Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans! To everyone else, I’m sorry, but I’m going to be a little patriotic today 😉
Since The Broke and the Bookish are taking a little time off (until sometime in August, I think) I’m going to make up my own and do: Documents or Speeches every American should read.
1. Declaration of Independence: The document that started it all, which was ratified on, of course, July 4th.
Opening Line: 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.
2. The Constitution: This document, the backbone of our government, was put into place after the Constitutional convention in 1787 and then ratified in 1788. It has been amended 27 times and remains the base of all our laws.
Preamble: 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.
3. The Federalist Papers: This series of articles were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, under the pseudonym of Publius, in order to promote the Constitution. This series of letter’s are very interesting because they show the discussion and the arguments for the Constitution, and they help show a glance into the minds of the founding father’s.
Opening Paragraph: To the People of New York,
AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world.
4. The Anti-Federalist Papers: In contradiction to the Federalist Papers, were the Anti-Federalist Papers, which were a series of letters written by other founding father’s who had some problems with the Constitution. These were written under the pseudonyms Cato, Brutus, Centinel, and the Federal Farmer. These works are important because it shows that our country was founded on discussion and debating issues without turning to outrage, and ultimately we were able to come to a peaceful agreement.
Opening Paragraph: 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.
5. President George Washington’s Farewell Address: Being the first president of the United States, Washington was the first president to step down from office, which laid the foundation for the presidential term limits we hold in high esteem today.
Opening paragraph: 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.
6. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: This speech is one of most famous speeches in U.S. History. It was the first major speech given by Lincoln after the battle of Gettysburg, and it’s purpose was to bring unity and hope to the country and to hopefully bring a swift end to the war.
Opening Line: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
7. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech: This speech, given by MLK on Aug. 28, 1963, is the cornerstone of the Civil Right’s movement, and arguably one of the most important speeches ever given in our country.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
8. President Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor Speech: In this speech, president Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and asked Congress to declare war, which brought us into World War II.
Opening Line: Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
9. President Bush’s September 11th Speech: While this speech wasn’t long, it had that nation watching. This is the only speech I listed that I can actually remember hearing and watching. It still sticks in my memory and I believe it will as long as I live.
These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
10. President Carter’s Crisis Speech: Given in the 1980’s in the thick of the energy and economic crisis, president Jimmy Carter gave a heartfelt speech about the state of the nation.
The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We’ve always believed in something called progress. We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
There you have it, my little America post. Happy Fourth of July everyone!