We are now friends with England and with all Mankind.
Benjamin Franklin, 1783
American Peace Commissioner
Now that’s lovely – as fine a balanced period as one could ask for from le philosophe Franklin, transatlantic representative of the age of reason.
This great peace monument is a symbol of the sacrifices in lives and property in the Revolutionary War, which ended at Yorktown and which brought us our independence. It symbolizes, too, the peace between the mother country and America – a peace not seriously interrupted since 1781.
Horace M. Albright, 1931
Director, National Park Service
Oh dear. Public stolidness not unrelieved with turgidity. Without questioning Mr Albright’s history (perhaps the War of 1812 was a “serious interruption,” or those tense years when Henry Adams, junior legate to the embassy in London, was waiting for the UK to cast in with the Confederacy), one notes how a Hooveresque concern for “lives and property” manages to make the Revolution, once figured in terms of Roman virtue, a matter of capital investment.
The Treaty of Paris was the first step toward an alliance with Great Britain which has grown stronger through two centuries to become one of our most important alliance relationships. Political, cultural, economic, and defense ties between our two nations are firm and lasting.
Ronald Reagan, 1983
President, United States of America
I suspect Reagan wrote this bit himself – at least it’s hard to imagine one of his speechwriters guilty of these two sentences of unremitting, bland boilerplate. Would Lincoln, would Pitt, would Burke, for God’s sake would that toad-eater Tony Blair have allowed those two solecisms – “alliance relationships” and “defense ties” – to appear over his name? If the Gipper’s shade is listening, an “alliance” is by definition a “relationship”; and “defense ties” is merely a lazy, bureaucratically crippled way of saying “miliitary ties.” I’ll content myself with addressing the dead; there’s no-one in the White House now who reads or listens to anything.