Tuesday, June 28, 2016

And It's Almost Independence Day

Reminds me of the state of the USA right now - wrecked! 
It's nearly time for one of our most enjoyed national holidays - The 4th of July - fireworks, music, family and friends, cook-outs, games, FUN! Really?? After the year(s) we've had here in this grand ol' country (young, really, not old, as countries go)?

I know what you Americans are thinking - hey! what's that got to do with the 4th of July? We're celebrating our independence and rightly so!

Founding Fathers were not radical new thinkers -- The Declaration of Independence was nothing new. Even Thomas Jefferson said it was"not about new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before, but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject."

{Oh, and speaking of Thomas Jefferson The DNA test actually proves that a male from the Jefferson family fathered Sally Hemings' children --that's a number of possibilities.} 

The pledge we now say was written over a century later than the Declaration of Independence was written and our country became the U.S. of A. Our Founders took their states rights very seriously and considered the U.S. Constitution to be a compact amongst the sovereign states so that any state could secede if it felt the federal government had become oppressive. So, if not with a pledge, how would our Founding Fathers begin meetings and celebrations? The answer: most likely with a prayer. In fact, the very first resolution brought before the First Continental Congress, and immediately passed, was the declaration that they would open every meeting with a prayer. (1)
Latest version of the Stars and Stripes - but how important is a flag, really?

The soldiers of the American Revolution fought under the American flag, right? Wrong! In fact, our Founders deemed a flag to be irrelevant. A bill introduced in 1794 to add two stars to the flag was considered too trivial to be given any attention. The matter was "a trifling business which ought not to engross the attention of the House, when it was their duty to discuss matters of infinitely greater importance" as stated by one member.  The Continental Army did still fight under flags, but these flags were all different depending on the regiment.  (1)


Now, we know that the British American colonies were economically well-off in the 1760s and did not, for the most part, feel especially oppressed by British rule. 
Well, first, go back to the War immediately preceding this - the French and Indian War. This conflict had been fought by British and Colonials alike, but paid for, primarily, by the British Crown. War, as we all should know, is costly, no matter who wins. The English were paying hefty taxes at home, the colonists, not so much. This caused a bit of "bad blood" back in England that began to fester and grow. English taxes were levied and collected on goods that came into colonial harbors, most especially, Boston. Many times, these taxes went uncollected, under-reported, pocketed by the unscrupulous, and thwarted by means more and more known to English taxpayers and their Parliament. 
With sentiment growing in favor of the American colonies paying their "fair share" to help pay for the war they had just helped to win, the call for increased enforcement of tax laws became louder and more insistent. With the Quebec and Ohio Valley land acquisition following the Treaty of Paris, came the Proclamation of 1763 by the King of England, forbidding colonial settlement into those areas west of the Appalachians and east of the Mississippi River. This did not sit well with those who had fought in that war, nor was it settling to those who had already made plans to head in that direction. 
This, and new Acts and Writs from the Crown, caused grumblings in Colonial America in the mid-1760s and beyond. Taxes on paper goods, stamps, then import taxes on glass, lead and tea, not only served to be burdensome but the collected revenues were to be used to pay Royal Governors' salaries. What this meant was that the legislative body who formerly paid the Governor's salary would not hold that salary hostage when disagreements ensued - the legislative body being chaired by colonial citizens. Colonials had Charles Townsend to thank for new and insinuating ways of making their lives much more oppressed, with the appointing of customs officials and a non-juried court to try cases. 
Congresses convened, joining together, somewhat, in their common outrage and eventually repeals were gained. Short-lived reconciliations were the norm, however, and soon, the Intolerable Acts were issued and imposed. 
British occupation expanded in colonial New England and farther south. Upkeep of these troops fell to the locals, who, understandably, were not pleased with that scenario. 
Congresses reconvened to discuss. 
In the meanwhile, groups formed (Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, who did so much to support boycotts on imported goods and use whatever influence they could to rid their communities of opposition to their stance), literature was circulated (Thomas Paine "Common Sense" sold 120K copies from Jan 1776 to April of that year) to give reason to the cause of independence from British rule, and representation coalesced into a trusted and trustworthy body of men. 
All this had to come together before a revolt could be conceived and carried out. As it stood, only 1/3 of the people agreed with open rebellion and fighting, another third was undecided. Even so, within a few months, men took up arms and formed militia groups to fight the British on their turf and in their own way. Much blood was shed before the colonists even began to have hope of success, but that moment did come. 

Major Battles of the American Revolution

DateBattleAmerican Commander(s)British Commander
April 19, 1775Lexington-ConcordCapt. John ParkerLt. Col. Francis Smith
June 17, 1775Bunker (Breed's) HillGen. Israel Putnam and Col. William PrescottGen. William Howe
Dec. 31, 1775QuebecGen. Richard MontgomeryGen. Guy Carleton
Aug. 27, 1776Long IslandGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Oct. 26, 1776White PlainsGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Dec. 26, 1776TrentonGen. George WashingtonCol. Johann Rall
Sept. 11, 1777BrandywineGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Sept. 19, 1777Saratoga (Freeman's Farm)Gen. Horatio GatesGen. John Burgoyne
Oct. 4, 1777GermantownGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
Oct. 7, 1777SaratogaGen. Horatio GatesGen. John Burgoyne
Dec. 5, 1777White MarshGen. George WashingtonGen. William Howe
June 8, 1778Monmouth CourthouseGen. George WashingtonGen. Henry Clinton
Sept. 16, 1779Siege of SavannahGen. Benjamin LincolnGen. Augustine Prevost
March 29, 1780Siege of CharlestownGen. Benjamin LincolnGen. Henry Clinton
Sept. 28, 1781Siege of YorktownGen. George Washington and Gen. RochambeauGen. Charles Cornwallis
It wasn't until after the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 that the fight for independence turned in the Colonist's favor. Following that victory, the French became allies, bringing reinforcements and ammunition stores. 

After the war, seeds of change began to grow and blossom. Anti-slavery groups, which formed at the onset, gained membership and influence; women's rights groups, empowered by the inexhaustible efforts of the female population in support of the rebellion, came into their own; religious reform ensued, and by 1833, the state-supported church idea was virtually abandoned, led, in great part, by the displacement of the Anglican (King of Britian- headed) church. Thomas Jefferson himself was instrumental in Virginia's own declaration of religious independence.


Lessons to be learned and celebrated: 

A diverse group of people can be united when the situation becomes disturbingly dire enough.

Communication is key! Publications and opinion must surface and be seen that speaks to the sentiment of the population. 

Men must rise to leadership positions and put their differences aside to unite under a common banner both to win the trust of the people they lead and to conjure success.

It is more important to fight for what you believe than to fight against what you don't believe in, such passion often wins the day. 


(1) http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/07/04/10-things-might-not-know-about-our-independence.htm

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