Return to NHNE Miscellaneous Archive
---From the Pledge of Allegiance
The Utopian Nation
Famous American Words
The Utopian Nation
By David Sunfellow
The New World
Several hundred years ago "The New World," or "America" began to capture the hearts and minds of Europeans who dreamed of a better way. In one wave after another, thousands of them risked everything and embarked upon a perilous journey to this new land.
As time progressed, and the new land was colonized, the inevitable confrontation between the old and new worlds reached a fateful climax: England began sending troops to force its English colonies to abide by rules the colonies felt were unfair. And the colonies responded to England's heavy-handed tactics by going to war.
Overall the American Revolution was far from the Hollywood version of divinely inspired men overthrowing an evil empire so they could make their heart-felt dreams come true. Rather, like life itself often is, the events that gave birth to America were unplanned, unexpected, messy, disorganized, and immensely painful.
Virtually none of the founding fathers of our country wanted, or intended, to establish their own country. They were, for the most part, well-educated, happy, successful and loyal English speaking men with an honest love for England, their ancestral homeland. And they would have been content to remain under the powerful protection of their Motherland if England had not tried to pin them against the wall and squeeze out of them whatever resources it wanted without their input or consent.
Similarly, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights did not fall out of the sky carved on stone tablets. All of these great works were the result of weary men, from differing backgrounds and perspectives, being forced to deal with a situation they had never wanted to face: First fight a long, costly, and bitter war with their Motherland and then, after winning a war they never wanted to fight, form a unified government out of 13 fiercely independent colonies. By all accounts, the gatherings that produced these inspired documents and sealed America's fate were filled with roaring arguments, gut-wrenching compromises, and many moments when it seemed as if everything, including one's life, would be lost.
That was the more mundane side of things.
On the other hand, it also seemed apparent that God, Providence, some Unseen Force was pushing them toward some mysterious destiny.
An extraordinarily gifted group of strong-willed, high-minded, deeply-convicted men were, by necessity, compelled to join forces and pool their talents, visions, and resources. And there were angels, and visions, and miraculous events that seemed to testify to the fact that something remarkable was happening in the midst of all the chaos and confusion.
There are stories of mysterious men appearing at critical meetings and turning the tide with a few carefully crafted words -- and then disappearing; of Washington receiving visions that inspired and guided him at the most dangerous and despairing moments of his life and the life of the newly formed nation; of Washington's clothes baring the mark of bullets that penetrated them, but never harmed him; of inspired dare-devil antics (like crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve) that wrecked havoc on and eventually defeated the greatest military power in the world.
How many of these stories are really true? How many are true and have been accurately reported? I don't know. But what remains speaks for itself: Compelled by circumstances beyond their control, 13 ragtag and loosely-knit colonies did the impossible: They defeated England in war; they rejected all the systems of their day and charted a revolutionarily new form of government; and they have emerged today, 200 years later, having survived a civil war, a great depression, and two world wars in between, one of the greatest, most original, influential, and compassionate nations the world has ever known.
The First Universal Nation
In the beginning, America's bold proclamations of freedom and democracy evoked laughter from England and the other great powers of the day. Now, a mere 200 hundred years later, not only does America dominate virtually every aspect of the global community, but every other nation on earth has been forced to evaluate itself in light of her ideals. What was disregarded as a pipe dream a mere two centuries ago, has now become the standard by which old governments crumble and new governments are formed.
Why? How could one young upstart nation exert such a powerful influence on the rest of the world?
I believe America, and her vision of diversity, equality, and unity is sweeping across the face of the earth because humanity as a whole is ready to embrace these universal, archetypal ideals.
There have, of course, always been attempts to manifest utopian societies. Some of these attempts have succeeded. Some have failed. But nowhere in the history of the world has a society emerged where people from virtually every race, creed, culture and religion gathered together in equality. This is a new development in the long, often narrow-minded and brutal anals of human history. And America is the first. She is the first truly universal nation.
To be sure, America has not carried herself perfectly. Her short history is full of hypocrisy, of fear, of predjudice, of moving ahead with her noble vision and then faltering when confronted with the difficult task of manifesting it. While boldly declaring that "all men are created equal," for instance, many of our founding fathers owned slaves -- and accurately predicted that America would someday face a great reckoning over the issue of slavery.
