The people's voice of reason

When In The Course…

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to tell their current government to go away and don't come back, it’s only fair those people tell the world exactly why they’re mad, what that government has done to annoy them, exactly why the government sucks, and precisely why said government needs to go find some other continent to plunder.

I’m paraphrasing, of course, but not by much, because that’s what the Declaration really is—a laundry list of complaints and grievances against George III and his government, its acts and officers.

That “long train of abuses and usurpations,” intended to “reduce them under absolute despotism?” It wasn’t just a few minor disagreements. The Colonists weren’t fooling around when they published the Declaration, and we need to remember that.

We need to remember that the Declaration we celebrate every July 4th marked the start of five years of bloody conflict that only ended with General Cornwallis’s surrender on October 17, 1781, and really didn’t end until the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. There were more defeats than victories, especially those first years. Blood was spilled, people starved, lives and fortunes were lost before the War for Independence was won.

There might even have been a case or two of using the wrong pronouns, but nobody much cared because there was, like, a war going on.

We need to remember exactly why the Founders were willing to put their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on the line. We don’t have to wonder—we have their list. We have good histories of what was going on at the time to help us understand why the colonies were so angry. We have, in their own words, why they felt they had no other choice but to declare themselves independent, even at the cost of war.

The Fourth of July isn’t just about fireworks, food and fools setting themselves on fire (although that’s become part of it). It’s about what happens when you push a group of people too far with oppressive, unresponsive government, and don’t listen to those people when they try again and again to work things out.

The colonists had tried for years to work things out with the Crown, to little or no avail. The whole “taxation without representation” thing didn’t happen overnight.

Just as an aside, how represented have you felt lately? When was the last time American flags were waved on the floor of Congress? When was the last time you saw an American flag pin on a Congresscritter’s lapel without it being crossed with the flag of another nation? Just who, exactly, are they supposed to be representing? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I thought they were supposed to be representing their constituents here in America….

This Fourth, take some time to review the Declaration and what was going on that made it necessary. Share it with your kids, and help them with the language—it’s evolved a bit since 1776, but the concepts haven’t changed a bit. For older teens, read them the first paragraph of this piece. I guarantee you they’ve heard much worse language, and if they laugh that’s the hook you need to get them interested.

Read the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the Declaration and the “insurrection” carried out by the 13 colonies against what a British friend of mine calls “the lawful authority of His Majesty, George III.” Yes, there are two sides to the story of the Revolution, and one man’s insurrection is another’s gallant fight for freedom.

Above all, please try to avoid blowing off a body part that won’t grow back—and remember just what we’re celebrating. The Founders believed in the cause of Liberty enough to pledge their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

If it comes down to that in the future, will you be willing to do the same?


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