What we celebrate on 4th of July

By George Miller

 

242 years ago Wednesday, our forefathers did an incredibly bold, brave and decisive thing.  They actually broke away from and took on the most powerful country on earth, violating many of its laws, including treason, to do so.  If you know American history, you would also know that this was not impetuous, sudden, rash or ill-thought out. They had numerous longtime, valid grievances against the British colonial government, Parliament and King George III, cataloged below. They had gone the whole due process route (sound familiar?), then went into protest, civil disobedience and when all else failed- outright rebellion.

If the British had been following their own founding documents- Magna Carta & English Bill of Rights, this might have never occurred.

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While this week’s holiday is usually known as “Fourth of July,” or just “The 4th,” it is actally called “Independence Day.” This is the day that the Declaration of Independence that the Continental Congress had been painstakingly constructing finally gained the

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the World by Domenick D’Andrea. April 19, 1776 at Concord Bridge.

necessary approvals from the delegations of the colonies participating and formally declared independence from Britain. The actual details are more complex.It wasn’t actually signed until August and didn’t make its way to the King until November- remember, these were pre-Internet days. The British Crown had already dispatched thousands of troops to put down rebellion and patriot elements within the colonies had already been making preparations for armed conflict. In fact, the Battles of Lexington and Concord had already been fought on April 19, 1775, immortalized as the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.”

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painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Philadelphia, PA

While the declaration was an uncompromising, unapologetic document, the Articles of Confederation, which followed it were weak, seeking to maintain high autonomy for the states, while setting up a loose federation to handle common needs. This proved to be inadequate to do the job and was followed by Constitutional Conventions to first set up the United States in its current form with the Constitution, then to go back a second time, to make up for what many believed were deficiencies in affirmations of rights, which led to the writing and ratification of the Bill of Rights. There have been 27 amendments to the original Constitution, which now looks like THIS.  It hasn’t always been followed and has suffered some grievous violations even in recent years, which we need to work on.

 

Americans Don’t Know Why We Celebrate 4th of July!  …..

 

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FULL TEXT

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

AmericanFlag13Star

The significance of the flag design ….

The Declaration of Independence severed all ties between the 13 American Colonies and Great Britain.  For almost a full year after that first Independence Day, the flag of the new nation still bore the Union Jack among its red and white stripes.  All of that changed on June 14, 1777 when the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing a new design.  The name of the “United Colonies” having been changed in September of the previous year, the resolution read

 

“Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

Read MORE

 

 

 

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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3 Responses to What we celebrate on 4th of July

  1. David Pu'u July 4, 2018 at 6:50 am

    This is without a doubt one of the single strongest pieces I have read regarding memorializing the founding of the Nation that I have read. Bless you for taking the time and exercising the expertise and excellence of craft to write it.

    Reply
  2. Citizen Reporter July 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men

    who signed the Declaration of Independence ?

    Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,
    and tortured before they died.

    Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
    Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
    another had two sons captured.

    Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
    hardships of the Revolutionary War.

    They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes,
    and their sacred honor.

    What kind of men were they?

    Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
    Eleven were merchants,
    nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
    men of means, well educated,
    but they signed the Declaration of Independence
    knowing full well that the penalty would be death if
    they were captured.
    Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
    trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
    British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
    pay his debts, and died in rags.

    Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British
    that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
    He served in the Congress without pay, and his family
    was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
    and poverty was his reward.

    Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
    Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

    At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that
    the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson
    home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General
    George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,
    and Nelson died bankrupt.

    Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
    The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

    John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.
    Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill
    were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests
    and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his
    children vanished.

    So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
    silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

    Remember: freedom is never free!

    I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many
    people as you can, please. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism
    is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer,
    picnics and baseball games.

    Reply

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