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Author Topic: Indendence Day, July 4, 1776 (An American Seder and more)  (Read 7631 times)
Power User
Posts: 42556

« on: July 02, 2011, 09:00:56 AM »

Four years ago, I wrote a column titled "America Needs a July Fourth Seder." In it, I explained that "national memory dies without national ritual. And without a national memory, a nation dies." Many readers and listeners to my radio show responded by creating their own rituals to make the day far more meaningful than watching fireworks and eating hot dogs.

I now present a simple 10-minute ceremony that every American can easily use on July Fourth. It is a product of the Internet-based Prager University that I founded nearly two years ago. We call it the Fourth of July Declaration, and here it is. (A paginated and printed version can be downloaded at the website

It begins with a note to the individual leading the ritual, the "host."


We hope this day finds you, your family and your friends in good health, enjoying another glorious Fourth together. We all love barbecues, parties and fireworks, but if that's all the Fourth of July is about, the day has lost its meaning and we lose a vital connection to our American past.

Welcome to our Fourth of July Declaration!

We have modeled this Declaration on the best-known commemoration of a historical event in the world -- the Jewish Passover meal. It has successfully kept the memory of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt alive for over 3,000 years.

As Americans, we need to reconnect with our Founding. We need to rediscover the meaning of our country's creation. And we need to do it every year. That is the reason for ritual -- to enable us to remember. Without ritual, the memory fades. And without memory, life -- whether of the individual or of a nation -- loses its meaning.

That's where this Fourth of July Declaration comes in.

In keeping with the philosophy of Prager University that profound concepts can be taught in five minutes, this Declaration is brief.

If you follow this simple ceremony, this holiday will not just be another barbecue. It will be the meaningful day it was meant to be: a celebration of the birth of our exceptional country, the United States of America.

You are encouraged to add more to your Fourth of July Declaration. This ceremony is only a starting point. But even doing this minimum will mean a lot -- to you, to your family and friends, and to the nation.

* Feel free to read this "note to host" to those assembled at your celebration of the day.


-- Iced Tea

-- Salty pretzels

-- Strawberries and blueberries and whipped cream. (But any goodie colored red, white and blue will do.)

-- A small bell

The ringer on your cell phone will do in a pinch

-- An American coin

The bigger, the better. A half-dollar is ideal, but a quarter will do.

-- A printed (unsigned) Declaration of Independence.

-- Lyrics to "God Bless America" for all your guests. Download the lyrics. (


DIRECTION: Everyone gathers around the table.

HOST SPEAKS: Today, we take a few minutes to remember what the Fourth of July is about and to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be Americans.

Before America was a nation, it was a dream -- a dream shared by many people, from many nations, over many generations.

It began with the Pilgrims in 1620, who fled Europe so that they could be free to practice their religion. It continued through the 17th century, as more and more people arrived in a place that came to be known as the New World. In this new world, where you were from didn't matter; what mattered was where you were headed.

As more and more people settled, they started to see themselves as new people -- Americans.

They felt blessed: The land was spacious. The opportunities limitless.

By 1776, a century and a half after the first Pilgrims landed, this new liberty-loving people was ready to create a new nation.

And on July 4 of that year, they did just that. They pronounced themselves to be free of the rule of the English king. We know this statement as the Declaration of Independence.

DIRECTION: Host invites the young people (generally ages 7 and older) present to read and to answer the following:


Q: Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July?

A: Because the Fourth of July is the birthday of the American people -- the day we chose to become the United States of America, a free nation.

Q: Why was America different from all other countries?

A: Because in 1776, all countries were based on nationality, religion, ethnicity or geography. But America was created on the basis of a set of ideas. This is still true today.

Q: What are those ideas?

A: Three ideas summarize what America is all about. They are engraved on every American coin. They are "Liberty," "In God We Trust" and "E Pluribus Unum."

DIRECTION: Host passes around an American coin and chooses readers from the group to read the following:

READER No. 1: "Liberty" means that we are free to pursue our dreams and to go as far in life as hard work and good luck will take us.

