Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Another Great 4th of July

“All men are created equal.” Technically, all property owning white men were equal in one sense at the time. All men are created equal in the eyes of the law. The concept that the people would control government rather than the government people, especially the Divine Right of Kings. That government derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” was revolutionary. It still is in much of the world. The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary, radical document. The signers of the Declaration put their lives, liberties, and fortunes at risk. The British would have executed the signers and seized their fortunes had the Redcoats won the Revolutionary War. Today’s America with its freedoms and opportunities sprang from the Declaration of Independence, but the Declaration by itself was just words. It needed action to have effect. The first step was the approval of independence on July 2, followed by ratification on July 4 of the Declaration of Independence. The 13 American colonies still had to win their independence from Great Britain. The blood of Patriots with the help of France secured independence in 1783 through the Treaty of Paris. 1788 saw the writing of the Constitution followed in 1791 with the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights grants us our freedoms and liberties. The purpose was to protect the people against the government. The critical provision in the Constitution was Article V which allows the Constitution to be amended. The Constitution has thus been able to evolve over 218 years. The War of 1812, technically a draw with Great Britain, solidified American independence. No longer would England, France and Spain covet the American lands. Instead, they started selling much of the territory of the current 50 states to the United States of American. America was on course to American exceptionalism. America was an experiment in unleashing the human spirit and Yankee ingenuity. Flee poverty, oppression, and semi-serfdom in the old country and seek opportunity in the New World. The American people spanned the continent in 241 years from Jamestown in 1607 to the Statehood of California in 1848. They conquered the Eastern Wilderness, the frozen Northern Plains, and the burning deserts of the Southwest. Rivers were bridged, dammed, diverted and tunneled. Mountains were cut, blasted, and tunneled. Wetlands were filled, drained, and dredged. The American people may have primarily been Anglo-Saxon with some Dutch in 1776 and an influx of Ulster Irish. The Native Americans were considered savages and the slaves were slaves. America opened its doors to the peoples of the world. They all became Americans over time. The Civil War freed the slaves and united the country into one republic. It did more though; the Civil War Amendments - 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were construed to extent most of the Bill of Rights to the states and not just the federal government. American history, as with the history of any people, has shameful periods: the Native Americans and slavery, the anti-Asian animus, starting with Chinese immigrants, especially on the West Coast, limited rights for women, periods of xenophobia and racial discrimination. The genius of America, especially but not exclusively through the Constitution and Bill of Rights, has been over the span of 241 years to rectify those wrongs. American have become a people, but not one based on ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or skin color, but on a culture, ethos, and shared values. Today we bask in the success of the American revolution and the American people; Our Founding Fathers would be surprised, but thrilled to see the United States of today on the 4th: Freedom Independence Equal Rights Under the Law Due Process and the Rule of Law Parades Fireworks Bunting and Flags BBQ’s Picnics Family Reunions Speeches Protests Sales Drinking Joey Chestnut and the Coney Island Hotdog Eating Competition

No comments: