Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve - Salvation of the American Revolution

 "Desperate diseases require Desperate Remedies."  George Washington, December 20, 1776.
Christmas Eve was the day in which the fate of world turned - not only because of the Messiah - but because of the masterstroke effected by George Washington in 1776.  The enlistments for the Continental Army were about to expire on December 31  - in effect the American Army would dissolve of its own accord. Although the British had taken up winter quarters, Washington had no doubt that once his army disappeared, that the British would simply cross the Delaware and occupy the American capital.
Washington would not sit idle. Instead, on Christmas Eve he crossed the all but frozen Delaware River with 2400 Continental troops, and a masterstroke was made. Only 2 Americans injured when they took the 900 Hessians captive the at Battle of Trenton.  
Cornwallis, who until then thought the war about to end, was about to sail home. Instead, he had to retrieve his baggage from the ship and resumed command. 
Nicholas Cresswell, a British loyalist reported the astounding effect: 
"The news is confirmed. The minds of the people are much altered. A few days ago they had given up the cause for lost. Their late successes have turned the scale and now they are all liberty made again. Their Recruiting parties could not get a man (except he bought him from his master) no longer since than last week, and now the men are coming in by companies. Confound the turncoat scoundrels and cowardly Hessians together. This has given them new spirits, got the fresh succors and will prolong the War, perhaps for two years. They have recovered their antic and it will not an easy matter to throw them into that confusion again. Volunteer Companies are collecting in every County on the Continent and in a few months the rascals will be stronger than ever." 
The Revolution was saved, and so was freedom.  Merry Christmas indeed!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Freedom of Thought - Battleground of Liberty

"He who endeavors to control the mind by force is a tyrant, and he who submits is a slave." Robert G. Ingersoll.
Although Ingersoll's definition is not complete, it certainly captures a large swath of tyranny and slavery.   History is replete with tyrants who not only compelled action by terror and brutality, but conformity of thought. Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin are just a few.

When must always be on our to defend liberty against those who want to control what we think - the very essence of liberty.  Freedom is lost not only by the bayonet, but in the most important battlefield, the mind.  Never submit.

For more on freedom, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Monday, December 19, 2011

History, the Key to Freedom

"A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind." John Maynard Keynes.

Although Keynes was an economist, his observation that the study of history - of opinion and otherwise - is  the key to freedom was dead-on.  When people blithely accept what is, and do not understand the past, they are likely to be trapped in a mentality of complacency.  Understanding the past - as well as current events - is indispensable to ensuring liberty today and in the future.

That is why Patriot Week is so important - it enables us to understand the foundation of our liberty, and how to preserve today and the in future.  See also America's Survival Guide for more insights.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In the end, liberty or tyranny.

“I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility to against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Thomas Jefferson.
In the end, America stands for freedom, and we need to commit to it.  In the end, what makes America unique is our dedication to liberty.  In the end, we either follow Jefferson, or go down the path of tyranny.  Choose.

For more, visit America's Survival Guide and Patriot Week.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Liberty means responsibility. That's why most men dread it." George Bernard Shaw.

Shaws quote seems counter-intuitive - why would men and women fear liberty? Because then they are responsible - and accountable - for their actions.  It is much easy to lay back and have others tell you what to do - and if something goes wrong, you can always blame those in charge who made you do it.  Of course, this also breeds complacency, sloth, and mushy thinking - and that leads to dependency and paternalism, which in turn leads to tyranny.

Liberty is not meant to be easy, but it is the only way to enable all of us to reach our true potential and to enjoy our unalienable rights.

For more on liberty, visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Time Has Come to Do What Is Right

"On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' And Vanity comes alone and asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But Conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position, that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because his conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words still resonate strongly. Too often it seems our political class listens to the siren calls of Cowardice, Expediency, and Vanity.  But it is only Conscience that will save us.

