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Quotations for & about
U.S.A. Independence Day
(The Fourth of July)

Soon we will reach for the calendar and tear off June, and July the Fourth will face us once again. ~Charles F. Raymond, "The Summer Stealing By," Cheer Up, 1909

Fourth of July, in the United States—It is the signal—the "banner on the outward wall" for sin and shooting crackers, pedantry and pinwheels, oranges and orations, sky-blue toilettes and sky-rockets. A day when patriotism pops and bursts about like so many bottles of sillery... ~Henry Howard Paul, "Fourth of July in the United States," 1851

This, then, is the state of the Union: Free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith. ~Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965

America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and a moral fact — the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality. And we love it for this audacity! ~Adlai Stevenson

It is very inspiring, my friends, to come to this that may be called the original fountain of independence and liberty in America and here drink draughts of patriotic feeling which seem to renew the very blood in one's veins. ~Woodrow Wilson, Presidential Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914 July 4th

Liberty is the breath of life to nations... ~Bernard Shaw

The Declaration of Independence! The interest which in that paper has survived the occasion upon which it was issued; the interest which is of every age and every clime; the interest which quickens with the lapse of years, spreads as it grows old, and brightens as it recedes, is in the principles which it proclaims. ~John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), "The Declaration of Independence"

Make room, all ye kingdoms, in history renown'd,
Whose arms have in battle with victory been crown'd,
Make room for America, another great nation;
She rises to claim in your councils a station...
With glory immortal she here sits enthroned,
Nor fears the vain vengeance of Britain disown'd...
~Francis Hopkinson (1737–1791), "American Independence"

July is an intensely warm month in the States, and by some weather-freak, the fourth, of all days, is the very fiercest. ~Henry Howard Paul, "Fourth of July in the United States," 1851

The Fourth of July, when we get to play our favorite American guessing game — fireworks or gunshots? ~Author unknown

Day of glory! welcome day!
Freedom's banners greet thy ray;
See! how cheerfully they play
      With thy morning breeze,
On the rocks where pilgrims kneel'd,
On the heights where squadrons wheel'd,
When a tyrant's thunder peal'd,
      O'er the trembling seas...
O let freemen be our sons;
And let future Washingtons
Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
      Till there's war no more.
~John Pierpont (1785–1866), "Independence"

Hail! Independence, hail! Heaven's next best gift,
To that of life and an immortal soul!
~James Thomson, Liberty, A Poem, 1734  [Scottish poet. Of British freedom. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

      There is a very great thrill to be had from the memories of the American Revolution, but the American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation, and the duty laid upon us by that beginning is the duty of bringing the things then begun to a noble triumph of completion. For it seems to me that the peculiarity of patriotism in America is that it is not a mere sentiment. It is an active principle of conduct. It is something that was born into the world, not to please it but to regenerate it...
      The American Revolution was the birth of a nation; it was the creation of a great free republic based upon traditions of personal liberty which theretofore had been confined to a single little island, but which it was purposed should spread to all mankind. And the singular fascination of American history is that it has been a process of constant re-creation, of making over again in each generation the thing which was conceived at first. ~Woodrow Wilson, 1915

A good many elderly people are afflicted with dreadful head-aches on the Fourth of July; but I suspect they don't mind it very much, for in every puff of blue smoke that wreathes itself under their noses, they see a boy's or a girl's happy face. ~William H. Rideing, "Fire-Crackers and the Fourth of July," 1874

Wake her with the voice of cannon—give her colors to the morn!
Make the day right glorious that saw the nation born;
Born to a life supernal, like the bird of storied fame—
From the ashes of dead empires springs her altar's sacred flame.
~Elizabeth M. Griswold, "The Nation's Birthday," in Spring and Summer School Celebration, edited by Alice M. Kellogg, 1895

