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Dating, as we justly may, a new era in the history of man from the Fourth of July, 1776, it would be well--that is it would be useful--if on each anniversary we examined the progress made by our species in just knowledge and just practice. Each Fourth of July would then stand as a tidemark in the flood of time by which to ascertain the advance of the human intellect, by which to note the rise and fall of each successive error, the discovery of each important truth, the gradual melioration in our public institutions, social arrangements, and, above all, in our moral feelings and mental views.

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Source Notes: Speech, New Harmony, Ind., 4 July 1828, in Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, ed. William Safire (1992).

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