July 4: Liberty

July 4
Liberty

508.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
–Galatians 5:13-14

509.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
–2 Corinthians 3:17-18

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July 4: Abraham Lincoln’s 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. We are met on a great battlefield 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.

 

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER TEN

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER TEN

1 At that same time the Lord said to me, “Carve

Out two stone tablets for yourself like ones

At first and climb the mountain me; and

Make for yourself a wooden ark. 2 I will

Write on the tablets the same words that were

On the first tablets that you broke, and you

Must put them in the ark,” 3 and so I made

An ark out of acacia wood and carved

out two stone tablets like the first ones, then

I climbed the mountain holding the two tablets.

4 The Lord then wrote on tablets the same words,

The ten commandments, which he had told you

Beside the mountain from the middle of

The fire of that assembly then, and he

Gave them to me. 5 Then I turned and descended

The mountain, and I placed the tablets in

The ark I made—they are still there, just as

The Lord commanded me, 6 and in those days

The Israelites went from Beeroth Bene

Jaakan to Moserah, which is where

Aaron died and was buried, and his son

Eleazar became the priest instead.

7 From there they traveled to Gudgodah; from

Gudgodah down to Jotbathah, a place

Of flowing streams. 8 The Lord then set apart

The Levi tribe to bear the ark of God’s

Covenant, to stand up before the Lord

To serve him, and create some blessings in

His name, as they do to this very day.

9 So Levi will have no allotment or

Inheritance among his brothers; God

Is his inheritance just as the Lord

Your God told him, 10 and as for me, I stayed

Right at the mountain as I did at first,          

For forty days and nights. The Lord heard me

That time as well and he decided not

To wipe you out, 11 then he told me, “Get up,

Set out and lead the people so that they

May go possess the land I promised I

Would give their ancestors.” 12 Now, Israel,

What does the Lord your God require of you

But to revere him, to obey all his

Commandments, to love him, to serve him with

Your entire mind and being, 13 and to keep

The Lord’s commandments and his statutes that

I’m giving you today for your own good?

14 The heavens—certainly the highest heavens—

Belong to God, as does the earth and all

In it, 15 but only to your ancestors

Did the Lord show his loving favor, and

He chose you, their descendants, from all peoples—

As is apparent on this day, 16 so cleanse

Your heart and stop your stubbornness! 17 Because

The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord

Of lords, the great and awesome God who is

Unbiased and who takes no bribe, 18 who treats

Justly the orphan and the widow, and

Who loves the foreigners who live with you,

Giving them food and clothing, 19 so you must

Love foreigners who live with you, for you

Were foreigners in Egypt’s land. 20 Revere

The Lord your God, serve him, be loyal to

Him and take your oaths only in his name.

21 He is the one whom you should praise; he is

Your God, who’s done these great and awesome things

For you that you’ve seen. 22 When your ancestors

Went down to Egypt, they were seventy

In all, but now the Lord your God with love

Made you as numerous as stars above.

July 4: “Thomas Jefferson, Man of Liberty,” a poem by Day Williams

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”
~Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, Man of Liberty

1752: Beginnings
At nine, I studied Latin, Greek and French,
And Homer, Tacitus, the law, John Locke,
And always carried my Greek grammar text.
I studied fifteen hours a day–hard work.

I studied architecture and designed
And built Monticello, where I could read
And write and drink my silky, soft, smooth wine
My agent shipped me from Marseille with speed.

The Revolution
What can men do when taxes are too high?
Buckle like cowards or put up a fight?
Bright men, strong nerves, each risked his life
For a people’s government and for our rights.

1776: The Declaration of Independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,”
The words I wrote with my favorite quill pen,
Rights from the Creator of women and men,
“Unalienable” – there! I’ve said it again.

I wrote that England’s king had made a mess,
That life and liberty and the pursuit
Of happiness were rights which God had blessed
All men with, which the king sought to uproot.

1777: The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
I drafted the Virginia Statute for
Religious Freedom, which begins “Whereas,
Almighty God hath created the mind free”

And states “our civil rights have no dependence”
On our opinions of religion any
More than our physics and geometry
Opinions, and that “Truth is great, and will

Prevail” if left alone, therefore law
No longer will compel a man to aid
A certain ministry but that all men
Shall have the freedom to profess, and by

Argument to maintain, their own opinions
In matters of Religion, and their views
Shall in no way diminish, augment or
Affect their civil scope and power, and

Th’Assembly did declare these rights to be
Natural rights of mankind, so that
If this Act were repealed, it would infringe
On those same natural rights; when drafters came

To Philadelphia and looked for guides
To write the Constitution, they esteemed
This Act so much that they embodied it
With a clause: “but no religious test

Shall ever be required” to qualify
To any office or a public trust
In the United States–which pleased me well.
For on these questions, men are fallible.

Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781–83
Can a land’s liberties be thought secure
When we have taken their sole sound foundation:
Conviction in the people’s minds, assured
These are God’s gifts and that to violate

The Lord’s benevolence and breach his trust
Would anger him, like Pharaoh and the Red Sea?
Now when I contemplate that God is just,
From what I’ve seen, I tremble for my country.

1787
The blood of tyrants and oppressors, so dear,
Must from time to time refresh the Freedom Tree
What country can preserve its liberties
If people don’t preserve the rebel spirit?

