The Architecture of Independence
On the obverse of our national seal the American Eagle holds in his beak a flowing banner that reads, E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one.” Skyed above the Eye of Providence on the seal’s reverse, Annuit Cœptis, “God has favored our undertakings.” At bottom, below the pyramid, Novus Ordo Seclorum, “A new order of the ages.”
From the Roman Cicero, by way of Saint Augustine, E Pluribus Unum. From Caesar’s poet Virgil, Annuit Cœptis and Novus Ordo Seclorum. We Americans are a people ascended from the Romans through the diverse provinces that divided into the little states of Europe, each with its Caesar, its king, the Kaisers, the Tzars, the Führer. The Europeans too ascended from the Romans, as the Romans ascended from the Greeks.
Inscribed on the pyramid of our national seal, MDCCLXXVI, “1776”, the date of our Declaration of Independence, the beginning of civilization’s American Era. A “Translatio Imperii” you might say, if you speak Latin – some yet do. If not, you would say, “The ‘transfer of rule’ from monarchs to we the people.”
We Americans are a people who distrust kings, strongarm authority, and castles. We prefer a family home, friendly discussion, and the approbation of fellow citizens. Sure, we all enjoy the palace museum, but few beyond the hopelessly maniacal would choose to bed down on damask after being disrobed by servants.
We are people who choose industriousness over inheritance, duty over debauchery, honor over infamy, hos epi to polu. If not cursed by celebrity, we Americans are communitarians, polite to our neighbors, well-mannered and well-measured, alike our friendly homes. Along most every American street you will find handsome, friendly, well-measured homes, respectful of neighbors, true to American tradition.
Of course, some showy Progressive Kardashian shouts itself here-and-there in crookedness and crayon colors, yet these shouting houses remind us to mind manners, to be kind and neighborly, alike our founding generation, to dress close to the chest.
America’s new order of architecture, the Federalist style, is genteel, close to the chest, “buttoned up”, you might say, a domesticated monarchy, an imperial Britain made pleasing by the decorative flourishes recently discovered at the houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum (XVIII Century).
Most of what we are ascends from antiquity: our sciences, our arts, our philosophy, our republican ideal of liberty and the sanctity of family. Nearly 250 years ago, from Classive Civilization’s precedent, the Founders conceived a God-favored “new order of the ages” where all of us would be as one. And that we are.
The Architecture of Independence is neither the king’s castle nor the artist’s statement. The Architecture of Independence is the family home, Classive in precedent, reasoned in design, republican in sentiment.
You will remember the bold Mrs. Powel who quizzed Benjamin Franklin when exiting Independence Hall on the day of drafting The American Constitution, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic, Madame, if you can keep it.”
From that day to this, Americans have chosen the republican form in the state house and in the family home. We have preferred the Classive, have favored family, and have established a New Order of the Ages where the individual is supreme over Caesar, the king, the state.
Ours is a beautiful country, the most good, the most true, peopled with homes strengthened by tradition. Ours is a place of liberty, as long as we can keep ourselves and our homes true to the tradition of Classive independence.
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The Architecture of Independence featured image: The Decatur House, Washington, D.C.
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