Presidential Proclamation, by President Bill Clinton, on July 4, 1996.

Researched by James R. Heintze. American University, Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: This speech was found on the Whitehouse.gov webpage, but was removed January 20, 2001, upon President George W. Bush taking office


I am pleased to join my fellow Americans across the nation and around the world in celebrating Independence Day.

On this day each year, we gather with family and friends to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence. With vision and courage, our Founders stated unequivocally to the world: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These were literally revolutionary concepts, and they fundamentally changed the course of human history.

Today we are living through another period of profound and historic change: change in the way we work, the way we live, the way we relate to one another and to the rest of the world. But the truths set down in our Declaration of Independence are immutable, and they continue to light our path into the challenges and possibilities of the future. Equality, individual rights, life, freedom, opportunity: we still cherish these values, and we must continue to reaffirm them daily.

America is a work in progress, and we have strived through decades of challenge and change to become what our Founders envisioned on our first Independence Day. As we continue that endeavor, let us work together to create an America that remains the world's strongest force for peace, justice, and freedom. Let us work for an America that is not driven apart by differences but instead is united around share values and respect for our diversity. Let us work for an America in which every one of us, without regard to race or religious belief or gender or station in life, can achieve our dreams. In this way we will best pay tribute to those who, 220 years ago, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to guarantee our freedom.

Best wishes for a memorable Fourth of July.

William J. Clinton

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