READER No. 2: "In God We Trust" means that America was founded on the belief that our rights and liberties have been granted to us by the Creator. Therefore they cannot be taken away by people.

READER No. 3: "E Pluribus Unum" is a Latin phrase meaning "From Many, One." Unlike other countries, America is composed of people of every religious, racial, ethnic, cultural and national origin -- and regards every one of them as equally American. Therefore, "out of many (people we become) one" -- Americans.

HOST: We have on our table items that symbolize the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War that won our freedom.

DIRECTION: Host holds up each symbolic item as he explains its symbolic meaning.

-- We drink iced tea to remember the Boston Tea Party. "No taxation without representation" was the patriots' chant as they dumped British tea into the Boston Harbor.

-- We eat a salty pretzel to remember the tears shed by the families who lost loved ones in the struggle for freedom in The Revolutionary War and all the wars of freedom that followed.

-- We ring a bell to recall the Liberty Bell, which was rung to announce the surrender of the King's army. On the bell are inscribed these words from the Book of Leviticus: "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof."

-- We eat strawberries and blueberries dipped in whipped cream to celebrate the red, white and blue of our flag.

HOST: We celebrate America's greatness without denying its flaws. There are no perfect individuals, so there can certainly be no perfect country. Our national history has its share of shame. The greatest of these is the shame of slavery, which existed at our founding, as it existed throughout the world at that time.

But let it never be forgotten that we fought a terrible civil war in which hundreds of thousands of American died. And the reason for that war was slavery.

Let it also not be forgotten that America has fought in more wars for the freedom of other peoples than any nation in history.

America's history is one that we can be proud of.

DIRECTION: Host holds up a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

We now close with one more ritual. Let each of us sign our names to the Declaration of Independence. While it is a replica of the one our founders signed, the words and sentiments are eternal.

DIRECTION: Everyone present signs their name to the Declaration of Independence. As each one signs, the host hands each person the lyrics to "God Bless America."

HOST: Everyone sing with me.

DIRECTION: Everyone sings (hopefully).

HOST: Happy Birthday, America. Happy Fourth of July. Now let's eat.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 09:56:17 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 11:10:14 AM »

I think this is a good idea. My wife will be working as a rookie cop on one of her first shifts on patrol on the fourth, but maybe next year. Then again, that too is a celebration of patriotism.
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2011, 08:57:15 AM »

Amen to that GM.

Now here's a surprise:
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 09:02:08 AM »

Harvard determines republicans are more patriotic. I wonder when they'll figure out that water is wet.....
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 12:04:06 AM »

As the 4th of July is upon us, let us take a moment and reflect upon some words of some men who knew a thing or two about True Patriotism.

"This Republic was not established by Cowards, and Cowards shall not preserve it." Samuel Adams
"A Man with a Gun is a Citizen, a Man without is a Subject."  Paul Revere
"Great Danger lies in the Notion you can reason with Evil."  General Patton
"A Government Big Enough to give you everything you could ever dream of is strong enough to take everything you have."  Thomas Jefferson
"A People that Value it's Privleges above its' Principals shall soon lose both."
President Eisenhower, 1953
"If you want Peace, Prepare for War." Cicero
Have a Great 4th and take some time today to reflect upon these words and Remember our Men and Women in Uniform all over the World who put their lives on the line everyday so we can Celebrate our Independence!!!
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 11:51:22 PM »
Power User
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 09:59:26 AM »

Power User
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 02:01:35 PM »

Fleming: What Life Was Like in 1776
Americans had the highest per capita income in the civilized world, paid the lowest taxes—and were determined to keep it that way

Almost every American knows the traditional story of July Fourth—the soaring idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress's grim pledge to defy the world's most powerful nation with their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. But what else about revolutionary America might help us feel closer to those founders in their tricornered hats, fancy waistcoats and tight knee-breeches?

