philosophical, dealing with “self-evident” truths.
Today the men who dislike or doubt these truths dismiss the preamble as “theoretical,” or, to use another term of derogation favored by reactionaries, “French
But if the preamble be French and philosophical, the specific charges against the King
are very English and practical.
Here are certain facts, presented no doubt with consummate rhetorical skill, but facts, undeniably.
is basal, racial; the turn for academic philosophizing after the French
fashion is personal, acquired; but the range and sweep and enduring vitality of this matchless state paper lie in its illumination of stubborn facts by general principles, its decent respect to the opinions of mankind, its stately and noble utterance of national sentiments and national reasons to a “candid world.”
It has long been the fashion, among a certain school of half-hearted Americans
— and unless I am mistaken, the teaching has increased during the last decades — to minimize the value of Jefferson
's “self-evident truths.”
, himself a consummate rhetorician, sneered at those “glittering generalities,” and countless college-bred men, some of them occupying the highest