But whether the issue has been over the rights of African Americans who were brought here in chains, or the rights of Native Americans who were killed by the millions and robbed of their lands, or the rights of numerous other minorities and disenfranchised people, America has honestly wrestled with her shortcomings. Sometimes she has done this willingly, while at other times she has been forced. Either way, history has proven that America has a conscience. Eventually, she has admitted her mistakes and tried to correct them. Likewise, history has also proven that America, and the people that make her up, are not easily discouraged. Both her, and her people, are deadly serious about making the dream of a utopian society a reality.
Harbingers of America
& Her Vision of Universal Brotherhood
Although Buddha, Lao Tsu, Confucius, Plato, Socrates, and other great spiritual, philosophical, and political leaders made love and loving others an important part of their inspired movements, so far as I know, Jesus was the first to make loving others the singular, most important thing a person could do to bring peace and happiness to himself, and to his world. Likewise, whereas other teachers and teachings had only limited success healing themselves and their followers, Jesus demonstrated, repeatedly, that love and loving others has the potential to heal all wounds, surmount all obstacles, and overcome all the afflictions that torment the human body, mind, and soul.
And Jesus' electrifyingly simple call to love did not go unnoticed. Like a great rock dropped in a deep pond, Jesus' life and simple message of love soon gathered a rapturous following and began to spread all over the world. A few motley followers grew into legions. And from these legions, churches and movements evolved and eventually made their way, full of the hope of manifesting Jesus' vision of love, to America.
Although I have, for the sake of making my train of thought clear, made many sweeping generalizations, if there is one generation that seems solidly based in historical fact it is that America is a nation that was founded on the life and teachings of Christ: The vision of America can be traced back to him, and his irresistible message of love. Even the most rudimentary study of our founding fathers, as well as the early pilgrims and other groups that first came here from the old world, will reveal an overwhelming devotion to Jesus, and his teachings, as well as an impassioned attempt to bring his life and teachings to fruition in America's fertile soil.
Likewise, even though many people have and probably will continue to try and separate God from America, the fact remains that God was the foundation upon which America began and upon which America still rests. And not just any God, but a God like the God Jesus knew: A God that loves all people and honors all paths -- including the paths of people who choose to doubt, deny, and defy Him.
Although the memories of the early pilgrims and founding fathers have, perhaps, faded over time, and although the vision of religious and personal freedom they so desperately longed for has, perhaps, lost some of its fervor, the spirit of America lives on. It has mellowed, matured, deepened and ripened. It has embedded itself deeply in the minds and hearts of everyone who is born in this country and continues to spread out across the world.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, the vision of our country, and the vision of Jesus that gave it birth, seem to flow through us like blood -- it is an inseparable part of our bodies, minds, emotions, relationships, aspirations, traditions, institutions, and ways of life; it sustains and nourishes us, with little conscious fanfare and recognition, in a million unseen ways.
The Importance of the Individual
& the Purpose of Life
Another hallmark of America which I believe is also a hallmark of the message of Jesus, is the supreme focus on the individual.
In a world that has long been dominated by harsh systems that force individuals to conform to authority, America has, indeed, been a light to the world. All over the world, America is known for championing the right of individuals to make up their own minds and follow their own course of thought and action. Similarly, the idea that anything is possible in America, a view that is held the world over, arises out of the knowledge that in America people are free to follow their own hearts. We rise, or fall, not because of the dictates of kings, queens, dictators, cast systems, family hierarchies, or deeply entrenched religious institutions, but, rather, because of the caliber and determination of our own efforts. The individual freedom we have come to take for granted is, for much of the world today, still a lofty ideal that stirs the hearts and minds of those less fortunate than ourselves.
So what is this passion for individual freedom, for self-expression all about? Why is it such a dominant force in America? I believe it is arises out of the awareness, on some level, that in order to find fulfillment as human beings, we must first develop ourselves as individualized beings. A quote from a reading given by Ray Stanford explains this process in light of Jesus and his purpose:
"Some have said that the uniqueness of Christ as Jesus was that a man became conscious of God, that an individual became conscious of God. But we would give a greater significance: GOD BECAME CONSCIOUS AS AN INDIVIDUAL! This is why you are in the earth -- not to become conscious of God, for you were that before entering the earth. Not that, as many religions and peoples believe, but that God would become conscious AS MAN, that God would become an individual. There is a difference. One is a transformation, an amelioration, the purpose for which He entered. The other is, well, merely returning the pancake to its batter." 1
Meher Baba had something similar to say:
"The entire process of evolution is from unconscious divinity to conscious divinity." 2
"Perfection is the full development of all aspects of personality." 3
If these sources are correct, and I believe they are, then developing our individuality is a supremely important endeavor.