Those Americans, it turns out, had the highest per capita income in the civilized world of their time. They also paid the lowest taxes—and they were determined to keep it that way.

By 1776, the 13 American colonies had been in existence for over 150 years—more than enough time for the talented and ambitious to acquire money and land. At the top of the South's earners were large planters such as George Washington. In the North their incomes were more than matched by merchants such as John Hancock and Robert Morris. Next came lawyers such as John Adams, followed by tavern keepers, who often cleared 1,000 pounds a year, or about $100,000 in modern money. Doctors were paid comparatively little. Ditto for dentists, who were almost nonexistent.

In the northern colonies, according to historical research, the top 10% of the population owned about 45% of the wealth. In some parts of the South, 10% owned 75% of the wealth. But unlike most other countries, America in 1776 had a thriving middle class. Well-to-do farmers shipped tons of corn and wheat and rice to the West Indies and Europe, using the profits to send their children to private schools and buy their wives expensive gowns and carriages. Artisans—tailors, carpenters and other skilled workmen—also prospered, as did shop owners who dealt in a variety of goods. Benjamin Franklin credited his shrewd wife, Deborah, with laying the foundation of their wealth with her tradeswoman's skills.

Several hundred miles inland was the "back country," and at the time of the Revolution, not many people went there by choice. Most were poor and landless—younger sons, for example, whose older brothers had inherited the family's property. Life on the outskirts of civilization was hard and often violent. Morals on the Western frontier were often much more relaxed than they were in the civilized East.

America in 1776 was also a diverse nation. The first census, taken in 1790, revealed that only about 60% of the people came from England. The rest were German, Irish, Dutch, Scottish, Swedish and African.

Men wore clothes that were as colorful as the ladies' garb. One male fashion plate in New York ordered a suit of "superfine scarlet plush and a vest of light blue plush." Among the ladies, the beauty business was already a major force in the economy. "Fashion dolls" wearing the latest styles circulated through the city and the country. Women regularly spent a half day getting their hair "permanented" for a ball. Ladies seeking to preserve the sheen of youth spent a fortune on "paints" from China and lip salves from India.

Molly Tilghman of Chestertown, Md., summed up the prevailing opinion when she told her cousin Polly Pearce: "Wisdom says beauty is a fading flower but it attracts more admiration than wit, goodness or anything else in this world."

Another American tradition beginning to take root was female independence. The wife of Sueton Grant ran her husband's shipping business in Newport, R.I., for more than 30 years after his death in 1744. As a teenager, Eliza Lucas began experimenting with various plants on her father's Wappoo Creek Plantation, near Charleston, S.C. Soon she was raising indigo, which became one of the most profitable crops in the South.

Philadelphia's Lydia Darragh, America's first female undertaker, operated her business for almost a decade before the Revolutionary War began. During the war she was one of George Washington's most successful spies.

"Domestic felicity" was considered vital to everyone's peace of mind, and although divorce was legal, it was also rare. Although money played a part in marriages among the more affluent, family life was often full of affection. The love letters Col. Thomas Jones of Virginia wrote to his wife began "My Dearest Life."

Not everyone achieved this level of bliss. One notoriously unhappy marriage involved Col. John Custis of Arlington, Va., and his wife, Frances Parke. According to local accounts, they would go for weeks without speaking. One day, on a carriage ride, Mrs. Custis realized he was driving their "equipage" straight into Chesapeake Bay.

"Where are you going, Mr. Custis?" she asked. "To hell, Madam," the colonel replied. "Drive on," she said. "Any place is better than Arlington."

The colonel—or his horses—apparently changed their minds.

By 1776, the Atlantic Ocean had become what one historian has called "an information highway" across which poured books, magazines, newspapers and copies of the debates in Parliament. The latter were read by John Adams, George Washington, Robert Morris and other politically minded men. They concluded that the British were planning to tax the Americans into the kind of humiliation that Great Britain had inflicted on Ireland.

