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  • Why We Celebrate the Fourth

    The Drafting of the Declaration of Independence

    During the 1700s, Philadelphia was an unpleasant place in the summer. Malaria and yellow fever were rampant. There were no cures and no known ways to prevent infection. Most people of means tried to escape the city, if they could.

    But in the scorching summer of 1776, scores of our country’s leading men remained behind closed doors in Philadelphia. They were kept there by their work. And what a monumental work it turned out to be.

    The 56 leaders, representing all 13 British colonies, signed a declaration that would birth a great nation and illuminate the very future of humankind. It’s this Declaration of Independence that Americans celebrate each July 4.

    The document’s first job was to officially announce to the world that all the colonies had decided to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. That was momentous enough for the years ahead, since in order to make good on that declaration, the colonies would have to defeat the British in a war that stretched until 1783.

    But the greater meaning of the Declaration — then as well as now — is as a statement of the conditions that underlie legitimate political authority and as an explanation of the proper ends of government.

    The signers proclaimed that political power would spring from the sovereignty of the people, not a crowned hereditary monarch. This idea shook Europe to its very core.

    The Declaration appealed not to any conventional law or political contract but to the equal rights possessed by all men and “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and nature’s God” entitled them.

    What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances. It’s that they did so by appealing to –and promising to base their particular government on — a universal standard of justice.

    It is in this sense that Abraham Lincoln praised “the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.”

    Of course, it required another war to extend those rights to all Americans, but the fact that they were written down in the Declaration was crucial in 1865, in 1965 and remains so today as well.

    “If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence,” wrote noted historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, “it would have been worthwhile.”

    As Thomas Jefferson, lead author of the Declaration, put it in 1821, “The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.”

    Those flames, the flames of freedom and opportunity, continue to spread. That’s a truth worth celebrating on the Fourth — and all year ’round.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Why We Celebrate the Fourth

    1. Rishika, Austin TX says:

      Thank you Matt. Inspiring!

    2. Brian L Clair, Naple says:

      Thanks for being a beacon!

    3. Tom Woodard says:

      Let's not call it the 4th of July any longer. Let us faithfully call it by it's proper and reverential name, Independence Day. God bless America!!!

    4. Rick Werner Houston, says:

      With our country closer to socialism than we have ever been in our history, take this Independence Day to think about all the freedoms we will, and conceivably could, lose in the future under this regime. We should all, as a nation, vow to vote to reverse this travesty in November.

    5. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 7.4.2010 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    6. Lois Gibson, Dahlone says:

      If we and the leaders of our America would just get back to being God fearing men like our forefathers this country of ours would once again be strong and our people would be blessed!

    7. Pingback: Religio-Political Talk

    8. Bruno F. Gilson, Cal says:

      What I think is completely ironic is that we even celebrate an Independence Day? Our Constitution, Bill of Rights, Articles of Confederation and Declaration of Independence means zip – zero – nada – nothing anymore. We have illegal aliens crossing our borders for years which is immoral, unethical, and UNCONSTITUTIONAL and nothing is done. This is TERRORISM inside our country by stealing jobs, money, housing, food, health care and so on for free (tax payer money) in the name of compassion which is immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional and nothing is done. We have the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve fractional system stealing this country blind and nothing is done. Presidents’ and Congresses passing laws and regulations that are unconstitutional and nothing is done. Presidents’ have too much power over the states and over the people (Czars’ sounds like Russia), unconstitutional and nothing is done. From the beginning of this once great nation until Wilson (Federal Reserve Act was passed 1913) we fought for Liberty and Freedom and against Tyranny! Our countryman fought the British, WWI to present conflicts around the world in the name of Liberty and Freedom and Tyranny! All of this fighting for what, it is now what we have become and what our federal government political system has become is TYRANTS of us, our own people of this once great nation. Our Founding Father’s would be very unhappy with how our country has become, the federal government controlling the masses of people and socializing industries and shipping our industrialized nation oversea in the name of progress! God bless this once great nation now and always!

