Grandpa and Jim
The Beginning of a Nation
It had been a few days since Jim had received the scrapbook from Grandpa but even though Jim had been born on New Year’s Eve 2026 New Years since then had not been days of celebration. The Unification itself had occurred on the 2nd of January 2027, since then New Years as the Americas knew it was not celebrated; the Committee, not wanting to offend any of the citizens from the other former Nations had abolished all celebrations. There were many questions in the beginning about how many days a year would contain and when it would start because of all of the changes the calendar had taken over history. In the end, the European calendar was adopted starting over at year one, 1 AU, since this was the calendar that was the most widely used throughout the world.
Jim had spent every available moment after Educational Training looking over the scrapbook Grandpa had given him. In particular, the Pocketbook version of the US Constitution. This pocketbook contained what was titled as the Declaration of Independence, Grandpa had not mentioned this part but he did say that if Jim read this book he would get an understanding of how the United States of America, the country whose flag was also in the book, was formed and what it meant. From what Jim had read it seemed that this Declaration was written some 11 years before the actual Constitution thing that Grandpa had mentioned was written. Jim read both of these but he didn't really understand what they meant so he had been waiting for Educational Training to end today to talk to Grandpa.
Grandpa was sitting, as usual, in one of his old fashioned outfits. Since the Unification there had been talk off and on about the Committee prescribing what everyone should wear but nothing had been done so far since the different races that made up the Unified Nations could not come to an agreement about what should be worn, some races wanted to go with robes, some with suits and ties and there were some that really didn’t care, as long as there were multiple choices. The Committee wanted one uniform style with various colors to delineate worth in the working class. But as of yet no ruling had been passed so today Grandpa was sitting wearing his blue jeans, boots and a thick denim shirt, some days he would even wear a hat that was turned up on the sides and down on the front and back, but that was just for going outside. During the warm months Grandpa still liked to wear short pants, button up short sleeve shirts and flip flops. Personally Jim thought Grandpa was confused as to who he was or what he was, but that was his Grandpa and that was OK. On the other hand those attending Educational Training did have uniforms to wear so Jim went to his room to change before he started his talk with Grandpa, he also wanted to grab the pocketbook. After Grandpas warning Jim had taken great pains to hide the scrap book and all its contents, being 12 he thought his sock drawer was the perfect location.
After Jim had changed and retrieved the pocketbook version of the Constitution he went to the main room of their living quarters. Their quarters were rather bland since the Committee prescribed how each housing unit would look. There were a couple of chairs and tables, Grandpa had complained more than once that there were no couches, whatever they were, evidently you could actually lay down on these. The Committee wanted the room to only be used for sitting and viewing the Committee controlled audio visual programs they received on the wall mounted large tablet. Grandpa didn't trust the tablet, he said there had been talk of activating the embedded camera for Committee purposes but so far there was no evidence of that. The only time the camera was activated, to their knowledge, was when the tablet was being used for communication. The walls also contained a few digital pictures that could be changed, unfortunately they would only display Committee approved images, and too often this would be slogans the Committee was trying out. You could get it to display the weather which made no sense to Jim, people these days hardly ever had to actually go outside since all work and education centers were located in the same buildings as the workers living quarters. The lighting and temperature of the quarters was also controlled by the Committee, something else Grandpa grumbled about. He was always saying the light wasn't bright enough for his old eyes and the temperature was either too hot or too cold for his old bones. Grandpa seemed to grumble a lot, except when he and Jim were talking privately, Grandpa seemed to like talking to Jim.
Grandpa acted as if he had been waiting for Jim, in fact he almost acted like he was disappointed Jim had not talked to him earlier then today.
“I was wondering when you would come back to me with some questions.”
“Well, I, ummmm…. I wasn't sure what to ask so I read through some of the stuff again” Jim said hesitantly.
“Good.” Said Grandpa with a smile, “That was one of the biggest mistakes people made, not being well informed before they asked questions, the other big one was to not even try to get informed.”
Jim started feeling better, he started feeling like he had been right to read the pocketbook again, even though it really didn't make complete sense to him, in fact he really did not understand very much of it. He had gotten the impression that the people that wrote the section called the Declaration of Independence were upset about how things were going with someone called the King of Great Britain, whoever that was and wherever that was. That was one of the questions Jim wanted to ask Grandpa about.
“For starters” Jim started, “I was wanting to ask you about the Declaration of Independence. You didn't say anything about that being in the pocketbook so I wasn't sure what it was all about.”
Grandpa looked at Jim with a curious expression, “what do you think it’s about?”
