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.....

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.
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at

No comments:

Post a Comment