The other day, while out shopping for our weekly groceries I noticed quite a few people stocking up on meat and beer; presumably for barbecues to celebrate the upcoming holiday on July 4. I wonder how many of those stocking up on supplies, or anyone else for that matter, know what it is that transpired on July 4th that makes it a National Holiday.
I would hope that at least half of the people living in America would at least be able to tell me that July 4th celebrates Independence Day; but even that is not quite true. I wonder how many actually know the timeline of events which led to America becoming a free and independent nation.
Are you aware that in June of 1776 the Second Continental Congress met and a formal declaration was issued by Richard Henry Lee, (Uncle to the yet to be born Robert E. Lee), which stated, “Resolved, 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.”
On June 11th this Congress appointed a Committee of Five to draft a formal declaration of independency; this committee consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. Adams had been so taken by Jefferson’s Summary View of the Rights of British America that he asked Jefferson to pen this declaration.
Little is known about the actual writing of that document; let it suffice to say over the next 17 days Thomas Jefferson came up with an eloquent document that not only laid out the reasons why the Colonies felt they had not other recourse but to declare their independence, it also explained the relationship between government and the governed. This document was then presented to the Congress in general, where it was shortened by almost 1/4 and other slight modifications made to satisfy the entire Congress.
It was on July 2, 1775 that a formal vote was taken on independence, with 12 Colonies voting in favor, and one, New York, abstaining. Thirty-five years after this eventful day, Dr. Benjamin Rush would write to John Adams, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The Silence & the gloom of the morning were interrupted I well recollect only for a moment by Col: Harrison of Virginia who said to Mr Gerry at the table, “I shall have a great advantage over you Mr: Gerry when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.”
It was not until July 4th that the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved and sent to the printers for reproduction. Are you aware that there are other copies of the Declaration of Independence in existence; besides the one on display at the National Archives? When the Declaration of Independence was approved and sent to the printer, that printer was a man named John Dunlap who produced hundreds of copies of the document which were then distributed throughout the Colonies. Of all those copies, only 26 survive; with most being held in museums, with a few being held in private collections. The one on display at the National Archives is the one signed by most of the delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress. Even then they did not all sign it at until August; and then not all at the same time as is portrayed in the famous painting by artist John Trumbull which hangs in the Capitol Rotunda.
So what is it that we are celebrating today; the day that our Declaration of Independence was formally approved and sent to the printers? It certainly isn’t the day America became an independent nation; that would not occur for 7 more years after a long drawn out war against the British Army.
Are you aware that John Adams felt that July 2nd should be the day which America celebrated, as it was the day that the vote was taken to declare itself independent from the tyranny of King George III? In a letter to his wife Abigail, Adams writes, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
The day which we celebrate is not the day America gained her independence, it is merely the day chosen which we celebrate the declaring of our independence; the actual obtaining of that independence occurred on September 19, 1781 when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Yet it was two years later, when the Treaty of Paris, 1783, was formally agreed to that the war for independence officially ended; with the King of England declaring, “His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States; that he treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors, relinquishes all claims to the Government, Propriety, and Territorial Rights of the same and every Part thereof.“
How did this independence come about and what did it cost those who obtained it for themselves and their posterity? I think there are a great many people who simply take for granted that the events which led to America becoming an independent nation just happened; and we shouldn’t think too much about the how or why they happened.
What led 56 men to affix their names to a document which basically said; “Our government no longer has any authority over our lives; and here are the reasons we say so.” Yes, it was treasonous, and a good many of the men we call our Founding Fathers may have hung for it had we lost the war which was fought to secure it.
Why would these men risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for independence from their government? You see, that is what they really fought the Revolution for; it was not so much as a war fought to free them from England itself, but a war fought to free them from a government which felt it had the right to bind them in all cases whatsoever. Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar?
There were those living during this period of our history who felt that liberty was more important than life itself; for what good is life if you are but a slave to an oppressive government? But words transcribed onto a piece of parchment would not grant them what they so fervently sought; so some among them had to take up arms and fight for that precious gift; liberty.
Our independence was purchased at the cost of blood and loss of life by those who were willing to fight against those who would seek to oppress them. Although the number is small in comparison to many of our more recent wars, 8,000 Colonists died from the wounds they sustained in battle during the Revolution. Another 17,000 died from disease during the same time frame. Then there were the estimated 25,000 who were wounded or maimed for life in the pursuit of America’s independence.
It has been said that 1 out of 20 of the able bodied white males living in America died securing our independence; that’s 5% of the male population of white males alive during that period; and it is what they sacrificed their lives for that we should be honoring on the holiday most people simply call the Fourth of July.
In comparison, if you agree that there are roughly 300 plus million people living in America today, and that half of them are male, that would mean that in comparison, were we to lose 5% of that number, it would total 7.5 million souls dying for the cause of independence. I’m not saying we should, but do you think there are 7.5 million men in this country that would pick up a gun and fight to secure their liberty from an oppressive government today? Yet that’s exactly what those who fought in the American Revolution did; they risked all for a cause that went beyond political party loyalty; they fought for the right to be free and independent.
How many, I wonder, even know the true meaning of the word independent? Independent can be defined as not subject to the control of others, and then it can also mean, not requiring or relying on others.
Let me ask you something. If someone breaks into your home or threatens you or your family, what would your course of action be to defend yourself, your family and your property? Would you dial 911 and await the police, or would you pick up a gun and fight off whoever or whatever it was that threatened you? If your answer was to call 911, how can you say you are independent? How can you place your reliance upon others and still say that you are not DEPENDENT?
What about your sustenance? If government was to suddenly vanish, and with it all the benefit programs it offers, how long could you survive on your own? Are you not DEPENDENT if you rely upon government for all or part of your sustenance?
What about those who are employed by government; either directly or indirectly as in the form of the many military and government contractors? What would they do if the entity which employed their services were to suddenly disappear; how would they provide for themselves and their families?
I think there are a great many who not only do not know what true independence is, they fear it as well. Independence requires that one assume absolute responsibility for their own actions and decisions; and that is something a great many people are unwilling to do.
Our Founders fought for something we haven’t experienced in a very long time. I’m guessing that there is not a person alive today who has been truly free and independent from the oppression of their government. What’s truly sad is that many of those who seek true independence often find themselves facing the full force of government rallying against them; be it local ordinances which prohibit them from living off the grid, or some other law which they find themselves in violation of. And those who stand up to the tyranny of our government are denigrated by the media and the general public for their actions.
I find it the epitome of irony that we Americans celebrate Independence Day while we shun independence. I’m sure that were our Founders alive today they would share in that sentiment.
Enjoy your beer and your barbecues…and your servitude; I think I’ll just stay home and mourn the loss of our independence.
Independence Day – 2017
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.