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Remember America’s Leading Patriot
by Gary M. Galles 4/22/08

This past  Saturday (April 19) was Patriot’s Day, marking the Revolutionary War’s opening shots at Lexington and Concord.  An excellent way to commemorate it is by remembering Samuel Adams, who Murray Rothbard called “the premier leader of the revolutionary movement.”  After all, Paul Revere’s famous ride to Lexington the night before was to warn Adams that the British were coming.  In addition, Adams helped organize the Committees of Correspondence, authored “The Rights of Colonists,” founded The Sons of Liberty, and was the principle organizer of the Boston Tea Party. The British government wanted him for treason a year before the Declaration of Independence.  He inspired the battle cry “no taxation without representation,” signed the Declaration of Independence, and was a representative to both Continental Congresses.

Samuel Adams’ most important contribution to America’s cause, however, was that, in cousin John Adams’ words, he had ”the most thorough understanding of liberty,” which was the central spark in America’s creation.  Given the threats liberty faces today, it is worth recalling what America’s leading patriot had to say about it: 

Gary M. Galles

Mr. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. [go to Galles index]

“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them…”

“[[T]he unalienable rights of nature are held sacred…the doctrine of liberty and equality is an article in the political creed of the United States...without liberty and equality [under the law], there cannot exist...the assurance of this to every citizen, that his own personal safety and rights are secure...the end and design of all free and lawful Governments.”

“The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift...”

“[I]t is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential rights, or the means of preserving those rights.” 

“Our unalterable resolution would be to be free.”

“All might be free if they valued freedom, and valued it as they should.”

“Our contest is…whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.’

“The most glorious legacy we can bequeath to posterity is Liberty...the only true security is Liberty!”

“[W]hile a people retain a just sense of Liberty...the insolence of power will forever be despised...”

“No people will tamely surrender their liberties...when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved.”

“There is a degree of watchfulness over all men possessed of power or influence upon which the liberties of mankind must depend.  It is necessary to guard against the infirmities of the best as well as the wickedness of the worst...”

“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”

“While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties…”

“It is a tremendously important and never-ending problem for the self-governing American people to be not only adequately informed but ever alert and vigorously active in forestalling whenever possible, and combating wherever necessary, any and all threats to Individual Liberty and to its supporting system of constitutionally limited government.”

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks...It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation...if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, of be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men...Let us remember that ’if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’  It is a very serious consideration that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.”

“If ye love…the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom…may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

Samuel Adams wanted to “renovate the age, by...instructing [men] in the art of self-government,” so that Americans would be capable of “assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which [God] bestowed.”   In an era of constricting limits on how much we are allowed to govern ourselves, we need to rekindle that same devotion to liberty. CRO


copyright 2008 Gary M. Galles



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