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July 4, 1810 Oration by Democratic-Republican Declaration Printer John Binns
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our rights have been sported with—our property seized—our laws mocked at—our citizens imprisoned, impressed and murdered—our national flag has been bathed in our own waters made red with the blood of our citizens…

Speech by Democratic-Republican stalwart John Binns praising the heroes of the Founding Era and encouraging support for James Madison’s administration against the insults of European belligerents. The nationalism to which he appeals erupted two years later in a declaration of war against the United Kingdom and the beginning of the War of 1812.

JOHN BINNS. Printed Pamphlet. An Oration Commemorative of the Birth-Day of American Independence, Delivered Before the Democratic Societies of the City and County of Philadelphia, On the 4th of July, 1810. Philadelphia, PA: C. and A. Conrad & Co., 1810. 11 pp., 5¾ x 9 in. in original blue wrappers.

Inventory #25491       Price: $490


It is an imperishable monument of the talents, wisdom and patriotism of the men who guided the destinies of America ‘in the times that tried men’s souls… We almost breathe the air which that congress breathed which made the Declaration; the hall in which they sat is in our sight, and … the shades of the mighty dead at this moment hover over us…. They smile benignly on their countrymen who are faithful to their principles, and before the throne of Heaven they offer up prayers for the welfare of their country.” (3)

the mother country viewed their riches and their strength with an avaricious and a jealous eye.... She was ever devising means to obtain an absolute dominion and at length insisted upon the right to tax the American Colonies, without their consent, in all cases whatsoever. This pretension was nobly and successfully resisted and it is to celebrate that glorious epoch in the history of man, we this day assemble…. Such were the disproportionate state of population, arms and resources, when the sword was drawn by the men of America, and they went forth to fight for their dearest rights, their homes and firesides, determined to conquer or die….” (5)

Here let us pause my fellow citizens, and … in the presence of ‘Divine Providence, mutually pledge’ to our country and ‘to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honors’ to maintain the Independence of these United States, against any, all, and every, Power or Powers which injustice, hatred or despotism may array against them….” (6)

Above all, upon this day let us do homage to the talents and virtues of Thomas Jefferson—that Thomas Jefferson who draughted the Declaration of Independence, and who has on so many occasions, rendered to his country the most valuable services.” (7)

The fairest portions of Europe have, for nearly twenty years, been desolated by war, depopulated by famine and their inhabitants drinking deep of the cup of misery, while, within these United States, we have enjoyed the countess blessings of peace and plenty.... The only drop of affliction which falls into our national cup is from the gore-dripping hands of the belligerents... our rights have been sported with—our property seized—our laws mocked at—our citizens imprisoned, impressed and murdered—our national flag has been bathed in our own waters made red with the blood of our citizens—our wrongs are unredressed—our injuries unatoned—solemn arrangements have been faithlessly given to the wind—our credulity laughed at—and our government insulted grossly.” (9)

though it be with tearful eyes and indignant hearts, still let us look our situation fearlessly in the face. There is no cause to fear.... By our voices and our votes, let us secure the election of faithful, capable and patriotic magistrates and legislators, but let neither voice be heard, nor vote be given, in favor of any man who is friendly to any foreign unjust nation.” (10-11)

Historical Background

Thomas Jefferson won a landslide reelection victory in 1804, defeating Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney 162-14 in the electoral college. However, in large part due to the renewal of war between France and Britain, Jefferson’s second term in office was far more stormy. By 1806, France and Britain had imposed blockades on each other. Britain began to seize American cargos suspected of trading with France, and stepped up its practice of impressment; roughly 6,000 American sailors were taken in 1806-1807, on the pretense that they were British deserters.

Jefferson and Madison, his Secretary of State, responded with the Embargo of 1807, a ban on all American vessels sailing for foreign ports. The Embargo did not sway British or French foreign policy, and it proved enormously unpopular in New England, which, despite the risks involved, had developed a flourishing mercantile trade during the Napoleonic Wars. In March 1809, just before leaving office, Jefferson signed the Non-Intercourse Act, banning trade only with Britain and France until either nation reversed its edicts against American shipping. Under President Madison, Macon’s Bill No. 2 became law on May 1, 1810, allowing trade to resume but stating that if either France or Britain reversed its edicts against American shipping, then the U.S. would re-impose its embargo against the other. Napoleon repealed his decrees against neutral commerce, and in the spring of 1812, Madison and Congress reinstituted the embargo only against Britain.

British support for Native American tribes on the western frontier of the United States also exacerbated tensions, with raids on settlers in the Northwest Territory serving their interest in curbing American expansionism and protecting Canada.

During and after the War of 1812, a surge in nationalism spurred interest in the Founding Era. In June 1816, John Binns began taking subscriptions for a print of the Declaration of Independence with facsimile signatures, which was to be surrounded by images of John Hancock, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the seals of all thirteen states. Because it took so long to procure the state seals and portraits, he did not publish it until 1819. (In the meantime, rival Benjamin Owen Taylor produced an unornamented engraving of the Declaration in April 1818 that he dedicated to Thomas Jefferson.) Binns dedicated his print to the people of the United States. Binns’ hope to sell copies to the government was disappointed in 1820, when Secretary of State John Quincy Adams commissioned William J. Stone to produce an exact facsimile. Stone’s print, completed in 1823, came to be considered the “official” copy for government use.

John Binns (1772-1860) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to London with his brother Benjamin, where they became involved with the politically radical London Corresponding Society. He was imprisoned several times for treason but released after a two-year term as part of a general amnesty. In 1801, he immigrated with his brother to Baltimore. In 1802, he began a Democratic newspaper in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. From 1807 to 1829, he published the Democratic Press in Philadelphia. It was the leading Democratic newspaper in the state until 1824, when it opposed the election of Andrew Jackson. In 1819, Binns published a facsimile version of the Declaration of Independence with engravings by James Barton Longacre (1794-1869). He published an autobiography in 1854.

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