It was 232 years ago, on July the 2nd actually, that these United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain. While there are no surviving records of the speeches given on that day, someone did put up a YouTube video from HBO’s ” John Adams” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7Y1ougODMo (a DVD set and book I highly recommend) of what John Adams might or may have said. There are written recollections of his speech, but also debate about how accurate this version is.
But going through some of Mr. Adams quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_adams.html among other sites, it’s probably not too far off. But here is a direct quote from the man himself, in one of the many letters he wrote to his wife Abigail, ( from the book “John Adams” by David McCullough) ” The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
Below are portions of the Declaration of Independence (minus the list of grievances), mostly written by Thomas Jefferson. In many ways, this day we celebrate should also be sort of a Thanksgiving Day. These brave men deserve our thanks for doing what few would probably do today. They deserve our thanks for in essence signing their death warrant by their involvement with this document and rebellion ( Benjamin Franklin: ” We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately“). They deserve our thanks for ” doing things not because they are easy, but because they are hard“, to paraphrase another Massachusetts president, John F. Kennedy.
We read and talk of history.They wrote it. They lived it, every day. In our busy, everyday lives, how often do people stop and contemplate what these patriots did to make much of what we take for granted possible? When they vote? On the 4th Of July? When they visit a location of historical importance? Maybe never for some. Or worse, perhaps it’s looked at as a bygone era with quaint customs, documents, and proclamations – only worthy of filing away, rewriting, or reinterpreting. This infliction knows no party affiliation. And apathy is not a suitable excuse.
So, enjoy the document below, and think of how it could apply in today’s world. Also consider it when you hear people whine that ” the political races are too long and/or start too soon“. For some of us, there is no end, there is no beginning. There just is.
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, having 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 shown 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. Such has been the patient suffrance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. 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.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
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. 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.