“From what I read it seems like a list of complaints about the King of Great Britain. What I don’t know is what is a King, where is Great Britain and why were the people that wrote it mad at him?”
“That is a question that will take a lot more than simple one word answers to explain. I’m not a historian but I can tell you what I know. There will be holes in my telling but I do have other information hidden away that I will give to you later to learn from. For now I will try to make it as simple as I can.” Grandpa stared off for a few seconds collecting his thoughts. “Remember I told you about Jamestown being founded in 1607, 420 BU to you? Well that was the first of what were called the British Colonies, well the first successful one. There had been attempts before, attempts from all different races. There were many questions about who was the first to actually discover what was called the Americas and how it got its name. Most accounts give credit to a man by the name of Christopher Columbus in the year 1492 or 535 BU. Columbus was from a Nation that later became the Nation of Spain, this is now known as District 44-321 of the Unified State of Europe. Maybe I should back up a little and define Nation, State, County and City.”
“Before Unification all of what you know as Unified States were individual Countries, Countries that had their own laws and cultures. Places like the Unified State of Europe was actually a land mass called Europe with many separate and individual Countries. America was separated into North, Central and South America. Where we live was once a part of North America. Originally, starting with Jamestown and then later with a group called the Pilgrims, the Country later to be named the United States of America began. The Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean in big ships and landed north of here in an area that was later named Massachusetts. Massachusetts later became one of the original Colonies and then a State. In those days State was another name for Country. The original spot they landed in was called Plymouth which later became a Town, or City, in the State of Massachusetts. Communities of people were called any of a number of names, City if very large, Town if moderately large and then something like a Village or Community if small. All of these were essentially the same in respect to a group of people that had banded together with similar ideas or beliefs. Sometimes it was a bonding for business reasons, sometimes agricultural and even at times just because of a belief in how to live. Groups of Cities or Towns would be called Counties, generally lumped together by either geographical reasons or even lifestyle reasons. Sometimes the reasons could not be determined. Counties were then lumped together to form States, in early terms this was the same as a Country. States were generally grouped together by cultural similarities.”
“Hold up Grandpa, you are going way too fast for me.” Jim protested. “What has all of this have to do with someone called a King and a place called Great Britain?”
“OK, OK. Great Britain was one of the most powerful Nations of the time, even though it was one of the smallest. It was located in the Southwest portion of what you know as the Unified State of Europe, those Islands out there. Great Britain controlled many other Nations and the head of Great Britain was called King. In the case of the Americans anger it was King George.”
“Why were they so powerful if they were do small?” Jim asked.
“The Kings of Britain were smart and sometimes brutal, which at the time was the only way to increase your lands. The idea was that the Country with the best trained and best armed Soldiers would occupy another country, forcefully if necessary. Once that other Country was occupied it was under the rule of the occupiers. Great Britain was not the only Nation that increased their lands this way, it was the way of the times. Understand?”
“I understand what you are saying, I just don’t understand why it was allowed.” Jim replied.
“Well it was allowed as you say only because the only ones with power were the Kings because of the Armies and the Armies did the Kings bidding. Thankfully times changed but unfortunately attitudes didn't. Where past Kings used Armies and force to take over other Countries now they used slick talk and dirty tricks, in other words, politics. Are you with me now?” Grandpa asked.
“I think so.” Jim stuttered. “So where do the Americas, or rather the United States of America, come in?”
“Very good, you’re catching on” replied Grandpa. “For countries that were not populated by what were considered to be civilized, Kings or other rulers that went by different titles, would send large groups of people to settle the areas and start towns. As for the Americas the first successful settlement was here, only it was called Jamestown. They came here to spread Gods word and to make the King rich off whatever natural resources were in the area, sometimes even gold. The Pilgrims were a group that left Great Britain to find religious freedom”
“Hold it” said Jim, “God?? Who is that and what is religious freedom?”
“I keep forgetting that the Committee has banned the teaching of religious beliefs, beliefs in a creator. God is a being that many believed in as being the creator of the world, the being that created man and all the creatures. Belief in God was called faith, sometimes that was all we had, faith. There were many different ways of practicing this belief in a spiritual being and in the case of the Pilgrims their way was not accepted in Great Britain at the time. Unfortunately religion has always been a sticky point when it came to freedom, in fact it very often was the focal point of many wars throughout the history of the world. That proved to be true here in the Americas as well. After we get through how things got to where they are now maybe we will take on God, I’m not real good on the subject but I, and your parents, are believers. Can you put that on hold for now?”
“Sure” Jim stammered.
