July 4, 1861: President Abraham Lincoln’s address to Congress
Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled – the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains – its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can no be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election neither can they take by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
On July 4th, 1776, a new nation was born.
One based on independence from a monarchy who decided our fate for us to one that defined an entire country on the premise that only through our vote, when fairly and constitutionally decided will there be a peaceful change of power that follows the voice of the people.
It was a powerful and profound concept that the power resided with the people, not an individual or through violence.
It’s irrelevant whether you disagree, agree, like or dislike the results, this nation, unlike any other, gave the power to the people. It became a shining example for all to emulate.
With every free and fair election, with every change that broadens the definition of equality and rights for all, with every peaceful change in power we reaffirm what our forefathers fought so hard to establish.
As it states in the preamble to the Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of American.
Today we celebrate the birth of an incredible nation and an idea that continues to light the way to a more perfect union, one governed by the people, of the people and for the people.