Andrew Inglis ClarkPrimary architect of Australia's constitution


Transcript of Clark's Independence Day speech

commemorating the July 4th centenary of the United States. (Probably late 1870s)

This is the fourth occasion on which you have bestowed on me the honour of filling my present position at our annual reunion to celebrate the declaration of their independence by the United States of America, and in proposing this toast that formally proclaims our sympathy with that event I wish to give expression more particularly to the reasons which appear to me to justify so small a company as we are assembling year after year to commemorate it.

And I am prompted to do so by the fact that there are those who oppose our sympathy [some lines indecipherable]. My reply to that answer is that the measure of profit to us in gathering round this table tonight is in exact proportion to the depth and sincerity of the convictions and opinions which by our presence we profess and cherish, But the strongest convictions and the most fervent enthusiasm of the individual requires a response in the minds and hearts of others in order to impart to their possessors the confidence necessary to reduce them to action. In this fact we find the rationale of all associations and organisations of men directed to the control of human conduct; and every gathering of individuals in the name of a common belief influences the subsequent acts of those who take part in it in accordance with the measure of the sincerity of their professions.

We have met tonight in the name of the principles which were proclaimed by the founders of the Anglo-American Republic as those which justified resistance to a government which had violated them and a permanent repudiation of its authority; and we do so because we believe those principles to be permanently applicable to the politics of the world, and the practical application of them, in the creation and modification of the institutions which constitute the organs of our social life, to be the only safeguard against political retrogression. Unhappily, gentlemen, history teaches us that although perpetual progress is the law of humanity retrogression in special cases is possible; and it is the possibility of political retrogression in consequence of a forgetfulness and violation of the principles we have met to magnify which justifies us in assembling annually to remind one another of the worth of what we inherit from the struggles and victories of the forefathers of our kinsmen on the American continent. And the fewer we are the more earnest and punctilious we ought to be in keeping live in each others hearts the sentiments which bring us together at the present moment so, that we may be preserved against the insidious contamination of the indifference and lethargy of the majority around us. This, gentlemen, is the utility of our annual gathering on the anniversary of the day which we commemorate tonight; and I have confined myself on this occasion to a vindication of our action in so doing in order to encourage the fullest expression of sentiment in those of you who shall speak after me, and trusting that the result which I have aimed at will be secured, I give you…


Clark, AI, Speech given at American Independence Anniversary dinner, with programme, University of Tasmania Library Special & Rare Collection, Australia.


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