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Letter from John Adams to his daughter Abigail “Nabby” Adams:

Philadelphia, July 5th, 1777

My dear Daughter,

Yesterday, being the anniversary of American Independence, was celebrated here with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion. I am too old to delight in pretty descriptions, if I had a talent for them, otherwise a picture might be drawn, which would please the fancy of a Whig, at least. The thought of taking any notice of this day was not conceived until the second of this month, and it was not mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as every one wished, so this must be deferred another year. Congress determined to adjourn over that day, and to dine together.

* * *

From a speech given by Frederick Douglass at Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852: This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…. What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?… Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

* * *

Written by Joseph Addison (1672–1719), English essayist, poet, and politician:

How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!

Who would not be that youth? What pity is it

That we can die but once to serve our country!

* * *

Remarks of George S. Patton: Don’t be a fool and die for your country. Let the other sonofabitch die for his.

* * *

Albert Einstein: I find it difficult to believe that I belong to such an idiotic, rotten species — the species that actually boasts of its freedom of will, heroism on command, senseless violence, and all of the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism.

* * *

William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (Act 3, Scene 3): I do love My country’s good with a respect more tender, More holy and profound, than mine own life, My dear wife’s estimate, her womb increase, And treasure of my loins.

* * *

Seneca the Younger (4 BC–AD 65): Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own.

* * *

Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) British mathematician, philosopher, Nobel Laureate in Literature: Patriots always talk of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country.

* * *

Theodore Roosevelt: We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house; and we have room for but one, sole loyalty, and that loyalty is to the American people.

* * *

Voltaire (1694–1778): It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

* * *

George M. Cohan:

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy

A Yankee Doodle, do or die

A real live nephew of my uncle Sam’s

Born on the Fourth of July

George M. Cohan: Many a bum show has been saved by the flag.

* * *

The Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783: In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity. It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch-treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore…have agreed upon and confirmed the following articles.

Article 1:

His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

* * *

Happy Birthday. Looking good. Let’s do better next year.

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