With the coming US presidential elections, I am going to intermix the normal blog posts with some US history and political thoughts. The 4th of July in Park City, Utah (where we live) is a time of parties, fun and parades. I am always a bit dismayed when I casually ask people what the 4th is celebrating. While it is called ‘Independence Day’ there are a number of people who don’t appear to recognize the origins or the purpose of the 4th of July. Wow!..In a nutshell, Independence Day is a celebration of “our violently breaking free from the bonds of the shackles of our imperialistic British oppressors”…OK..that may simply be colorful way I describe it to my British friends to get them riled up but it is indeed a celebration of our ‘independence’ from British rule.
The revolution had been brewing for years with King George imposing oppressive taxes and other laws. “No Taxation without Representation” (an Irish phrase) was adopted by the colonists and adapted in 1765 when local politician James Otis famously said: “Taxation without representation is tyranny”. After years of oppressive acts against the colonists, which included the Stamp Act of 1765, and the the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the Tea Act of 1773. This resulted in the now famous Boston Tea Party. With revolution brewing the British Empire took action to suppress the colonists. On the night of April 18th, 1775 Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn that the “British were coming!” The morning of April 19th, 1775 the 600 or so British troops reached Lexington Green where stood 38 colonists under the command of Captain Parker. The Captain said to his men:“Don’t fire unless you are fired on; but if they want war, let it begin here.” It began and 7 were killed, 9 wounded and 7 taken captive. This was followed by the famous battle at Concord in which 450 colonists fought and defeated 3 companies of the King’s troops. The first shot of this engagement was called the “shot heard round the world”.
Although the Revolutionary War would rage for another 7 years, the colonists declared their independence. On July 4th, 1776 when the 13 States of the United States of America offered the Declaration of Independence which established the United States of America (assuming the colonists won the war) . Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock are but a few of those who signed the document. It was not until 1787 (11 years later) that the US would write the US Constitution.
“The Unanimous Declaration of the 13 united States of America” reads in part:
“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, –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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” You can read the full text here.