Happy Fourth of July: Remembering the Why

Hello, summer holiday! Time once again to head for the park or the beach or wherever children and pets run loose, barbecues scent the air, and fireworks burst spectacularly. For some of us it’s a time to gather with friends and family; for others it’s a quiet time for relaxation and reflection.

No matter what you choose to do this holiday, please consider re-reading the Declaration of Independence and recall the reason why we Americans celebrate this day. Our founders laid out in this final draft a list of offenses driving them to throw off monarchic rule. Some of those offenses seem incredibly familiar this year, more so than previous years.

The full text of the final draft:

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds 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 with 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 to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation 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, it is 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. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

The signatories to this document knew they also signed their death warrant. They debated this document thoroughly, understanding their lives, fortunes, and possibly the same of friends and family were staked on the success of the undertaking launched by this declaration (“corruption of blood” in family’s case, which so concerned the founders it was cited later in the Constitution’s Article III).

They staked blood and treasure for their thoughts and beliefs that the colonies must be free. The least we can do is remember this bravery and consider our own willingness to fight for this American democracy.

When asked in 1787 at the end of the Constitution Convention what form of government had been created, Ben Franklin answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What will we do to keep it?

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Fourth of July. Consider this an open thread.

31 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I am sorry I haven’t been around as much over the last two months. My household has a big family event reaching its zenith this week, after which I expect to be around more often. Or at least until the next big family event pulls me away.

    Anyhow, to regular readers and commenters, bear with us if the site is slowish or comments seem to take a while to clear as we are not at full strength 24/7 and traffic has upticked.

    To new commenters, thanks for your patience. Comments may take a while to clear and appear on the page.

  2. Peterr says:

    How you resisted the urge to put some of the items on that list of particulars in bold is beyond me.

    For instance . . .

    The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. . . .

    What? Submitting the facts to a bunch of foreigners, for their approval?

    We press on . . .

    He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. . . .

    Encouraging immigration and naturalization of foreigners? Really?

    He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. . . .

    Scott Pruitt, take a bow.

    For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world: . . .

    Kind of like trashing trade agreements and starting a trade war?

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us . . .

    You know, like when the US Secret Service has to escort Katy Tur out of a Trump rally after he whipped up the crowd with his attacks on the media in general and Katy in particular . . . .

    Like I said, Rayne, you may have restrained yourself, but I’m not so restrained myself.

    • harpie says:

      Speaking of “prevent[ing] populations” and erecting “new offices”, see:

      Ian Bassin:

      The Trump Admin is ramping up denaturalizations of American citizens. They’ve created a whole new office for it. Who are they going after and why? We @protctdemocracy just launched an investigation to find out.

    • Rayne says:

      I would be here at my keyboard all day if I went through and compared the current administration’s behaviors against the Declaration’s recitation of offenses. I may do it eventually but I’ve got must-do gardening to tackle today.

      As for the “exciting domestic insurrections” — I’ll point to every one of the sovereignty movements including the move to divide California into three states, as well as the effort to incite white nationalists to violence against fellow citizens, among them journalists.

      ~sigh~ Back to weeding…

  3. bmaz says:

    I have a Burr in my saddle: It was not a death warrant for any. Well, maybe that Hamilton fellow……

    • Rayne says:

      LOL Happy Burr-Under-Your-Leather-Seating Day, bmaz!

      …On July 4, 1776, just after the Continental Congress had finished making its revisions of the Declaration and sent it off to the printer for publication, Rush overheard a conversation between Benjamin Harrison of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry,” said Harrison, “when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and the weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.” Rush recalled that the comment “procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity with which the whole business was conducted.” …

      [source: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph J. Ellis]

      I’m eating a bag of chips and drinking a case of beer to keep my weight up. Cheers!