As eight years of war engulfed the continent, not a few of the rebels saw that the Revolution was a spiritual enterprise that would never really end. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a Pennsylvanian who signed the Declaration of Independence, wrote that the war was only the first step in the Revolution's destiny to transform America and the world.

History confirmed his intuition. In the next hundred years, other nations and peoples would issue 200 similar declarations.

Mr. Fleming is a former president of the Society of American Historians. This article was adapted from his e-book, "What Life Was Really Like in 1776," recently published by New Word City.

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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2012, 10:03:55 AM »

From Townhall Magazine's July feature, "How to Celebrate the Fourth of July," by Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College:
Two hundred thirty-six years ago this Fourth of July, 57 men signed the document that created the American republic. They represented a people of about 3 million grouped in a series of 13 colonies along the eastern seaboard of the United States. They were all wanted men, sought by the commander of the British forces in North America for sedition and treason. He had behind him the resources of the greatest military power on earth. They had behind them the bare beginnings of a government, hardly anything of an army, but something mighty in the way of an idea.

This nation had therefore a desperate beginning. Who but the boldest could believe that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were laying the foundation of the greatest constitutional republic in history? Now that republic has spread across the continent, and its influence reaches around the world. Its population has increased a hundredfold. Its Constitution has provided government to a free people constantly growing in size and territory, each new state joining the union as an equal, its citizens never subjects, its people ever free. There is no story close to it in the history of man.

Statesmen and thinkers have attributed the strength and goodness of the nation to the principles in the Declaration. Many others have denied this. Statesmen and thinkers have proclaimed the Constitution a just and beautiful implementation of the principles of the Declaration. Many others have denied this. These denials are more common in times of crisis in our country. They are very common now.

It is a sign of our time that the sitting chief executive of our country eschews the permanent meaning of the Declaration and the idea of fixity in the Constitution. In the “Audacity of Hope,” Barack Obama writes: “Implicit in [the Constitution’s] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or “ism,” any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course. …”

Obama has stuck to this theme during his presidency. This May at Barnard College, he proclaimed the great virtue of the Constitution to be its openness to change: “It allowed for protests, movements, and the assimilation of new ideas that would repeatedly, decade after decade, change the world—a constant forward movement that continues to this day.” There is neither form nor firmness. All is fluid, according to Obama, and this liberates us to do whatever we will.

