Thursday December 5, 2013
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In the middle of next week there will be a holiday. The 4th of July.
Some will ask how come it's not a three day weekend? Many, sadly said, will have no idea why it's a Holiday at all.
I would like to take the next few days to discuss the piece of paper that set us free just a little piece at a time and get some discussion about it. Are you game?
America was not always free. Were we slaves? In a sense we were. Our early settlers were runaways. When this land was discovered around 1492, it was a hostile place. By todays standards, a third world country. By todays standards however, you would have to say the whole known world was a third world country. I digress.
Adventurous individuals, mostly men, found a land for the taming. Some succeeded some failed. The word got out that the oppressed could find refuge in the "new world" and in the early 1600s, organized settlements attempted to colonize this savage land. 1607, Jamestown Virginia.
Don't think America began here. England ruled. With a strong hand. Those who survived and "were allowed" to prosper, were taxed heavily by the 'Elite' The King, The exhaulted ruler of divine providence whose authority came from God. In 1607, you didn't fight the King and surely would not go against God.
Struggles to exist, help from across the Atlantic, more people (that's another topic that should probably pop up later on this post) helped this wilderness be tamed, to a point. It took, However, about 150 years of immigrants fleeing injustice and slavery to find that here...was a place to make a stand. To be free. The feeling spread like wildfire in the later half of 1700s and brave men and women said...."now is the time."
Okay, we'll continue. It was 1767 and the "colonies" were prospering, The King wanted his share. A Lord named Robert Townshend proposed that a tax be placed on the efforts of the colonists in order to pay for the Governors and rulers from England and to keep the colonists in line. The tax was on every consumable good imaginable but the hardest tax was on tea.
The colonists resisted, then on March 5. 1770 the Boston Massacre happened.
"March 5, 1770 - The Boston Massacre occurs when British troops fire into a Boston mob, who were demonstrating against British troops at the customs commission. The first to fall was Crispus Attucks, a fugitive slave and merchant seaman near the front, followed by four other men amongst the forty-fifty patriots."
History says this may have been the first straw in the battle for American freedom but it was not the last. It's still six more years until the Declaration is signed.
More disturbing to the Crown and England is that for the next six years, progress continued without a central form of government. Roads were created over 200 in New Hamshire alone. The 13 colonies have become 13 seperate States who have formed to rule themselves, provide commerce and a monetary system. Made rules to live by based on reason and the ten commandments. And these thirteen believe that it's time to come together and unite.
Then on December 16, 1773 after the English parliament decided that the English Tea Company should have exclusive rights to sell tea in the colonies, Resistance happened. Josiah Quincy and Samuel Adams conviced a number of their counterparts to say no more and they boarded three ships in the nearby harbor and tossed 342 chests of tea overboard. Parliement reacted, closed the Port of Boston and further engraged the freedom seeking people of America. We are just getting started.
Are you starting to see a resemblance to current day issues? I hope so. Our modern Tea Party is really not attached to the tea party we just described above. It began when individuals across this land began to feel they were " Taxed Enough Already." Kind of like the story above huh. Keep watching. The TEA party today may have to step up like it's never been asked of Americans since 1773, but we'll talk more about that in a bit.
In 1775, the people are ready. They've had enough, The Press is now playing a part in the "rebellion" according to the King and 37 papers are being published in the colonies supporting rebellion. We hadn't quite gotten to the point of an action against the crown but on March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry rose to address the Virginia House of Burgesses and declare his famous epitaph,
Give me Liberty, or Give Me Death. The cry didn't start the war for indepence but it did carry favor with the crowd who responded by saying, to Arms, to Arms. Still there was no committment to take on the biggest baddest Army the World had ever known, The british dragoons.
You live in a small neighborhood where you and friends are outnumbered by bigger and tougher neighbors. They say you have to pay them tribute. Are you ready to pay. You know they have a gang that has guns. You know that they have already taken away your fellow neighbors. Do you resist?
You say yes and here it comes.....April 18, 1775 - Two lanterns were hung from the steeple of Old North Church by sexton Robert Newman as Paul Revere and William Dawes rode through the night, warning patriots that the British were coming to Concord to destroy arms. The next day, during armed resistence, 8 Minutemen were killed at Lexington and the British took 273 casualties on their return from Concord, starting the American Revolution. This was a culmination of the months prior, as colonists began to gather arms and powder if fighting the British became necessary. However, even after the patriot’s brave battle at Lexington and Concord, the majority of Americans were undecided whether war or reconciliation was the more prudent course of action.
