The Public Interest

The Declaration and the Constitution: liberty, democracy, and the Founders

Martin Diamond

Fall 1975

IN an address delivered in 1911, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., looked back wistfully to the joy with which, not long before, the country had celebrated two anniversaries: the centennial of the framing of the Constitution and, two years later, the centennial of its ratification. On both occasions, he remembered, great crowds thronged the streets, processions passed by amidst brilliant decorations and illuminations, and cannon and oratory thundered. What made the occasions so joyous, Lodge explained, was the conviction universally held by Americans of the original and continuing excellence of their Constitution: “Through all the rejoicings of those days.., ran one unbroken strain of praise of the instrument and of gratitude to the men” whose wisdom had devised it. During those happy centennial celebrations, “every one agreed with Gladstone’s famous declaration, that the Constitution of the United States was the greatest political instrument ever struck off on a single occasion by the minds of men.”

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