Note: This blog post was taken from our Friday newsletter, The Broadside. You can sign up for The Broadside on the bottom of our home page.
This newsletter is an unapologetic champion of the greatest state motto of all time, “Live free or die.” New Hampshire’s motto matters. Powerful and uplifting, it has ingrained itself in culture. Children here grow up believing that freedom is the preeminent civic ideal. Newcomers learn quickly that even though we don’t all agree on how to define freedom, Granite Staters self-identify as lovers of liberty. Because of the motto, to be a Granite Stater is to commit one’s self to the idea that freedom is an end in itself, one to be cherished and protected.
The motto is so powerful that it shaped the inaugural speech of James Dean, the new president of the University of New Hampshire. It also helped shape the culture that produced a young Granite Stater who grew up to be a national leader in the movement for individual liberty, and who just won a prestigious award for his service to the cause. (More about him in a moment.)
President Dean commits UNH to promoting freedom
“I wonder if you know these slogans? Heart of Dixie…World Famous Potatoes…America’s Dairyland…Greatest Snow on Earth?” Dean began.
“Until recently, Live Free or Die was, to me, just another charming license plate slogan. But after only a few months in New Hampshire, I am beginning to appreciate its profound resonance among the state’s citizens.”
In an era when college students routinely pressure administrators to silence voices that challenge their own preconceptions, it is notable and praiseworthy that UNH’s new president committed himself in his inaugural speech to upholding freedom of speech and of religion.
President Dean based most of his speech on FDR’s famous Four Freedoms, which is not the foundation on which we would build any talk about freedom. FDR’s revision of our founding principles was a political ploy to revive a dying New Deal and prepare the country for a more energetic U.S. role in foreign affairs. That it is now treated as the touchstone for discussions about American liberty is unfortunate.
Nevertheless, President Dean’s speech was encouraging. If we’re all talking about how to secure, protect and advance freedom, those who are passionately dedicated to weakening, diminishing and shrinking it will consistently find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.
Granite State kid wins Thomas Roe Award
Last week, John Kramer, vice president for communications at the Institute for Justice, won this year’s Thomas Roe Award, given by the State Policy Network for achievements in advancing free-market ideas. Kramer started his moving acceptance speech with a story from his days growing up in Sunapee, N.H.
Kramer is called by a lot of people the PR man for liberty. He is a phenomenal communicator who has won numerous PR industry awards and has helped untold numbers of Americans better understand the importance of free markets and individual liberty.
His speech is moving and inspiring. With permission, we publish it here on our blog. We think you’ll find it uplifting, and we encourage you to share it with any young people you know who might have doubts about their ability to overcome whatever challenges life throws in their way.
It reminds us that another Granite Stater is similarly inspiring for challenging conventional wisdom, questioning authority, and finding his own way in the world despite lacking at first the connections, wealth and social standing that made so many of his contemporary leaders famous.
He was Josiah Bartlett, this think tank’s namesake. The New England Historical Society offers a nice summary of how he saved his own life and became a leader in the American Revolution by thinking for himself and pursuing his ideal of personal freedom.
As the days grow colder, we offer you these thoughts on freedom to read and mull over with a cup of cider before a roaring fire.
Also, today is the anniversary of Lord Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown. So let’s all raise a glass to freedom tonight.