Happy Independence Day, fellow Provoan!
Today, we celebrate America’s 241st birthday, considering that America was “born” when it declared its political independence from Great Britain on 1776 Jul 04, as one of the wonderful highlights of the American Revolution.
The American Revolution commenced circa 1765, as Britain’s Parliament ended over a century of “benign neglect” toward its increasingly-populous-and-prosperous colonies with a new attitude that Americans should start paying their “fair share” of imperial expenses. Americans, as loyal Englishmen, didn’t object to this principle in general, but they did object to taxes being levied directly upon them by a Parliament in which they enjoyed no actual representation, which they viewed (correctly) as a violation of their traditional rights as Englishmen. (Also, it didn’t help that the Stamp Act of 1765 was an incredibly-foolish way to attempt to levy taxes in America.)
And, so, for ten years afterward, through the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, the Townshend Acts, and other egregious acts of Parliament, American colonists gradually exhausted every peaceful means available to them (petitions, diplomacy, boycotts, et cetera) in attempting to negotiate a mutually-acceptable solution that would respect their rights, only to find those rights increasingly disrespected in return. As British citizens on both sides of the Atlantic gradually coalesced into opposing factions, tensions between them increased until it finally erupted into warfare in early 1775 in Massachusetts on Lexington green through “the shot heard ’round the world.”
Even after the American Revolution entered its violent phase, Americans still extended figurative olive branches to Great Britain until 1776, when Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” helped to galvanize American sentiment in favor of immediate political independence—which Congress formally declared on July 4th in a masterful expression of libertarian thought. It took Americans five more years for their ragtag soldiers to miraculously defeat professional British troops, two years to sign a formal peace treaty, and a few more years to realize that their wartime government was inadequate, which motivated the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which devised a lasting new charter to “secure the blessings of liberty” to both themselves and their posterity—ratified in 1788 and implemented in 1789.
America’s new federal Constitution served as the other major highlight of the American Revolution, as America became a stable free Constitutional compound republic. Sadly, we haven’t kept our republic as well as we should have, but have instead allowed it to slowly degenerate over two centuries into a bloated corrupt warfare-welfare state at all levels, including locally. And, alarmingly, our present tyrants aren’t being upheld by the inhabitants of a distant island, but by our own neighbors year after year, and it’s ONLY by helping them to repent that we can ever effectively restore a free society. Thankfully, this won’t require bloody footprints in the snows of Valley Forge, but it might involve a few Saturdays of sore feet.
But that’s probably a task for tomorrow. As for today, while we celebrate America, let’s please reserve at least a little time to contemplate all that’s best in its exemplary political heritage of rightful liberty under Constitutional law. This may involve re-reading its stirring Declaration of Independence or perhaps even watching watching the historical musical film “1776” (1972) as an annual Independence Day tradition. It might also involve visiting Orem’s annual Colonial Heritage Festival and/or “Walk of Freedom.” And, as we ponder all that’s good about America’s political heritage, let’s please also renew our commitment to it, and ponder how to best to live up to it—not just today but every day.
Hurrah for rightful liberty, three cheers for the U. S. Constitution, and long live the republic!
- PBS: “Liberty! – The American Revolution” (1997)
- IMDb: “1776” (1972)
- Library of Congress: Declaration of Independence
- Library of Congress: Constitution of the United States
- Colonial Heritage Festival
- Cries of Freedom