I’m not sure how Independence Day morphed into the Fourth of July - but I can make a good guess.
Independence Day means something. The Fourth of July is just a date on the calendar. It’s kind of like calling Christmas ‘The Twenty-fifth of July’ or New Year’s ‘The First of January.’ Dumb.
One of the features of a typical Independence Day celebration used to be a public reading - word for word - of the Declaration of Independence. They actually still do this in several towns in the Hudson River Valley, which was a major center of the conflict. Think Saratoga, West Point. Fort Ticonderoga. Washington slept here. A lot.
Everyone pretty much knows the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” part of the Declaration of Independence. The opening phrase resonates in many people’s memories too... “When in the course of human events....”
But how much of the Declaration of Independence do you actually know?
Why we fought
Here is a list of some of the things that Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and others found so objectionable about King George III’s conduct that they were willing to risk ‘life, liberty and limb’ to oppose him:
• He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
• For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
• He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
I have a theory as to why annual public readings of the Declaration of Independence have fallen out of favor and why Independence Day is now called ‘The Fourth of July.’
• Reason #1: Independence is no longer a treasured virtue in our country.
• Reason #2: Many of the things that the Founding Fathers found so objectionable - like taxation without representation for example - have become institutionalized in the US.
Big business, big media, big government -The country seems to be run for their benefit today, not ours.
For example, a year ago, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the right of New London, Connecticut to command a group of home owners to surrender their homes for the benefit a privately owned corporation. My mind reels.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, 90% of Americans worked - and thought - for themselves. Today only 10% do. Of the 90% who work for a paycheck, over 55% work for institutions with 500 employees or more. That means nearly half of our country is financially beholden to some kind of big bureaucracy. Not a good thing.
One of the best things you can do for your country is to become economically independent - and use your economic independence to take a stand against the forces that routinely undermine our communities and our country. If people like us don’t do it, who’s going to?
Until Next time