President Calvin Coolidge delivered a poignant message to the American people on the 150th Anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. He called out those behind the progressive movement of his day who sought to increase federal power in direct conflict with the self-ruling principles that firmly established our Republic.
His message resonates nearly 100 years later, as we also fight to protect our nation from today’s explosion of radical progressive ideas.
Dr. Wilfred M. McClay, in his book Land of Hope, calls the speech delivered in July 1926 “a speech for the ages.” He writes:
“It was a defense of America’s founding principles against those, like [Woodrow] Wilson and the Progressives, who believed that the massive social and economic changes that had taken place in American life had invalidated those founding principles and required that modern theories of government be introduced to take their place. It was a speech that stands in line of great presidential speeches from Jefferson to Lincoln, a reminder to Americans then and now of the exceptional character of their own revolution and of the enduring importance of liberty and equality as natural rights.”
(Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay, Page 292)
We share a part of President Coolidge’s speech with you to remind us that the principles of self-rule, as represented and protected through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, do not need to be torn down, but instead should be fiercely protected. President Coolidge stated it in this way:
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
(Calvin Coolidge, Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, July 1926.)
America’s Founders created a government where political power was divided between the States and Federal Government, and between the three branches of the Federal Government. This was deliberately accomplished precisely so the people would be protected from any individual, class of people, or movement seeking dominance, no matter how well intended.
They also gave the people the ability to protect the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights by ensuring the land, the natural resources, the natural assets, were owned by the citizens through the protection of private property. They understood that whoever owned the land controlled the government. For a nation to be controlled by “we the people,” and not an elite class, the individual citizens from whom the government derived its’ “just power,” must own the land.
This is one reason Thomas Jefferson stated that the small landowner was the most important part of the state.
Today, it is the States and Courts, namely the Supreme Court, that are to be credited with keeping the other branches of government in check and curtailing the efforts of the progressive elites from eroding individual liberty. The progressives of our time do not come with better or more modern ideas. They come with the same ancient and failed thinking we study in history that destroyed the humanity and prosperity of the masses, while the self-appointed, morally superior classes of past empires seized power and wealth. They are pushing these same ideas today not just on our nation, but around the globe.
America stands in their way. Not only are we the beacon of liberty for people around the world, but we are also the only nation of people who can stop the world’s elites from crushing humanity, because in America we still have the right to own and protect our property.
The “climate crisis,” “30×30,” “the Green New Deal,” all seek to wrestle control of America’s natural resources out of the hands of the people and into the control of governments, profiteers, land trusts — all claiming this must be done to “save” humanity.
We live in a pivotal time where the founding principles of self-rule and private property are being tested once again, which makes today an enormously important day to be celebrating. Not only are we thankful for the sacrifices and labor of our “Revolutionary Fathers,” we are also thankful to you for supporting the mission of American Stewards of Liberty. We must continue to protect American’s property rights and the liberties they secure if we are to remain a nation where the rights of individuals are equal and protected by and from government.
May you and your family have a blessed 4th of July, and may God continue to favor our nation, our people, and the principles of self-rule.
God bless America!
P.S. Hillsdale College offers a free online course taught by Dr. McClay based on his book Land of Hope. It is exceptional, instructive, and inspiring. Through 25 self-paced lectures you experience America’s remarkable revolutionary founding and the great events that have occurred since. It’s a valuable historical perspective to help navigate the challenges our nation faces today.