Saturday, July 4, 2020

Something to Know - 4 July

Most of the outdoor traditions to celebrate this day (big outdoor picnics, parades, fireworks extravaganzas, beach parties, etc.) are locked out or down by the Corona Virus.  Never mind the distraction at the base of Mt. Rushmore, we are straining to comply with the good health and safety practices to survive this pandemic.   Last night I read the latest contribution from HCR (see below), and feel that she says it all, and no more is needed to absorb the solemn message and hope that was the basis for the founding of the United States of America.   I felt so bad that I have been skating for free in passing on her works to you, that I felt compelled to sign up for a one year subscription to free myself a feeling of guilt.   Supporting good writing, journalism, and your local newspaper is a step in the right direction to making things better for all of us.  Stay informed and VOTE.

Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <> Unsubscribe

Fri, Jul 3, 8:34 PM (11 hours ago)
to me

And on July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring: "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."

For all the fact that the congressmen got around the sticky little problem of black and Indian slavery by defining "men" as "white men," and for all that it never crossed their mind that women might also have rights, the Declaration of Independence was an astonishingly radical document. In a world that had been dominated by a small class of rich men for so long that most people simply accepted that they should be forever tied to their status at birth, a group of upstart legislators on the edge of a wilderness continent declared that no man was born better than any other.

America was founded on the radical idea that all men are created equal.

What the founders declared self-evident was not so clear eighty-seven years later, when southern white men went to war to reshape America into a nation in which African Americans, Indians, Chinese, and Irish were locked into a lower status than whites. In that era, equality had become a "proposition," rather than "self-evident." "Four score and seven years ago," Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans, "our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." In 1863, Lincoln explained, the Civil War was "testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

It did, of course. The Confederate rebellion failed. The United States endured, and Americans began to expand the idea that all men are created equal to include men of color, and eventually to include women.

But just as in the 1850s, we are now, once again, facing a rebellion against our founding principle, as a few wealthy men seek to reshape America into a nation in which certain people are better than others.

The men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 pledged their "Lives, [their] Fortunes and [their] sacred Honor" to defend the idea of human equality. Ever since then, Americans have sacrificed their own fortunes, honor, and even their lives, for that principle. Lincoln reminded Civil War Americans of those sacrifices when he urged the people of his era to "take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Words to live by in 2020.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

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© 2020 Heather Cox Richardson U


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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