The United States is the only country with a known birthday. All the rest began, they know not when, and grew into power, they know not how.... There is no "Republican," no "Democrat," on the Fourth of July, — all are Americans. ~James Gillespie Blaine

To the sages who spoke—to the heroes who bled—
To the day, and the deed—strike the harpstrings of glory!
Let the song of the ransom'd remember the dead,
And the tongue of the eloquent hallow the story.
      O'er the bones of the bold,
      Be the story long told,
And on Fame's golden tablets their triumphs enroll'd,
Who on freedom's green hills freedom's banner unfurl'd,
And the beacon-fire rais'd that gave light to the world.
~Charles Sprague (1791–1875), Ode for the Fourth of July, 1827, sung at the celebration in the Exchange Coffee-House in Boston

Whiz go the rockets, cleavingly into the air with many a snap, crack, and whir! Some shower silver stars, others red—as if a cherubim had thrown away a handful of rubies—perhaps green, orange, and blue. How magnificent the spectacle! High and loftily it mounts, like the impatient bolt of a war-horse; gradually the sound diminishes; we hear a gentle report, like a pistol discharged high in the air, and then the scattered lights dance on the bottom of the darkness, with fairy-like brilliancy. Now they flicker and run in grotesque circles; all expire save one, which seems coquetting with the air currents—ah! its turn has come; like a bright hope quickly crushed, it has fled, and all again is dark and solemn above. ~Henry Howard Paul, "Fourth of July in the United States," 1851

Suddenly it occurred to me to ask, "Do you remember the first Fourth of July?" For, you see, being wholly American at heart, how could I imagine there had been any Fourth until the famous one of 1776? ~Lucy C. Lillie, "Memories of the Fourth," Harper's Young People, 1885 June 30th

[I]t behooves us as true Americans to enter the splendid new movement which is endeavoring to make the Fourth over from a day of shallow jingoism and unmeaning brutality and carnage into a day of initiation into the meaning of true citizenship and a festival of deep and genuine and beautiful patriotism. ~Robert Haven Schauffler, 1912

How dark the sky looked! how shining and bewildering the stars! We would look from the artificial lights flashing forth among the trees in our street to those lamps of heaven swung above us, and perhaps we wondered where all those who had given us our freedom were now. ~Lucy C. Lillie, "Memories of the Fourth," Harper's Young People, 1885 June 30th

My country 't is of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
      Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrim's pride,
From every mountain side
      Let freedom ring...
~Samuel F. Smith, 1832

He who drinks a fifth on the fourth may not be able to go forth on the fifth. ~Internet meme

Among all the holidays of the year, one stands out as preëminently American; one appeals especially to that sentiment of patriotism and national pride which glows in every loyal American heart. Independence Day — the Fourth of July — is observed in every State in the Union as our distinctive national holiday.... the American colonists were no longer rebels in arms against their own country, but a free people fighting for their independence. ~Anonymous, "The Great American Holiday," in Our American Holidays: Independence Day, edited by Robert Haven Schauffler, 1912

If you had been told what you could not own,
Or do, or think, or hope, you'd have known
No honest American dared to be free
Or happy in seventeen seventy-three.
And so, in seventy-six we signed
A Declaration of heart and mind,
And our thirteen Colonies became
States united in more than name...
~Harry Behn (1898–1973), "Fourth of July," The Golden Hive, 1966

American patriotism, even on the Fourth of July, should be known more by its works than by its fireworks. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Somehow the Fourth had its quiet moments, too, even for little feet and childish voices, and small hands stole into each other as we sat looking at our fire-works with a sense that independence was a fine thing to declare. ~Lucy C. Lillie, "Memories of the Fourth," Harper's Young People, 1885 June 30th

Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago a bunch of guys got together on the Fourth of July and decided — because they didn't have any cherry bombs — they would declare some self-evident truths. ~The West Wing, "Jefferson Lives" [S5, E3, 2003], writing credits Carol Flint and Josh Singer, spoken by the character President Jed Bartlet

