In the summer of 1776 and the fight with England already a year old the Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. The precursor to what became the “Declaration of Independence” was the resolution by Henry Lee of Virginia and the famous words:
“Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
And the rest they say is history…
Often overlooked in our disagreement with our cousins “across the pond” was the simple request that English Subjects living in the colonies have the same rights as any Englishmen. Hence, the familiar chorus of “no taxation without representation.” Had King George and the Parliament acquiesced, then we all might still be Subjects of the British Crown.
Or maybe not. Americans have an ingrained independent streak. We don’t much care for totalitarianism whether it’s from Kings, or a government big enough to give you everything and thus big enough to take everything. The Founding Fathers worried so much about having a pure democracy that could lead to the “Tyranny of the Majority” they favored a Republic, the Electoral College and checks and balances so that neither people in the population centers not individual politicians, judges or unelected bureaucrats could reign supreme.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” soon followed. While life and liberty are inherent rights, only the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed. That last part often gets some people caught up. They aren’t happy, or more to the point they feel that something isn’t fair. Therefore it’s up to the government to fix it, which I’m ok with; that was the way the system was set up, and in fact, many injustices, social, racial and economic have been overturned.
But that road to happiness is an elusive one and should be maintained with vigilance. I am libertarian in my politics: I don’t much care what you do in the privacy of your home, private life or in the way you make a living, just don’t demand that other taxpayers and I pay for it.
Those great men 241 summers ago gave us something wonderful and unseen in human history: Freedom to be…
I’ll let you finish the sentence.
Happy Fourth of July!
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