The Second Continental Congress had passed a resolution that the American colonies were independent of Great Britain two days earlier. So, what's up with the fourth?
Two days after passing that resolution the congress debated and picked at a document written by several folks, mostly Thomas Jefferson. That document, our “Declaration of Independence,” was signed on the fourth by many delegates, much later by others.
The purpose of the Declaration was to put Great Britain on notice that the thirteen American colonies were no longer a part of the kingdom. This was significant to the British because they were not accustomed to “their people” being uppity. The king was sovereign, but parliament ran the government.
King George III is the subject of the third section of the Declaration which listed grievances against him. He became known as the monarch who lost the American colonies.
And what event pushed the colonists over the line?
An act by British Parliament that levied a tax. People living in America considered themselves British citizens but without representatives in Parliament. This is where the term “taxation without representation” originated.
The Revolutionary War inched forward. The first conflict came because the British governor in Massachusetts heard Americans were collecting weapons. There was a confrontation, shots were fired and the war was on. The Americans didn't even have an army.
Not everybody wanted to be free of Great Britain. The New England colonies were heavily sprinkled with “loyalists” who didn't want to rock the boat. They largely traced their ancestors to the English midlands.
This same bunch would present a balance to the Scots and Irish in the south during what some still call “The Second American Revolutionary War” of 1861-1865. Scots/Irish folks had been fighting for independence from Great Britain for years and the American Revolution was just one more fight, the Civil War another.
To the Scots it was a “re-do” since being stomped by George III's granddaddy at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, ending Scotland's attempt at independence from Great Britain.
While the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 the war stumbled on until 1783 when the British recognized the sovereignty of the American colonies.
Then the fun started. The victorious colonists had to forge a nation from a part-time government and a non-professional army. Liberty was so precious a commodity that men pledged their all to achieve it.
Freedom to succeed, be all you are capable of being.
Founding fathers would be bewildered that people squander a free education and become a ward of the government.
“Who pays for the free housing, food, transportation and medical care that people enjoy?”
“The government collects money from people who work hard and succeed to pay the load for people who don't.”
They wouldn't believe it.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.