America has gone very far down the trail that Obama is blazing. Right now, the expenditures of all government—state, local and federal—exceed 40 percent of the gross domestic product. If trends continue, the public sector will soon grow larger than the private sector, and then the government will have more resources than those it governs.
Moreover, it governs increasingly without authority from the branches that are elected by the people. The new Dodd- Frank finance law creates something called a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This agency does not get its budget from Congress. Rather, its money comes from a guaranteed percentage of the budget of the Federal Reserve, which gets its money from its operations as a bank. Congress is even specifically forbidden in the law to hold hearings into the budget of the new CPFB. And it has wide examining power over every form of consumer finance in the nation. In unfettered scope of authority, and in near perfect separation from popular control, it is different from anything before it in America.
Because we have come so far from the founding institutions, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves what they are. This anniversary of the Declaration of Independence provides a splendid occasion, because both the principles of the nation and its institutions are summarized beautifully in its 1,300 words. Let us then read it for a moment.
Notice first of all how remarkable it is that the document should begin universally. The authors were obviously mindful of the fact they were wanted men. They conclude the Declaration with a solemn promise, made to each other in the mood of soldiers facing battle: “In support of this Declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” (emphasis added). The particularity of this commitment, each man speaking for himself in promise to the others in the room, is what one might expect of legislation passed on the eve of a war, legislation that is itself a written act of treason.
If these men were in a situation urgent unto death, how can we account for the abstract and universal nature of the beginning of the Declaration? It begins with an “absolute truth” (to use the president’s term) expressed in words that have rung around the world: “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 theLaws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them …” (emphasis added).
Notice that this quotation refers to no particular time, but to any time in the course of human events. Notice that it refers not to the American people, but to “one people,” meaning any people. It is a very absolute and universal way of talking. It issues immediately a proclamation of truth: “We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
Just as the Founders did, so may anyone look for his rights under these “laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Anyone whose rights are denied will feel their weight. The Jew rounded up by the Nazis, the black slave held in Mississippi in 1840, may both look to this document as the charter by which he can advance. Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, was aware of this and wrote that indeed, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” These principles place every man and woman deprived of their rights in the same place that the Founders occupied on July 4, 1776: they may appeal to an absolute truth, written in the nature of man and in the nature of things, against any power that will offend their rights. Perhaps they cannot find the strength to overcome their oppression. Never mind: their cause is still the just one. They will see, and even in moments of clarity their oppressors will see, that the great self-evident truth that all men are created equal means nothing more nor less than that all men are men. It means nothing less than that no one may rightly govern another except by his consent. It means that the purpose of government is to “secure these rights”: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
These are the principles of the United States. The fact that they were announced at the onset of its revolution, and the fact that the revolution proceeded in their name, seals them in the blood and the history of this land.
The Declaration is not only about principles; it also describes institutions, the kind of institutions best adapted to protect the rights of a people. These institutions are expressed in the middle section of the document, the section in which the specific crimes and injustices of the king of England are described. The three broad constitutional principles that he violated form the backbone of the later Constitution of the United States. The first step in understanding that Constitution is not to learn its details, although they are relatively few. The first step is to understand the grand arrangements of government necessary to constitutional rule.
The first of these three principles is representation. The king is said to have interfered with the representatives of the people in their attempt to pass laws “most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” The Declaration recognizes that human beings are made to live under law, and they have a right for those laws to be passed by people who represent them. This right is not to be interfered with by any force. Any force doing so interferes with the consent of the governed and cannot rightfully claim obedience. Violation of the representative principle is, by itself, cause for revolution.
The second of these principles is separation of powers. At the outset of the American Revolution, the king and his governors were the executive branch. By interfering with the legislature, the king violated not only the right of the people to representative government but also the necessity for separation of powers. He violated this necessity also by making “judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” God is named four times in the Declaration, once as each of the three branches of government, and once as a founder. The lesson is simple: God may well be the maker of the laws of nature and of nature’s God, and He may well be at the same time the Supreme Judge of the world, and He may also be Divine Providence. But no man or small group of men may rightly combine in their own hands all the powers of government. That is for God alone.
Finally, the Declaration calls for a limited government. The king was taxing America’s forefathers without their consent, and he was using the money, among other things, to pay for a hired army to oppress them. He sent many officials to make sure that his will was followed on all occasions, whatever the commoners may wish. The Declaration charges him with erecting “a multitude of new offices, and [sending] hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” In other words, the king offended against the principle of limited government. He was building a structure too strong for the people to manage.
The modern bureaucratic state reproduces many of the features that led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and that gave shape to the Constitution of the United States, which follows these three basic principles in its entire structure. Go before the bureaucracy and see that it is arranged both to make and enforce its own rules, and if one objects he must appear first before a judge who is employed by that same bureaucracy. And now a bureaucracy has been created that operates on a budget outside the control of the Congress.
This Fourth of July, we might well remind ourselves of the beauty, the greatness and the long serviceability of our constitutional institutions and of the principles from which they flow. This Fourth of July is a great time to recall these things, because the Declaration gives the Constitution its cause and also its basic form and function. We Americans may choose to discard this legacy and give up our birthright. Let us at least know what we are doing.
Celebrate the Declaration, and also remember its meaning. It is what a citizen does on the Fourth of July.

"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 10:46:21 AM »

The 7 Most Badass Founding Fathers

Posted By David Forsmark On July 4, 2012

They all pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honors,” and it was more than just an idle boast.

