The noblest motive is the public good.--Virgil

The one best omen is to fight for fatherland.--Homer

Patriotism is a principle fraught with high impulses and noble


The revolutionist has seldom any other object but to sacrifice his

country to himself.--Alison

It is impossible that a man who is false t
his friends should be true

to his country.--Bishop Berkeley

Patriotism is defined by Noah Webster as "the passion which aims to

serve one's country." As it is natural to love our home, it is natural

to love our country also. As the poorest homes are sometimes most

tenderly loved, so the poorest and barest country is sometimes held in

most affection. There is, perhaps, not a country in the world the

inhabitants of which have not, at some time or other, been willing to

suffer and die for it.

But as we think of our land, we quickly perceive that no body of young

people ever had a more valuable inheritance than that which we have

received; and we are under the greatest obligations to protect and

preserve this land, and transmit it, full of the grandest achievements

and most glorious recollections, to posterity.

This affection is natural, because the town and the nation in which one

has lived, is, like the home, bound up with all the experiences of

one's life. The games of childhood, the affection of parents, the love

of friends, all the joys, the sorrows, the activities of life, are bound

up in the thought of one's native land.

It is not merely natural to be patriotic, but it is also reasonable and

right. Nearly all that makes life pleasant and desirable, comes to us

through the town or the nation to which we belong. Think how many

thousands in our country have toiled for us! They have made roads, and

they have built churches and schoolhouses. They have established malls

and post offices. They have cultivated farms to provide for our needs,

and have built ships that cross the ocean to bring to us the good things

which we could not produce at home. They have provided protection

against wrongdoers; so that if we sleep in peace, and work and study and

play in safety, we are indebted for all this to the town and nation.

When the bells are ringing, and the cannons are firing, on the Fourth of

July, we must not think merely of the noise and fun. We must remember

those who on that day agreed that they would risk their lives and

everything that was dear to them, that their country might be free. We

must also think of those who in times of peril have given themselves for

their nation's good; of those who found the land a wilderness, and

suffered pain and privation while they made the beginning of a nation.

We must think of those who, ever since that time, when ever the liberty

or the unity of the nation has been in peril, have sprung to its


At the end of the war of the revolution, Washington was at the head of

a mighty army, and was the object of the enthusiastic love of the whole

people. He might easily have made himself a king or an emperor. It was

a marvel to the civilized world when he quietly laid down all his power.

He suffered himself to be twice chosen president; and then he became

simply a private citizen. This seems to us now the most natural thing in

the world; but really it was something very rare, and gave him a fame

such as few heroes of the world enjoy.

There have been heroes in peace as well as in war, men who have

conquered the wilderness, who have upheld justice, and have helped on

whatever was good and noble. And there are also many persons among us

who are unworthy to live in our country, because they are not willing to

suffer the least inconvenience on its account.

Then there are many men who are even so unpatriotic as to sell their

votes. Think of all the cost of money and of noble lives at which our

liberty has been won. Think how, in many parts of the world, men are

looking with longing at the liberty which we enjoy; yet there are those

to whom this hard-won freedom means so little that they do not strive to

further the country's interests in any way.

We must never forget, as we think or speak of patriotism, that such

private virtues as honesty and industry, are its best helps. Whatever

tends to make men wiser and better is a service to the nation. The

country will one day be in the hands of those who are now boys and

girls; and to you, we say, serve it, guard it, and do all that you can

to promote its good.

There is a fine field for the exercise of patriotism in trying to

improve the condition of affairs in the towns and cities in which we

live. We find ourselves in the midst of a conflict between the criminal

classes on the one hand, and the people on the other,--a conflict as

stern as was ever endured upon the battlefield, amid the glitter of

cold steel and the rattle of musketry.

The man or woman of the school committee, working conscientiously that

the boys and girls shall have the best education to fit them for future

life, is a patriot. The teacher who patiently works on with that great

end in view, is the same. If greed or bigotry claims from town, city,

or country, that which will debase her people, every boy and girl,

every man and woman, should instantly frown it down. This is true

patriotism, and the influence of every person is needed for the right.

Every good man in politics wields a power for good. Every good man not

in politics is to blame for political corruption, because by neglecting

his plain duty he adds to the strength of the enemy. Let it be known

that, with you, principle amounts to something; that character counts;

that questionable party service cannot count upon your suffrage.


But little has been written of the child-life of John Adams, the second

president of the United States; a man of unflinching honesty, and a

patriot of the noblest order.

The Adamses were an honest, faithful people. They were not rich, neither

were they poor; but being thrifty and economical, they lived with

comfort. Stern integrity was the predominant quality of the farmer's

home into which John Adams was born in 1735. It must be remembered,

throughout his life it was the sturdy qualities of his ancestors that

made him the statesman and patriot whom we know.

The boy did not show much fondness for books. He preferred life out of

doors among the birds and the squirrels, roaming the woods,--living just

the life a wide-awake boy on a farm would lead nowadays.

His father gave him the opportunity of a liberal education, and he

entered Harvard College when he was sixteen years old. It is curious to

note that the students were all enrolled according to social position,

and John Adams was the fourteenth in his class. In college he was noted

for integrity and energy as well as for ability,--those qualities which

the sturdy line of farmers had handed down to their children.

The year he graduated, then twenty years of age, he became teacher of

the grammar school in Worcester, Massachusetts. There he earned the

money to aid him in studying his profession, and the training was

excellent for the young man. He decided that he would be a lawyer, and

he wrote: "But I set out with firm resolutions, never to commit any

meanness or injustice in the practice of law."

There were stirring times in the colonies when John Adams was thirty

years old. The British government imposed taxes and searched for goods

which had evaded their officers. The matter was brought before the

Superior Court. James Otis argued the cause of the merchants; and John

Adams listened intently to all this great man said. He afterwards wrote:

"Otis was a flame of fire.... American independence was then and there

born. Every man appeared to be ready to get away and to take up arms."

Then the Stamp Act was issued. John Adams's whole soul was fired with

indignation at the injustice. He drew up a set of resolutions,

remonstrating against it. These were adopted, not only by the citizens

of Braintree, but by those of more than forty other towns in

Massachusetts; and the landing of the Stamp Act paper was prevented.

Courts were closed, and the excitement was intense. John Adams boldly

said that the Stamp Act was an assumption of arbitrary power, violating

both the English constitution and the charter of the province.

In connection with what is known as "The Boston Tea Party," came the

closing of Boston's ports, because the tea had been thrown overboard,

and the city would not submit to the tax. A Congress was convened in

Philadelphia, and John Adams was one of the five delegates sent from

Boston. He knew the grave responsibility of the time. With intense

feeling he exclaimed: "God grant us wisdom and fortitude! Should this

country submit, what infamy and ruin! Death in any form is less


Jefferson and Adams were appointed to draw up the Declaration of

Independence. Mr. Adams insisted that Jefferson should prepare it, and

he with forty-four others signed it. Mr. Jefferson wrote: "The great

pillar of support to the Declaration of Independence, and its ablest

advocate and champion on the floor of the House, was John Adams. He was

our Colossus."

In various ways, John Adams served his country with unswerving loyalty.

When Washington was chosen president, Adams was chosen vice-president

for both terms, and was then elected president. To the very last he was

always ready to give his word--strong, convincing, powerful as of

old--in the defense of the right, even if he had to stand entirely

alone. And the story of his manly independence will always add to the

dignity of the early history of our nation.

[Footnote: See "Life and Works of John Adams," by C. F. Adams (10

vols.); "Life of John Adams," by J. T. Morse; and article in Appleton's

Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. I., pp. 15-23.]