For more on Martin Luther King, Jr., visit Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day of Infamy - Keeping Freedom Alive Then and Now

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation after the Japanese sneak attack at our naval base at Pearl Harbor:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. . . .
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

FDR's steely determination to defend America and our way of life rallied the nation.  Roosevelt and the nation did not shy away from confronting the enemy and treating war as war.  Soon the war would be fought and expanded across the entire globe, with the survival of freedom literally at stake.  In four years Japan and Germany would be brought to their knees by the resolve, blood, and treasure of the America.
Today we should honor those brave men and women who laid down their lives so that we might be free.  And let us not stain their sacrifice by blithely losing our freedoms and liberties to ignorance and disdain for our founding First Principles.  Unfortunately, we are on the brink of doing just that.  Its time to put first things first, including knowing our history and Constitution, and making sure that our children and grandchildren will live up in the free country the "greatest generation" fought for.

For more on preserving America, check out Patriot Week and America's Survival Guide.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is more than just a wonderful time to enjoy turkey, dessert, the Detroit Lions, and family.  Of course, it should mean much more than preparing for "black Friday" (or nowadays, late evening Thanksgiving Day sales).  It is truly a day that should be dedicated to giving thanks for the blessings of liberty.

As you enjoy the holiday, take a few moments at the dinner table and read outloud Washington's first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation - it is time to renew America's spirit by appropriately celebrating the a truly unique American holiday.  We celebrate Washington during Patriot Week, and its easy to understand why when you read the Proclamation.  To make it easy, the text is below.

God bless you, and God bless America.


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Don't Forget Love - It is the Answer

As Martin Luther King Jr stated:
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough of morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil. The greatest way to do that is through love. I believe that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good-will, and justice.
Despite his amazing accomplishments, it seems that modern reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. often overlook the deeply Christian core this preacher possessed - and the centrality of his belief in nonviolence and live in conquering oppression and injustice.  These sentiments are all but utterly forgotten in today's political discussions as well. Perhaps if we spent a bit less time on the vitriol and more on love, our society would be freer and more just too.

For more about Martin Luther King Jr, visit Patriot Week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fighting For Freedom - God Bless Our Veterans!

Today we honor those brave men and women who throughout the ages have defended our liberty in the armed services.  Originally today was called “Armistice Day” - in commemoration of the end of hostilities during The Great War (i.e., World War I).  In 1918, at 11:00 on 11/11, the great powers ended the fighting pending the approval of a final peace.  Because of the enormous sacrifices and historical significance of The Great War (many arguing that it would be the war to end all wars), in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day as follows: 
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

By 1926, the state legislatures of 27 states had officially recognized the day, and Congress passed a concurrent resolution recognizing the day.  in 1938 it became a legal holiday.  After WWII and the Korean War, in 1954 the day was changed to Veterans Day.  For a while the day floated (1968-1974) to create a 3 day weekend, but in 1975 it was returned to November 11.
The purpose of the day is to take time from the hustle and bustle of the day to give solemn remembrance to those who have given so much for our liberty.  Wilson’s original proclamation may have summed it up best:  
“it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
Patriot Week follows this grand tradition today by renewing the spirit of America from 9/11 -9/17.  Check out more at Patriot Week.
God Bless our veterans, and God Bless America.
[photo: Taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, this photo reveals soldiers of the US 353rd Infantry in Meuse, France waiting for the Armistice to take hold. ]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oakland County Pays Tribute to Patriot Week Co-Creators

Last night, the Oakland County Commission paid tribute to my daughter Leah (and me) for establishing Patriot Week.  It was a very humbling event, spearheaded by Commissioner David Potts, and unanimously supported by the entire commission.  The commissioners have been extraordinarily supportive of the effort in many ways, and we very much appreciate their continued bi-partisan support.  Thanks so very much!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Americans Are Unreasonable - Thanks Be to God!

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw (Man and Superman)

There is no question that Americans are an unreasonable breed.  When the British began to tax us without representation, close down our jury system, and suppress our liberties, we did not adjust.  Instead, we turned the world upside down by declaring independence and winning our freedom from the greatest empire on Earth.

