The Niles Register was a weekly newspaper founded by Hezekiah Niles in 1811 and was published by Niles or his successors until 1849. It was famous in it’s day for its broad spectrum of news and its completeness, accuracy, fairness and reliability. It contains a treasure-trove of original source material. Paging through one of the editions we stumbled on an article which proposed the production of a facsimile reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. This was to be done by subscription as was common in those times. In other words, the publisher would attempt to get people to sign up in advance to fund the project. The justification for doing it, is what stands out today.
We are firmly persuaded that the more the principles of our Declaration of Independence are spread out before the eyes of the world, the more they will be admired, by foreign nations as well as our own: and every innocent and honest device that may serve to attract attention toward them will serve, also, to promote the great cause of public liberty.
The article points out that these document facsimiles will serve both as works of art and instruction.
It will associate the pleasurable ideas of elegance and ornament, with the history of the transaction itself, and familiarize those principles which form, or ought to form, the very bond and cement of political society.
In offering an artistically pleasing facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, Niles sought to promote its ideas. This blog and countless similar endeavors are modern reminders of first principles.
“Ideas have Consequences,” Richard Weaver wrote 63 years ago. We can only suppose Niles would also have agreed with other sentiments voiced by Weaver.
The past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism. If freedom is not found accompanied by a willingness to resist, and to reject favors, rather than to give up what is intangible but precarious, it will not long be found at all.