“Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people. We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.” ~ Ronald Reagan, July 4, 1981
This past weekend through Monday, America paused to enjoy family and friends and hopefully for a few moments to remember those who gave us — and have retained for us — this truly exceptional land.
However, Fox News’ Watter’s World interviews remind us how badly our educational system has failed to teach our young people — and too many adults — the history of our great land and even the fundamentals I learned in grade school and especially my tenth grade civics class, fundamentals that have made our nation truly unique. Click here for his 2012 version and click here for his 2015 version — an informative, if not comforting, 10 minutes. I haven’t seen his 2016 version, but doubt it reflects any better on our failed educational system or the state of understanding of our Republic’s First Principles, as demonstrated by the Millennials (those born after about 1980).
This sad observation on the state of the electorate is sobering, as we approach our November election. Millennials compose a major, perhaps the largest, portion of the electorate. Click here for a Pew Research summary article on their makeup and interests. But I digress from my main message on the importance of the season.
July 4th is associated with the Declaration of Independence, the first of our two founding documents — signed in Philadelphia 240 years ago. The second, of course, is The Constitution. It was also drafted in Philadelphia in 1787, ratified in 1788 and put into effect in 1789. These two key documents underpin all that matters about our Republic.
Notably, many of those who advocated Independence were Millennials of their day — for example, the principal author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was barely 33. And John Adams, who had promoted Jefferson for that task, was 41 — barely beyond what might today be called a Millennial. Both — as former Presidents, political opponents and ultimately long-distance friends — most notably died on July 4, 1826.
George Washington, also nominated by John Adams to lead our Revolutionary Forces, was barely 44 and 13 years later became our first President — in my youth, he was known as the “Father of our country.” And I could go on. We need such young men (and women) today!
In any case, July 4th is far too singular a date to reflect that historic struggle for liberty which arguably began a year earlier with the first shots of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts — and was to last for more than five more years before the surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis to General George Washington following the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781.
Moreover, John Adams thought July 2nd would be the Grand Holiday for the ages! He was right about there being such a Holiday for the ages to celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the birth of a great nation — as again illustrated yesterday. But he was a couple of days off on the date — and, as discussed below, there is also reason for us to remember July 5th, 240 years ago today.
Then there is Benjamin Franklin’s challenge that Founders gave us “a Republic if you can keep it.” This memorable challenge came some 11-plus years later, after the Constitution was also signed in Philadelphia. It is still urgently pressing as we still struggle with today’s forces of tyranny…
Some Memorable Details.
In a letter dated July 2, 1776 to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
Click here for the text and photograph of this memorable letter.
Adams’ prediction came as the result of the July 2nd motion for independence being approved by the Second Continental Congress, then having met in Philadelphia since May 10th. This motion and the subsequent vote of the representatives of the 13 original states officially separated the thirteen American colonies from Great Britain. This was over a year after the American Revolution actually began in April 1775 — notably at Lexington and Concord, not far from Adams’ home and farm in Braintree/Quincy, Massachusetts.
A confident and euphoric Adams declared:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
Adams would be two days off in his prediction, however. On July 4th, Adams joined with the rest of his colleagues in approving the Declaration of Independence, a document that eloquently articulated the reasons why the colonies had separated from the British Empire. This approval — on July 4th — would go down in history as the “memorable Epocha.”
Prints of this approved version of the Declaration carry the July 4, 1776 date. They were prepared by John Dunlap, the official printer for the Continental Congress, and widely distributed on July 5. The text of these so-called “Dunlap Broadsides”was followed by the words “Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President; Attest. Charles Thomson, Secretary.” Click here to review the sequence of events in drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence.
The best known final version, in excellent cursive penmanship and dated July 4, 1776, was actually signed on August 2nd by most of the representatives to the Continental Congress, and eventually by all 56, who represented America’s 13 original states. It explained, like its predecessor versions, their decision to King George II and the rest of the world.
The Declaration’s preamble included a most memorable sentence that I and all of my generation memorized in grade school, declaring:
“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.”
Subsequent paragraphs listed indictments and a denunciation and concluded with another memorable paragraph:
“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.”
This was a formal, unilateral declaration of our Union, whether July 2nd or 4th of 1776, even though we had been at war with Great Britain for over a year for the causes boldly embodied in the Declaration — a war that was to continue for another 5 years until Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781 and the new nation’s status was formalized by the 1783 Treaty of Paris that recognized internationally the sovereignty of the United States of America. And it indeed cost those signers dearly — Of the 56 Signers: 11 had their homes destroyed; 5 were hunted and captured; 17 served in the military; and 9 died during the war.
It took another four-plus years after the Revolutionary War ended and of being governed under the relatively loose and ineffective U.S. Articles of Confederation (1781-89), before on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed, also in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, establishing ground rules by which a far more effective Federal Government would protect the liberty of “We the People.”
As Benjamin Franklin was leaving that signing he was asked by a lady, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?” to which he famously replied, “A Republic if you can keep it.”
But this did not settle the actual formation of this new government — for the peoples of the then original thirteen states. Subsequently, the Constitution was ratified by nine states, and on June 22, 1788 it became the supreme “Law of the Land.” George Washington was sworn in as President on March 4, 1789 as the first U.S. Congress met in New York City. Vermont became the last of the 13 states to ratify the Constitution on January 10, 1791. Click here for the ratification timeline.
The all-important Bill of Rights — even today, insisted upon by Thomas Jefferson and drafted by James Madison (then 38 and after Jefferson our fourth President), was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1789. Ten of Madison’s proposed twelve amendments, intended to limit the power of government to protect the natural rights of liberty and property, became the first ten Amendments to the Constitution on December 17, 1791, after ratification of three quarters of the states.
As we reflect on the festivities of this Fourth, we should ponder again Franklin’s question and answer . . . this serious exchange is as pertinent to us today as it was to the signatories of the Constitution and, a dozen or so years earlier of the Declaration of Independence, which focused on the tyranny from which they then sought to be free.
Can we keep the “Republic” our founder’s gave us? There are reasons for doubt, and so we still need Patriots who will continue the fight for Liberty.
Prospects for the Future.
We should consider the issues of our day and the bloated legacy of the limited federal government the Founders gave us; and seek to remain true to our founding documents and the Patriots who mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to give us this great nation.
The Liberty of our posterity demands no less of us. As my hero and once big boss, Ronald Reagan, said:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” ~ Ronald Reagan
Our leaders are still sworn to support and defend the Constitution, though sometimes one wonders whether they truly intend to live up to that oath. We should consider the current threats to our Liberty in preparing to vote this coming November.
The Founders intended the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to be the foundation of our unalienable Rights, among which are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And “We the People,” now from 50 states rather than just 13, must hold our leaders, each and every one, accountable for their respective oaths of office, which vary in detail but not in intent.
Nothing less than keeping the Republic they gave us is at stake.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them.
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