Hello! And welcome to our first post of 2009 which of course is a Friday installment of Founding Father’s Quote Friday. This adventure has been so enlightening for everyone involved at The Thinker.
We want to acknowledge he who got us started, Mr. Hercules Mulligan. If you ever need or want to say something regarding how the ‘Inventor’s’ of our nation imbued their own spirituality into the founding documents, I implore anyone to read Mr. Mulligan’s treatise located here.
As for me I love this quote from Samuel Adams for several reasons. First and foremost I have been writing about the connectivity between morals, values, ethics, and virtues at my other blog, American Age.
Moreover, I have asked this question to my readers: “Can you imagine living in a world void of manners and morality?” Seriously, anarchy would probably be a step-up from a world that has no sense of moral authority.
In my Essays on Tolerance I try and explain as to who, and for what reasons men, women, and children, with everything important they owned and would board something the size of a cork bobbing up and down in a massive ocean and take a very unsafe journey the equivalent to one of us going to the moon without the shuttle; rather, in some makeshift rocket.
What was going-on in Europe and especially the United Kingdom that would have people making decisions to throw everything they owned literally, into the wind, and relocate an ocean apart and at that, if the weather and winds we’re kind?
In a letter written by Samuel Adams to James Warren during the winter of 1779 sheds enormous light pursuant to our question:
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
I find it of invaluable information, what John Locke would refer to as “uneasiness” or anxiety, or indeed flat out fear of what it would be like to lose their liberties. Moreover, I am of the opinion that Samuel Adams is rendering an expose describing what very well may have been happening in the colonies at that time.
Are there parallels that can be drawn from what Mr. Adams was writing to Mr. Warren about in today’s society? I believe there are stunning parallels!
“A general dissolution of principles and manners…” means of course, that Samuel Adams was witness to the condition of humankind being morally good dissolving before his very eyes. Furthermore, I attend to the notion that the ‘principles’ he refers to as those qualities of virtue: morals, values, ethics, and reason.
In addition when he mentions manners I feel that he is referring to the day-to-day condition of people eroding, or displaying rotten character. Therefore, summing up his first intention Samuel Adams is warning–If people are to dissolve their morality and trudge through life without manners, they are indeed in the position of losing their liberty-or better still–their freedom … but when once they lose their virtue…
And finally Samuel Adams states (paraphrasing) as long as people are virtuous, that is, having moral fiber, values, and ethical standards one could not ever hope to over-throw them; yet, once folks enter into that ‘human condition’ with loss of virtues, principles, and morality then they have already surrendered their liberties, are no longer ‘free’ but slaves to the world and whoever comes to invade it, … ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
Again, as for me Samuel Adams is paraphrasing scripture which furthermore illuminates the presence of God in our Founders as well as the documents they concocted and the government they invented.
Just for a quick start, in the Epistle of James in chapter one and starting at verse 5:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.(v.6) But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (v.7) For let no man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord; being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-7 NASB).