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As an amateur student of history, and in
particular American History, I have always been amazed at the manner in which
the United States of America came into existence. How were these colonialists
of the seventeen hundred’s in what was known then simply as America, able to
come together from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and form a more
In the Preamble to the Constitution of the United
States, we read these enduring words:We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (British
spelling of defense), promote the general
Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I should like to point out in this Preamble is the focus on the wording. The
Founding Fathers purposefully wrote a Constitution that was for all Americans
and was intended to last into perpetuity. That means it’s as relevant today in
providing America with a basis for rights and liberties as it was the day it
was drafted in 1787.
the comforts of a prosperous nation such as we have become, fogs the image of
embattled patriots encamped against the most powerful monarch in the world at
that time (King George III), and the most powerful army, the British Redcoats.
Yet fully two-thirds of the colonists were preparing themselves to resist
Britain, even if it meant war.
Constitution was written for the American colonists, but it was also written to
King George as a challenge that these colonists who had been mistreated and
denigrated as second class British subjects, had had enough. That is not to say
that all Americans were wanting to push back against the oppression of the
British crown. Some were willing to grovel and fawn before the power of the
rule of Britain.
Jefferson wrote in his “Summary View of the Rights of British America” in 1774,
these words of challenge that he knew full-well would be read by the king. “Let those flatter, who fear. It is not an
American art form.” Americans do not, and will not, ever bow to a head of
state, including our own. (Except for Obama, who bowed to a Saudi king. Editor) In fact, George Washington would not hear of being
made King of America, as some petitioned. And he had the foresight to recommend
for the presidency no more than two four-year terms.
“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 delegates from the
original thirteen states set in motion the eventual undoing of slavery with
these words, “All men are created equal.” To them, the truths that were
self-evident, were truths ordained by God so that the entirety of the human
race would recognize that all humans are of one family. To oppose such an
understanding, or to treat others as lesser beings, is in direct contradiction
to what God had declared in Holy Scripture.
“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.” It’s at this point, these final words of the
Declaration of Independence, that the signers on this hallowed document laid
everything on the line. The year was 1776, and the Revolutionary War was
already underway. In fact, the outcome was in serious doubt.
the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, all knew what they were
getting into. If the colonists should lose the war, then they would be hung,
shot, or otherwise dispatched from this earth. The best they could hope for was
to be captured, returned to England for a trial and then executed in some
hideous manner. The members of the 2nd Continental Congress had been
arguing over many issues. Once the Declaration was finished and all agreed to
sign it, a comment was made to Benjamin Franklin that they must all hang
together in a show of unity. Is said that Franklin responded with this quip: “We must all hang together, or most
assuredly, we will all hang separately.”
these men were of varying backgrounds, educational levels, even places of birth
(some born in Britain, while most were born in America), and though they did
not agree on all issues (slavery, for instance), they also realized if they had
any chance to be free from the oppressive rule of Britain they must, at all
cost, come together in unity. And they did!
signers of the Declaration were not revealed until January of 1777, following
General George Washington’s Christmas victory in the Battle of Trenton (NJ),
and in early January, the Battle of Princeton (also NJ).
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
Revolutionary War would last until 1783, but the die was cast. The army
Washington commanded would indeed defeat the vaunted British crack troops, and
America would be reborn as the United States of America, all because a few
dozen patriots were willing to give up everything they had in life, including
their own lives, to establish for the world the “land of the free, and the home
of the brave!”