhaps a finale to national identity, succeeding generations, so the founders concluded, were their "posterity," for whom the blessings of liberty had to be secured and transmitted. Perpetuating the republic thus entailed a duty to educate the rising generation in the proper creed and culture.

If certain qualities of mind and heart were required of American citizens, as everyone agreed, then politics had to help shape, directly and indirectly, a favoring culture. Most of the direct character formation, of course, took place at the level of families, churches, and state and local governments, including private and in time public schools. In the decades that followed the founding, the relation between the culture and creed fluctuated in accordance with shifting views about the requirements of American republicanism.

Unable to forget the terrors of the French Revolution, Federalists and Whigs tried to stimulate root growth by emphasizing the creed's connection to Pilgrim self-discipline and British legal culture. This was, perhaps, the closest that America ever came to an actual politics of Burkeanism. Although the American Whigs never abandoned the creed's natural-rights morality, they adorned it with the imposing drapery of reverence for cultural tradition and the rule of law.

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In many respects, in fact, Huntington's project is a recrudescence of Whiggism. By contrast, Jeffersonian Republicans, soon turned Jacksonian Democrats, preferred to dignify the creed by enmeshing it in a historical and progressive account of culture. They, too, were aware of the problem of Bonapartism, which had seized and destroyed French republicanism in its infancy; and in Andrew Jackson, of course, they had a kind of Bonaparte figure in American politics whom they were happy to exploit.

But in their own populist manner they responded to the inherent dangers of Bonapartism by embracing a kind of theory of progress, influenced by Hegel though vastly more democratic than his, which recognized the People as the vehicle of the world-spirit and as the voice of God on earth. You can find this in the essays and books of George Bancroft, the Jacksonian-era historian and advisor to Democratic presidents, as well as in popular editorials in the North American Review and elsewhere. The people were always primary, in other words. Jackson and even the founders were their servants; every great man the representative of a great people.

Here too the creed tended to merge into culture, though in this case into forward-looking popular culture. In his early life, Abraham Lincoln was a Whig, memorably and subtly warning against the spirit of Caesarism and encouraging reverence for the law as our political religion.

But Lincoln's greatness depended upon transcending Whiggism for the sake of a new republicanism, a strategy already visible in his singular handling of the stock Whig themes as a young man. In fact, his new party called itself the Republican Party as a kind of boast that the new republicanism intended to revive the old. Their point was that the former Democratic Republicans, now mere Democrats, had abandoned the republic, which Lincoln and his party vowed to save. Rejecting Whiggish traditionalism as well as Democratic populism and progressivism, Lincoln rehabilitated the American creed, returning to the Declaration and its truths to set the face of American law against secession and slavery, to purge slavery from the national identity, and to reassert republican mores in American life and culture.

This last goal entailed the American people's long struggle against Jim Crow and segregated schools, as well as our contemporary struggle against group rights and racial and sexual entitlements. Lincoln and his party stood for a reshaping of American culture around the American creed—"a new birth of freedom. Disciplined by the ideas of natural rights and the consent of the governed, this revitalization was a persuasive effort that took generations, and included legislative victories like the Civil War Amendments and the subsequent civil rights acts.

Government sometimes had to take energetic action to secure rights, to be sure, e. Nor should we forget that peaceful reforms presupposed wartime victory. As with the Revolution, it took war to decide what kind of national identity America would possess—if any. But war is meaningless without the statecraft that turns it so far as possible to noble ends, and that prepares the way for the return of truly civil government and civil society. We Hold These Truths. Modern liberalism, beginning in the Progressive era, has done its best to strip natural rights and the Constitution out of the American creed.

By emptying it of its proper moral content, thinkers and politicians like Woodrow Wilson prepared the creed to be filled by subsequent generations, who could pour their contemporary values into it and thus keep it in tune with the times. The "living constitution," as the new view of things came to be called, transformed the creed, once based on timeless or universal principles, into an evolving doctrine; turned it, in effect, into culture, which could be adjusted and reinterpreted in accordance with history's imperatives.

Alternatively, one could say that 20th-century liberals turned their open-ended form of culturalism into a new American creed, the multicultural creed, which they have few scruples now about imposing on republican America, diversity be damned. To his credit, Huntington abhors this development. Unfortunately, his Anglo-Protestant culturalism, like any merely cultural conservatism, is no match for its liberal opponents. He persists in thinking of liberals as devotees of the old American creed who push its universal principles too far, who rely on reason to the exclusion of a strong national culture.

When they abjured individualism and natural rights decades ago, however, liberals broke with that creed, and did so proudly. When they abandoned nature as the ground of right, liberals broke as well with reason, understood as a natural capacity for seeking truth, in favor of reason as a servant of culture, history, fate, power, and finally nothingness. In short, Huntington fails to grasp that latter-day liberals attack American culture because they reject the American creed, around which that culture has formed and developed from the very beginning. In thinking through the crisis of American national identity, we should keep in mind the opening words of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths….