Years ago I sat in an audience and heard Zig Ziglar talk about salesmanship, he talked about George Washingtons job of selling. Zig said can you imagine, George had to go out to the poor farmers and merchants of America at the time and say. I want you to come with me and fight the biggest baddest army the world has ever know. You have to bring your own weapons, and clothing and food. I can't pay you, but the end result , if you win, is freedom to be whoever you want to be forever.
Zig also pointed out that Washington found resistance, one third wanted to be independent, one third wanted to stay with the King, and one third wanted to go with whichever side won.
Purely by chance I have recently been reading the details of the English Parliament--literally day to day--from 1867 to 1967. I'm right around 1912 at this moment. In that reading I have discovered the real reasons for our revolution. Our history books are wrong. They fumble about looking for reasons why we took up arms, and they fail to find the real ones. Perhaps that is because they are written by people who were not there at the time, people who just do not understand what "liberty" means to people who do not have it.
Nor did I understand it until I read of a land which does not have it.
And yes, I am speaking of England.
I lived out the days between childhood and manhood in a part of this nation which was one of the Thirteen Original States, and all during that period of growth I could sense the emotion our forefathers felt. It was there in the air. Every day for six years I walked by the schoolhouse where Nathan Hale taught before he went off to war, and every day I read the words he spoke.
"I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
And yet, when I took American History in high school it was the dull, gray story of people worrying about taxes, and stamps, and annoyed that soldiers were quartered in private homes. Nowhere in that course, or any I had had before it, was the fire I felt in my bones as I walked by places where George Washington met to plan his battles. Nowhere in it did I feel the fire that burned in the hearts of those who died in the useless, bound-to-be-lost battle at Fort Griswold across the river. Nowhere did I find a true understanding of why we fought, or what we fought for. Nowhere did I find the reasons why the people of New London so hated Benedict Arnold, one of their own, born just a few miles up the river from where I daily passed that little sign telling of Nathan Hale, or the plaque that told of how a Minute Man's wife grabbed up her husband's musket and almost ended the life of that traitor of all traitors as he watched New london burn.
I felt the passion of our revolution, but I did not truly understood its cause.
Now I do. And I learned it in the most unlikely of all ways. By studying the "enemy," the English Parliament, which is still now almost as it was then.
It would shock any American beyond belief to read what I am reading. If any American were to pick up these books and see what the English Parliament still discusses on a daily basis, and the laws they still pass, he or she would be stunned. It is almost impossible to believe, like looking at another planet.
They very calmly sit down, write, discuss, and pass laws which would cause the people of this nation to load their weapons and pour out into the streets. Here are some of the subjects: Religion. Yes religion! What can and can't be said, in private or in public. Putting the poor in prison for not being able to pay debts, even including fines. The fact that the rich do things which the poor go to jail for. The rights of the Lords, as opposed to the rights of all others. At what times, and on what days, any kind or type of business may open, or must shut it doors. How much you have to earn to be able to vote. Why it is important to maintain customs over liberty. And other things you would hardly believe. I could go on forever. Some of their laws and customs have changed since the days I am reading about, but the point is that they could just as well change back. There is nothing stopping that from happening.
Unless you read what the English Parliament discusses very calmly every day, with nothing--nothing whatsoever--to limit what they can, or can't, make laws about--you will never understand why we had our revolution.
We didn't care a damn about taxes, profits, tea, or anything else--at least not in the way our history books portray it. Those were incidents, not causes. What we we fought and died for, are the words engraved upon the conscience of the world by the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the first document ever written by a people longing to live without interference from their "betters," hungering to choose the path they will tread through life, desperate to be free, and ready to die if necessary in an attempt to exercise the rights with which they were born.
The most glorious words that can be spoken about this nation of ours, the most wonderful words, the most incredible words, words which were once impossible to say anywhere on this planet are these:
We Are A Nation Of Laws!
That's what we fought and died for: The right to sit down together, decide what is right and what is wrong, put it in writing, and live by it.
Give me liberty or give me death?
Thank you Tom, you went where I wanted to go with this. My intent was to reuse the words of the men who put pen to paper in 1776. Every American should recognize the title from this string, the opening line of the Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. We have since named it the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans also should recognize the opening line of the second paragraph...We hold these truths to be self evident...But how many have continued reading into the body of the declaration where they state their case of grievance against the King of England and the Parliament.
"...The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them......"
And it continues:
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people......"
I encourage you to go and read it all. I did again yesterday and parts of it sent chills up my spine for it's similarity to todays headlines.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance...
On Wednesday many will celebrate what they call Independence Day and many will not know that on that day in 1776 we were still in bondage and not free of anything. It would take several more years to earn our Independence. Perhaps we celebrate July 4, 1776 because of what's at the bottom of that paper which we now hold most dear. Right above the signatures is the last paragraph,
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, 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 that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do........(this is the part most important to me)...— And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Some say the declaration was also a death warrant and I'm told a majority of those signers died or lost all in the struggle. Would you have signed......I would have. Have a happy and thoughtful 4th.
