Peace is Patriotic -- a Fourth of July Message from Thomas Jefferson
- Wow, what a confirmation that peace is part of America's DNA - and how hard
we must work to reverse the mutations that have occurred over the years and
get us back on track.
Anne Creter, Peace Partnership International's UN liaison and New Jersey
State Coordinator for the Department of Peace Campaign, dug this out. See
her message below.
Mike Abkin, Director of Operations
Peace Partnership International
PEACE IS PATRIOTIC
As Fourth of July 2008 approaches in our troubled nation, it is patriotic to
reflect on the Declaration of Independence and those powerful words written
by America's Founding Father and great patriot, Thomas Jefferson: "We hold
these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and that
they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that
among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
I always assumed "pursuit of happiness" meant peace -- yet wondered if this
was really what Jefferson meant, because if so, it would mean Jefferson
believed peace is indeed patriotic and a human right. So I did research and
uncovered a book written by a Jefferson scholar named Eric Peterson called
"Light and Liberty: Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness." It contains
excerpts written in Jefferson's own words on selected values topics, among
which is a brilliant one on peace which answered my question. I invite you
to read it in the true spirit of a Patriot for Peace to honor Independence
Day. And as you do, try to imagine what Thomas Jefferson would think of our
Peace Prayer: Run the Race of Peace
By: Thomas Jefferson
Peace is our passion. I have ever cherished the same spirit with all
nations, from a consciousness that peace, prosperity, liberty, and morals,
have an intimate connection. From the moment which sealed our peace and
independence, our nation has wisely pursued the paths of peace and justice.
Peace and justice should be the polar stars of the American societies.
The happiness of mankind is best promised by the useful pursuits of peace.
Our desire is to pursue ourselves the path of peace as the only one leading
surely to prosperity. Go on in doing with your pen what in other times was
done with the sword; show that reformation is more practicable by operation
on the mind than on the body of man. Peace and friendship with all mankind
is our wisest policy.
I believe that through all America there has been but a single sentiment on
the subject of peace and war, which was in favor of the former. I abhor war
and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind. I love peace, and am
anxious that we should give the world still another useful lesson, by
showing them other modes of punishing than by war, which is as much a
punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer. If nations go to war for
every degree of injury, there would never be peace on earth. We think that
peaceable means may be derived of keeping nations in the path of justice
towards us, by making justice their interest, and injuries to reach on
themselves. We have, therefore, remained in peace, suffering frequent
injuries, but, on the whole, multiplying, improving, prospering beyond all
example. Peace has been our principle, peace is our interest, and peace
has saved to the world this only plant of free and rational government now
existing in it. My hope is in peace.
Thanks be to God that Napoleon, the tiger who reveled so long in the blood
and spoils of Europe is at length, like another Prometheus, chained to his
rock, where the vulture of remorse for his crimes will be preying on his
vitals and in like manner without consuming them. Having been, like him,
entrusted with the happiness of my country, I feel the blessing of
resembling him in no other point. I have not caused the death of five or
ten millions of human beings, the devastation of other countries, the
depopulation of my own, the exhaustion of all its resources, the destruction
of its liberties, nor its foreign subjugation. All this he has done to
render more illustrious the atrocities perpetrated for illustrating himself
and his family with plundered diadems and scepters. On the contrary, I have
the consolation to reflect that during the period of my administration not a
drop of blood of a single fellow citizen was shed by the sword of war or of
the law, and that after cherishing for eight years their peace and
prosperity I laid down their trust of my own accord and in the midst of
their blessings and importunities to continue in it.
It will be a true testimony of my principles and persuasion that the state
of peace is that which most improves the manners and morals, the prosperity
and happiness of mankind; and although I dare not promise myself that it can
be perpetually maintained, yet if, by the inculcations of reason or
religion, the perversities of our nature can be so far corrected as
sometimes to prevent the necessity, either supposed or real, of an appeal to
the blinder scourges of war, murder and devastation, the benevolent
endeavors of the friends of peace will not be entirely without remuneration.
I hope we shall prove how much happier for man the Quaker policy is, and
that the life of the feeder, is better that that of the fighter.
I wish that all nations may recover and retain their independence; that
those which are overgrown may not advance beyond safe measures of power,
that a salutary balance may be ever maintained among nations, and that our
peace, commerce, and friendship, may be sought and cultivated by all. My
hope of preserving peace for our country is not founded in the greater
principles of non-resistance under every wrong, but in the belief that a
just and friendly conduct on our part will produce justice and friendship
We, I hope, shall be permitted to run the race of peace. To preserve and
secure peace has been the constant aim of my administration. Twenty years
of peace, and the prosperity so visibly flowing from it, have but
strengthened our attachment to it, and the blessings it brings, and we do
not despair of being always a peaceable nation. I pray for peace, as best
for all the world, best for us, and best for me, who have already lived to
see three wars. That peace, safety, and concord may be long enjoyed by our
fellow-citizens is the most ardent wish of my heart, and if I can be
instrumental in procuring or preserving them, I shall think I have not lived
Heaven bless you, and guard you under all circumstances; give you smooth
waters, gentle breezes, and clear skies, hushing all its elements into
peace. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.
Besides being our quintessential patriotic Founding Father, I was stunned to
discover that Jefferson was also our greatest peace president! People are
not always aware of this historic connection between peace and patriotism.
The vision he laid out for America describes what we today call "the culture
of peace." I find it sad how little progress has been made towards his
vision in the last 200 years. When people come to understand the deep
relation of peace to patriotism, the culture of peace will finally be fully
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH,
June 28, 2008
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