The Founding Fathers were committing treason against the most powerful empire that the world to date had ever seen.  It was also their Mother Country, to which many of their friends, family and neighbors were still loyal.

And while they certainly, in the words of Patrick Henry, “made the most” of their treason, the idea that they would establish the most free and powerful nation in the history of mankind was not the most likely outcome.

So in singling out these 7 men in standing out as badasses (and I am sure some of you will find a more worthy nominee or two that I should have thought of, so please feel free to enlighten me in the Comments section) I am not minimizing the notion that Ben Franklin was right — that they could most certainly “all hang separately” whether they all hung together as he urged them, or not.

However some men risked just a bit more, courted danger a little more closely, and were just a bit more reckless with their lives or fortunes. Here are 7 of them, and on this Independence Day, I hope I do these Founding Badasses justice.

7. Henry Laurens

Veteran Indian fighter Henry Laurens from the Cherokee campaign of the French and Indian War was a bit too old to serve in the Continental Army during the Revolution, but that didn’t stop him from being the only American to be imprisoned in the infamous Tower of London.

After that war, Laurens became a very wealthy rice planter, and was a continuously elected member of the South Carolina Assembly. Like most of the eventual revolutionaries, Laurens favored reconciliation with the Crown, even while advocating for more freedom for the colonists.

He became a prominent member of South Carolina’s revolutionary government, was elected to the Continental Congress, and eventually succeeded John Hancock as the President of the Revolution’s governing body.

Meanwhile Henry’s son John was making a name for himself as a soldier in  the Continental Army. John vociferously argued that slavery was anathema to the fledgling nation’s rhetoric about liberty, and was granted permission to offer South Carolina’s slaves freedom in exchange for military service.

He was vigorously opposed by Governor Rutledge, who was not quite as fierce in his defense of Charleston from the British. When Rutledge tried to surrender, John Laurens took on the defense of Charleston and repulsed the British forces.

Shortly thereafter, he was captured by the British and shipped to Philadelphia, just as his father Henry was leaving that city for a secret mission to convince the Netherlands to help the American cause financially. Henry’s diplomatic mission was successful, but he was himself captured by the British on his second voyage to Amsterdam and tossed into the abysmal conditions of the Tower.

Eventually both Laurens were freed in prisoner exchanges (Henry for Lord Cornwallis himself), and, undaunted, John went back to fighting Redcoats and Henry back to get money from the Dutch. John was killed in a skirmish late in the war in 1782; but his father honored his principles by manumitting all 260 of their slaves after the war.

6. Patrick Henry

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!”

When Patrick Henry delivered those words, they were not just a political slogan, a t-shirt or the motto on a license plate, they were reflective of a potential reality.

Quite possibly the rhetorician who lit the revolutionary fires in a young Thomas Jefferson, Henry was perhaps the most passionate defender of individual rights of the Founding Fathers.  In fact, after winning the war for liberty against King George, Henry became involved in the Constitutional Convention to keep George Washington and his colleagues honest in Philadelphia, fearing a too-powerful central government might result.

Henry practiced law and served in Virginia’s House of Burgesses where he advocated for the state to join the Committees of Correspondence. Organized by Samuel Adams, the goal was for the colonies to present a united face to the Crown.

His most famous speech, with its immortal line excerpted above, was Henry’s second consequential address. In the other, he introduced the Virginia Stamp Act resolutions, whose language was so defiant it made even many sympathetic members of the assembly squirm, while others loudly accused Henry of treason.

“If this be treason,” he retorted, “then make the most of it.”

The day after Lexington and Concord, Henry, a colonel in the militia, led troops in what became known as “the Gunpowder Incident,” when Lord Dunmore, the governor of Virginia, fearing his own unruly colonists, attempted to disarm them by commandeering the colony’s gunpowder stores. Henry intervened and the governor backed down without bloodshed.

Henry was not an advocate of a Constitution setting up a more powerful federal government. In fact, he set out for Philadelphia worried that liberty was again under assault. Henry was the most influential voice in the adoption of the Bill of Rights — which while it might not have been needed under Washington’s administration, has certainly acted as a bulwark against the encroachments of plenty of others, since.

5. Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton may have lost the most famous duel in American history but at least he showed up for it. That’s got to count for something.

But then whatever else Hamilton was short of, guts would not make the list. Unlike modern politicians who get caught in compromising positions with women, Hamilton, unlike fellow New Yorker Eliot Spitzer, did not use his wife as a human shield. He stood alone and admitted what he’d done, albeit in uncomfortable and inappropriate detail.

Of all the Founders, Hamilton may have traveled the furthest to reach the pinnacle of success. Illegitimately born and on his own from age 11, young Hamilton’s sheer brilliance made others believe in him and invest in his future.

While at King’s College, Hamilton published articles in favor of the Revolution, and then quit to join the militia. He quickly rose through the ranks and eventually became part of George Washington’s staff. Though he was involved in everything from diplomacy to espionage to strategic planning, Hamilton badgered Washington throughout the war for the chance to return to a battlefield command. His mentor finally relented near the war’s end, and Hamilton again served with distinction.

Between serving in the war, and joining Washinton’s cabinet, Hamilton founded the Bank of New York. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and fought the likes of Thomas Jefferson in establishing a true national economy — particularly nationalizing the debt incurred by states in the Revolutionary War.

He founded the United States Mint, the Coast Guard, and took effective command of, and developed, the U.S. Army during the quasi-war with France.

Unfortunately, even with all of that, the man considered the most dashing of the Founders, still found time to have a scandalous affair with Maria Reynolds that ended his public life for awhile.

Never a uniting figure, Hamilton’s legacy is still fiercely debated, with some sure we would be living in a libertarian paradise today, if not for his evil centralized bank; while Pat Buchanan types are equally sure if we had taken his theories on tariffs and protectionism more seriously, we would be manufacturing the bulk of the world’s goods today.

If any Founder followed the motto “Go big or go home,” it was Alexander Hamilton. If only he had been a better shot…

4. Benjamin Franklin

Merely listing the accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin in the areas of science, politics, writing, philosophy, journalism or diplomacy would take more room than this column allows. But the fact that he was the American equivalent of Leonardo DaVinci — and then some — is not what makes him a badass.

In an age when we are bombarded with commercials asking us if age has slowed us down and offering testosterone supplements, consider this: At the age of 70, which was considerably older than the average lifespan of his time, Benjamin Franklin not only undertook the arduous ocean voyage to France to negotiate the military alliance that would save the Revolution, he had a good enough time doing it, that it royally pissed off John Adams’s puritan sensibilities.

Franklin was nearly as influential in establishing the American character as Washington was in establishing how it would be governed. His observations and one-liners still permeate the American lexicon today. Far from the lofty public utterances of many public speakers of the time, Franklin dazzled with a brilliant, yet down to earth, wit and wisdom that came from the working class roots he stayed proudly true to no matter how far he climbed in the social stratosphere.

Even while he preached unity among the colonies and independence from the Crown, Franklin was a wildly popular figure in England — and also in it’s most bitter enemy, France. While on his mission to make France an ally of the fledgling United States, Franklin managed to help end discrimination against non-Catholics by the French government — in his spare time, I suppose.

For succeeding in nearly everything he put his hand or mind to, and for doing it for pretty much all of his 84 years, Ben Franklin gets to add one more title to his dozens — that of genuine badass.

3. John Paul Jones

“I have not yet begun to fight!” may only be the second most badass line of the Revolutionary War, but when he delivered it, John Paul Jones was literally looking down the barrels of a broadside of British battleship cannons.

In his first command mission as the captain of the 21 gun sloop Providence, Jones took command of no less than 16 British vessels.   Later, Jones actually attacked a British coastal town which rattled the enemy considerably. Then, of course, there is his comeback victory as the captain of the Bonnehomme Richard after being offered a chance to surrender which led to his immortal, defiant response.