Significantly, the best way to develop our individuality and perfect all the different aspects of our personality seems to be through learning to love and accept others. Why? Because those we encounter in life reflect back to us the many different parts of ourselves that we need to heal, empower, and unite. As the Pathwork Material of Eva Pierrakos puts it:
"Relationship represents the greatest challenge for the individual, for it is only in relationship to others that unresolved problems still existing within the individual psyche are affected and activated." 4
The Pathwork Material and other sources also champion the idea that we need each other to learn from and love. We all have strengths, insights, and abilities that can help us find the healing we all seek -- and we all need other human beings to love, and be loved by.
What better way to discover the many unhealed parts of ourself, than to immerse ourselves in a vast cauldron of multi-cultured, multi-ethnic, multi-viewed people? Likewise, what better place to draw upon the vast resources of other souls, different from ourselves, than to live, work, and struggle with them side by side? Surely, there is no more conducive environment for such growth than the one that has been slowly emerging in America and spreading over the rest of the earth.
A Restless & Unrelenting
Search for Truth
Along with a passion for individual development and the hallowed right of individuals to determine their own destiny also comes another deeply entrenched American trait: A restless and unrelenting search for truth.
Many of our European ancestors exemplified this very much. Leaving all they knew, they embarked upon a perilous journey in search of the right to seek God in their own individual way -- which, to a large degree -- was an outright rejection of the systems they had grown up with. Those systems, as far as they were concerned, had failed. Maybe in America, where they would be free to seek God in their own particular way, they could find a new way of life, pioneer a new way of thinking and acting, that could bring them the peace and happiness they longed for but so far had failed to find.
It is almost as if a call went out throughout the earth advertising America as the place to go if you desired to be a part of the next leap in human consciousness. Those who cherished the essential ideals put forth by Jesus (and others) couldn't resist the call. They had to come. Some great gathering of consciousness was underway and they had to play their part and offer their gifts. At all costs, the dream of America had to become a reality.
How conscious were most people of this call? How many of our ancestors understood what was compelling them to make the perilous journey to America and, once here, to stick it out through a thick and thin? Probably not very many. But conscious or not, they came. And by standing back and watching the many different kinds of people who were drawn to America, a picture begins to merge.
Take the Quaker movement, for instance. Like so many others, it started in England. A man named George Fox had an inner experience in which he felt Jesus spoke to him and, in so many words, told him the only way people could find salvation was to go directly to him (Jesus). Churches were unnecessary! Priests were unnecessary! Bibles were unnecessary! All one needed to do was to turn deeply within and Jesus would be there waiting to help.
As you might expect, the powers of the day violently opposed the Quaker movement -- especially as more and more people began to leave their normal Protestant and Catholic churches to follow it. In a world rigidly controlled by churches, priests, ministers, royalty, aristocrats, and the rich, the Quaker movement was a threat of immense proportions. To make God directly accessible to the common man and woman; to show them that they could be guided directly by God and decide for themselves what they should, or should not do, was the ultimate threat and evoked the harshest of retributions.
In spite of wide spread, and often savage persecution, the Quaker movement spread like wildfire all over England, Europe, and eventually came to America, where people like William Penn and places like Pennsylvania sprang up to follow this revolutionarily new path. In the case of William Penn, and the Quaker colony he founded, the English allowed him to buy land in America mostly in the hopes that such a move would encourage the infectious and difficult-to-control Quakers to leave the old world for the new.
The Shakers, which had strong ties to Quakerism, as well as the Mormons and other religious movements, also had far reaching and profound effects on America -- so much so, in fact, that their contributions have woven themselves into the fabric of American life. Not only did many of these movements produce great national heroes and leaders, but many of their values, beliefs, discoveries, inventions, and cities our now so much apart of us that we no longer remember where they came from.
