08 January 2015

Eric Sloane's Declaration Of Self-Dependence & American Exceptionalism

Eric Sloane is one of my favorite writers. I think he's one of the most profound, yet most overlooked, thinkers and writers of the 20th century. Written decades ago, I recently stumbled across something he wrote about a dream he had. What he wrote is timeless and the essence of American Exceptionalism and excellence:
One night while reading about the Declaration of Independence, I dozed off wondering what it must have been like to have taken part in its writing. Suddenly I was there. With a quill pen I was writing the great words, " When in the course of human events....". The rest I do not recall, but I remember the title being different-- A DECLARATION OF SELF-DEPENDENCE.
As I think now of my dream, the title made more and more sense. The 1776 proclamation referred so much to the American revolutionists that it lacked the flavor of a personal statement. Now, two centuries later, the population and its government have become so vast and complicated that the voice of the individual is vague, weak and less heard. Perhaps a more pertinent, personal declaration is in order, and herewith I present my declaration for today.


When in the course of human events, the material well-being of a society obscures the spiritual principles upon which that society was founded, it becomes proper to review our heritage and redeclare its reason for being. Only by such recollection can a true renaissance of the original American spirit occur.

My Nation was born with a declaration of independence, but to be free, I must also practice an individual independence.

The statement of 1776 had unique worth because it was the first government manifesto to totally respect the independence of the individual. Different from other national statements of purpose, it was not a declaration of domination but one of liberation.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that within our democracy the exact principles which rule the conscience and the economy of the individual must also govern the conscience and economy of the government. I hold therefore that government waste in any form is intolerable, because just as no family can for long spend more than it earns, neither can a government do so. As frugality is part of the family economy, so must thrift be important to national revenue. the practice if thrift is insurance against greed, which had no part in the original American philosophy.

I believe that self-dependence produces self-respect. Therefore, helping a man to be self dependent is an admirable pursuit. But helping a man while taking way his initiative and independence is degrading. Permanently doing for a man what he can do for himself is contrary and destructive to the American tradition. I believe in the dignity of labor and the pursuit of excellence. Therefore, I believe that striving for the most pay for the least amount of work is an immoral aim. It is a principle that cannot endure without eventual demoralization of the worker and decay of workmanship.

Just as you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong, I believe that the wage earner cannot profit by destroying the wage payer. Both capital and labor have equal rights in the American system, and the independence of both is equally deserving of recognition. For either to strike against public welfare or violate the innocent is immoral and against American tradition.

I believe that the moral strength of the nation is only as strong as the moral strength of its individuals. I therefore commit myself to the pursuit of labor, respect, independence, thrift, excellence, and peace. I hold that self-dependence of the individual is a reflection of self-dependence of the nation, that the American heritage is not only something bestowed upon the individual but equally what the individual contributes to his country.

I consider "In God We Trust" a profound statement of national commitment. I believe that democracy without commitment to God is a departure from the original American concept.

I believe that all men are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, and that the forgoing creed renders not only independence to the nation but self-dependence for each American.

Eric Sloane
Inserted in his book, "Spirits of '76".

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