SAN JOSE, July 4, 2012 - At this point in the history of the United States, most citizens will celebrate the 4th of July, or Independence Day in a casual, relaxing manner. Some souls may couple the holiday this Wednesday with a longer vacation since it is odd when celebrated in the middle of the week.
Some more reflective souls will also give thought to the nation’s founding since that is what Independence Day is all about. Yet, as it is an election year, many people will think about the future of the country as Americans celebrate her day of birth. Nonetheless, it is important to return to our roots as a people and remember why our founder’s even bothered to declare independence — the primary day linked to the birthday of the United States.
When thought is directed to this day, one may wonder why it is entrenched in our history that July 4th is so special. Many believe that this day is when all the members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. But, that is not true. It is most likely that only John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, signed it on July 4th with the others signing it much later at various times, with a majority possibly signing it on August 2nd, when Timothy Matlack, the assistant to the Secretary of Congress, produced a clean copy for their signatures.
Recently number of articles depict that the real birthday is July 2nd which was the date of the vote of the delegates to decide whether separation from Great Britain was a good idea or not. The delegates did vote on July 2nd regarding Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the colonies were “United Colonies” and were “and of Right, ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES” and the outcome was a vote with twelve colonies voting for the resolution and one colony (New York) abstaining.
In fact, there would not have been a Declaration of Independence if there were no favorable vote on July 2nd. But it can be argued, that what the decision represented was not made official until it was written and accepted in a unanimous determination by the founders. The putting of the words to paper was critical and the exact wording proved to be crucial. Beyond the changes made to Jefferson’s initial draft by John Adams and Ben Franklin, there were also changes in the wording that were made after it was presented to the full contingent of Congress. Most Americans do not realize that it was edited 86 times before it was deemed acceptable to those present.
The Declaration represented not just what Jefferson thought because he borrowed ideals from ancient as well as contemporary philosophers and thoughts of colleagues, and he bound them to his own thoughts. Beyond that, Adams and Franklin altered the original and then it was clipped and tweaked on the floor of Congress until the men present were mostly comfortable with the document in its entirety. That does not imply that all agreed with everything absolutely. The document represented what these men could agree to collectively for the sake of declaring Independence from the Crown and the freedom in creating a new nation based upon radically new ideals. It was the first of its kind.
Such ideals had been around for some time, but they were woven into the very fabric of the Declaration of Independence. But, it was not a philosophical treatise; it was essentially a declaration of war against Great Britain, and yet Jefferson’s words formed a premise for all people to declare their alliance with the belief that all men were created equal and that all were endowed by the Creator with the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
These are quite powerful words still today, and in the original draft, Jefferson had written: “We hold these truths to be sacred and divine…” Franklin made the revision to the broader and more acceptable ”self evident” version. To the signers, these truths in the document were self evident and an extension of their faith. Unfortunately, for America today, it is not that simple.
Today, there are many who cannot accept the existence of a Creator. Despite the agnostics who simply claim an ignorance of such a spiritual reality, there are quite many atheists and materialists who are in outright opposition to the existence of God. This is their freedom. But, with regard to our fundamental principles, it creates a fundamental dilemma because the Declaration was written with a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” as written in the concluding paragraph as well as an “appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for rectitude of …intentions” of even creating such a document, such a determination, and ultimately such a Land of the Free.
The founders firmly believed that they were accountable to God for their words and deeds. The signers believed in Divine Providence and believed in a purpose for a free nation based upon fundamental principles in such a world teeming with tyranny. For those patriots who seek political office today, who do they believe they are beholding to or accountable to by their actions? Do they only see that they are accountable to the people?
By some of the actions and efforts coming from politicians these days, it seems that they don’t even believe that they are accountable to anyone. How many believe that they will be judged accountable for their actions before the Supreme Judge of the world – and one should not make the assumption that the Supreme Judge would be John Roberts in this respect despite what he may believe.
Without a deeper sense of accountability, our elected officials are only accountable to other men (if that) and many believe, only to themselves. This deeper reliance upon the protection of Divine Providence may no longer exist within the political arena for many who are currently in elected office. So, who holds them accountable for their actions? Who held King George III accountable for his actions?
We the people through the Declaration of Independence held even the almighty king responsible! This is because they recognized a much higher authority and their faith emboldened them to declare their freedom from such nonsense. Even those who have just a little faith can appreciate the miracle of America, and it is more than likely that the Supreme Judge of the world had something to do with it.
Happy Independence Day!
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