July the 2nd
During this tumultuous time of 242 years ago fighting off the English since 1773, the colonies wanted badly to gain independence one way or another. The southern colonies desired to keep slavery as their right while the north fought against it. The two sides eventually came together agreeing to declare their right to govern themselves as one united nation.
Thomas Jefferson was quietly composing the declaration of Independence to send to the British crown. Even though he was a slave holder as was Washington, he wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (back in those days the term ‘all men’ included all of humanity regardless of sex, race or nationality) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (impossible to take away or give up) rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Let us not ever forget it, or as Ben Franklin has been quoted saying, “We must hang together or surely we will hang separately.”
July the 3rd.
It was yesterday 242 years ago that the colonies agreed to declare their independence, and not until 6 days later when the official declaration was read to the people of Philadelphia. No instant news in those days as news traveled slowly by horseback and sailing ships across the Atlantic delivering the news to England on August 20th: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”
A couple days before the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason stood up – a delegate from Virginia, genius, brilliant – and he said, ‘If Congress shall turn oppressive, the only way to reform what’s taking place is through violence. We must give the people the power to address a tyrannical Congress,’
Article V of the Constitution provides a means where the states have the right to propose Amendments when ratified by 3/4th of the States, it would be valid to all Intent and Purposes.
It was not until 1938 when Congress declared the 4th of July as a federal holiday to be enjoyed by all. Our customs of celebration has changed over the years, from an earlier custom of building towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks and setting it on fire. Currently, we hold BBQ’s, picnics along a lakeside, a campfire, family gatherings in the backyards with sparklers and our own purchased legal fireworks, and then to view the local fireworks displays. We will perhaps record the Macy’s celebration in NYC to watch later. This Year Hallmark is broadcasting a White House celebration as the President, and First Lady will commemorate the day by welcoming military families for an afternoon picnic on the south lawn and later viewing the fireworks display put on by the National Park Service.
July the 4th.
The last paragraph of that declaration.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Cicero was murdered in 43 B.C. What might he have said that enlightened the Declaration of 1776? “There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil,”
“It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever reign, eternal and imperishable,” Cicero said. “God himself is its author, its promulgator, its enforcer.”
What did Hamilton think of this argument? “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records,” Hamilton wrote in 1775. “They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
Then there was Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn”
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
He penned these few lines about the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official engagement between Britain and the Colonies in Americas beginning on April 19, 1775, which lasted eight and a half years. The American Revolution finally ended on September 3, 1783, with America and the King of England signing the Treaty of Paris.
This document was signed by 56 Americans wanting to be free and independent, many of whom gave their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Tonight, when you see and hear the fireworks exploding, think of the shot heard around the world.