My heart beats red, white, and blue. ~Author unknown

I wish with all my heart that we could adopt the Fourth of July as the Festival Day of the whole English-speaking race. If this suggestion should seem strange to Americans, it is not unfamiliar to many Englishmen. We consider that the triumph of the American revolt against George III was a vindication of the essentially English idea of democratic self-government, and we believe that we have benefited by it almost as much as the Americans. It taught us a lesson which made the British Colonial Empire a possibility... our Government has forgotten the principles of George Washington, and has gone back to the principles of George III.... I have always repudiated the idea that Americans should be allowed to monopolize the Fourth of July. It is one of the great days... in the celebration of which all members of the English-speaking nations should participate. ~W.T. Stead, "England and the Fourth of July," in The Independent, 1900 July 5th

Freedom is beyond the price of any earthly cheer... ~Lucy Larcom, "The Nineteenth of April," 1861

Life hangs as nothing in the scale against dear Liberty! ~Lucy Larcom, "The Nineteenth of April," 1861

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.... with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. ~John Adams, letter to wife Abigail, 1776 July 3rd, Philadelphia

BREVITY  A desirable quality in the Fourth of July oration but not in the fireworks. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904

I... resolved to adopt the well Known Maxim “Where Liberty dwells, there is my country,” here every man who acknowledges the rights of a rational being, ought to bring his mite of Knowledge or experience, to encrease the rising Glory of this happy People. ~James Wallace, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1803

Fourth of July — it was good enough for George Washington, it's good enough for me. ~W. C. Fields, 1933

Fourth of July! It is a day, in the United States, in a manner described to the Goddess of Gunpowder. Ælius, in the classic fable, dedicated one day in the week to burn incense to the memory of Jupiter, and the patriotic, liberty-loving citizens of the United States set aside this day of every year to explode gunpowder by way of commemoration of the Declaration of Independence — the spirit of which document is still cherished with characteristic national fervor. It has often struck us as being an odd way of celebrating an event in the annals of history by burning, whizzing, and streaming fireworks. The whole country, from the borders of Maine to the mouth of the Mississippi, is a scene of din and smoke... Shops are shut, tradesmen suspend business, and even bankers and usurers seem to agree that toil shall have a gala-day... The rich and the poor alike make merry. ~Henry Howard Paul, "Fourth of July in the United States," 1851

Red rockets skyward rush pell-mell
And fill the night with noise and smell.
The stars of Heaven look down, and say:
"So this is Independence Day!
Poor earth-born stars, it makes us sad
To see your fire work like mad
To make a Human Holiday..."
~Oliver Herford, "July," The Smoker's Year Book, 1908

To-morrow is Hell-fire Day, that English holiday which we have celebrated, every Fourth of July, for a century and a quarter in fire, blood, tears, mutilation and death, repeating and repeating and forever repeating these absurdities because neither our historians nor our politicians nor our schoolmasters have wit enough to remind the public that the Fourth of July is not an American holiday. However, I doubt if there is a historian, a politician, or a schoolmaster in the country that has ever stopped to consider what the nationality of that day really is. I detest that English holiday with all my heart; not because it is English, and not because it is not American, but merely because this nation goes insane on that day, and by the help of noise and fire turns it into an odious pandemonium. The nation calls it by all sorts of affectionate pet names, but if I had the naming of it I would throw poetry aside and call it Hell's Delight. ~Mark Twain, 1908

...may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own Country! ~Daniel Webster, 1832

The Fourth of July orator does not drink water between his rests and pauses. He disdains any fluid short of champagne and brandy, which seem to invest, not only himself, but his subject, with additional spirit. Your temperance cold-water orators are apathetic patriots at a dinner-table, being too definite and punctilious to stir up the mass. Sentiments red-hot from the furnace of the heart, and words as strong as Sampson's locks are in demand. Milk and amiability are good things in their way, but to‑day aque vitæ and enthusiasm suit the popular system. All the time this mental fire is going on inside, the fireworks... are blazing away incessantly without; squibs sometimes fall at the orator's feet, and if, like Charles the Twelfth, he does not move at the burst, he is unanimously voted as a fearless champion of the Rights of Liberty. Viva! ~Henry Howard Paul, "Fourth of July in the United States," 1851

