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In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending 70 - if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we 75 must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts, is all that is left us ! They tell us, sir, that we are weak - unable to
, cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week or so the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on 85 our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot ? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people 90 armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone.
95 There is a just God who presides over the destinies
of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong
, alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base 100 enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from
the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come!
and let it come! I repeat it, 105 sir, let it come!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that
sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash 110 of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in
the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased
at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid it, 115 Almighty God! — I know not what course others
may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
QUESTIONS FOR STUDY
What passages in the oration were best suited to rouse the enthusiasm of the audience?
Samuel Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 27, 1722, and died in the same city on October 2, 1803, after seeing the nation that he
had largely helped to create take her place securely among the peoples of the earth. In this long life of more than fourscore years he had worked faithfully, thought energetically, and spoken powerfully in the highest cause that could enlist the devotion of
He was educated at Harvard, where he was graduated in 1743. He at first intended to become a clergyman, but entered politics instead, and was elected to the Legislature in 1766. He was one of the pioneers in the preliminary agitations which preceded the Revolution, and in a measure precipitated the outbreak; he was a delegate to the first Continental Congress; in the second Congress he was one of the weightiest members; “When the Declaration of Independence was written and lay on the table for signatures, he took the pen, and, his life in his hand, affixed his name upon the immortal roll.”
His speech on “ American Independence” is one of the many fiery orations that spontaneously burst from his lips in the tumultuous days of King George's oppression.
DELIVERED AT THE STATE HOUSE, IN PHILADEL
PHIA, AUGUST 1, 1776 Countrymen and Brethren: I would gladly have declined an honor, to which I find myself unequal. I have not the calmness and impartiality which the
infinite importance of this occasion demands. I will not deny the charge of my enemies, that resent-5 ment for the accumulated injuries of our country, and an ardor for her glory, rising to enthusiasm, may deprive me of that accuracy of judgment and expression which men of cooler passions may possess. Let me beseech you, then, to hear me with 10 caution, to examine without prejudice, and to correct the mistakes into which I may be hurried by my zeal..
No man had once a greater veneration for Englishmen than I entertained. They were dear to me 15 as branches of the same parental trunk, and partakers of the same religion and laws; I still view with respect the remains of the constitution as I would a lifeless body which had once been animated by a great and heroic soul. But when I am roused 20
. by the din of arms; when I behold legions of foreign assassins, paid by Englishmen to imbrue their hands in our blood; when I tread over the uncoffined bones of my countrymen, neighbors, and friends; when I see the locks of a venerable father torn by 25 savage hands, and a feeble mother, clasping her
imploring their lives from her own slaves, whom Englishmen infants to her bosom, and on her knee a have allured to treachery and murder; when I behold my country, once the seat of industry, peace, 30 and plenty, changed by Englishmen to a theater of blood and misery, Heaven forgive me, if I cannot