Monday, July 4, 2011

History Lesson on the Fourth of July - Or So There Joe Biden!

I was appalled last evening to discover the results of a Marist poll taken on July first that found that only 58% of those polled could correctly say that the year of our independence was 1776, and only 76% could say that we became independent from England. The results were far worse for those under 30 years old! This is the kind of edumacation that Joe Biden and the NEA want for our children!

So on this Independence day, I find myself thinking about how this country came to be. I offer a short history of the founding of our nation, which will apparently be better than the one offered by public education these days.

Once upon a time, the earth was flat. This made it extremely dangerous to sail out of sight of land, as one might drop over the edge at any moment, and that could ruin an entire day! A fellow named Columbus, conned the queen of Spain out of some ships and supplies and proved the flat earthers all wrong. In the process he bumped into a new continent that no one, especially the flat earth people, had any idea was out there. The Spaniards believed there was a lot of shinny yellow metal there, and so sent more folks to explore. Word got around, as it often does. In jolly old England, they had a King who didn't like to stay married very long, mostly because none of his wives seemed able to produce a son, so he kept disposing of one wife after another. The Catholic church took a dim view of that, so, not to be restrained, King Henry formed his own church and required all his subjects to belong to the Church of England.

Some miscreants didn't like that very much, and had a desire to worship in a manner that suited them better. The King took exception and sent them packing off to the new land to worship as they pleased, and to find goodies to ship back to England, for the further enrichment the King.

After 150 years or so, these new colonies were thriving, containing some two and a half million people. The King at the time, George his name was, had helped out with some trouble the colonies were having with the Indians and the French. With the war over, he turned his attention to collecting some additional revenue to balance his budget. A lot of revenue. He reasoned that as some in the colonies were getting rich, they ought to spread the wealth around a little, contribute their fair share as it was. He put a tax on tea, which many folks in the colonies didn't like so much. They decided to brew the tea in the Boston Harbor. Next he required the colonists to purchase paper for all legal documents from England. At the same time, he was sending soldiers to the colonies to keep the peace, and requiring citizens to keep the troops in their homes. When colony legislatures objected, he disbanded them, in violation of their founding documents. He bypassed the duly appointed lawmakers and issued edicts about how the colonists were to live (is any of this sounding familiar?)

In 1776, late in the evening of the third of July, following a little skirmish a year previously in Lexington and Concord, the colony legislature's representatives finally came to agreement on the wording of a document declaring their Independence from Great Brittan. This document precipitated a prolonged conflict called The Revolutionary War, the result of which was that the Colonies were free from the tyrannical edicts of the King of England, and were free to govern themselves.

After experimenting with various ways of governing themselves for twenty years or so, including a little disagreement about whiskey and another about water rights, the colonies decided they needed a founding document which would for forever limit their federal government and allow each state to govern itself, except in areas such as arguments between the states, the common defense of the New Nation, and in arranging for trade with other nations. They called this document the Constitution of the United States of America, and it is THE foundation for the federal government's existence. The federal government is supposed to be bound by and constrained by the words in that inspired work. It is what gives our government its right to exist. It laid out a system of checks and balances to ensure that power would never be concentrated in the hands of a few, and it provided for redress of grievances against the government through the judicial branch of that government. If that fails, and the federal government becomes tyrannical, it provides the means, through the second amendment, to dissolve that government.

As the federal government reaches further and further beyond the bounds of Constitution, it heads ever closer to its own Lexington and Concord!

I hope this missive has helped clear up the confusion a bit. In any event, please enjoy your celebration of the Founding of our Great Nation! Happy Fourth everyone.

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