July 4th of every year, Americans far and wide celebrate the birth of our nation. It wasn’t actually a new country being born into infancy; it was more akin to a rebellious teenager seeking independence by running away from an overbearing and intolerable acting parent.
On that Fourth of July in 1776 the insubordinate, yet polite, thirteen colonies printed a letter to King George III telling him the ties that bound the colonies to his Kingdom were severed. Their politeness is right there in the first sentence; “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Manners and politeness aside, the bold words used were actually a declaration of war and meant all of the treasonous signers who declared their independence had also signed their death warrants if ever caught by the redcoats.
The forefathers of our Nation were the right people at the right time; smart, brave, eloquent, resourceful, strong and committed. They were committed to the freedom which we still enjoy to this day. The five articulate writers of the “The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America” were; Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert Livingstone, and Roger Sherman. Today we call their document the Declaration of Independence.
These five men told the King they, and all men, had certain unalienable rights that were not granted by His Majesty on the throne, but are endowed by their Creator and it was self-evident that all men are created equal and had right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those were the laws of Nature’s God not of a monarch across an ocean; fighting words to any king, for sure.
The authors took another jab at the King by telling him that God’s laws for the people are protected by the government chosen by the people. They actually said it this way; “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
The five authors of the declaration seem to have a hierarchy of importance in their words. It appears God is on top of their list, with the people next and the government – if it is a good one – last.
After the declaration was agreed upon on July 2, 1776, one of the authors, John Adams, was a little off the mark when he wrote to his wife, Abigail, telling her of the great work he and the other four had completed. It was so good he told her, “I am apt to believe July the 2nd will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” He was oh so close, only missing the holiday party by 48 hours, but cut him some slack, he went on to become the 2nd President of the United States.
As you enjoy your mid-week Holiday, in between bar-b-que and beverages, take some time to reflect back to that steamy-humid July in Philadelphia. Think about those courageous, articulate men who put quill to parchment to start us on the road to freedom in the greatest country that has ever existed on Earth. Happy Independence Day!