America then, has always been a gathering place, "a promised land," for a certain kind of seeking people (and this includes the Native Americans who also migrated here seeking a better life). It has been a place were a wide array of people, of differing backgrounds and perspectives, could come to make their individual and collective dreams come true. And it has risen to prominence on the stage of the world because much of the rest of the world is finally ready to embrace the same vision those who first came to America embraced.
If there is one truth that is both deeply instructive and profoundly reassuring it is that this world and the laws that govern this world, have been designed in such a way that only visions that are truly of God, and moving us toward ever-increasing perfection, survive. Those that are truly propelling us towards the perfection we came here seeking will grow and evolve, whereas those that come here to distract us for a certain season, or to teach us some passing lesson, do not last.
Jesus, and America have, thus far, withstood the often brutal tests of time and earthly experience -- and, as far as I can see, they show no sign of passing. Rather, the movement that swirls around them seems destined to make ever-increasing marks on the world and reshape it, ever more surely, into the utopian vision they champion.
The Future of America
& the Vision She Champions
What does the future hold for America and her vision of brotherhood? I'm not sure. It seems clear to me that America's Medicine Wheel vision will continue to spread all over the world. But it also seems clear to me that America, as a nation, is approaching a great reckoning -- a great house cleaning like unto the ones that gave her birth and, a hundred years later, threatened to shake her apart. Likewise, the vision which founded this country seems to be growing restless and impatient. The deep rumbling of some new phase in humanity's experience seems to be filling the world with an anxious sense of imminent change.
Perhaps America as it presently exists will cease to be, possibly break up into smaller, more self-sufficient villages, communities, and collectives -- all of whom will somehow be able to cultivate and share an even deeper sense of common purpose, unity and connectedness. Perhaps new, as yet undreamed of forms of government, born of America and humanity's ongoing quest for a better world, will arise in our midst.
Whatever the future holds, I believe that America, like the other great countries and movements that have come before her, is presently having her day in the sun.
Every age has produced a nation, or a movement that championed something critical to the ongoing development of our race. We have seen the splendors of ancient Persia, Egypt, India, China, Central and South America and the more contemporary marvels of Greece, Rome and the European Renaissance. Now, after cultures all over the world have developed their particular gifts, America has been busily gathering them all together and helping them learn how to live together in peace, love, and mutual respect.
My attempts to laud America's role in the plan I see unfolding in the earth, is not blind. I do not seek to overlook or ignore her many great weaknesses. For while I believe America can claim, with humility and pride, to be currently leading the world into the next phase of our evolution as a race, I also believe she has the dubious distinction of doing almost as much harm as she has done good. Neither she, nor her vision, has been mature enough to do any more. As President Wilson once observed, "evil has come with the good."
What's worse, America's dominance on the stage of the world has allowed her, and her people, to export their darker side to the rest of the world -- and sometimes do it in the name of the One she can trace much of her inspiration back to. Indeed, as one Edgar Cayce reading so deftly pointed out, the sin of America is that she does not always practice what she preaches.
And yet, I hope the many failings of America, and her people, do not blind us to her enormous beauty. With all her weaknesses, she remains a country of outstanding, almost mythical qualities and power. For you and I to be alive, living in America, during these, the years of her fulfillment, is a priceless gift we dare not overlook or take for granted.
And while we are feeling grateful for America, and the many opportunities she offers us, we might want to remember the carpenter's son that got the wheels turning. Although America may still exist in some form without Jesus, it is certain, at least in my mind, that she would not have the same vision, purpose and power.
1. From a psychic reading given by Ray Stanford entitled, "Creation";
2., 3. From a book by Meher Baba entitled, "God To Man, Man To God";
4. From the Pathwork Guide Lectures of Eva Pierrakos, Pg. 93, "The Pathwork of Self-Transformation."
Famous American Words
What is an American?
"What then is the American, this new man? He is neither an European, or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a man whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great change in the world."
Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
Written in 1792
All Men Are Created Equal
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness....
"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
From The Declaration of Independence, signed on the evening of July 4th, 1776 by the Second Continental Congress
Congress Shall Make No Law
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Article I of The Bill of Rights
In God We Trust
"In God We Trust"
Boldly stamped on all American currency
The Price They Paid
"The Price They Paid"
by Gary Hildreth
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Perhaps you can now see why our founding fathers had a hatred for sanding armies, and allowed through the Second Amendment for everyone to be armed.
Frankly, I can't read this without crying. Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't.
