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Independence Day — Why Now?
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Independence Day

John Trumbull's Signing the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –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 effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

Independence wasn’t really achieved until September 3, 1783 when Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, and, to be factual, our current government only dates from March 4, 1789 when the first government under our Constitution was installed.

Liberty was not extended to all men until December 6, 1865 with ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, nor were women given the one of the most important rights of men until August 26, 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment recognizing their votes.

In truth, until July 2, 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, there was no mechanism to force government to recognize the rights of all American citizens.

Since the Fall of 2001 we have watched the govenment of the United States systematically discard the rights the signers of this Declaration risked their lives for, because the current leaders of the government are cowards who prefer slavery to avoid risk.


1 hipparchia { 07.04.08 at 2:32 am }

happy july 4th, from our chattery to yours!

2 Badtux { 07.04.08 at 3:10 am }

I started reading this document but then realized that it surely must be some terrorist document put together by people who hate America and our way of life. For example, there was all the whining about the things that our brave leader George is doing to protect us, there was the notion that the people had rights that were granted to them by their Creator rather than by their government, and then there was the clear threat to overthrow our God-ordained government and replace it with… what? Obviously some sort of jihadi law, I’m sure.

But given that our brave STASI agents now have clearance to spy on people like these, I’m sure we’ll get no trouble out of them. Gotta go, the national anthem is playing….

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.


— Badtux the Alternate History Penguin

3 Story of the Day { 07.04.08 at 9:46 am }

[…] Why Now? – Independence Day […]

4 Steve Bates { 07.04.08 at 11:47 am }

May you have a splendid Fourth, Bryan. Stay away from cruel boys who stick firecrackers in frogs.

5 Bryan { 07.04.08 at 1:12 pm }

Same to your crew from mine, Hipparchia. Tell them to cool it with the fireworks inside.

Only 199 days to go, Steve.

I’ve suspected I was living in an alternate history since the non-election of 2000, Badtux. This must be Newt’s version of the future.

6 cookie jill { 07.04.08 at 6:35 pm }

Forget “Independence” Day…I’m celebrating DEPENDENCE Day. Our Community is so very dependent on the hard work and sacrifice of the Firefighters these days.

Instead of going to hear the concert in the Sunken Gardens or watch the fireworks off the pier, I’m taking a couple of bags of groceries to the Firefighters Command Center for the crews.

7 John B. { 07.04.08 at 6:48 pm }

Actually, Bryan, the Continental Congress declared independence on July 2. But you know that.

The final draft of the Declaration was referred to the Committee of Five, only two of whom — John Hancock and Charles Thompson — stayed behind in Philadelphia to neatly re-write it in final form. Almost everyone else had left Philadelphia for home.

The final, corrected copy, was transmitted to the printer late the evening of July 3. The first 200 printed copies rolled off the press on July 4. They weren’t read aloud to the public on the steps of Independence Hall until July 8.

John Adams (and others) considered July 2 to be our Independence Day. The quickly-formed popular misconception that July 4 was the day Independence was declared just happens to be the day the Declaration rolled off the press.

I consider this mistake to have been an omen. Forever after, the American media has been distorting the facts and screwing up reality.

8 Steve Bates { 07.04.08 at 7:31 pm }

Or, John B., it could be simply that humans need, create and cling to tidy origin stories. Origins, especially creations more or less from whole cloth of things generally acknowledged to be good (or at least personally dear), are a messy business. It is human nature to craft canonical stories about those origins that fit better with the need for tidy received wisdom than with what actually happened. No doubt the media is and has been responsible for “distorting the facts and screwing up reality” many times in our history… but I do not think of this occasion as one of those times.

By the way, I’ve read somewhere (Bryan?) that the Trumbull painting depicts no single real event, but a combination of events in the days described. Does the painting, famous as it is, screw up reality? And I’ve seen the original Bill of Rights in the National Archives; they’re numbered from 1 to 12, not as we conventionally number them. (See the large image on Wikipedia. “Article the third” is the one we conventionally call the First Amendment.) Does our renumbering falsify the rights?

Eyes on the prize, everyone. I hope you have/had a great Fourth… or whatever date it should have been. 🙂

9 Bryan { 07.04.08 at 8:24 pm }

After the the second it was a very long time before all of those guys were in the same town, much again at the same place.

They’ve finally located Washington’s first home, and the world will probably discover that there were no cherry trees on the property. The trees in DC are a gift from Japan, not native trees.

Everyone needs a nice creation myth, and no one wants to know which of the Founding Fathers were total SOBs, or how much many hated others.

On the other hand, when you have a group of well off white guys get together and are actually willing to risk life and limb because of government action, things were probably fairly bad.

What they did would be the equivalent of the Congressional Republicans calling for the impeachment of the Shrubbery, and willing to resort to force to get it done.

10 John B. { 07.05.08 at 10:22 am }


You wrote: <<No doubt the media is and has been responsible for “distorting the facts and screwing up reality” many times in our history… but I do not think of this occasion as one of those times. >>

I was joking, sort of. Rolling off an 18th century press is a little different from shameless Fox News cablecasts, but the comparison tickled my fancy.

A good view of the Trumbull painting is here. Bryan is right, not everyone shown was actually there, as Wikipedia correctly notes. Hardly any of them, in fact.

11 Bryan { 07.05.08 at 12:28 pm }

Actually, the 18th, 19th, and well into the 20th century the press was openly partisan and made no attempt to hide the fact. The names of many papers openly declared their party affiliation. That is an honest statement of bias that a reader can deal with as they read what is printed.

It is only after World War II that the media attempted to claim unbiased reporting, and it has been downhill ever since. The media conglomeration has only made matters worse as the bias is national rather than local or regional.