Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 1776

The American colonies had been under the rule of Great Britain for one-hundred fifty years. Virginia, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Georgia, New Hampshire, North and South Carolina, and New Jersey.

What right did these colonies have to break the bonds that joined them to England?

That was the debate in the 1770's. And it was discussed by everyone, from farm laborer to governor; it was discussed everywhere, in public houses and churches, in the newspapers, political tracts, and in sermon. The discussion was heated yes, but it was thoughtful, and as much as is possible, for people as disgruntled as they, tempered by the prudence of their leaders.

But the grievances with King George's rule were mounting. Entreaties to the King by the Continental Congress had been ignored. Taxes were growing more burdensome. At the same time colonial identities were emerging. There were now two and one-half million people living in the colonies. They may have been a backwater territory in the eyes of the Europeans, but the American pioneer was making a name for himself.

Do we, the governed, have a lawful right to separate from them, the Governors?

The Second Continental Congress, the representatives from these thirteen colonies, agreed that we did, indeed, that we must sever those bonds. The political document stating the justification of that opinion was ratified on July 4. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, or the Declaration of Independence. The Revolutionary War had begun between the colonials and mother England about one year prior. This document was, in effect, crossing a river with no way of return.

Fifty-six men would sign that Declaration that day, thoughtfully and soberly. The signers knew the financial and personal risk. Lives would be lost, lands would be forfeited, and the outcome was uncertain. Opposition to an organized, disciplined and experienced English military was almost foolhardy. The new states had not one ship to call a navy, few uniformed soldiers, no national treasury, not even a nation in the proper sense. But they had a few good men, a good cause, maybe even Providence -- and certainly one exceptional military leader in George Washington, without whose leadership, moral as well as tactical, we would have certainly been defeated.

The political union of these states was some eight years away. But the American Experiment officially started on this day, July 4, 1776. And the first American contribution to the discourse on freedom begins here:
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.

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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
Read and compare drafts:

For a very helpful and complete list of fireworks in the entire Dallas - Fort Worth area go to the Frugal in Forth Worth weblog. 

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