Till Every Chain Be Broken
"During my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh evidence of the fact that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be effected in the free states... than at the south. I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more frozen among the slave owners themselves... I determined, at every hazard, to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation... Let the Southern oppressors tremble. Let their secret abettors tremble. Let their Northern apologists tremble. Let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble...
"I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! No! Tell as man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen--but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch. AND I WILL BE HEARD! The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and to hasten the resurrection of the dead!"
William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, 1831
The Gettysburg Address
"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..."
Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863
Give Me Your Tired
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Emma Lazarus (1849-87), U.S. poet. From a poem entitled, "The New Colossus," (1886), written for inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
But Evil has Come with the Good
"Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty and the energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope. We have built up, moreover, a great system of government, which has stood through a long age in many respects a model for those who seek to set liberty upon foundations that will endure against fortuitous change, against storm and accident. Our life contains every great thing, and contains it in rich abundance.
"But evil has come with the good, and much fine gold has been corroded. With riches has come inexcusable waste. We have squandered a great part of what we might have used, and have not stopped to conserve the exceeding bounty of nature, without which our genius for enterprise would have been worthless and impotent, scorning to be careful, shamefully prodigal as well as admirably efficient. We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through...With the great government went many deep secret things which we too long delayed to look into and scrutinize with candid, fearless eyes. The great government we loved has too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the people....
"The nation has been deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often debauched and made an instrument of evil.... Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it..."
From Woodrow Wilson's 1913 Inaugural Address
The Four Freedoms
"We look forward to a world founded upon the four essential freedoms:
The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.
"The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.
"The third is freedom from want -- which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.
"The fourth is freedom from fear -- which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world...
"Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions -- without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.
"This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is in our unity of purpose. To that high concept, there can be no end save victory."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Four Freedoms Speech, 1941
I Don't See Much Future for the Americans
"I don't see much future for the Americans. . . . Everything about the behavior of American society reveals that it's half Judaized, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations
I Have A 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 one day out in the red hills of Georgia the son of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character...
"I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers...
"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last? Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"
Martin Luther King, I Have A Dream, 1963
We Will Pay Any Price
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty!"
From John F. Kennedy's 1961 Inaugural Address
"...So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and the last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind.
Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveler, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers -- desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved..."
From Maya Angelou's Inaugural Day Poem
January 20, 1993
Famous Native American Words
From "Indian Oratory,"
Compiled by W.C. Vanderwerth,
Published by the University of Oklahoma Press
They Found Friends & Not Enemies
"Your forefathers crossed the great waters and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men, and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request and they sat down amongst us. We gave them corn and meat. They gave us poison (spiritous liquor) in return. The white people had now found our country. Tidings were carried back and more came amongst us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them and gave them a large seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased. They wanted more land. They wanted our country. Our eyes were opened, and our minds became uneasy. Wars took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of our people were destroyed. They also brought strong liquors among us. It was strong and powerful and has slain thousands....
"Brother! Continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost. How do you know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book. If it was intended for us as well as for you, why has not the Great Spirit given it to us; and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that book, with the means to understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people? Brother! You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book? Brother! We do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers and has been handed down, father to son. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we received, to love each other, and to be unified. We never quarrel about religion.... Brother! We do not wish to destroy your religion, or to take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own."
Red Jacket (1756-1830), Seneca Chief
Farewell to Black Hawk!
"From the day when the palefaces landed upon our shores, they have been robbing us of our inheritance, and slowly, but surely, driving us back, back, back towards the setting sun, burning our villages, destroying our crops, ravishing our wives and daughters, beating our papooses with cruel sticks, and brutally murdering our people upon the most flimsy pretenses and trivial causes.... They brought their accursed fire-water to our village, making wolves of our braves and warriors, and then when we protested against the sale and destroyed their bad spirits, they came with a multitude on horseback, compelling us to flee across the Mississippi for our lives, and then they burned down our ancient village and turned their horses into our growing corn. They are now running their plows through our graveyards, turning up the bones and ashes of our sacred dead, whose spirits are calling to us from the land of dreams for vengeance on the despoilers."
