Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Independence

History was not my best subject in school, although like most, I did learn some of the key elements of American History. I learned we fought to insure some very basic rights… "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", some stuff about the Boston Tea Party, and stories of Washington crossing the Delaware.

Lately, while feeling like our rights are being eroded by tiny bits and pieces, I’ve gone back to reading some history, but this time about the politics, the “why’s”, (without having to memorize the dates!).
I had not re-read the Declaration of Independence in many years, but I just did. It IS a bit difficult to read due to the formality of the language of the time, and even harder to read with the intention to really understand what the Signers were saying when they wrote it, but it is important to read it.

I live in a society where the 4th of July usually means an extra day off from work, celebrated by cookouts and fireworks. And although I love cookouts and fireworks, perhaps we should take more than just a moment on this day of celebration to really understand and remember “why”.

Our Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 because that is the day when the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, even though the declaration was not a result of a practical policy decision to separate from Britain. It was a response--an angry response--to British oppression of North American colonists.

Top 10 Civil Liberties Violations That Helped Cause the American Revolution
1) Taxation Without Representation
2) No Free Trade (could not purchase non-British goods)

3) Unlimited Search and Seizure (without a warrant)
4) Destruction of Colonial Government
5) Oppression of Political Protesters
6) Immunity for Corrupt and Abusive British Officers

7) Direct Control of the Criminal Justice System

8) Guilty by Parliament - (no guarantee of trial by jury)

9) Forced Quartering of Soldiers

10) Closure of the Boston Port

site has short explanations of those complaints listed above (the list came from there, too). They are really quite interesting. For example, #10, the closing of the Boston port, was the result of what became known as the Boston Tea Party, after the colonists dumped 342 crates of tea overboard in protest of high tariffs and the British monopoly on imported goods. The British Parliament passed a law to close the port until the colonies managed to gather up enough money to pay for the tea. To this day, the debt has not been paid.

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