Bidwell Lore – The End of An Oration by Barnabas Bidwell

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 114! This week we come to the end of the speech that Reverend Bidwell’s son Barnabas Bidwell delivered on July 4th, 1795, during an Independence celebration in Stockbridge. You can read Part I HERE, Part II HERE, Part III HERE, Part IV HERE, and Part V HERE.

Note: The original speech Barnabas Bidwell delivered is VERY long and we have finally reached the conclusion. I can only hope July 4th, 1795, was not an exceedingly hot day for all of those who attended. Keep in mind that while Barnabas has made some very salient points about freedom and liberty, he was living in a time when these freedoms mostly applied to white men. He does not mention the plight of the enslaved peoples in America nor of the Indigenous peoples displaced by the Europeans, though he was morally opposed to slavery which you can begin reading more about HERE – Heather Kowalski



THE conduct of the President [1], in stemming this torrent of popular infatuation, at the same time enforcing the duties and claiming the rights of neutrality, is a new display of that true magnanimity, which rises superior to opposing difficulties, and in which he probably excells all other men of the present and former times. While we rejoice in the salutary consequences of such magnanimous efforts, it would be unpardonable to withhold the merited tribute of applause.

UNDER the same wise administration, a formidable insurrection has terminated in a bloodless victory, having tried the strength of our national government, and taught Americans to cleave to it, as the rock of their political salvation.

THE Constitution of the United States has proved its excellence by the blessings it has diffused. If it is fair to judge of a tree by its fruit; if we are not to expect grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles; if, in short, causes can be known by the effects which they produce; we may with safety, pronounce, that our political institutions are excellent. Millions of happy freemen are the witnesses of this glorious truth. Cast your eyes over the whole face of Independent America, and behold her prosperity evinced by a universal smile. Population increases with a rapidity, which surpasses calculation. The effects of industry are everywhere visible. Agriculture is converting our extensive continent into the vast garden of fruits and flowers, Let anyone notice the improvements, in cultivation, buildings, roads, bridges, canals, stages, mails, & the whole appearance & circumstances of the country, observable in a single year, and he cannot but feel a delightful astonishment, at the progress. Manufactures are springing up among us, and although rather retarded at present by the scarcity of labour and the rage for emigration into new settlements, exhibit a flattering prospect of future success. Works of enterprize and public utility are found to succeed, beyond the most sanguine expectation. Free schools, the nurseries of common learning, are encouraged and flourish. Colleges receive additional endowments. Public and private libraries are multiplied and enlarged. Newspapers, the vehicles of popular information, circulate in every town, and are read by almost every family.—Sciences, arts and useful inventions are protected and patronised. Societies are instituted for the benefit of the professions, of philosophy, humanity and piety. Publick worship, the source of incalculable moral refinement, is established upon principles of the most perfect equality. A spirit of free inquiry produces inconceivable effects upon the progress of society towards perfection.—Our trade has indeed received a momentary check from the contending maritime powers; and neutral nations must never expect a complete exemption from the all-involving horrors of war.—But the genius of Commerce has already surmounted these embarrassments. The federal flag is seen in the ports of every commercial nation. Vessels of our own construction convey the produce of our fertile fields to all quarters of the habitable globe. The ocean is covered with our sails, and the wings of every wind are swiftly wafting the riches of the world to our shores.

HAPPY, happy people! Well may we glory in the American Revolution, and the successful establishment of Union and Independence. Well may we rejoice at the prosperity of our government and the unexampled felicity of our countrymen. Well may the Fourth of July be distinguished among the days of the year, as a national festival of joy and gratitude. One of the ancients used to thank the immortal Gods, that he was an Athenian, and a contemporary with Socrates. How much stronger reasons have we, my friends and fellow-citizens, to render daily thanks to the God of heaven, that we were born in this highly favoured land, and that we live in this fortunate age of knowledge, liberty and peace. Let us love our country, and be ambitious to promote her welfare. Let us cherish the wise institutions of our ancestors. Let us venerate the government, under which we enjoy such national and individual happiness, and set an example of cheerful obedience to its laws. Let us be grateful for the blessings conferred upon us, and devoutly pray the great parent of the universe to confirm and perpetuate them here, and extend them to the whole family of mankind.[2]


–To the tune of Denmark–
BEHOLD once more the glorious day,
Which Freedom fondly calls her own!
Lo! nineteen years have roll’d away,
Since INDEPENDENCE rear’d her throne.
Still joy and plenty bless her reign;
Still with a nation’s smiles she’s crown’d;
The cherub Peace adorns her train,
And Science seats the Muses round.
While millions sing an empire’s birth,
And fill the air with sweet acclaims,
Loud Fame, o’er all the echoing earth,
Repeats Columbia’s favourite names.
Still, in the midst of Freedom’s bands,
Behold great WASHINGTON on high!
Like some vast rock, unmov’d he stands,
While rearing storms around him die.

Next week we begin a new series from Rick Wilcox about the dispossession of the Stockbridge Mohican land by Isaac Ball.

1. At the time of this speech, it was George Washington
2. Evans Early American Imprint Collection,