Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, 2006

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the idea of freedom. On this date in 1776 56 men of note met in Philadelphia to affirm a document written by Thomas Jefferson which declared their independence from an oppressive monarchy.

But our independence was informally declared over 12 years earlier by Patrick Henry in Virginia's House of Burgesses;
Resolved therefore, That the General Assembly of this Colony have the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this Colony, and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever other than the General Assembly aforesaid has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.

Resolved, That His Majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this Colony are not bound to yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatever, designed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them other than the laws or ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid.

Resolved, That any person who shall, by speaking or writing, assert or maintain that any person or persons other than the General Assembly of this Colony, have any right or power to impose or lay any taxation on the people here, shall be deemed an enemy to His Majesty's Colony.
After this seed was planted there were many skirmishes and insurgencies leading up to June of 1776 when Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, presented a formal resolution calling for America to declare its independence from Britain. Congress decided to postpone its decision on this until July. On June 11, Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The Committee members were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was chosen by the committee to prepare the first draft of the declaration, which he completed in only one day. Just seventeen days later, June 28, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was ready and presented to the Congress, with changes made by Adams and Franklin. On July 2, twelve of thirteen colonial delegations (with New York abstaining) voted in support of Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress formally endorsed Mr. Jefferson's Declaration, with copies then being sent to all of the colonies.

While it took only 8 days for the British to exhibit their military strength with the first official shots of the impending war in the form of two frigates sailing up the Hudson River firing their guns, independence was not won until 6 and a half years later with the signing of a treaty in Paris by Benjamin Franklin and Richard Oswald of Britain. In an ironic display of the future,France expressed strong objections to the treaty being signed in Paris without America first consulting them. America's first Statesman, Benjamin Franklin soothed the French ego with a diplomatic statement.

Lessons learned;
  • Democracy and Freedom are seldom, if ever, easily won.
  • A "quagmire" is present in one form or another in every conflict before victory is obtained.
  • The French would find something to complain about even if they were walking down the road on a beautiful summer day with the wind at their back and a roll of bologna under each arm.

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