Happy Independence Day – Mark Pope Looks at its History
Written by: Mark Pope
Wednesday is the Fourth of July – a day on which the United States “declared” its independence from overbearing British rule. That momentous day was 242 years ago. Actually, the American colonists began their revolt against King George and British rule years before the Declaration of Independence. King George wanted the lion’s share of the Colonists’ wealth, and that was unacceptable to many in the American Colonies. So let’s establish a timeline for some seminal events that eventually led to America’s independence and the start of the greatest experiment of human liberty in the history of the world.
The “Tea Act” was imposed on the American Colonists on May 10, 1773. On Dec. 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party transpired in revolt of the money-grabbing tax imposed by King George. Throughout most of September and October of 1774, The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and issued declarations and resolutions pertaining to the future of the American Colonies. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech at Richmond, Virginia. Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.
On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen and British troops clashed at Lexington and Concord. This was the infamous “shot heard ‘round the world,” and most historians assign this first skirmish to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Eight Americans were killed and 10 were wounded. Only one British soldier was wounded, but the American Revolution had begun. On June 15, 1775, George Washington was named Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, Washington assumed command of the Continental Army.
On Jan. 15, 1776, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was published and promulgated to American Colonists. On July 1-4, 1776, Congress debated and revised the Declaration of Independence. Imagine that, one of the most profound documents produced by a gathering of men, and it was completed, signed, adopted and sent to the printer all within four days. But it would be eight long years of fighting before America would win its independence from British rule.
The American Revolutionary War was brutal. There were times when things looked bleak for America winning its independence. The “Patriots” of the Thirteen Colonies fighting for American independence were many. Within the Thirteen Colonies there were also “Loyalists” to British rule who took up arms against their American brethren. And without France joining forces with the American effort, America may not have won the War of Independence. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 established America’s independence.
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 separation.
The opening words to the Declaration of Independence above are why we observe and celebrate Independence Day each year. America fought long and hard for its independence.
The ideals upon which America was founded are worth preserving. And then there is America’s most significant document, The Constitution of the United States of America. Consider the opening words – “We the People.” You and I are the bedrock of this liberty-loving nation. Celebrate our great nation. Happy Birthday America.