Our country will remain "the land of the free" only so long as it is "the home of the brave." ~Public Service Magazine, 1945

In this epoch of ours, many of us are watching with a distressed heart the evidence of a flight from freedom. Most people take liberty for granted, when they enjoy it, and do not realize that they have to relentlessly fight for preserving it. ~Author unknown, c. 1964

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. ~Dick Cheney

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,—
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.
~John Dickinson, 1768

The most patriotic man, ladies and gentlemen, is sometimes the man who goes in the direction that he thinks right even when he sees half the world against him. It is the dictate of patriotism to sacrifice yourself if you think that that is the path of honor and of duty. Do not blame others if they do not agree with you. Do not die with bitterness in your heart because you did not convince the rest of the world, but die happy because you believe that you tried to serve your country by not selling your soul. Those were grim days, the days of 1776. Those gentlemen did not attach their names to the Declaration of Independence on this table expecting a holiday on the next day, and that 4th of July was not itself a holiday. They attached their signatures to that significant document knowing that if they failed it was certain that every one of them would hang for the failure. They were committing treason in the interest of the liberty of 3,000,000 people in America. All the rest of the world was against them and smiled with cynical incredulity at the audacious undertaking. Do you think that if they could see this great Nation now they would regret anything that they then did to draw the gaze of a hostile world upon them? Every idea must be started by somebody, and it is a lonely thing to start anything. Yet if it is in you, you must start it if you have a man's blood in you and if you love the country that you profess to be working for. ~Woodrow Wilson, Presidential Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914 July 4th

JULY 4, Independence Day.  A national holiday, invented for the benefit of popcorn and peanut promoters; tin horn and toy-balloon vendors; lemonade chemists; dealers in explosives; physicians and surgeons. A grand chance for the citizen-soldier to hear the roar of battle, smell powder,... and lose a night's rest — or a finger. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904

First, freedom is never free; in fact, it has always been bought at great cost, whether on the battlefield, in the legislative assembly, in the law courts, in the schoolroom, or in synagogues, temples or churches. Also, it is never self-perpetuating, but has had to be rewon again and again... ~Author unknown, 1960s

      Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence...? If you have, you will know that it is not a Fourth of July oration. The Declaration of Independence was a document preliminary to war. It was a vital piece of practical business, not a piece of rhetoric; and if you will pass beyond those preliminary passages which we are accustomed to quote about the rights of men and read into the heart of the document you will see that it is very express and detailed, that it consists of a series of definite specifications concerning actual public business of the day. Not the business of our day, for the matter with which it deals is past, but the business of that first revolution by which the Nation was set up, the business of 1776. Its general statements, its general declarations can not mean anything to us unless we append to it a similar specific body of particulars as to what we consider the essential business of our own day.
      Liberty does not consist, my fellow citizens, in mere general declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite action. Therefore... reading its business-like sentences, we ought to ask ourselves what there is in it for us. There is nothing in it for us unless we can translate it into the terms of our own conditions and of our own lives....
      The task to which we have constantly to readdress ourselves is the task of proving that we are worthy of the men who drew this great declaration and know what they would have done in our circumstances. Patriotism consists in some very practical things—practical in that they belong to the life of every day, that they wear no extraordinary distinction about them, that they are connected with commonplace duty. ~Woodrow Wilson, Presidential Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1914 July 4th

Y.  The letter of Independence — it's the fourth of July. —Benjamin Franklin  ~Leonard Louis Levinson, Webster's Unafraid Dictionary, 1967

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