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July 4, 1776
Topic: July 4, 1776 (Read 12807 times)
July 4, 1776
July 04, 2003, 07:10:05 PM »
And to the republic for which we stand , , ,
Independence Forever: The 225th Anniversary of the Fourth of July
by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
June 19, 2001 | |
This Fourth of July marks the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This occasion is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called "the declaratory charter of our rights."
As a practical matter, the Declaration of Independence publicly announced to the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. But its greater meaning--then as well as now--is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate political authority and the proper ends of government, and its proclamation of a new ground of political rule in the sovereignty of the people. "If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence," wrote the great historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, "it would have been worthwhile."
Although Congress had appointed a distinguished committee--including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston--the Declaration of Independence is chiefly the work of Thomas Jefferson. By his own account, Jefferson was neither aiming at originality nor taking from any particular writings but was expressing the "harmonizing sentiments of the day," as expressed in conversation, letters, essays, or "the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." Jefferson intended the Declaration to be "an expression of the American mind," and wrote so as to "place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."
The structure of the Declaration of Independence is that of a common law legal document. The ringing phrases of the document's famous second paragraph are a powerful synthesis of American constitutional and republican government theories. All men have a right to liberty only in so far as they are by nature equal, which is to say none are naturally superior, and deserve to rule, or inferior, and deserve to be ruled. Because men are endowed with these rights, the rights are unalienable, which means that they cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess these rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights and, although prudence tells us that governments should not be changed for trivial reasons, the people retain the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive of these ends.
The remainder of the document is a bill of indictment accusing King George III of some 30 offenses, some constitutional, some legal, and some matters of policy. The combined charges against the king were intended to demonstrate a history of repeated injuries, all having the object of establishing "an absolute tyranny" over America. Although the colonists were "disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable," the time had come to end the relationship: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."
One charge that Jefferson had included, but Congress removed, was that the king had "waged cruel war against human nature" by introducing slavery and allowing the slave trade into the American colonies. A few delegates were unwilling to acknowledge that slavery violated the "most sacred rights of life and liberty," and the passage was dropped for the sake of unanimity. Thus was foreshadowed the central debate of the American Civil War, which Abraham Lincoln saw as a test to determine whether a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" could long endure.
The Declaration of Independence and the liberties recognized in it are grounded in a higher law to which all human laws are answerable. This higher law can be understood to derive from reason--the truths of the Declaration are held to be "self-evident"--but also revelation. There are four references to God in the document: to "the laws of nature and nature's God"; to all men being "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"; to "the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions"; and to "the protection of Divine Providence." The first term suggests a deity that is knowable by human reason, but the others--God as creator, as judge, and as providence--are more biblical, and add a theological context to the document. "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?" Jefferson asked in his Notes on the State of Virginia.
The true significance of the Declaration lies in its trans-historical meaning. Its appeal was not to any conventional law or political contract but to the equal rights possessed by all men and "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and nature's God" entitled them. What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances but that they did so by appealing to--and promising to base their particular government on--a universal standard of justice. It is in this sense that Abraham Lincoln praised "the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times."
The ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence speak to all those who strive for liberty and seek to vindicate the principles of self-government. But it was an aged John Adams who, when he was asked to prepare a statement on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, delivered two words that still convey our great hope every Fourth of July: "Independence Forever."
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.,is Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
QUOTATIONS ON THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!
John Hancock (attributed), upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin (attributed), at the signing of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821
With respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825
John Adams, toast for the 50th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826
I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.
Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" July 5, 1852
The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.
Abraham Lincoln, speech on the Dred Scott Decision, June 26, 1857
We have besides these men--descended by blood from our ancestors--among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe--German, Irish, French and Scandinavian--men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858
We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.
Calvin Coolidge, speech on the 150th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926
Today, 186 years later, that Declaration whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington is still a revolutionary document. To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs. . . . The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that "the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." And today this Nation--conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence--has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.
John F. Kennedy, address at Independence Hall, July 4, 1962
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
Martin Luther King, "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963
Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here is this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.
Ronald Reagan, address at Yorktown, October 19, 1981
July 4, 2013
Reply #1 on:
July 01, 2013, 10:24:50 PM »
Our July 4th front page is up.
We are so fuct , , ,
Reply #2 on:
July 02, 2013, 04:09:11 PM »
Endowed by whom?
Reply #3 on:
July 03, 2013, 06:30:49 PM »
Liberty -- Endowed by Whom?
The Eternal Bequest
By Mark Alexander • July 3, 2013
"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? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." --Thomas Jefferson (1774)
Amid all the contemporary political and cultural contests, too many conservatives fail to make the case for overarching eternal truths -- whether in debate with adversaries across the aisles of Congress, or with neighbors across Main Street.
Lost in the din is the foundational endowment of Essential Liberty, and any debate that does not begin with this eternal truth will end with temporary deceits.
The most oft-cited words from our Declaration of Independence are these: "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."
The eternal assertion that Liberty for all people is "endowed by their Creator" and is thus "unalienable" should require no defense, because "we hold these truths to be self-evident," and because the rights of man are irrevocable from the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
But the root of all debate between Liberty and tyranny -- or, in political parlance, between Right and left -- is the contest to assert who endows Liberty -- God or man.
The left's humanist position has been made plainly evident by Barack Hussein Obama, who has a history of deliberately and repeatedly omitting the words "endowed by their Creator" when citing in open constituent forums the Declaration's reference to "Rights." What, exactly, is the inspiration for such overt and explicit omissions by the titular head of the Democratic Party?
Contemporary Leftist protagonists seek to replace Rule of Law with the rule of men. This is because the former is predicated on the principle that Liberty is "endowed by our Creator," while the latter asserts that government is the giver of Liberty.
The history of man, since its first record, has repeatedly and tragically documented that when the people settle for the assertion that government is the source of their rights, tyranny is the inevitable result. And tyrants always attempt to undermine Liberty by driving a wedge between it and its foundational endowment by our Creator.
For generations, American liberals have driven that wedge by asserting that our Constitution provides a "wall of separation" between church and state. But does it?
The short answer is "yes," but it is most certainly not the faux wall constructed by judicial activists, who have grossly adulterated the plain language of our First Amendment especially during the last 50 years.
Contrary to what many liberals would have us believe, the words "wall of separation between church and state" do not appear in our Constitution -- nor is this notion even implied. Thomas Jefferson penned those words in an obscure 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to concerns about Connecticut's establishment of Congregationalism as their state church. Jefferson assuaged their concerns, telling the Baptists that the First Amendment prohibited the national government from establishing a "national church," but he concluded rightly that the Constitution prohibited the national government from interfering with the matters of state governments -- a "wall of separation," if you will, between federal and state governments.
The "wall of separation" argument is thus a phony one. Indeed, it is a blueprint for tyranny.
We are created, from the beginning, in the Image of God, and that image is the essence of Liberty, the well of all rights for all people for all time.
Our enlightened Founders, in their revolutionary opposition to tyranny, looked far beyond kings and parliaments to the enduring source of the rights of man, and they enumerated in our Declaration of Independence that we are, indeed, created in God's Image for His purpose, and that no man could strip that endowment from the soul of another. Thus, we have the equal capacity to be free, personal, rational, creative and moral beings, and we are entitled to be so through His endowment.
These rights and freedoms were further enshrined in our Constitution.
In 1776, John Hancock wrote of Jacob Duché, the first Chaplain appointed by the Continental Congress, "Congress ... from a consideration of your ... zealous attachment to the rights of America, appoint(s) you their Chaplain." Duché, Pastor of Philadelphia's Christ Church, captured the spirit of the American Revolution, saying, "Civil liberty is as much the gift of God in Christ Jesus ... as our spiritual freedom... 'Standing fast' in that liberty, wherewith Christ, as the great providential Governor of the world, hath made us free."
It is in that spirit that we at The Patriot Post adopted our motto, Veritas vos Liberabit -- "The Truth Will Set You Free" (John 8:32). That is the essence of the assertion that we are "endowed by our Creator" with life and Liberty.
Ignorance of the true and eternal source of the rights of man is fertile ground for the Left's assertion that government endows such rights. It is also perilous ground, soaked with the blood of generations of American Patriots. As Jefferson wrote, "The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
Indeed, the "Cycle of Democracy" demands this tonic. And despite the pervasive assault on Liberty by the current legions of Leftist NeoComs, to paraphrase the great Prussian military historian, theorist and tactician Carl von Clausewitz, "the best defense is a good offense."
