by John Quincy Adams

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Prepared by:
Anthony J. Adam
email: anthony-adam@tamu.edu

John Quincy Adams, "Orations"

"The Jubilee of the Constitution, delivered at New York,
April 30, 1839, before the New York Historical Society."

Fellow-Citizens and Brethren, Associates of the New York
Historical Society:

Would it be an unlicensed trespass of the imagination to
conceive that on the night preceding the day of which you now
commemorate the fiftieth anniversary--on the night preceding
that thirtieth of April, 1789, when from the balcony of your city
hall the chancellor of the State of New York administered to
George Washington the solemn oath faithfully to execute the
office of President of the United States, and to the best of his
ability to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the
United States--that in the visions of the night the guardian
angel of the Father of our Country had appeared before him, in
the venerated form of his mother, and, to cheer and encourage
him in the performance of the momentous and solemn duties
that he was about to assume, had delivered to him a suit of
celestial armor--a helmet, consisting of the principles of piety,
of justice, of honor, of benevolence, with which from his
earliest infancy he had hitherto walked through life, in the
presence of all his brethren; a spear, studded with the self-
evident truths of the Declaration of Independence; a sword, the
same with which he had led the armies of his country through
the war of freedom to the summit of the triumphal arch of
independence; a corselet and cuishes of long experience and
habitual intercourse in peace and war with the world of
mankind, his contemporaries of the human race, in all their
stages of civilization; and, last of all, the Constitution of the
United States, a shield, embossed by heavenly hands with the
future history of his country?

Yes, gentlemen, on that shield the Constitution of the United
States was sculptured (by forms unseen, and in characters then
invisible to mortal eye), the predestined and prophetic history
of the one confederated people of the North American Union.

They had been the settlers of thirteen separate and distinct
English colonies, along the margin of the shore of the North
American Continent; contiguously situated, but chartered by
adventurers of characters variously diversified, including
sectarians, religious and political, of all the classes which for
the two preceding centuries had agitated and divided the people
of the British islands--and with them were intermingled the
descendants of Hollanders, Swedes, Germans, and French
fugitives from the persecution of the revoker of the Edict of

In the bosoms of this people, thus heterogeneously composed,
there was burning, kindled at different furnaces, but all
furnaces of affliction, one clear, steady flame of liberty. Bold
and daring enterprise, stubborn endurance of privation,
unflinching intrepidity in facing danger, and inflexible
adherence to conscientious principle, had steeled to energetic
and unyielding hardihood the characters of the primitive
settlers of all these colonies. Since that time two or three
generations of men had passed away, but they had increased
and multiplied with unexampled rapidity; and the land itself
had been the recent theatre of a ferocious and bloody seven
years' war between the two most powerful and most civilized
nations of Europe contending for the possession of this