These United States of America born of blood sweat and tears has not stood so long because of its politicians. It has stood so long many cases in spite of them and their policies. It is the citizenry that has influenced the making and saving of this great nation many times over and many more times than one can say that it is the government that has created this country.
The feeling about the sanctity of our Independence Day may have best been expressed in a quotation from the Virginia Gazette on July 18th, 1777:
“Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen.”
Now I know that father’s day was last month, but I think that a little father’s day admiration is still needed this day, this day that the ‘founding fathers’ finally got everyone well most everyone to agree on just how to flip off King George, and tell him where he could stuff his over taxation or as they called it taxation without representation. How many times have you heard the story of our break from England? More times than you can count? More times than you want to count? Well maybe you need to hear it from a new angle, or not, but ready or not here we go…
How many of you have ever heard of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia? Well in that case let me tell you something about this founding father.
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776, introduced the original resolution that called for the Continental Congress to declare the United States free from British rule. Three days later a committee headed by Thomas Jefferson was appointed to prepare an appropriate writing for the occasion.
Born in 1732 Richard Lee was Tall, thin and aristocratic in appearance, a born orator. He used his hand, always wrapped in black silk due to a hunting accident, to emphasize his remarkably melodic voice. “That fine polish of language which that gentleman united with that harmonious voice so as to make me sometimes fancy that I was listening to some being inspired with more than mortal powers of embellishment” was how one observer described him.
Richard Henry was said to have been confrontational and possessed a fiery and rebellious spirit. These same qualities brought him fame as a leading patriot of the day and incited the wrath of his enemies. At one point, he was “outlawed” by a proclamation of the English Governor Dunmore.
As a member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses, Richard Henry’s introduced his first bill that boldly proposed “to lay so heavy a duty on the importation of slaves as to put an end to that iniquitous and disgraceful traffic within the colony of Virginia.” Africans, he wrote, were “equally entitled to liberty and freedom by the great law of nature.” These words, coming in 1759, have been called “the most extreme anti-slavery statements made before the nineteenth century.” And like many words of truth are it was not well received.
In response to the enforcement of the Stamp Act in 1765, the Lee brothers, led by Richard Henry, rallied 115 men of Westmoreland County at Leedstown on the Rappahannock River, a few miles south of Stratford. All signed the Westmoreland Resolves, a document that was co-authored by Richard Henry. The document threatened “danger and disgrace” to anyone who paid the tax. Among the signers were Richard Henry, his brothers, Thomas, Francis Lightfoot, and William Lee along with the four brothers of George Washington. The signing of the Westmoreland Resolves was one of the first deliberate acts of sedition against the Crown and one that placed both Richard Henry and the state of Virginia at the forefront of the coming revolution.
Three years later, Richard Henry proposed the exchange of information between the colonies. This proposal formed the Committees of Correspondence and became a major force uniting the Colonial Americans in the desire for independence. Richard began receiving first-hand information on the decisions of the King and Parliament from his brothers, Arthur and William, now in London; he served as a communications commander for the colonies.
By 1774, the flames of the Revolution, being so faithfully fanned by the Lees, ignited the reluctant southern colonies. A call for an inter-colonial congress was made, and Richard Henry was chosen as one of the seven-man Virginia delegation to the first Continental Congress that would meet in Philadelphia. Once there, he was able to bridge the gap between the vastly different worlds of New England and the South. At the house of his sister, he strengthened his bond with John and Samuel Adams and created a long-lasting friendship that transcended the then divisive regionalism and helped to unite the colonies into one nation.
In the spring of 1776, Richard Henry, now joined by his brother Francis Lightfoot, took his seat in the second Continental Congress. Sensing what lie ahead, he wrote confidently to his brother William, “There never appeared more perfect unanimity among any set of men, than among the delegates.”
In three months as delegate, Richard Henry served on 18 different committees – none as important as his appointment to frame the Declaration of Rights of the Colonies, which led directly to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry was accorded the well-deserved honor of introducing the latter bill before Congress:
“…That these united Colonies are, and ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance from the British crown, and then all political connection between America and State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved…”
The bill was adopted on July 2 – the formal act that dissolved the ties with England. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified – the American Revolution became a reality.
I wonder if in today’s world if we could have the guts and the wherewithal to tell our government to take a flying leap. It would seem to me that the policies in place in 1764 at the time of the stamp act are very close to what we have today.