Our Founders closed their Declaration with this pledge to each other, and all who would follow: "With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
In his 1800 letter to fellow Declaration signer Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Like millions of our generation's American Patriots, I have sworn likewise. We must never forsake our Sacred Honor.
No matter what setbacks we face, Liberty is an eternal endowment. Thus, we must hold the lines on defense, and regroup for relentless attack on offense.
Never lose faith, fellow Patriots!
In honor of this, the 237th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, contemplate these wise words of our Founders, and please consider supporting The Patriot Post's mission in defense of Liberty.
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian." --George Washington
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." --John Adams
"May every citizen ... have a proper sense of the Deity upon his mind and an impression of the declaration recorded in the Bible, 'Him that honoreth Me I will honor, but he that despiseth Me shall be lightly esteemed.'" --Samuel Adams
"This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins." --Benjamin Franklin
"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it." --James Madison
"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among parchments and musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power." --Alexander Hamilton
"But where says some is the king of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. ... [L]et it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is." --Thomas Paine in Common Sense
Re: July 4, 1776
Reply #4 on:
July 04, 2013, 08:26:42 AM »
"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion."
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, 1825
Whitney Houston sings The Star Spangled Banner
Reply #5 on:
July 04, 2013, 12:48:23 PM »
Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 11:42:11 PM by Crafty_Dog
Seventy two killed resisting gun confiscation!
Reply #6 on:
July 04, 2013, 11:41:34 PM »
Seventy-two killed resisting gun confiscation in Boston!
Boston – National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.
Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.
The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.
Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.
One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”
Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.
During a tense standoff in the Lexington town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists.
Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.
Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces over matched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.
Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops.
Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.
And this fellow Americans, is how the American Revolution began, April 20, 1775.
signing_of_the_declaration_of_independenceOn July 4th, 1776 these same extremists signed the Declaration of Independence, pledging to each other and their countrymen their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Many of them lost everything, including their families and their lives over the course of the next few years.
Lest we forget…
Let us not forget!
Re: July 4, 1776
Reply #7 on:
July 04, 2016, 10:33:42 AM »
Eternal gratitude to the men who put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in play on this day.
Re: July 4, 1776
Reply #8 on:
July 04, 2016, 11:21:03 AM »
In the King's high name.
It's all a matter of perspective.
We Are A Nation of Rebels...
Reply #9 on:
July 04, 2016, 07:19:22 PM »
Greenfield: Our Eternal War for Independence
We are a nation of rebels.
7.4.2016 - Daniel Greenfield
How will you celebrate the Fourth of July?
With fireworks and parades, hamburgers and hot dogs, sweating bands playing Sousa marches and parades down Main Street? Will you remember the men who fell in the first war and all the following wars that were fought to preserve our political and personal independence from foreign and domestic tyrannies? Will you consider what you might have done in the days when revolution was in the air?
Those are all good things. They remind us to celebrate and what it is we are celebrating.
I sat on the warm grass beneath the shade of a spreading fig tree listening to a band run through a repertoire of everything from Yankee Doodle Dandy to Over There. An elderly disabled veteran with a flag listened intently to the orchestra and a small child clambered awkwardly up a tree as his father worriedly urged him to climb down. It could have been a scene from any century. The Fourth is timeless.
It is timeless because it is still going on. The War of Independence went on underneath that fig tree, it continues on in your town, your city and in your community on this day and on every day.
Independence Day is a commemoration, but it is not a mere commemoration. The struggle is not over.
America became America out of a hatred of powerful central government. The War of Independence was not a battle between two countries. America’s Founding Fathers started out as Englishmen who wanted to preserve their rights from a distant and out of touch government.
The War of Independence was a civil war between those who wanted a strong central government and those who wanted to govern themselves. The fundamental breach between these two worldviews led to the creation of an independent nation dedicated to the preservation of independence. This independence was not mere political independence. It was personal independence.
America as a separate nation did not yet exist. Even the Constitution that embodies its purpose was a decade, a war, a failed experiment in government and many bitter debates away.