While the Continental Navy hardly swept the mighty Royal Navy from the seas, it was an important factor in making the war against the colonists simply too costly for the British to continue.

It would be nearly 200 years before another man rose from the enlisted ranks to command an American warship in wartime (my friend the late Lt. Command Henry Dale); but John Paul Jones is more than just a war hero.

While some might be surprised to see him in a list of Founding Fathers, John Paul Jones is certainly the founding father of the United States Navy. Unfortunately, the Continental Navy was disbanded after the war — despite Jones’s urging that the ability to project naval power would be a deterrent to future aggression — but Jones would be considered the inspirational father of the United States Navy, without which the young nation would have had no means of projecting power in a hostile world.

2. Samuel Adams

Of all of the Founders of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams was perhaps the revolutionary-est. And if for nothing else, the fact that his revolutionary fervor and tactics toward Loyalists during the Revolution has some modern day liberals blasting him as no more than a common thug, Samuel Adams gets the title of badass.

It was Adams’s letter calling for cooperation among the colonies that led the British to send troops to occupy Boston in the first place.  Adams’s response: to quit calling for cooperation and start coordinating it. His “committee of correspondence” system linked patriots throughout the colonies and formed the organizational basis for the Revolution to come.

Stories of the extent of Sam Adams’s involvement in the Boston Tea Party range from one of his fiery speeches merely being the accidental inspiration for it, to his actually putting on war paint and throwing crates into the harbor.

“No taxation without representation” was the unifying theme behind much of Adams’s rhetoric, including this line from his speech protesting the Sugar Act:

For if our Trade may be taxed, why not our Lands? Why not the Produce of our Lands & everything we possess or make use of?

John Roberts, call your office.

Thomas Jefferson called Samuel Adams “truly the Man of the Revolution.” For his fearless and tireless efforts to form a new nation, no matter how many troops King George sent to quiet things down, Samuel Adams was a badass.

1. George Washington

If you had any doubt where this was ending up, then you probably don’t care enough about the topic to make it this far. Yes, our first founding father defined the term “badass.” You could even consider him an action hero whose commanding presence and calmness under fire would be worthy of a John Wayne movie.

But aside from the fact that this President would have regarded “leading from the rear” with utter contempt, or the number of horses he had shot out from under him and the bullet ridden coat you can still see on display, what proves George Washington is not only the Number 1 Badass of the Founding Fathers, but possibly in American history, is the reaction of his contemporaries.

This is a guy who could settle an argument among a room full of the best and brightest men in the world with a simple declaration of how things should be. (At least 2 of those men had the hubris to rewrite the Bible the way they thought it should be, and all of them had risked hanging to establish a new form of government.)

And when you think of the contentious fights between those egos over who would be the succeeding Presidents to Washington, the idea that he would be the not only unanimous — but obvious — choice of this group to lead them, is just mind-boggling.

Without the rhetorical flourishes of a Henry or a Paine, Washington could enter a room full of possibly rebellious soldiers whose rightful pay was being withheld by the Congress and leave them weeping simply by the force of his character.

And last, but not least, nearly everything he did to establish how a President should act and lead (basically on the fly and by instinct) was naturally accepted as correct and proper by his peers, and established precedent for centuries.

And for at least a hundred years after his death, political arguments could be settled by the mere fact that “Washington said so.”

Arguments among “historians” that any other President should be placed at the top of the list of American greats are plain ignorant.  Of the Top 10, the first 9 places should be occupied by George Washington.

Article printed from PJ Lifestyle:

"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2012, 03:29:21 PM »


"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor"

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

"Most Glorious Service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

·   Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

·   William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

· Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

·   Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

·   John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

· Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

· Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

· Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

· George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

· Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

· John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

·   William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

· Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

· Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

· Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Lives, Fortunes, Honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "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."

Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr. - (Father of the famous talk radio host)

"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2012, 06:31:52 PM »

Good one.
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2012, 04:17:33 PM »
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