"The white men are bad schoolmasters. They carry false looks and deal in false actions. They smile in the face of the poor Indian, to cheat him; they shake him by the hand to gain his confidence, to make him drunk, and to deceive him. We told them to let us alone, and keep away from us; but they followed us, like the snake. They poisoned us by their touch. We were not safe; we lived in danger. We were becoming like them, hypocrites and liars; all talkers and no workers.... The white men do not scalp the head, they do worse--they poison the heart.... Farewell, my nation! Black Hawk tried to save you, and avenge your wrongs. He drank the blood of some of the whites. He has been taken prisoner, and his plans are stopped. He can do no more! His end is near. His sun is setting, and he will rise no more. Farewell to Black Hawk!"
Black Hawk (1776-1838), Sauk Chief
Tecumseh & Pushmataha
In the spring of 1811 Tecumseh, of the Shawnee, spoke with warriors from the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes. After he spoke, Pushmataha, a chief of the Choctaws, spoke. Excerpts from these two powerful speeches graphically illustrate the views and conflicts nearly all native people wrestled with once the white man came to their land.
"The whites are already nearly a match for us all united, and too strong for any one tribe alone to resist; so that unless we support one another with our collective and united forces; unless every tribe unanimously combines to give check to the ambition and avarice of the whites, they will soon conquer us apart and disunited, and we will be driven away from our native country and scattered as autumn leaves before the wind....
"Where today is the Pequod? Where the Narragensetts, the Mohawks, Poncanokets, and many other once powerful tribes of our race? They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white men, as snow before a summer sun. In the vain hope of alone defending their ancient possessions, they have fallen in the wars with the white men....
"Are we not being stripped day by day of the little that remains of our ancient liberty? Do they not even kick and strike us as they do their black-faces? How long will it be before they will tie us to a post and whip us, and make us work for them in their corn fields as they do them?....
"Shall we give up our homes, our country, bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead, and everything that is dear and sacred to us, without a struggle? I know you will cry with me: Never! Never! Then let us by unity of action destroy them all, which we now can do, or drive them back whence they came. War or extermination is now our only choice. Which do you choose? I know your answer. Therefore, I now call on you, brave Choctaws and Chickasaws, to assist in the just cause of liberating our race from the grasp of our faithless invaders and heartless oppressors. The white usurpation in our common country must be stopped, or we, its rightful owners, be forever destroyed and wiped out as a race of people....
"And if there be one among you mad enough to undervalue the growing power of the white race among us, let him tremble in considering the fearful woes he will bring down upon our entire race, if by his criminal indifference he assists the designs of our common enemy against our common country. Then listen to the voice of duty, of honor, of nature and of your endangered country. Let us form one body, one heart, and defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers."
"The great Shawnee orator has portrayed in vivid picture the wrongs inflicted on his and other tribes by the ravanges of the paleface....We sympathize with the misfortunes of his people....
"If Tecumseh's words be true, and we doubt them not, then the Shawnee's experience with the whites has not been the same as that of the Choctaws. These white Americans buy our skins, our corn, our cotton, our surplus game, our baskets, and other wares, and they give us in fair exchange their cloth, their guns, their tools, implements, and other things which the Choctaws need but do not make. It is true that we have befriended them, but who will deny that these acts of friendship have been abundantly reciprocated? They have given us cotton gins, which simplify the spinning and sale of our cotton; they have encouraged and helped us in the production of our crops; they have taken many of our wives into their homes to teach them useful things, and pay them for their work while learning; they teach our children to read and write from their books. You all remember the dreadful epidemic visited upon us last winter. During its darkest hours these neighbors whom we are now urged to attack, responded generously to our needs. They doctored our sick; they clothed our suffering; they fed our hungry; and where is the Choctaw or Chickasaw delegation who has ever gone to St. Stephens with a worthy cause and been sent away empty-handed? So, in marked contrast with the experiences of the Shawnees, it will be seen that the whites and Indians in this section are living on friendly and mutually beneficial terms....
"It is unnecessary for me to remind you, O Choctaws and Chickasaws, veteran braves of many fierce conflicts in the past, that war is an awful thing. If we go to war against the Americans, we must be prepared to accept its inevitable results. Not only will it foretoken deadly conflict with neighbors and death to warriors, but it will mean suffering for our women, hunger and starvation for our children, grief for our loved ones, and devastation of our beloved homes. Not withstanding these difficulties, if the cause be just, we should not hesitate to defend our rights to the last man, but before that fatal step is irrevocably taken, it is well that we fully understand and seriously consider the full portent and consequences of the act....Therefore, let me admonish you that this critical period is no time to cast aside your wits and let blind impulse sway; be not driven like dumb brutes by the frenzied harangue of this wonderful Shawnee orator; let your good judgement rule and ponder seriously before breaking bonds that have served you well..."