Although slavery had been the status quo since the beginning of time, abolitionists demanded the end of the world as it then existed.  It took our worst war, but we defeated the scourge of slavery.

Although women had been denied the right to vote and civil rights since the dawn of civilization, the suffragettes took to the streets and won their rights.

That is the spirit we need to keep alive in our hearts, because as soon as we become complacent, we can lose it all.

God bless the unreasonable!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A government of laws, not men

As John Adams wrote in the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), in America, the government is to "be a government of laws and not of men.”  In other words, the law - and not the personal desires of the rulers - should govern.  No man, even the President, or Congress, is above the law. 

For more about the rule of law, check out Patriot Week and Americas Survival Guide.

Friday, October 28, 2011

King Arthur: My laws must bind everyone, high and low, or they're not laws at all.

In the movie classic Excalibur, King Arthur's wife, Guinevere, is accused of adultery with the King's champion, Sir Lancelot.  In the story, normally such a charge would be met on the field of battle by the husband of the wife, but Arthur defers the battle to Lancelot. Arthur, as King, must preside over the battle as judge to ensure that the battle follows the law and the pure of heart prevails.

Outraged that her husband refuses to champion her reputation, Guinevere confronts Arthur later that night, and the following exchange occurs:

Arthur to Guinevere: You [Lancelot and Guinevere] are the people I love best in the world. 
Guinevere: Then why can't you defend me? 
Arthur: The law!  My laws must bind everyone, high and low, or they're not laws at all. 
Guinevere:  You are my husband. 
Arthur: I must be king first. 
Guinevere: Before husband? 
Arthur: If need be.
Arthur exemplifies the First Principle of the Rule of Law.  He refuses to break his own law to ensure its integrity for the rest of his kingdom.  It was a concept alien to his own wife, and to most of world history.

As Arthur explained, a law is not a law if it does not bind everyone - from the lowest person to the highest - from the janitor to the CEO, from the prisoner to the judge, from the taxpayer to the President. Thankfully, America has taken a different path - one in which the rule of law prevails and our leaders are bound by the laws they make.

To learn more about the rule of law, check out PatriotWeek and Americas Survival Guide.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"[I]f the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted." --Noah Webster

Noah Webster was not just a great lexicographer, he had an astute political mind.  Although seemingly trite, his observation that a government full of unprincipled men must lead to corruption is very astute.  That men and women who run for office can leave principles behind in light of political or personal advantage is no surprise, but voting for a principled, honest politician has vexed American voters for generations.  Why is this so?  Are not the politicians simply an reflection of the people?  Perhaps principled government is hard to come by because we as a people have forgotten our principles and history.  The studies reveal that our citizenry is poorly informed of even the most basic tenants of our Constitution - is it no wonder that those who ask for our votes are often unmoored from it?  This is why initiatives like Patriot Week and books like America's Survival Guide are indispensable to preserving our liberty.  Save the republic - educate yourself and your family and vote accordingly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Today (October 19), is just as much Independence Day as July 4 - it was on this day in 1781 that America won its independence from Great Britain.  British Commander General Cornwallis was forced to surrender his entire army to American troops under George Washington and French troops under Rochambeau.  The capitulation was won when French Admiral de Grasse appeared to trap the British with 28 ships of the line.

"Oh God! It's all over!" exclaimed British Prime Minister Lord North when he heard the news.  Although the peace treaty took another 2 years to negotiate, Lord North was right - and America had won its independence, and changed the world forever.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Freedom: WE must fight for it

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
Ronald Reagan 

Reagan, as in so many things, was exactly right here.  It is entirely up to us to preserve our liberty - and to enable the next generation to save it as well.