“OK Grandpa, let’s see if I understand this so far. The King of this small Island Great Britain sent some people over here to where we now live to start a new…… City?”
“Well more of a Settlement, but not bad so far, go on” urged Grandpa.
“OK, that was 420 years before the world became unified, right?”
“I take it that then the, what did you call them, Pilgrims?”
“The Pilgrims came over and set up shop north of here. Am I right so far?”
“You are right, just don’t know if I would call it setting up shop though” Grandpa laughed.
“OK, well that doesn't seem like very many people to get upset with a powerful King, not to mention this Declaration was written in what 1776? What would that be, uh, 251 BU, right?”
“Very good, you have figured out part of it.”
“Well” Jim continued, “there’s about 170 years there that you haven’t filled in.”
“Easy Son” said Grandpa with a grin, “I’m getting there. Over the next 170 years, as you put it, the Americas grew into 13 distinct Colonies, later to become 13 individual States. There are a couple of maps in the scrap book that show all of this from the first settlements until today. Each of these Colonies had different, shall we say personalities, different beliefs on how to live, how to treat others and how they wanted to be treated. Each of them had to literally fight for their survival. In some cases the fight was with what were considered to be uncivilized people, the Native Americans, sometimes the fight was with weather and nature. They did not have all the modern technologies we now have, they used fire to cook by and light their way. They either grew their food in the ground or hunted for it, sometimes with primitive weapons like knives and bows, the things you can see only in museums today. They lived in homes that were at times no more than branches from trees covered with mud and grass. Every day of their lives they were fighting in some way to survive. Depending on where they lived they had differing ideas and different hardships to deal with. When you fight that hard to survive and to create a place to live and raise families you develop a very independent attitude. They also developed a belief that they were just as good as the King, again because of those beliefs they had in God their creator, they believed that every individual had certain rights simply because of being born, not because of laws. Because of this the Colonies did not always see eye to eye with each other on how things should be done. The individual Colonies had developed their own personalities. They did however agree that they did not like having a King some 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean writing the laws for them and telling them to pay taxes to him just for the pleasure of being allowed to live over here, at least the majority of them did.”
“Taxes???” Jim asked.
“Sorry. Taxes were money, credits in today’s terms, that was given to someone that didn't earn it. In this case it was paid to the King of Great Britain. Taxes were then used to pay for Armies and luxuries as the King saw fit. In the case of the American Colonies they were paying the King so he could pay for wars that America had no concern with, and other things of course. If you remember what you read in the Declaration of Independence you will see what I’m talking about, and many other things the Colonies were not happy about. The Colonies felt as if they did not have the same say in how things were to be run by the King as the Colonies that were on the Great Britain side of the Atlantic, one term they used was taxation without representation.”
“I think I’m understanding what I read now, although there were many words that I still don’t understand.” Jim stated thoughtfully.
“Language has changed over time. For example State and Country meant the same thing at one time, later people believed a State to be part of a Country. There are other words and ways of talking that just fell by the wayside, I guess most of it was mainly due to people becoming lazy in how they talked.”
“I think I understand that, now what about the Declaration?”
“Alright, alright. You now know that over a period of somewhere around 170 or so years 13 Colonies under the control of the British”………
“British????? That’s the second time you have used that term.” Jim remarked with a quizzical look.
“Opps, British were what the people of Great Britain were called. Anyhow, they 13 Colonies decided they would be better off if they were in control of their own destinies. That was when they called together some of the wisest and most influential men from the various Colonies and wrote the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration spelled out their grievances with the King and declared their independence, this document formed the United States of America. No longer were the Colonies called Colonies, they were now individual States that came together, united, under a common cause.”
Jim looked at Grandpa for a minute or so and then asked “and the King just let them do this?”
“Oh no” replied Grandpa, “just like anything worth having sometimes you have to fight for what you want. The new States of America fought a long bloody battle to claim their independence, and they won.”
Jim thought about all of this for a few minutes. It was a lot of information to absorb but he thought he was starting to get the idea. Those men had created a home here and they wanted to have the say in how it was run. “So where does the Constitution come in with all of this?”
Grandpa grinned, “I think we better call it quits for tonight Jim, later we will go into the Constitution. For now go back and read the Declaration of Independence and look at the maps I talked about. As I said before I have other information you can look at but for now it’s just important for you to start understanding how the United States of America came to be and why. There were many different battles that occurred before all of this happened, there were different Kings that owned portions of the Americas both before and after the United States were formed. And there were many other reasons for the United States developing as it did. For now we will stick to the basics. Give it a couple of days and let this sink in, then we will continue.”
Steve Avery 7-15-13