Celebrating the Things of the Spirit: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence


Calvin Coolidge

Independence Day is on everyone’s mind, and thus, you should make time to read President Calvin Coolidge’s speech on the Declaration of Independence.

Coolidge contemplates what led the founders to write what they did and what inclined Americans to follow their lead. He is convinced that spiritual inclinations and orientation played the most important role:

Before we can understand [the founders’] conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

The founders’ religious leanings were certainly diverse, but as Coolidge notes, their “wide acquaintance with the Scriptures” was a primary force in the development of their political thought. It was not only by the economic wisdom of Hamilton or the intellectual prowess of Jefferson that our country became what it is today. Something deeper and more profound was going on—something spiritual.

As Coolidge concludes:

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

We must reframe our thinking and realign our pursuits to “the things that are holy.” It is not by our material prosperity that we have become great, but through our spiritual empowerment and obedience to a higher order. When we as individuals are made free, we have the ability to pursue our dreams and achieve greatness, but we must remember to align those dreams and achievements to the source of all things good.

Happy Fourth of July! Above all, let’s celebrate the “things of the spirit.”

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  • Remnant Culture

    Calvin Coolidge warned us that materialism will lead to a "barren scepter." Things of the spirit must come first. http://tiny.cc/m20aj

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/18047197539 Remnant Culture

    The potential for evil is the risk of freedom, but the potential for good is the reason we live. http://tiny.cc/m20aj #tcot #Christian

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/18047459260 Remnant Culture

    What did Calvin Coolidge have to say about freedom (or capitalism) and materialism? http://tiny.cc/m20aj

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/86815522401959936 Joseph Sunde

    Calvin Coolidge: Our material prosperity was created by our Declaration, not the other way around. http://t.co/Evtr4lr #4thofJuly

  • http://twitter.com/raynothstine/status/86816934682832896 Ray Nothstine

    Calvin Coolidge: Our material prosperity was created by our Declaration, not the other way around. http://t.co/Evtr4lr #4thofJuly

  • http://twitter.com/crichton18/status/86842446289448961 Jeff Crichton

    Calvin Coolidge: Our material prosperity was created by our Declaration, not the other way around. http://t.co/Evtr4lr #4thofJuly

  • http://twitter.com/strongernut/status/87615221996331008 Stronger Nutrition

    RT @RemnantCulture Spirituality and Materialism: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence http://t.co/mcz0OuY

  • http://twitter.com/commonconcept/status/87913819279605760 Common Sense Concept

    MT @josephsunde: Calvin Coolidge: Our material prosperity was created by our Declaration… http://t.co/Evtr4lr #4thofJuly

  • http://twitter.com/timburkey/status/88229444866678784 Tim Burkey

    Calvin Coolidge: Our material prosperity was created by our Declaration, not the other way around. http://t.co/Evtr4lr #4thofJuly

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/220174649391190018 Remnant Culture

    Celebrating the Things of the Spirit: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence http://t.co/WuuCFRjJ

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/220176865086803970 Joseph Sunde

    Coolidge: Fourth of July is for celebrating the "things of the spirit." http://t.co/oS94ww9o @RayNothstine @bdomenech @AmityShlaes

  • http://twitter.com/terrigreenusa/status/220177459331608579 Terri Green

    RT @RemnantCulture: Celebrating the Things of the Spirit: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence http://t.co/9Tk5adiT

  • http://twitter.com/personhoodms/status/220181850247798784 Personhood MS

    RT @RemnantCulture: Celebrating the Things of the Spirit: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence http://t.co/9Tk5adiT

  • http://twitter.com/webshaffer/status/222466082605244418 Wes Shaffer

    Celebrating the Things of the Spirit: Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration of Independence http://t.co/oGXoIRaE

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