Friday, September 16, 2011



On September 17, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of limited government.  
We also recognize the great Founding Father James Madison, who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the unamended Constitution and the 9th and 10th Amendments, as well as State, County, and Municipal Flags (representing federalism and limited government)
Rejecting the belief that governments possess unlimited power, America was founded on the First Principle that the protection of unalienable rights is the legitimate purpose and limit of government (roughly referred to limited government). The Declaration of Independence recognized this as a First Principle when it explained that “to secure these rights ... governments are instituted among men...” 
Founding Father Thomas Paine expressed the American sentiment when he wrote that “Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, not to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured.” 
Thus, directly opposed to the proposition that the government is all powerful, because we have consented to the government to protect our unalienable rights, the government only has the power it needs to perform that function and auxiliary supports thereof – nothing more. 
From its founding, America embraced as a First Principle that the purpose and limit of the government is protecting the unalienable rights of its citizens.
The First Principle of Limited Government is key to American liberty.  The Revolution was fought in great measure to stop the unchecked power of Great Britain’s government which was oppressing the rights of Americans.
Under Madison’s masterful draftsmanship and direction, the Founding Fathers created a Constitution that includes three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), each vested with its own specific powers.  This separation of powers ensures that no single person or body of men can oppress the people. 
In addition, the Constitution includes checks and balances among the branches of government, so that all branches of government must act in concert - again, protecting against oppression by any particular branch.
The 9th and 10th Amendments to the United States Constitution also made explicit what was understood but not written down in the unamended Constitution – that the federal government was to be a limited government in scope and authority; and the States would continue to be vibrant and important parts of the lives of Americans (and act as a check against federal over-reaching).  
Unless specifically delegated to the federal government, all powers were reserved to the States.  Moreover, rights were protected, even if not specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution.  
The 9th and 10th Amendments, set forth below, embody these ideas:
Amendment IX 
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. 
Amendment X 
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. 
Born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, King George, Virginia, James Madison was a lawyer, plantation owner, and exemplar of political theory. 
Madison began his political career in the midst of the American Revolution as a member of the Orange County Committee of Safety in 1775 and in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1776. He served in the state legislature and the Continental Congress from 1780-1783 and 1786-1788. 
Likely the Constitutional Convention’s most brilliant political theorist, he was considered “the best informed Man of any point in debate” by fellow delegate William Pierce of Georgia. Madison is appropriately known as the father of the Constitution for his outline for the new government. 
Madison explained the critical issue facing the Constitutional Convention: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Yet, the angels remain in heaven and imperfect men must govern themselves. Accordingly, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” 
Madison brilliantly answered the difficulty by, among other things, embedding in the Constitution the separation of powers, checks and balances, enumerated powers (i.e., that the federal government only has the authority expressly given it in the Constitution), and federalism (the idea that all powers not given to the federal government reside in the states or the people). 
Not only an architect of the Constitution, Madison proved invaluable to convincing Americans to adopt it. Madison and Alexander Hamilton wrote the great bulk of The Federalist Papers (1788) (John Jay contributed about a half dozen of the nearly hundred articles). A series of newspaper articles published in New York, The Federalist Papers advocated the ratification of the Constitution while explaining its underlying theories. Thomas Jefferson reflected that The Federalist Papers was “the best commentary on the principles of government ever written.”
Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 10 established a new theory of protecting the unalienable rights of the people by explaining that such rights were best protected in large (as opposed to small) republics in which competing factions would limit the ability of an oppressive majority to quash the rights of political minorities. 
The Federalist Papers were vital to the passage of the Constitution in New York as well as other states. He also proved vital to the Constitution ratification in Virginia. 
Madison would draft and ensure the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which protected the unalienable rights of American citizens, including the free exercise of religion, free speech, free press, the right to bear arms, the right to a jury, due process, and federalism (via the 10th Amendment). 
Madison’s brilliantly inspired Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785) became the philosophical basis for the First Amendment?s nearly unprecedented prohibition of the establishment of religion by the federal government and securing the free exercise of religion. 
He would become Jefferson’s Secretary of State, and succeed Jefferson as President for two terms. 
Having left an indelible mark on America, he died on June 28, 1836 in Montpelier, Virginia.
All of the states - and many counties and municipalities - emblazon their symbolic representations onto flags. Many of these flags were purposefully designed to convey fundamental precepts - or generating history - for which their government exists. 
Some flags are deeply steeped in history and have flown for decades, if not centuries; others are relatively new, such as the young State of Georgia and City of Portland flags. 
For example, the City of Detroit’s flag - originally designed in 1907 by David E. Heineman and adopted in 1948 - includes as its hub the City’s seal. The seal has two latin mottos “Speramus Meliora” (“We hope for better things”) and “Resurget Cineribus” (“It will rise from the ashes”). Inspired by the great fire of June 11, 1805 - in which all but one building was destroyed - the seal also includes two figures - one weeping at the destruction, the other expecting greatness to arise from the ashes. In addition, the flag is divided into quarters - each representing the sovereign which controlled the city. Originally founded in 1701 by the French, the left quarter has the classic fluers-de-lis; the upper right quarter has Great Britain’s traditional lions to represent British control from 1760-1796; the upper left and lower right quarters are the classic 13 stars and stripes of the United States (albeit divided in a unique manner). 
Learning about state, county, and local flags can only provide us greater insight into our origins and liberties.
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