"Would you have signed?"
I doubt there is a person who posts on this forum who would not have been bursting with pride at the opportunity.
And you're right about something else, Dan. There is no substitute for the original words of our forefathers. History books are filled with pap, watered down versions of the truth, names, dates, and places.
Would you like to know what the American Revolution was really like?
Twenty-three years ago in 1989 an American historian went back to original sources and wrote a book which you will not be able to put down once you start it. In it, you will come in contact with the men who wrested our future from the hands of elitist tyrants. Not the pale versions you have seen before, but real men, sounding, acting, and looking like real men instead of like pasteboard cutouts. A Samuel Adams who comes off as one someone a king could really hate. A Ben Franklin who saw through phonies so fast they'd have had his head on a platter if they could have. A George Washington who loved dancing and women.
Patriots: Men Who Started the American Revolution by A. J. Langguth
If you are interested you can buy a used copy on Amazon for as little as $2.35. It will be the cheapest education you've ever bought.
Here's a link:
Thanks Tom, that's my kind of book, I'll buy a new one so the author gets credit.
If you didn't read in the paper or heard on the radio about the flag raising and reading of the Declaration of Independence at Green Valley park on Wednesday morning, then how do you stay informed? My friend, Lew Levinson is doing what T.E.A. Party activists and Heritage Foundation activists and Conservative voters all across the land are doing on Wednesday morning. ........
Reading to the audience, the Complete Declaration of Independence as written by our founding
Some say Shakespere is hard to understand today, don't think so. Some say the King James version of the Bible is hard to understand today, I don't think so. There are some who say our constitution is old and hard to understand and written in a dead language but I disagree. If you don't understand what our forefathers were saying 236 years ago.......than you should sue your teachers. The message is in plain English and it references their belief system, their moral code, their humble station in the eyes of God and their undying belief....That this Country was man's last best hope for true freedom and prosperity both then and into the future.
They gave us all we could have ever hoped for.....have we let them down?
I'm so sure that you'll love that book that I'll even refund your money if you don't. It's a rare treat. Totally authentic.
And you're right about the language of the Declaration and the Constitution. Only very rarely is there something that can be misunderstood. One example is "the pursuit of happiness." In today's parlance we would read that as "chasing after happiness." They meant it to mean following a chosen path, as in the "pursuit of medicine," meaning what you do with your life, not what you chase after.
The King James version, though, gets a little ambiguous here and there. I have a study Bible which helps, but not always. I've been thinking about buying a modern language Bible. It would lose the beauty and power of the King James version but would be easier to understand in places.
As for Shakespeare, he is easy enough to understand when spoken and seen in context, but there are a few words in there we no longer use. They don't matter much, though because it is the emotion of the words that count in a play. Kids should not be made to read Shakespeare; they should watch his plays. The only reason to read a play is to learn to write one. Ever heard Lawrence Olivier in Henry V when he is talking to his troops before the battle? "We few, we band of brothers...."
It used to be available on LP. Probably still is available on something or other.
Our children have to learn to write. They need to learn how to spell, punctuate, and form correct sentences. Then they have to be taught how to use those skills to make powerful messages. Learning that, in my opinion, comes from hearing and watching as you pointed out.
The readers and follows of these strings have a unique talent of understanding the written word. The spoken word, well written or better yet heart felt, is even more powerful.
Can you even begin to imagine the voice of the Christ as he stood on the mount and spoke to the multitudes. The sermon on the Mount was written down and recorded for posterity but what of the inflection, the passion, the tone of delivery that couldn't be delivered in words alone. They did a pretty good job ( it was inspired) but really....Wouldn't you have loved to have been in Gettysburg when Lincoln made his address. Heard his words his passion his heart. We see much of it in the words, but to hear...
We must teach readers to hear in their mind. Something only a teacher, a really good teacher, can do.
I've often thought about that, Dan.
To actually hear those voices as the words were spoken....
A question just popped into my head. I wonder?
I suppose everybody does it, but it never occurred to me to ask.
Can you hear the voices of men and women of our time as you think of them?
I can hear FDR saying, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
I can hear JFK saying, "Ask not what America can do for you; ask what you can can do for America."
I can hear Truman's voice, Barry Goldwater's voice, even the voices of well known actors and actresses. But some people's voices...? Nothing. I can imagine, but not actually hear Nixon's voice. The same with Henry Wallace.
Mom's voice, those of my three older brothers, Pop Johnson, my stepfather, all clear and strong.
Is is that way with you?
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