The Bill of Rights
That Constitution has some good parts,
Mr. Madison, you’ve made a fine start,
To raise it to the level of fine art,
Give it a Bill of Rights, give it a heart

For individuals, so government
Can’t overbear and take God-given rights:
Free speech, no searches with no warrant,
Freedom to worship Divinity’s light,

Right to bear arms, to congregate
As to what the government has done or may
Do, right to counsel, not to incriminate
Themselves, let law’s due process go its way.

And Mr. Madison took my advice
So that the rights were written and precise.

1803: Louisiana Purchase
Nap’s offer was too great for us to say
No, for it doubled the U.S.’s size
At three cents for an acre, yes, we’ll pay:
Good deal, no matter how it’s scrutinized.

“For our whole lives, this is our noblest work,
The U.S. now is among the power of the first rank,”
Said Livingston, the Minister to France,
“We did it with help from an English bank.”

1803–1806: Lewis and Clark
What’s in the West? The maps were dark
I commissioned two men, Lewis and Clark
Get me samples of wildlife, plants, bark.
Tell me of eagles, hawks, river birds and larks,

Is there a waterway to the western coast?
That is what I want to know the most.
Bring plants and seeds of which the region boasts;
Make this an expedition that we can toast.

Sally Hemings
Sally and I aren’t items in the news
We keep it private, actions that we do,
No one has forced her–it is what she chooses
To do, let us be or I’ll question you.

1801–1805: The Barbary Pirates
The pirates boarded, daggers in both hands
And between the teeth, and sailors, scared,
Gave up the ships, gave up command,
Were sold as slaves; I, President, declared

I’d end their ransom scam, white slavery
In the Islamic realms had to desist;
The cost in lives and merchandise was dear
Too much was flowing to Islamic fists.

For the nation’s budget one-fifth goes
To ransom, mil. a year, is much too grave
To pay the tribute pirates have imposed.
These pirates turn our sailors into slaves

Hard labor hell for so-called infidels–
We’ll send Marines to clean, so lives are saved
Decatur sailed with frigates full
Of fighters who took the pirates to their graves.

He stormed a ship and overpowered foes,
The age’s boldest and most daring act,
And the Marines took Derna, which was close
To Tripoli, which we would have attacked,

So Yusuf Karamanli had to sign
A treaty to conclude hostilities
And free enslaved Americans to dine
In the United States as they might please.

1817: University of Virginia
A university on an extensive
And liberal scale I had conceived while I
Served as third President, one that would give
Students the knowledge cup, with no requirement

To know a catechism. They could read
Ancient or modern languages, or law,
Medicine, mathematics, chemistry,
Or in philosophy. The tragic flaw

In other universities, I said:
They were religious schools, and I was firm
That higher education not be wed
To a religious doctrine any term.

1826: Life’s End
God gave us liberty when he gave life
(Time wastes too fast, our precious passing lives),
John Adams lives this Fourth of July,
And Independence thrives . . . now I can die.

Epitaph
And on his epitaph, which he designed:
Nothing about his Presidency; instead
The Declaration, which he wrote and signed,
Virginia’s University (he led

With how he had conceived curriculum)
And Statute for Religious Freedom of
Virginia, law designed to overcome
Prejudice for beliefs–labors of love.

~Day Williams
***
Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

“because by these,” he explained, “as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.”

Jefferson further instructed that the monument was to be made of “coarse stone … that no one might be tempted hereafter to destroy it for the value of the materials.”1

***
he freed sally heming’s children.

***

July 4: “The Constitution,” poem by Day Williams

 

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
Benjamin Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” (1787)

The Constitution

When We the People formed this government,
We emphasized the people’s right to rule,
Not Kings and Queens, with ways we could amend
The Constitution, the foundation, tool

In People’s hands not to be lightly changed,
A tool requiring constant vigilance
To keep the Union and establish Justice,
Keep peace at home, provide for our defense,

Promote the common Welfare, and secure
Liberty’s Blessings to ourselves and our
Posterity; and as no man is pure,
We formed three branches to check and balance power.

Stand for free speech, free press, the right to teach
Your child of lovingkindness and God’s kingdom;
The right to use your guns, so Tyranny
Won’t march you to a grave as a naked thing.

The power structure can’t infringe on rights
Of people to petition Government
To redress grievances, or to assemble
Peaceably to declare their discontent.

You can’t be forced to house a soldier, or,
If you are jailed, to pay excessive bail,
Or to relinquish worship of the Lord,
Or to lose work because you read in Braille.

Don’t let the government inside your home
Unless police have warrants in their hands;
You need not testify against your own
Self; Government must pay to take your lands.

You have the right to have a lawyer plea
Your case, protect your rights, and keep you free;
You have the rights to jury trial and
To counsel even if you can’t pay fees.

The warden cannot punish you with cruel,
Strange punishment–you’re not his chump or fool,
And you retain your right to worship God
And freely speak, within a prison’s rules.

The Feds must honor rights of fifty States
To legislate for citizens as they
Deem best, and people and the States retain
More rights than what the Bill of Rights contains.

The Government must honor equal rights
And Law’s due process for the citizens,
And courts interpret laws with oversight,
Enforcing rights of women, children, and men.

Keep this Republic, which is based upon
The Holy Bible and the Constitution,
And disregard connivers, cranks and cons
Who peddle hollow claims of new solutions.

The Founders knew about deceitful hearts,
How men and women mean well but go wrong,
And they relied on people to give thanks,
Seek wisdom, and obey the Lord, who’s strong.

~Day Williams