On September 15, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of Equality (racial).  
We also recognize the great civil rights icons Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr,  who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, and I Have a Dream Speech, as well as the Union (Fort Sumter) Flag.
The Founding Fathers embraced the Judeo-Christian understanding that the Creator created all individuals, that each person arises from His handiwork, and that every person embodies His blessing. Regardless of physical, mental, and social differences between individuals, each individual is equally precious in His eyes. While this First Principle originally arose from a belief in the nature of the Creator, the laws of nature lead many to the same conclusion. 
By embracing the First Principle of equality, America rejected the deliberately inequitable regimes dominating the globe in their time. Inequality codified in the law was a cornerstone of government throughout world history. Hereditary nobility and other special classes were almost universally granted special privileges unknown to the common person. 
Yet, from the American Revolution and for generations thereafter, equality was not afforded to African-Americans, most especially slaves. Over 50 years after the Declaration of Independence, Frederick Douglass could rightfully ask, “What I have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” Indeed, slavery and racial discrimination made a mockery of the First Principles of equality, unalienable rights, and the Social Compact. 
Driven by the idea of the First Principle of equality, abolitionists organized to emancipate the slaves and to afford African-Americans equality under the law. The inherent hypocrisy of slavery in the land of the free eventually literally tore the Union asunder in the Civil War. At enormous sacrifice, with the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th-15th Amendments, the nation finally began to live up to its promise. 
However, generations would pass - and another civil rights struggle led by Martin Luther King, Jr. was necessary - before the principle of equality was more firmly established in civil rights legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 
Although the struggle is not complete, the First Principle of equality requires that each person be treated equally under the law, and that the equal protection of the laws be afforded to all.


On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln placed into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederacy. 

Simple, but majestic, it provided:
“All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” 


The Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Lincoln on the battlefield which months early saw one of the bloodiest and most important battles in American history, is perhaps the most eloquent statement by any American ever.  The Address crystalized for Americans the need to fulfill the broken promise of equality. 

The Address speaks for itself:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Generations later, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington, he delivered his I Have A Dream speech - a stirring message that inspired the country to overcome its troubled history and embrace racial equality:
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation... But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination... 
“In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation... Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children... 
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character...”
(Because the text of the speech is licensed by Intellectual Properties Management, Atlanta, GA as exclusive Licensor of the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. (which holds the copyright), the excerpts of this speech are given for academic and educational purposes only in compliance with the “fair use” doctrine).