After Tecumseh and Pushmataha both spoke, and the warriors sided with Pushmataha, Tecumseh declared Pushmataha a coward and called the Choctaw and Chickasaw warriors squaws. Pushmataha answered Tecumseh's remarks with the following.
"Halt, Tecumseh! Listen to me. You have come here, as you have often gone elsewhere, with a purpose to involve peaceful people in unnecessary trouble with their neighbors. Our people have no undue friction with the whites. Why? Because we have no leaders stirring up strife to serve their selfish, personal ambitions. You heard me say that our people are a peaceful people. They make their way, not by ravages upon their neighbors, but by honest toil. In that regard they have nothing in common with you. I know your history well. You are a disturber. You have ever been a trouble maker. When you have found yourself unable to pick a quarrel with the white man, you have stirred up strife between different tribes of your own race. Not only that, you are a monarch and unyielding tyrant within your own domain; every Shawnee man, woman, and child must bow in humble submission to your imperious will. The Choctaws and Chickasaws have no monarchs. Their chieftains do not undertake mastery of their people, but rather are they the people's servants, elected to serve the will of the majority. The majority has spoken on this question and it has spoken against your contention. Their decision has therefore become the law of the Choctaws and Chickasaws and Pushmataha will see that the will of the majority so recently expressed is rigidly carried out to the letter.
"If, after this decision, any Choctaw should be so foolish as to follow your imprudent advice and enlist to fight against the Americans, thereby abandoning his own people and turning against the decision of his own council, Pushmataha will see that proper punishment is meted out to him, which is death. You have made your choice; you have elected to fight with the British. The Americans have been our friends and we shall stand by them. We will furnish you safe conduct to the boundaries of this nation as properly befits the dignity of your office. Farewell, Tecumseh. You will see Pushmataha no more until we meet on the fateful warpath."
I Am Poor & Naked
"Look at me, I am poor and naked, but I am the Chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches, we want peace and love. The riches that we have in this world, Secretary Cox said truly, we cannot take with us to the next world. Then I wish to know why commissioners are sent out to us who do nothing but rob and get the riches of this world away from us?"
Red Cloud (1822-1909), Sioux Chief
The Great Spirit Sees & Hears Everything
"Our fathers gave us many laws, which they had learned from their fathers. These laws were good. They told us to treat all men as they treated us; that we should never be the first to break a bargain; that it was a disgrace to tell a lie; that we should speak only the truth; that it was a shame for one man to take from another his wife, or his property without paying for it. We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that He never forgets; that hereafter He will give every man a spirit-home according to his desserts: if he has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been a bad man, he will have a bad home. This I believe, and all my people believe the same."
Chief Joseph (1840-1904), Nez Perces Chief
I Will Fight No More Forever!
In 1877 the Nez Perces Tribe, led by Chief Joseph, attempted to flee to Canada in order to avoid a war with a growing number of U.S. soldiers who were preparing to evict the Nez Perces from their homeland and move them to a reservation. In 11 weeks of desperate flight, the Nez Perces traveled some 1600 miles through the rugged mountainous terrain of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. While fleeing with their entire tribe, the Nez Perces engaged 10 separate United States military commands in 13 different battles and skirmishes. In almost every case, the Nez Perces, although overwhelmingly out-numbered and out-gunned, managed to beat their pursuers or fight them to a standstill. General William T. Sherman described the struggle between the Nez Perces and the United States military as "one of the most extraordinary wars of which there is any record." Only 30 miles from the Canadian border, Chief Joseph was misled into believing that he and what was left of his broken tribe would be allowed to return, unharmed, to their homeland. Convinced the white generals would be true to their word, and deeply saddened by the horrible condition of his exhausted, wounded, and battle-ravaged people, Chief Joseph surrendered--only to watch the white man break another promise and send his once proud people to a desolate reservation. What follows are the few words he spoke on that solemn occasion.
"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohollhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead.... He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food; no one knows where they are--perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."
Chief Joseph (1840-1904), Nez Perces Chief
Return to NHNE Miscellaneous Archive