by Judy Bushy
July has arrived. Next comes Fourth of July, when we celebrate signing the Declaration of Independence. This document, along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights which are amendments added, are collectively known as the Charters of Freedom, and have guaranteed the rights of the citizens of the United States of America.
Hostilities, raging battles between the Colonists and British had broken out in April of 1776, but there was no unity of view on separation from the “Mother Country”. That was too radical for many!
When the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia Richard Henry Lee wanted to make a resolution of independence. It wasn’t approved. The debate was very heated, but these men were accustomed to debate and talk out the various sides of an issue.
They didn’t make a vote on the resolution, but did appoint five men: Thomas Jefferson who was also of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and famous, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. Although Ben, as far as I know, never became a Christian, he called for prayer for reconciliation of the sharp differences of opinion and stances of the meeting. At the same time, Ben was horrified by the thought of a world without religion. “If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion,” Franklin wrote, “what would they be if without it.”
If they had refused to talk out the issues, and just went off each to their own separate factions, we’d still be a British colony. But they did work out the differences and July 2nd the vote was nearly unanimous. New York delegates had abstained, but later affirmed the matter, and the resolution for independence was passed. Now we have advanced to the 242nd birthday of our country!
John Adams wrote to his wife that he believed that this independence (although he thought it would be the day of the vote on the 2nd not the signing on the 4th) would be “celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary festival” including “pomp, parade,…games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” It is a good time to remember how this all began.
They believed that God had endowed (or given them) certain unalienable Rights, and we know those rights better than the rest of the document; “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“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