An Independence Day article cross-posted from the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center. Worth a read the day after.
These words were uttered by John Adams, as a toast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Iindependence. Those words were also among his last as both he and Thomas Jefferson died that very day, that very year, on July 4, 1826.
It is not uncommon to hear of someone dying after getting an emotional closure they had long been seeking. In hospice care, when someone lingers long and is suffering, the caregivers are exhorted to plumb the depths and determine what closure they need so they can pass on peacefully. Sometimes it will be one last hug or kiss from a loved one they haven’t seen in a while, other times it will be permission to go from those they are leaving behind, and sometimes it is simply the certainty that their life mattered, that they will be remembered, that their legacy and heritage will live on.
I suspect that it was more than just a coincidence that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, 50 years after the first Independence Day. The passion of their life was spent securing liberty for their families, their nation, and those who would follow. Benjamin Franklin, in answering a question about what type of government we were to have, said “a republic if you can keep it”. Clearly the founders were concerned that their sacrifices may be for nothing, that the effort to secure liberty may ultimately fail. Perhaps celebrating the 50th anniversary of their independence was a sort of closure for them, an important symbolic milestone that the republic would survive and endure.
In the fifty years that followed the first Independence Day, many signers paid a high price for their adherence to the Declaration.
Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781. Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown. Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was destroyed and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid. (Source)
Most of the signers continued to serve as leaders and safe-guarders of liberty.
Fifteen of the signers participated in their states’ constitutional conventions, and six – Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, James Wilson, and George Reed – signed the United States Constitution. After the Revolution, 13 of the signers went on to become governors, and 18 served in their state legislatures. Sixteen became state and federal judges. Seven became members of the United States House of Representatives, and six became United States Senators. James Wilson and Samuel Chase became Justices of the United States Supreme Court. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Elbridge Gerry each became Vice President, and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson became President. The sons of signers John Adams and Benjamin Harrison also became Presidents. Five signers played major roles in the establishment of colleges and universities: Benjamin Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania; Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rush and Dickinson College; Lewis Morris and New York University; and George Walton and the University of Georgia.
So today we celebrate 235 years of Independence and the question remains salient: Will the republic survive?
Today America is a tattered shadow of her former self when viewed in the light of adherence to the principles and laws which constitute our republic. Our current supreme court is heavily divided on whether gun rights extend to all citizens even though the 2nd amendment clearly secured this right for all time. Our President thinks we need a new Declaration of Independence and worked to gain approval for a Supreme Court justice whose loyalty is to the president and his agenda and not to the Constitution.
Will we have “Independence Forever” as Adams and Jefferson wanted?
The answer to that question ultimately will depend on where we, today, place our loyalty and our allegiance. It depends on if we will take our place as leaders and safeguarders of liberty. Are we really loyal Americans if we fly the flag, say the pledge, barbecue some burgers, and support the president’s agenda? Most Americans today don’t know whether their loyalty should be to their current government or with the signers, founders, and US constitution. Our media, state run schools, and our current government officials of course like it this way.
If our citizenry understood inalienable rights, they would not consent to being forced to buy health insurance by their government. If our citizenry understood the proper sphere of government, they would not subsidize unconstitutional government agencies (government workers are paid on average twice what a private sector worker is paid) and where the agencies consistently fail to achieve their stated objectives (safe energy independence, environmental protection, financial regulation and oversight, etc.).
If our citizenry understood that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist, if they knew that the UN intends to dissolve nation states in favor of a centrally controlled one world government, if they knew that the Federal Reserve was a for-profit international banking operation that has devalued the US dollar by 95% since its inception, and if they knew that Obama is truly the first Post-American president, then this Fourth of July would be a prayerful, somber, soul-searching, constitution reading holiday.
Is our current situation what Adams, Jefferson, and the other signers lived and died to secure?
Are we to submit to policies which are clearly counter to our interests and the principles of limited government simply because those who are passing these policies hold office? No. The precepts which underpin our constitution, as outlined in the declaration of independence, make it clear that we have a right, even a duty, to throw off the chains of tyranny and to exercise our God given rights to freedom and self-determination.
“Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.” – Ronald Reagan
“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” – John Adams
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson