My family has been celebrating the 4th of July with a reading of the Declaration of Independence for a long time now. I am descended from many families; all of them include individuals who participated in the American Revolution. My application to the Daughters of the American Revolution used Benjamin Pillsbury, who served at Valley Forge.
The stories you hear about Valley Forge were designed to keep people away from the training camp being run that winter. General Washington was getting some professional pointers from Baron Friedrich von Steuben This is reported as training for the soldiers but it was Washington himself who most needed it. The General's record up to that point had not been stellar. Training in strategy and tactics at the level practiced for war at that point in time was not available in the Colonies. Personally, I think it showed a lot of courage on Washington's part to admit he needed help and then make sure he got the best available.
After the Winter of Valley Forge General George Washington improved dramatically as a commanding officer.
It would be a long war anyway.
Lt. Pillsbury was a homesteader in New Hampshire when it was still the frontier. The town he helped found, Sandown, NH, contains the oldest still in use Meeting House in New England. Benjamin helped build it.
In the generations following the Revolution celebrating the 4th included food and fireworks, but it went a lot deeper. That is where we need to go again.
Then, some member of the community, and communities were small then, would stand where everyone could see and hear him and begin, “
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.”
The Founders knew that what people in other parts of the world thought of them mattered. They intended to become part of that larger community as a people, using government in a revolutionary way. Government would not be master, but their agent, the contractor who carried out some work for them, with proper oversight, naturally.
“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.”
This is the Bedrock of American Thought. All people are born possessed of God-given, inherent rights. Government has no control over the actions of individuals as they peacefully carry out their lives.
“ — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”
Government is whatever the People DECIDE it will be. End of story.
“ — 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.”
And if we need to have another Revolution or use any other means to bring government into alignment, that is our absolute, God-given right so be it.
“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.”
Just because we like the style of architecture does not mean we can't do a really drastic retrofit and evict the management. We will put up with a lot but there is a limit to our patience. The power is ours, always in the people.
“ — Such has been the patient sufferance 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.”
That preamble, the Mission Statement and Principles of Operation for what the Founders were about to carry out, ran to 356 words. Terse and to the point. Those assembled laid it out for all of posterity, and the Bill of Particulars was 655 words. I wonder how many Bills that pass unread through Congress are that short? But the Founders were not benefiting from lavish retirement plans; they are not getting junkets from Corporations.
After outlining their reasons for Independence the Founders went on to document their many attempts to achieve redress without this most drastic step. That section is just 326 words.
The Founders put it all on the line; they acted transparently, declaring for the entire world their intentions, their principles, and their reasons for the action that they took that day. They declared for a freedom many of them would not live to enjoy. The Declaration closes with, “— 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.”
The reason that the Declaration of Independence should be reread at least once a year is to remind us and our posterity that what was necessary once could become so again. The generations coming after the Revolution grew up hearing the stories and understanding the costs exacted from people they knew as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors. They saw bullet holes and they decorated the graves of those who fell in battle and were killed by British soldiers. For those who lived through it the Revolution was very personal.
Myself, I have been compiling my own Bill of Particulars for some time now. The list grows every day. Th fact is, we would have changed the government before now if not for the many frauds used by the corrupt to hold onto power. Stolen elections, falsified disasters, phony wars, lies, and larceny, they have done it all.
This 4th of July take some time. Gather together. Read the Declaration in its entirety. Consider your own Bill of Particulars. If you send it to me I will begin a compilation that may well be needed in the not too distant future. firstname.lastname@example.org. Lt. Benjamin would understand, he participated in the Exeter Revolt, the first insurrection after the Revolution.
America is a vision as yet unrealized. That vision for America is one that speaks the power of individuals, a power that comes from our inherent, God-given rights. It is a vision that rejects the use of government to meddle in our lives, given to us by God, never by government.
This 4th of July read the Declaration. What the People did once can be done again, and we will.