I wonder in today’s world with policies approaching those of the likes of what were in place and placed upon the colonists so many years ago if we as we are today could still flip their finger in the air to King George as was done so many years ago. When our own government ignores is own laws, in order to set into motion some yet unseen political agenda. As if to change the shape of our government to something beyond what it was ever intended to be by those that did actually stand up and flip their proverbial finger to King George and said enough.
This country was founded on the ideas of individual freedoms that the government was to have limited powers on and over those freedoms. We were founded also on Judeo Christian values and basic Judeo Christian laws to respect the individual rights of man and mankind.
“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 certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundations on such Principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of Government….” Declaration of Independence … ratified July 4, 1776
This statement followed by a listing of complaints along with a list of sufferance formed the final fuel for the fire that would be the beginning of this country. For surely you know that we the colonists were already fighting the British Government, over our disagreements. It is with this piece of paper that we as a group of Colonies stuck our neck out and took our destiny into our own hands. It is believed that in his diary King George wrote of 4 July 1776 that “nothing of importance happened this day.” Had he known the truth I wonder what he would have written.
We all know of the great men that penned and signed this document arguably one the most important documents ever written before or since. We know of Franklin and Adams and Jefferson and Sherman and Livingston but what of the lesser known the ones like you and I those that had a belief strong enough to say enough and to put their names on the line as well as their lives. They all took pen in hand and signed on the dotted line so to speak for the sake of our yet to be country.
William Whipple was made Brigadier General of the New Hampshire Militia he lead his men against General Burgoyne at the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga.
Lewis Morris of New York served as Brigadier General of the New York Militia and was often torn between his duties as an army officer and his commitment to the Congress. He inherited great wealth from his father of which all of his property and nearly all of his wealth were destroyed during the revolution.
Carter Braxton of Virginia Loaned 10,000-pound, sterling to support the revolution while also sponsoring shipping and privateering and ending up in debt and in 1786 he was forced to leave his inherited estate.
Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge, Richard Stockton, were each captured and imprisoned by the British both Middleton and Rutledge were captured while serving their Colonies Militia. However, Richard Stockton was captured while returning from a fact finding mission of the northern army in November 1776. It would be several years before he would be released after having been badly treated and in very poor condition.
In the past four years we have endured changes to our laws, changes in our policies, changes in our freedoms. Changes that they the government should not and cannot take from us. Do Not Tread on Me the rally cry of the early Patriots or as we were called by King George, Malcontents and Rabble. They were tired of paying tax after tax and not having their voices heard in parliament or just ignored. WE are tired of paying taxes after tax while our government ignores our voice time and time again. They enact laws that we do not want and ignore laws that we want them to up hold. We learn after laws are put into place what are in them and the implications that they hold for us. They themselves have not read much of the laws they want to force us to follow. But yet tell us time and time again that they know or are doing is what is best for us. Best for them I say best to keep us dependent on them, best to keep as a President has said not so long ago, to keep a boot to the neck. Yes I wonder if that same boot that he claims he is holding to the neck of BP is the same one he wants to one day to use on us. That heavy boot of government meant to control you and keep you down where some may believe you belong.
“We have our finger on the trigger.” so the quote goes that led me to write this post. No I do not say to you to take up your arms against your government, no I say to you put your finger on another trigger… that of the ballot box. That is the trigger given us by these founding fathers, that is the trigger that we need to have our finger on. We use that trigger to change and to charge those that commit treason against and ignore the constitution. When one cannot redress it’s grievances to its government and when ones rights and freedoms are encroached upon it is time to take up your first line of defense, your voice and your vote.
Now here at the end of this I ask of you; no I demand that you take up your voice first, take up your vote, take up your freedoms, take up your flag wave them around and tell those that seemingly wish to use that boot on your necks to go take a flying leap. That you will have none of it that you demand the United States of America that was promised to be held for you. Do not let them take something away from you that does not belong to them for it is not there’s to take. It is American spirit to overcome to carry forward to cut out and make something from nothing. I ask that you remember that spirit and carry forward with you each day that can do attitude the never give up or give in spirit given to us by those that came before us. America 235 years old … long may she stand proud and together as one nation under god….
Thank you ….. Tucker Allerton Keller….
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