Even on the lazy Friday afternoon preceding a three-day weekend, the readers of this happy Corner are…astounding: I posted my bleg, stepped out for lunch, and return to find more than 25 emails answering my question. As you’ll recall, I was convinced that John Quincy Adams had somewhere or other said that “We are the friends of democracy everywhere, but the custodians only of our own.”
Here, with a couple of extra sentences for context, is the correct quotation:
“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she [America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
–John Quincy Adams, speech to the U.S. House of Representatives on July 4, 1821,
in celebration of Independence Day
Here’s the reason I wanted to make certain that, the next time I used it, I got the quotation right:
If you Google search the quote you’re looking for the result is a goolgewhack (only a single hit) that comes from the January 16 taping of Uncommon Knowledge; and the person uttering the quote is, err, you.
And here’s the reason I bungled the quotation in quite the way I did:
“John Quincy Adams reminded us that though we are friends of liberty everywhere, we are custodians only of our own.”
–William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, February 23, 1998
Scholars and googlewhackers–and, of course, for acquainting me with Adams’s pronouncement in the first place, WFB—I thank you all.