Reflections on the Declaration of Independence
In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions.
Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man—these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions of our forefathers. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish.
We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.
Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress.
--Calvin Coolidge, July 1926
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