The 4th of July is a celebration of the new beginning of America. In 1776, our Founding Fathers broke free from a dictatorial government, with a radical belief that people should be free to chart their own destiny. They developed a concept that has generated outstanding results for 2 and a quarter centuries. The American experiment has been copied, attacked, ridiculed, hated, but always respected, until the last decade. The Declaration of Independence was signed this date.
Our Founders created this country by putting their own lives in danger of retribution by Britain. The document they sent to England created a war the Founders knew was coming. Breaking free of the British was only the start of events that created the greatest country ever on the face of the earth.
In the summer of 1776, Richard Henry Lee, from Virginia, introduced a resolution to the Second Continental Congress that had three parts, A declaration of independence from England, establishing relations with foreign nations, and a joining of the various colonies into a central, unified unit. The actually drafting of the document was done by Thomas Jefferson, with assistance from Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. Jefferson was most influenced by the writings of John Locke, an English philosopher wo wrote the “Glorious Revolution” in 1688. Locke wrote about natural rights, and that government was a contract between the government and the governed. The government derived its power solely from the consent of the governed.
Jefferson submitted his document to Franklin and Adams on July 2, 1776. Adams and Franklin made revisions to the document that was to be sent to King George III, and final approval was made by the Congress late in the day of July 4, 1776. The actual document that was sent to King George wasn’t signed by the 56 delegates until August 2, 1776. It didn’t arrive in England until sometime in September of that year.
We spend the holiday with fireworks, hot dogs, and a whole list of family traditions. Let us not forget the true meaning of the day. The courage, wisdom, and grit of a collection of farmers who came together to break the bonds and shackles of a dominating government. The experiment known as America has fed the world, settled disputes between nations, ended diseases, created products and inventions that moved mankind forward. We put a man on the moon and returned him safely to earth.
As we gather family and friends together to celebrate the holiday, let’s spend some time remembering what the Founding Fathers endured. They knew that each signature on the Declaration of Independence was a death sentence imposed by the British Crown. They took the first steps to creating the American experiment. Without their actions, we would still be colonies of England, with all our resources and energies being exploited for their benefit. These men changed the world, and changed it for the better. For 238 years America has led the way. God willing, we will lead the world for another 238.