Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating the Independence of America

All this week, leading up to the 4th of July, I have been going over various fleeting thoughts about what to write in celebration of the Independence of America. Thoughts of the typical feel good types of pieces would come and go but nothing really came together in a coherent thought. Lately I’ve done pretty good with taking just a fleeting thought and going with it, not this time. I started realizing that I couldn’t come up with anything to write due to what is happening to this great Nation of ours. The thought of celebrating independence just didn’t seem right when we are quickly losing our independence. I then came upon the thought that celebrating was not what we should be doing right now, what we should be doing is reflecting on what we are allowing to be stolen from us.

The land that we now call the United States of America started out a rough untamed land; a land that was considered to be prime real estate that the major empires of the world could colonize. Various attempts and failures were made by the British, the French and the Spanish. The French were able to establish colonies cutting through the central parts of North America stretching from what we now know as Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1500’s. The Spanish successfully established St. Augustine, FL as a colony in the late 1500’s and in parts of what is now known as New Mexico. Finally in the 1600’s the British were able to establish colonies on the eastern coast of the America’s. Although the reasons for the colonists coming to America varied from one colony to another, the colonists’ loyalty to the Crown was intact for more then a century. In the War of the Austrian Successor, 1740 – 1748, and the French and Indian War, 1754 – 1763, the colonists fought along side the British troops against a common aggressor. After the French and Indian War the British seized from the French the areas east of the Mississippi as spoils of war further expanding the British Empire.

It was at the conclusion of the French and Indian War that tensions towards the Crown began. To pay for the war the British Parliament starting imposing various taxes on the colonists; Currency Act (1764), Sugar Act (1764), Stamp Act 1765, First Quartering Act (1765), Declaratory Act (1766), Townshend Revenue Act (1767), Tea Act (1773), The Intolerable Acts, also called the Coercive or Punitive Acts. The colonists were not as opposed to the taxes as they were to the act of being taxed without having a voice in the Parliament, taxation without representation. This was the key factor that led to the secession of the American colonies from British rule. In an attempt to enforce compliance with the taxes and the rule of the Crown, British troops were stationed in the colonies further increasing the tensions between the colonies and the motherland. In September 1774 the 1st Continental Congress convened. In a show of unity, boycotts on British goods were imposed and petitions to repeal the Acts were sent to the King. Although there were skirmishes in 1774 that led to the revolution the Revolutionary War officially began in April 1775. In May 1775 the 2nd Continental Congress convened, some delegates hoping for Independence from the Crown while others believing the Parliament no longer held sovereignty over them still professed loyalty to the Crown, issued a second petition to the King. The Kings response was to reject the petition and issue a Proclamation of Rebellion. Public support for independence strengthened in early 1776 when the colonists learned that the King issued the Prohibitory Act establishing a blockade of American ports and proclaimed American ships as enemy ships. It was also around this time that the colonists learned of the Kings hiring of German mercenaries to use against his American subjects. Once again Congress came together with delegates elected from 13 different governments. Each of these delegates would require specific instructions from their individual Governments to vote for independence. Between April and July of 1776 a political war was waged to bring about the Declaration of Independence. Although the Declaration of Independence was written by a committee of five, John Adams of MA, Benjamin Franklin of PA, Thomas Jefferson of VA, Robert R. Livingston of NY and Roger Sherman of CT; all 56 members of Congress would eventually vote unanimously for independence before the Declaration would be signed. The vote was actually completed on July 2nd 1776, only after that was the actual wording of the Declaration of Independence approved and sent to the printer on July 4th 1776. Upon declaring independence the colonies were now known as States, individual countries with varying Governments united in a common cause. The initial Articles of Confederation formally binding the individual States was not adopted and ratified until 1881.

On this Independence Day it is my hope that all Americans remember what brought our Country into existence. It was the union of individual Governments in a common cause. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence sacrificed everything they had, including their lives, to support what they believed was the right course. This was a Declaration of human rights against an oppressive Government that only saw them as subjects to be used at the Kings’ whim to fight his wars and taxed to increase his coffers without representation of their rights. The 13 original States were declaring their right to form Governments of their choosing independent of the central Government. The central Government was only established to ensure the protection of the Union, not to impose the central Governments whims on the individual Governments. There is significance in the symbol of our Nation, the Flag. The original States are honored with 13 stripes while all the States are individually honored with a star in the blue field of the Union. No other flag in the world recognizes the individuality and independence of the States, or Countries, that form a Union.

There are many parallels in today’s political fight with the fight the original 13 colonies went through to gain their independence. Our States have lost their sovereignty; our politicians are passing laws and imposing taxes without proper representation of the population. I know they are voted into office by the general population but once in office they are abusing the power bestowed to them by the people in deference to the political power they gain with special interests. Today of all days, remember the sacrifices, remember the founders and most of all, remember that this is the one country in the world where freedom did prevail. We need to take back that freedom.

Steve Avery

July 4th, 2010