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At a stated meeting of the New York Historical Society held in its Hall, on Tuesday evening,
The paper of the evening, entitled, “THE HISTORY OF LIBERTY," was read by Mr. John F. Aiken.
On its conclusion, the Rev. Samuel Osgood, D.D., submitted the following resolution, which was adopted :
Resolved, That the thanks of the Society be presented to Mr. Aiken for his interesting paper, read this evening, and that a copy be requested for the archives of the Society.
(Extract from the minutes.]
“ I saw the expectant nations stand
To catch the coming flame in turn;
And oh! their joy as it came near,
Thou, too, sail on, O ship of State !
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea !
It is now an acknowledged fact that nowhere among all the nations is there so great a degree of liberty as in the United States. To say this is not to speak boastingly, but truthfully, of our country. Yet this is the result of centuries of trial and experience, for all the conflicts against tyranny in Europe, whether successful or unsuccessful, have been preparing the way for the growth of “the fair consummate flower” of freedom upon this Western Continent, which shall shed its fragrance over the world.
In the following pages I have endeavored to show the various experiences through which different nations have passed where freedom has struggled for development; how great eras have powerfully affected the condition of the world, especially the Christian era, and the era of the Reformation, and also the influence of great and successful wars for human rights upon several nations;
That the fierce struggle in the Netherlands for civil and religious liberty, and the consequent rise and prosperity of the Dutch Republic, prepared the way for the Great Rebellion, which roused England from the slumber of ages, and that for the bloodless, but most important revolution of 1688, with its unnumbered blessings;
That all of these animated our ancestors in the Revolutionary war which, when successful, reacted favorably upon Europe ;
That in the late terrible struggle for liberty, and the rights of man, the love of freedom, imbibed from our forefathers, enabled us to crush a gigantic rebellion whose corner-stone was slavery, and which, if it had been successful, would have destroyed “ this last best hope of earth;
And lastly, that the result of this war has animated with new zeal the lovers of freedom in Europe so that we already see important changes taking place there.
It has also been my object to show that under favorable influences our own beloved America will be the most prosperous, happy, and useful of nations.
I have striven to depict the characters of certain benefactors of their race, in the mild lustre of whose unselfish greatness the triumphs of those who have won a name by trampling upon their fellow mortals seem mean and contemptible. Napoleon the Third in