“American Exceptionalism”

John Quincy Adams on “American Exceptionalism”

John-Quincy-AdamsJohn Quincy Adams, while secretary of state, delivered an Independence Day speech in the House of Representatives on July 4, 1821. If the “inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells” should enquire as to what “America has done for the benefit of mankind,” Adams said, “Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the indistinguishable rights of human nature and the only lawful foundations of government.” But the Declaration of those truths did not impose upon our nation the duty to enforce them all over the world. The United States had over half a century, Adams observed, “respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.”

America, said Adams, “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” Our nation’s  “glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.”

It is a practice that the America of our time has long since abandoned. And the costs, in blood, treasure, and further chaos in lands where our bombs and bullets have failed to bring “peace and stability,” have yet to be fully calculated. But there is yet another cost, one that cannot be measured in dollars or even in lives. America seeking dominion over other nations, Adams warned, “might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/18633-american-exceptionalism-true-and-false

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “American Exceptionalism”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s