Words At The Dedication of the Statute of Liberty:

The marvelous development and progress of this republic is due to the fact that in rigidly adhering to the advice of Washington for absolute neutrality and non-interference in the politics and policies of other governments we have avoided the necessity of depleting our industries to feed our armies, of taxing and impoverishing our resources to carry on war, and of limiting our liberties to concentrate power in our government.

The development of liberty was impossible while she was shackled to the slave.

With sublime trust it left to liberty the elevation of the freedmen to political rights and the conversion of the rebel to patriotic citizenship.

Peace and its opportunities for material progress and the expansion of popular liberties send from here a fruitful and noble lesson to all the world.

[The Marquis de Lafayette] was a young officer of nineteen, stationed at Metz, when he met at the table of his commander the Duke of Gloucester, the brother of George the Third. The Duke brought news of an insurrection which had broken out in the American colonies, and read, to the amazement of his hearers, the strange dogmas and fantastic theories which these “insurgents,” as he called them, had put forth in what they styled their Declaration of Independence.

Henceforth his life was dedicated to *’ Liberty Enlightening the World.” . . . ‘ Thus far you have seen my zeal only; now it shall be something more. I will purchase and equip a vessel myself. It is while danger presses that I wish to join your fortunes.” 

Lafayette flees France at age 20 and writes to his wife: “”I hope for my sake you will become a good American. This is a sentiment proper for virtuous hearts. Intimately allied to the happiness of the whole human family is that of America, destined to become the respectable and sure asylum of virtue, honesty, toleration, equality, and of tranquil liberty.”

” I wish to serve you as a volunteer and without pay,” and at twenty took his place with Gates and Green and Lincoln as a Major-General in the Continental Army. As a member of Washington’s military family, , sharing with that incomparable man his board and bed and blanket, Lafayette won his first and greatest distinction in receiving from the American chief a friendship which was closer than that bestowed upon any other of his compatriots, and which ended only in death. The great commander saw in the reckless daring with which he carried his wound to rally the flying troops at Brandywine, the steady nerve with which he held the column wavering under a faithless general at Monmouth, the wisdom and caution with which he maneuvered inferior forces in the face of the enemy, his willingness to share every privation of the illy clad and starving soldiery, and to pledge his fortune and credit to relieve their privations, a commander upon whom he could rely, a patriot he could trust, a man he could love. 

The fight for liberty in America was won. Its future here was threatened with but one danger, the slavery of the negro. The soul of Lafayette, purified by battle and suffering, saw the inconsistency and the peril, and he returned to this country to plead with State Legislatures and with Congress for the liberation of what he termed “my brethren.  the blacks.”

Lafayette to Washington: ; “You are the most beloved of all the friends I ever had or shall have anywhere. I regret that I cannot have the inexpressible pleasure of embracing you in my own house and welcoming you in a family where your name is adored. Everything that admiration, respect, gratitude, friendship, and filial love can inspire is combined in my affectionate heart to devote me most tenderly to you. In your friendship I find a delight which no words can express.”

Lafayette to Congress: ” May this immense temple of freedom ever stand a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, a sanctuary for the rights of mankind; and may these happy United States attain that complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of its founders.”

American liberty has been for a century a beacon light for the nations.

It means that with the abolition of privileges to the few and the enfranchisement of the individual, the equality of all men before the law, and universal suffrage, the ballot secure from fraud and the voter from intimidation, the press free and education furnished by the State for all, liberty of worship and free speech; the right to rise, and equal opportunity for honor and fortune, the problems of labor and capital, of social regeneration and moral growth, of property and poverty, will work themselves out under the benign influences of enlightened law-making and law-abiding liberty, without the aid of kings and armies, or of anarchists and bombs.

The rays from this beacon, lighting this gateway to the continent, will welcome the poor and the persecuted with the hope and promise of homes and citizenship. It will teach them that there is room and brotherhood for all who will support our institutions and aid in our development; but that those who come to disturb our peace and dethrone our laws are aliens and enemies forever. I


2 thoughts on “Words At The Dedication of the Statute of Liberty:

  1. Matt: Words very well stated and remembered. Sometimes Americans forget what binds us.

    At Monmouth, General Lee retreated, ingloriously, Washington cursed vociferously chewing him out in front of his troops, Washington rallied his men, coming within 200 feet of enemy fire, and turned a rout into a draw at Monmouth.

    Washington viewed Lafayette as the son he did not have. Both esteemed each other.
    The Revolutionary War was our first war, and it was an integrated war. Blacks fought honorably and indispensably, then, and in all our wars, but it was not until the Korean War that the Army was integrated again.

