Not On Pomp and Circumstance But of the Rights of the People: The True Meaning of the 4th of July

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“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

So, begins one of Western civilization’s most important documents, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America for independence. Much has already been said about it in the last 242 years since it was written and I’m sure much more will be said today on this July 4th, 2018 especially on social media and Twitter in particular. You’ll hear how this is the work of a people seeking Freedom and Justice from an overbearing dictatorial monarchy, or of how this was the foundation upon which this Great Country was built on, or of how a bunch of privileged White Men got together and for their own purposes created such hypocrisy. You’ll hear all of this and maybe even a little about the history that led to that meeting on July in Philadelphia. Consider this my small contribution for I think it’s the next part of the document that I find relevant to our times and worth a look.

 “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”.

Here we have a group of people who came to the Americas seeking asylum from whatever affected them, war; famine; disease; religious and ethnic persecution and established a new home in a land controlled by a government distant not only geographically, but culturally and ideologically as well. King George III and Great Britain were involved in several conflicts mostly around the issue of trade and with France in opposition. At first, they couldn’t have cared less what a bunch of lower class migrants did if they could still be exploited. The government needed money to fight its wars and taxing the importation of goods was a good and quick way of getting it. The elitist aristocrats in England were not concerned with how this would affect the common people’s livelihood, they thought that the people in the Americas were too uneducated, too easily influenced by sedition, not worth the trouble if they remained loyal to the Monarchy.  But, if they did become rebellious, a swift and powerful show of force was necessary to put them back in line. This King George and Parliament did time and time again with some of its most lethal consequences in places like Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts. Many people died in the streets, hills, and pastures trying to protest what they thought was an unfair, Godless, merciless dictatorship. And they were not all English for, as I pointed out above, many came from other countries, some willingly and others not so much, looking for the same thing, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. So, when the English government and its King refused to listen to their complaints they took the only option they thought was open to them, they assembled as representatives of the people of the thirteen United States of America and voted to reject that government through a formal Declaration of Independence. As you read it, and I encourage you to do so, you will find that it was not a declaration of armed conflict, no war between England and the Americas, but the last attempt to reach a compromise on a long list of grievances the government refused to address because it thought it as nothing more than the whining of a bunch of malcontents. Here are some of the highlights of those complaints against King George III and His Royalists Tory government:

– He (the King and his government) has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

-He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

-He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

-He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose, obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

-He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

-He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

-For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.

-For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s only because those who govern now have forgotten, or more so forsaken, what this country was truly founded on, not Pomp and Circumstance but of the Rights of the People to Govern themselves and when their government opposes them, that government must Abdicate its Power.

“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Words to remember on July 4th, 2018 and, better yet, in November.

 

-A. M. Holmes

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