The American creed is the keystone of American national identity; but it requires a culture to sustain it. The republican task is to recognize the creed's primacy, the culture's indispensability, and the challenge, which political wisdom alone can answer, to shape a people that can live up to its principles.

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This essay is adapted from a lecture presented at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D. Birgeneau] quickly vowed to solve the problems he had found. Surprisingly, these had nothing Taylor insists that our rights can be vigorously defended by a purely "pragmatic assessment. Liberal democracy will not sustain itself if it does not believe itself to be rationally defensible. All is not well with the main process available for exercising democratic control over the Court.

Why does the Left so often abstain from defending not only American interests but the U. Creed versus Culture In Huntington's view, America is undergoing an identity crisis, in which the long-term trend points squarely towards national disintegration. His innovative ideas were frequently published. He was also a dedicated diarist and correspondent, particularly with his wife and key advisor Abigail. He was the father of John Quincy Adams. For other uses, see John Adams disambiguation. Attributed [ edit ] Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.

Our whole terrestrial Universe ought to be summarily comprehended in his Mind. Now, I say to you, my fellow-citizens, that in my opinion the signers of the Declaration had no reference to the negro whatever when they declared all men to be created equal. They desired to express by that phrase, white men, men of European birth and European descent, and had no reference either to the negro, the savage Indians, the Fejee, the Malay, or any other inferior and degraded race, when they spoke of the equality of men. One great evidence that such was their understanding, is to be found in the fact that at that time every one of the thirteen colonies was a slaveholding colony, every signer of the Declaration represented a slave-holding constituency, and we know that no one of them emancipated his slaves, much less offered citizenship to them when they signed the Declaration, and yet, if they had intended to declare that the negro was the equal of the white man, and entitled by divine right to an equality with him, they were bound, as honest men, that day and hour to have put their negroes on an equality with themselves.

No historical record of such a debate actually exists, though there was a famous set of speeches by both in Peoria on 16 October , but transcripts of Lincoln's speech on that date do not indicate that he made such a statement. It in fact comes from a speech made by Douglas in the third debate against Lincoln at Jonesboro, Illinois on 15 September As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless. Purportedly in a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins 21 November after the passage of the National Bank Act 3 June , these remarks were attributed to Lincoln as early as but were denounced by John Nicolay , Lincoln's private secretary and biographer. Nicolay: "This alleged quotation from Mr. Lincoln is a bald, unblushing forgery. The great President never said it or wrote it, and never said or wrote anything that by the utmost license could be distorted to resemble it.

It is more despotic then monarchy. More insolent than autocracy. More selfish then bureaucracy. I see the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country, will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the prejudices of the people. Until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. Shaw, p. The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity.

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It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. Be honest, but hate no one; overturn a man's wrongdoing, but do not overturn him unless it must be done in overturning the wrong. Stand with a man while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

The last sentence is from the 16 October Peoria speech, slightly paraphrased.

John Adams

No known contemporary source for the rest. Not by Lincoln, this is apparently paraphrased from remarks about honoring him by Hugh Gordon Miller: "I do not believe in forever dragging over or raking up some phases of the past; in some respects the dead past might better be allowed to bury its dead, but the nation which fails to honor its heroes, the memory of its heroes, whether those heroes be living or dead, does not deserve to live, and it will not live, and so it came to pass that in nearly a hundred millions of people [ You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Actually a statement by William J. Boetcker known as "The Ten Cannots" , this has often been misattributed to Lincoln since when a leaflet containing quotes by both men was published. There is no room for two distinct races of white men in America, much less for two distinct races of whites and blacks. I can conceive of no greater calamity than the assimilation of the Negro into our social and political life as an equal Within twenty years we can peacefully colonize the Negro in the tropics and give him our language, literature, religion, and system of government under conditions in which he can rise to the full measure of manhood.

This he can never do here. We can never attain the ideal Union our fathers dreamed, with millions of an alien, inferior race among us, whose assimilation is neither possible nor desirable. On some sites this has been declared to be something Lincoln said "soon after signing" the Emancipation Proclamation, but without any date or other indications of to whom it was stated, and there are no actual historical records of Lincoln ever saying this. Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.

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If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will. This is attributed to Lincoln in the film adaptation of Pollyanna. In reality, it was fabricated by screenwriter and director David Swift , who had to have thousands of lockets bearing the false inscription recalled after Disney began selling them at Disneyland. Money is the creature of law and creation of the original issue of money should be maintained as an exclusive monopoly of national government. These remarks in support of a government-regulated money supply were written by Gerry McGeer , who presented them as his interpretation of what Lincoln believed.

McGeer, Gerald Grattan The Conquest of Poverty. Gardenvale, Quebec: Garden City Press. Retrieved on To ease another's heartache is to forget one's own. Quoted in a Edith A.