Nations come and go. Political unions are created and dissolved. There are nations today named Egypt and Greece that have little in common with the historical entities that once bore those names. The Declaration to which those remarkable men pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor was not for a flag, which then still bore the Union Jack, or for the invention of yet another administrative body, but for the rights of peoples, nations and individuals to be free to exercise their personal and political rights.
The war for these things was fought, but it has not ended. It began then, but it continues today.
It is not a war against King George III. It is the ongoing struggle between the people and those who would govern them that is at the heart of our independence.
There are two visions of how men are meant to live today, just as there were in 1776. Revolutions and wars may occasionally clarify these visions, but they do not permanently resolve them. New governments are quick to adopt old tyrannies. Freedom is a popular rallying cry for rebels. But few rebels wish to be rebelled against. That is what made America unique. That is what still does.
We were not meant to be a society of sinecures for public servants. We did not come into being to be ruled by bureaucrats. Our birth of freedom was not meant to give way to the repression of a vast incomprehensible body of regulations administered by an elite political class in Washington D.C.
Americans are rebels. And if we are not rebels, then we are not Americans.
We are not a nation founded by men and women who followed the rules. It is not our capacity for obedience that makes us true Americans, but our capacity for disobedience.
The Declaration of Independence was a document of rebellion by a band of rebels. “Damned rebels” as the big government monarchists saw them. The men who signed it pledged their lives because they expected to be executed for treason. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were acts of rebellion against the entire order across what was then seen as the civilized world.
American greatness came about because we were willing to break the rules. It was only when we began following the rules, when as a nation we made the maintenance of the international order into our notion of the greatest good and when as individuals we accepted the endless expansion of government as a national ideal that we ceased to be great.
When we think of great Americans, from Thomas Jefferson to the Wright Brothers, from Andrew Jackson to Daniel Boone, from Theodore Roosevelt to today’s true patriots, we think of “damned rebels” who broke the rules, who did what should have been impossible and thumbed their noses at the establishments of the day. American greatness is embodied in individual initiative. That is why the Declaration of Independence places at the center of its striving, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
It was for these individualistic ends of freedom that government had to be derived from the consent of the governed, that a war was fought that changed the world and it is these ends that we must celebrate.
Rebellion does not always mean muskets and cannon. Long before the War of Independence, we had become a nation of rebels who explored the wild realms of forests and streams, who forged cities out of savage lands, who argued philosophy and sought a higher purpose for their strivings, who refused to bow to their betters out of an accident of birth. And at our best, we are still rebels today.
When we dissent from the system, we rebel. When we refuse to conform, when we think differently, when we choose to live our own lives instead of living according to the dictates of our political rulers and pop culture arbiters, then we are celebrating the spirit of freedom that animates the Fourth.
When we defy the government, when we speak out against Obama and the rest of our privileged ruling class, when we demand the right to govern ourselves, when we fight to hold government accountable, when we question what we are told and the need to be told anything at all, then we are keeping that old spirit of rebellion alive. We are still fighting for our independence from government every day and every year that we choose to live as free people. That is the glorious burden of freedom.
Freedom is not handed to us. It is not secured for us by politicians. Like the Founding Fathers, we are made free by our fight for freedom. Preserving their legacy cannot be meaningfully recreated through any means other than the committed struggle for the same ideals.
This Fourth of July, celebrate by continuing to be a rebel, question and challenge the left’s worship of government. And don’t stop on the Fifth or in July. Or in any year or any decade or any century.
We here at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and at Front Page Magazine don’t.
Our family of writers, activists and commentators, and that includes you, inspired by David’s courageous spirit continue to question authority, challenge government and fight for the independence of the individual against the tyrannies of the radical left and Islamic theocracy, every day, week and month of the year.
And we welcome you to our revolution.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: July 4, 1776
Reply #10 on:
July 05, 2016, 12:50:42 AM »
RUSH INTRODUCTION: My father, Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr., delivered this oft-requested address locally a number of times, but it had never before appeared in print until it was published in The Limbaugh Letter. My dad was renowned for his oratory skills and for his original mind; this speech is, I think, a superb demonstration of both. I will always be grateful to him for instilling in me a passion for the ideas and lives of America's Founders, as well as a deep appreciation for the inspirational power of words, which you will see evidenced here:
"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 US 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 EPILOGUE: My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house - in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.
There is no more profound sentence than this: "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..."
These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.
"Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.
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