A just and solid republican government maintained here will be a standing monument and example for the aim and imitation of the people of other countries [who] will see from our example that a free government is, of all others, the most energetic.  That the inquiry, which has been excited...by our revolution and its consequences, will ameliorate the condition of man over a great portion of the globe.
—Thomas Jefferson, 1801

This is the first Independence Day of the 21st century, the first 4th of July in the new millennium.  More significantly, this is the first time since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence—the first time in human history—that more than half the world’s population is free to elect the people who govern them.  The two-word summary of this past millennium is liberty triumphs.

We reflect upon the significance that America is the first-born of free and democratic republics.  Consider that this accomplishment together with the Louisiana Purchase gave America space and resources for growth.  Jefferson gave the new nation a creed and expanse to become a powerful prototype that transcended the warring nation states in Europe.  This is the first 4th of July in which Europe is behaving like a cooperative union of states—more like the United States—than at any time in history.  Moreover, for the first time in North and South America, the Organization of American States is trying to protect the right of the Peruvian people to determine their own government.  And it is the collective actions of nations that are setting human rights standards as conditions for entry to such governing bodies as the World Trade Organization.  Indeed, our future depends on whether the world as a whole can agree upon certain standards as the 13 American colonies did in 1776 and 1787.  Meanwhile, “the blessings and security of self-government” is spreading, as Jefferson hoped, “to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all.” 

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.  The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.  These are grounds of hope for others.  For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
—Thomas Jefferson, 1826

 

 


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