    9. Eugene Kupstas, Kins says:

      The Declaration was one of independence from Great Britain. It was a declaration of utter dependence on God. This is the most important thing.

      It spells out a novel concept of just why governments are formed, as voluntary associations of the whole population, permanent as long as the natural rights of the people are honored. It spells out just what those rights are.

      The Declaration is not just a rant against a foreign power; it obligates its signers to stake their life and entire property on its success.

    10. Billie says:

      We celebrate the fourth because of her respect to human life under America's principles and founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence.

      And the heroes in our Military who shares this as peacefully with practicality, as possible, with the good citizens of the world.

    11. sharon Texas says:

      I am in complete agreement with Bruno Gilson, as I have posted previously "where did we lose our power of the people? Or was it just a fleeting thing and we were all brought in to believe a lie"? Was it actually there or just an illusion. When the president and congress and senate can pass bills without the eople being behind them, something has gone wrong. Or as I said did we ever have the power in the first place. It makes me very sad to think our young men and women are fighting to just let them push us around and validate laws that no one wanted in the first place. And now our debt is skyrocketing out of control, with no end in sight. We as a people need to try to get the illusion back.

    12. Duncan McIntosh, Tar says:

      That's a nice article. It was a simpler time, and a relatively sparsely populated region. As density grew, so did the need for more specific sharing of authority between social, economic and cultural groups. Our current country reflects that. Thinking that fear of God, or of "socialism" will exert an answer for today's issues ignores the sources of thought for the founders. They were, Jefferson especially, scholars on the subject of the source of law. The main source was an English philosopher named John Locke, whose "life, liberty and pursuit of…" written over a century before may well have inspired some to get on ships and get away to a new beginning.

      Independence day is a time to remember, or for most, research the source of so many of the laws and issues that seem simple, but are in fact the result of protracted struggles of our forbears, beginning with the magna charta, and continuing through robber barons, unions and globalization issues for our children's generation. Think, extrapolate, apply the lessons of history, so that the greatness of the founders can continue…

    13. Fred Thompson says:

      We are drifting away from the political, moral, and economic principles of our founding fathers. Instead of being protected from the oppression of government by the rule of law, laws are created to exploit the citizenry for the perpetuation of power and privilege by the ruling class. Any citizen may be prosecuted under some obscure law at the whim of the arbiters of justice.

      Instead of taxation with representation, we have representation without income taxation for nearly half of the population. Instead of choosing our representatives, our representatives choose their electors through gerrymandering of political districts. The sovereignty of the people is ignored.

      Instead of God-given inalienable natural rights, we have rights granted to us by government. Individual liberty is proscribed by laws, ordinances, and regulations that no one can count, let alone recite or interpret.

      Instead of income based upon production and effort, we have income based on politically determined criteria, ostensibly according to need. Our ability to produce goods and services is gradually being forfeited to more industrious societies. Earned income from engagement in the economy is being supplanted by the dole under the guise of equality in the distribution of income.

      The dispersion of power is being superseded by the concentration of power in the federal government.

      We have much to be concerned about during this 2010 celebration of the birth of our country.

    14. Juliana, Santa Cruz, says:

      Slaves were not allow to vote…Chinese were not allow to become citizens prior to 1954. How did this apply to the blacks or orientals back then?

    15. B & T FLYOVER COUNTRY says:

      Give me back what I had before health care reform, please. A good choice of quality of network doctors, 80/20 payment if I see in-network docs and all this at $50-something a month.

      Don’t give me rationed care now or after I turn 65. Don’t tell me to sit outside in the que with a bunch who never paid into the system. I did — and I want what I had before Obamacare became “the law of the land.”

      Bet this post never sees the light of day, HERITAGE. You failed us all. I was a member. I cancelled and told you to just keep my money.

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