Friday, June 21, 2013

 Happy Fourth of July
238 Years and Counting

We will happily celebrate Independence Day aka Fourth of July once again. This special holiday falls on Thursday this year. Millions of Americans will enjoy a mini vacation away from work until Monday, July 8. In the 1700s, Americans fought to gain our independence, and we have fought many times over the 238 years to keep it.

Our nation is at war at the present time that George W. Bush started. If everything goes as planned, the war in Afghanistan will end for the United States at the end of 2014. Hallelujah!

Abraham Lincoln made our independence the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address) of 1863. Since then, it has become a major statement on human rights, its second sentence:

"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."

The Republican members of our present US Congress have only one think in mind. How can this high-paying job help me and my family? They could not be water boys for the great men we refer to as Founding Fathers. This is a little history of how America was founded.

1754 - Lieutenant Colonel George Washington is compelled to surrender “Fort Necessity” to a French task force from Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh). Washington had been dispatched by Virginia’s governor with a mixed force of soldiers of the Virginia Provincial Regiment and Virginia militiamen to remove the French from Duquesne which was located in an area claimed by colonial government. When his advanced was blocked by the French Washington had his troops build a quickly constructed log fort in hopes of holding the French at bay. However, he was soon surrounded and forced to surrender. The French commander granted him the “honors of war” by allowing him to march out with colors flying, retaining one piece of artillery and with his men under arms. This rebuff of the claim by Virginia, and by extension Britain, to this area led directly to the outbreak of war between France and Britain in 1756. Known in Europe as the Seven Year’s War in American it’s more popularly called the “French and Indian War.” The men serving in the Virginia Provincial Regiment were full-time paid soldiers, mostly enlisted from the county militias. They were paid and equipped by the colony and used to garrison small outposts and patrol its western frontier. It was one of the first “professional” military organizations in British North America.

1776 - The Continental Congress approved adoption of the amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson and signed by John Hancock--President of the Continental Congress--and Charles Thomson, Congress secretary, without dissent. However, the New York delegation abstained as directed by the New York Provisional Congress. On July 9, the New York Congress voted to endorse the declaration. On July 19, Congress then resolved to have the "Unanimous Declaration" inscribed on parchment for the signature of the delegates. Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, two went on to become presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

1776 - The Declaration of Independence was signed by president of Congress John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson. John Hancock said, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that." referring to his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Other signers later included Benjamin Rush and Robert Morris. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, eight were born outside North America.
Eight men (George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, Robert Morris, George Read, Roger Sherman, James Wilson, and George Wythe) would go on to sign the Constitution. Only two of them, Roger Sherman and Robert Morris signed the Articles of Confederation and thus were signatories to all three of the basic founding documents.

On July 4th when congress accepted the Declaration the entire contingent from the Colony of New York was awaiting approval to sign. Some members of the Continental Congress had either not been elected yet or were enroute to Philadelphia from their home colonies. So though the Declaration in it's final form had been adopted by Congress on July 4th, the official signing of the final form as displayed did not begin until July 19th, when the New York delegation received formal approval to sign and thus the votes of the majority of delegates from every colony made the vote for the declaration unanimous. After that new signatures to the document were added as members that were away or new members just elected came to Philadelphia. The majority of the signatures on the document were affixed on August 2nd, 1776 and the final one, that of Thomas McKean a representative of Delaware was not added until 1781.

Of the 56 delegates that signed Benjamin Franklin at age 70 was the oldest and Edward Rutledge at age 26 was the youngest.

Religious affiliations of the Signatories.

32 were Episcopalian/Anglican (Note: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson fit into this category but they are listed as "Episcopalian-Deist")

13 were Congregationalists

12 were Presbyterian

2 were Quaker

2 were Unitarian or Universalist (Note: John Adams was one of these)

1 was Catholic.

Thus all the signors of the Declaration were affiliated to one degree of another with a Christian sect. Four of them were or had been full time ministers or preachers and several more were the sons of preachers. (Note: During this time in American history and for decades afterwards ministers and preachers generally made their livings as educators by running their own boarding schools and all educated Gentlemen of the day spent some of their youth in one or several of these schools.)

1777 - John Paul Jones hoists first Stars and Stripes flag on Ranger at Portsmouth, NH.

1785 - The first Fourth of July parade was held in Bristol, Rhode Island. It served as a prayerful walk to celebrate independence from England.

1796 - 1st Independence Day celebration was held.

1800 - The Marine Band played at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, in their first public appearance.