America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact - the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.
- Adlai Stevenson -

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a revolution of sober expectations.

On October 24, 1973 Martin Diamond gave a speech at Independence Square, Philadelphia in the House of Representatives Chamber of Congress Hall. As he gave his speech, Diamond stood in the very place the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed almost 200 years earlier. In his address, Diamond focused on the idea that the American Revolution was a “Revolution of Sober Expectations.”

Diamond begins explaining his idea of “sober expectations” by stating that the American Revolution was only a half revolution. The Declaration of Independence was an abolishment of an unethical government; it was not a creation of a new government. In the Declaration the Founding Fathers write of a land of self-evident truths and freedom from oppression. They do not suggest a better form of government but leave open various possibilities of a new direction. Thus, the declaration was not written in a tyrannical manner or unbridled passion, it was written with a sober intent.

As I looked up the word “sober” in a thesaurus, I found words such as clearheaded, sensible, pragmatic, rational, logical, and thoughtful. I think these words describe the best state to be in at a time of revolution. In our lives we have all been told that when we are angry we should take a step back, clear our heads and really think about what we are doing before we lash out or open up our emotions in a storm of passion. In my opinion, the Founding Fathers are the perfect example of that piece of advice. At the time of the adoption of the Declaration, the 13 colonies had been at war with Great Britain for about a year. The colonies had been under very harsh reign and treated very poorly. The many unfair situations presented to the colonies were good reasons for the Founding Fathers to be angry at England and could have led to a revolt. However, the Founding Fathers’ did not want to overthrow England or cause turmoil to their country, they only wished for liberty.

In his speech, Diamond explains that the goal of civil liberty that exists within the declaration does not require terror or any tyrannical actions; it is a principle of achievement. Because the Founding Fathers goal was freedom and civil equality and they approached it with sobriety, the revolution worked; because of their coolness, America grew to be a successful country under a working democracy.

The Founding Fathers had a huge task and an incredible responsibility in forming the Declaration and moreover the United States of America. They did not face this task with a vengeance or tyranny; they faced it with sobriety and a focus on the idea of liberty. These perspectives are what made the Declaration, the Constitution and overall the Democracy of America work. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the name of liberty. This action and their courage were absolutely backed by a sensible, logical, clearheaded, thoughtful, and sober idea. 

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