Happy Independence Day!
On this day 245 years ago, America was founded.
Newer generations may not understand that the point of today is how thirteen British colonies declared independence from the oppressive and tyrannical British Crown, and established a nation of the NEW WORLD. In other words, before America was established, this land belonged to the British Empire, ruled by a king. OLD WORLD Britain saw humans as, ‘once a subject always a subject.’
We live in complicated times where opinions and movements are not necessarily rooted in historical reality. Fortunately, here in America, we have an incredibly well documented history of who and what this nation really is about.
On this day in 1776, The Declaration of Independence was ratified. If you know your world history from Greece and Rome, through the Europe enlightenment (OLD WORLD), you know the Declaration of Independence is the greatest document ever written, up to this point in history. The Declaration is both an American document, and a document of the NEW WORLD.
Thomas Jefferson (Founding Father, Third President) is credited with writing most of the Declaration. Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment era, and known as “the great fighter against slavery in the emerging Republic (Hansen).”
In this era we all find ourselves in where Critical Race Theory (CRT) is in the headlines, this writer will challenge the lack of logic behind CRT that America was founded as a racist nation. Since the nation is openly having a debate on slavery and racism, and the founding of America, here’s the truth.
America was initially founded by 56 men (signers of the Declaration). Many of America’s founders hated and despised slavery, and the slave-holding aristocracy that this land inherited from the British. Thomas Jefferson wanted to include a 168-word statement that condemned slavery in the Declaration of Independence, but this was rejected, as the politics of that day was not yet ready to take down the slave aristocracy.
So why did it take 89 years after the founding of the United States to abolish slavery, and why couldn’t it have been done on July 4, 1776?
To answer both questions, I argue, you have to be well read, and a realist. The slave-holding aristocracy was deeply calcified in the original thirteen colonies. In the Declaration, the line ‘All men are created equal’ by Thomas Jefferson is the greatest single one liner (non Biblical) in world history. This is not some new statement I am offering up in 2021. This is World History 101.
On July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was first ratified, it was hugely influential in beginning to end slavery in the Northern states. This fact is left out in CRT discussions, but while it took a four year bloody Civil War, and until December 1865 to abolish slavery in the Southern states of America, Northern states began moving to abolish slavery beginning in 1777. You can Google this.
The first American Flag debuted in Pennsylvania in 1777. By 1780, Pennsylvania was moving to abolish slavery. By the early to mid 1800s, most Northern stores had outlawed slavery (see New Hampshire’s unique story). The American Flag is a movement of the Northern States. The South did not move to end slavery. This sets up the Civil War (North vs. South).
If you want to learn more about America, and who and what this nation really is about, I recommend reading three things today:
1. Declaration of Independence. Have your kids, and grandkids read it. It is America’s founding document. For two centuries, this nation was raised on the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, and the enlightened wisdom of the Founding Fathers. America’s founders weren’t perfect, but in context of thousands of years of world history, Americanism was founded as the highest level of human freedoms the world had ever known.
2. Read Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July’. In the mid 1800s, Rochester, NY was the intellectual battlefield for both the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights. On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivers one of America’s most important speeches on here in Rochester. In his speech, Douglass is rightfully angry at the failure of the nation to live up to it’s founding ideals, but deeply respects and honors the American system of Government.
3. I recommend reading John F. Kennedy’s Independence Day speech from July 4, 1946, where Kennedy (highly intelligent and well educated in American tradition) lays out what it means to be a traditional American. Back in the first half of the 20th Century, Americans were raised to deeply believe in American ideals, and Kennedy articulates this. As Kennedy says:
“The characteristics of the American people have ever been:
– A deep sense of religion
– A deep sense of idealism
– A deep sense of patriotism
– A deep sense of individualism.”
Let me close with this. America has a complicated, and glorious past, filled with centuries of justice, and injustice. No argument there. The American Revolution wasn’t fought over slavery like the Civil War was, but for many of the men fighting in the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery couldn’t happen soon enough. In those days, change and events took time to play out. Sometimes very slowly. But July 4, 1776 was a monumental, earth-shaking day that divided the OLD WORLD from the NEW WORLD.
Again. Happy Independence Day. The formal name of today’s holiday is INDEPENDENCE DAY. The date of July 4 is hugely significant.