    I recommend two books: Thomas Sowell’s Ethnic America @1984) which covers eight “ethnic groups” (German, Irish, Jewish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Italian, Polish, and African-American)and my book, Shots Heard Round the World: Americans Answer the Call to Arms (2002), Volume II, particularly the 40 page postscript entitled: “The Triumph of Multi-Ethnic America (from which I’ll quote below).

    I’ve got several books on the Constitution and the writings of our Founding Fathers scattered on the floor beside my bed. What courage and wisdom! Every signer of the Declaration of Independence was guilty of Treason and risked hanging and quartering if caught. No joke when they said they pledged their sacred honor, fortunes and lives. Immediate execution faced them, and it was a horrible execution the British inflicted upon traitors and rebels. Even soldiers and sailors who were out of order faced 100 lashes. (Today, perhaps a written reprimand and a few days in the Brig.)

    I’m three-quarters through a five-plus hour video recounting the Revolution. It forgets the African-Americans, the freemen, who fought since Patriot’s Day, the freemen who died at the Boston Massacre, and really fails to emphasize the multi-ethnic endeavor of America’s fight. Revere and Lafayette were French, Polaski and Kosciusko Polish, the Father of the American Navy, John Barry was Irish, a Jewish soldier signed his enlistment papers in Hebrew at Bunker Hill, etc.

    Anyway: Here at length, some words from the Triumph of Multi-Ethnic America: Shots Heard Round the World; Americans Answer the Call to Arms. (By the way, my affinity for immigrants come from the fact that all four of my grandparents emigrated to America from Ireland, two from Galway, one from the Mayo-Roscommon border, one from Kilkenny. And we were disparagingly called “the Black Irish” because many had black hair, dark brown eyes, and took deep tans, due to the Spanish blood in our genetic makeup. It was a three days sail from Galway Bay to the Bay of Biscay, (colleens liked Spanish Sailors, and Senoritas liked Irish Sailors, so there was always some mixing) but many more who fled Spain from the time of Viriathus ended up in Western Island, and sailors who survived the sinking of the Spanish Armada, fled to Western Ireland, not British-occupied Eastern Ireland, et cetera.)

    “Shots Heard: Postcript: The Triumph of Multi-Ethnic America: African-American Influences:

    “The history of Boston and American cannot be written without attributing the heroic efforts of black Americans. It is powerfully symbolic that one of the first men killed (at the Boston Massacre) was Crispus Attucks, of African and Native-American descent. (Aside: “At the Boston Tea Party (were) men of English, Irish, Scots, African, French and Portuguese descent, and perhaps a few real Mohawks or their descendants, too.”)

    “The Lewis & Clark expedition had an African-American named York”

    “The Civil War saw many blacks serve, and afterwards the Army recruited cavalry and infantry regiments comprised entirely of blacks, like the vaunted Buffalo Soldiers, who patrolled the Wild West.”

    “A black American was wounded at Lexington, three or four fought at Concord Bridge, and a black patriot was killed at Bunker Hill. . . George Quintal calculates that twenty black soldiers and one Native American fought against the Redcoats at the battles of Concord & Lexington and 88 Blacks and fifteen Native-Americans at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

    “The black sharpshooter, Peter Salem slew British Commander Major John Pitcairn (at Bunker Hill.)

    “During the Revolution, all-Black regiments served in Rhode Island under General Sullivan.

    “180,000 African-Americans served in the armies of the North during the Civil War. . . (the movie Glory depicts the heroic assault on Fort Wagner) . . .We’ve mentioned courageous abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas . . .”
    “In World War I, the (all-Black) Harlem Hellfighters were the most highly decorated American unit. During World War II, the Army-Air Corps’ legendary Tuskagee Airmen cleared the skies over Germany paving the way for American bombers. The first black Navy aviator killed in Korea, was LTJG Jesse Brown (awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.) Blacks in Vietnam served, fought, died and were awarded medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, in numbers proportionate to or exceeding their representation in the population.

    “We finally extoll four-star general Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who oversaw the defeat of Iraq in 1991, and who served two combat tours in Vietnam (1962-63; 1968-69).

    “The former heavyweight champion of the world, Mohammed Ali, an African-American, (born Cassius Clay, raised a Christian, converted to the Muslim Faith in his twenties) was part-Irish, as he was the grandson of an Irish-girl, whose father was born in County Cork, Ireland.

    “The author (me, Billy C.) is related by blood or marriage to Blacks, Native-Americans, and, perhaps, to every major racial, religious and ethnic group in America. We are African-Americans, too.”

    1. “The Civil War saw many blacks serve, and afterwards the Army recruited cavalry and infantry regiments comprised entirely of blacks, like the vaunted Buffalo Soldiers, who patrolled the Wild West.”

      On both sides.

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