Born a poor child on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln eventually taught himself the law and became a renowned lawyer in Illinois. 
He began his political career losing a race for the state legislature in 1832. He would win two years later and serve in the Illinois House from 1834-1841. While winning a seat to Congress in the House of Representatives in 1847, he lost his bid for reelection as well as two bids for the Senate in 1855 and 1858. This repeat loser won the presidency in 1860. 
Calling upon the First Principles, Lincoln argued for the emancipation of slaves, protecting the unalienable rights of African Americans, and equality before the law. 
With an uncanny intellect and will he became the rock upon which the Union was preserved during the Civil War. Lincoln could act upon the First Principles when he promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day, 1863 – declaring all slaves in states under the South’s control to be free. 
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863) was a defining moment in the struggle to secure equality and unalienable rights for all Americans. While possessing no legal authority, it is nearly as important to the American character as the Declaration of Independence. No other speech reveals – and helped cause – the evolution of American thought. 
Simply put, Lincoln explained that America was founded upon certain First Principles and that it must struggle to meet those principles – even at great and horrible costs – to ensure that the nation dedicated those First Principles could survive. 

Born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland (on what he believed to be Valentine’s Day, 1816), Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery on September 3, 1838. Douglass eventually bought his freedom with the proceeds of anti-slavery lectures he presented in Great Britain and Ireland. 
Once he fled the South, Douglass became a committed abolitionist. He leapt onto the world stage by publishing his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). By detailing his brutal life as a common slave, the work captured the public's imagination and significantly advanced the cause of abolitionism. 
Douglass used his fame to tour and speak across the country and in Europe. He began several newspapers, including the influential North Star. His unrelenting attacks upon slavery clearly revealed the need to address the fundamental hypocrisy of slavery in free republic of America. 
During the Civil War he consulted with President Abraham Lincoln; and during Reconstruction he advised President Andrew Johnson. He also served in several federal posts during Reconstruction, including as US Marshall for the District of Columbia, register of deeds for the District of Columbia, and as a diplomat to Haiti. 

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. The impetus underlying the Civil Rights Movement, like the drive to abolish slavery and enact Reconstruction, was the belief in the First Principle of equality. Dr. King firmly believed in this conviction and used it as his greatest weapon. 
King preached and practiced non-violent opposition in the face of oppression. He established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and led the struggle for equality during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 
Writing from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, he explained that the civil rights activists were “standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” 
Thus, it was natural for King, when he addressed over 200,000 supporters who had marched on Washington, D.C., to echo Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass, in his famous and moving I Have a Dream Speech. The efforts and Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement led to the adoption of several federal civil rights acts and ground-breaking Supreme Court decisions. 
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. His assassination gripped the nation and became a major impetuous for embracing racial equality in America.
The Civil War began with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina on April 12, 1861. After the original garrison flag ripped, this flag was hoisted above Fort Sumter. 
Major Robert Anderson lowered the flag when he evacuated Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861. He brought the flag to New York City on April 20, 1861 for a rally on behalf of the Union. The flag soon went on tour to various rallies in the North where “auctions” were held to raise funds on behalf of the Union’s war effort. The “winners” of the auctions promptly returned the flag so that the fundraising tour could continue. 
In February 1865, the Confederacy abandoned Charleston. At Abraham Lincoln’s direction, exactly four years after the flag was lowered, then Major General Robert Anderson raised it at Fort Sumter. 
At the flag raising ceremony, the Reverend Henry Ward Beech delivered a powerful oration that remarked:
“On this solemn and joyful day, we again lift to the breeze our fathers' flag, now, again, the banner of the United States, with the fervent prayer that God will crown it with honour, protect it from treason, and send it down to our children with all the blessings of civilization, liberty, and religion. Terrible in battle, may it be beneficent in peace! Happily no bird or beast of prey has been inscribed upon it. The stars that redeem the night from darkness, and the beams of red light that beautify the morning, have been united upon its folds. As long as the sun or the stars endure, may it wave over a nation neither enslaved nor enslaving... 
In the name of God we lift up our banner, and dedicate it to peace, union, and liberty, now and for ever more. Amen.”
In a remarkable twist of fate, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated that very night.
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