  4. harpie says:

    Yesterday, [NY] Attorney General Underwood filed new victim declarations in the Family Separation Case

    Today, Adam Klasfeld continues his Tweeting of this other set of “facts[to] be submitted to a candid world” 

    […] 4:16 PM – 3 Jul 2018 As a 10-year veteran reporter on the court beat, I have read countless legal documents, some quite brutal. You develop a thick skin. These were heart-wrenching. My eyes welled up writing excerpts. I am pausing this thread for now  […] 

    • Valley girl says:


      Since this is an open thread, here’s something I finally figured out, about some of the 403 errors I’ve gotten.

      b/c there were times when my comment didn’t come through (for whatever reason) and I wanted to remember what I’d said, I took to writing my comments in Word, and then copying and pasting them as a reply here.  After some trial and error, I figured out that, at least for me, doing this, links or not, always gave me a 403 error.

      p.s. sorry, harpie, I didn’t mean this to be a “nested” reply. Oh well…

      • Rayne says:

        Ah. There may be some hidden characters in the comment which kick them out if you cut-and-paste from a word processing application. I typically do mine in a Notepad-type app which is plain text.

        That’s not to say you haven’t run into the random heightened security via Askimet, for example, or high traffic volume. Keep in mind not all traffic correlates to published comments. Thanks for investigating, VG.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        My bet is that it happens due to CloudFlare filters.

        A Copy/Paste may be grabbing some non-visible ‘stuff’ (to you), that the CF filter ‘sees’.

        Are you using windows?

        • Rayne says:

          I’m going to ask you once to let this go. I do not want to get into site operations in comments. Think about why we might not want that here.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks much, I’ll check it out. Have a few stretches over the next few days where I need something to listen to while working and/or driving. Thanks!

  5. Bob Conyers says:

    I’ve long wished we could celebrate March 1, not only because we could use another day off, but because it’s the date the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781.

    We could use a reminder that the founders were human and really screwed up their first attempt at government. We also could use a reminder that handing over almost unchecked, and that there’s a lot to be said for recognizing our failures and talking long and hard about how to fix them.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Ahem, that should be “handing over almost unchecked power to the states is a mistake, and that…”

  6. Trip says:

    Lawyers for Ohio State contradict Jim Jordan’s claim he’s not been contacted

    U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan never witnessed abuse by the Ohio State University wrestling team’s doctor and he hasn’t been contacted by anyone investigating possible incidents that occurred while he was an assistant coach two decades ago, the Urbana Republican’s spokesman said Tuesday.However, lawyers hired by OSU to probe the allegations said Jordan was contacted — both by phone and email — to request an interview, but he never responded…Former Ohio State wrestler Mike DiSabato, one of the first to report Strauss’ alleged misconduct to Ohio State, told The Dispatch on Tuesday that he is disappointed by Jordan’s response Tuesday, calling the congressman “a coward.”“He knew, did know, and it’s very disappointing that he has now denied knowledge, not once, but twice,” said DiSabato, who said he was victimized by the doctor. “I’ve never known Jim Jordan to be a coward, frankly, but this shows that his own interest in seeking higher office is more important than the health, safety and well being of his friends and athletes who competed for him and with him.”


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Jordan is so confident in his defense that he threatens to report to the Capitol Police one or more of the former OSU athletes who have been e-mailing his office, on the notion that their e-mails constitute a “threat”.

      If Jordan really felt threatened, which would implicate his own and his staff’s safety, we would have read that he “had” reported them, not that he might or would.  The future tense suggests he wants to stop the criticism without being responsible for it.

      Absent more information, such as examples of language that might constitute a threat, we’re left with the possibility that Jordan is running for cover and attempting to use law enforcement to intimidate his critics.

  7. lex says:

    Ah yes, the noble desire of a few rich men to break treaties with native Americans so that they might steal the land for speculation. For noble George Washington it wasn’t enough to have sparked the seven years war and swindled the enlisted men out of their land bonuses for his own profit. The oligarchy needed more land, more profit, more power. And in what would be precedent down to the modern day, cooking up a war was the way to get it. Not many years later, noble Washington would do the same again to get his standing army and even more native land.

    Let’s celebrate the founding oligarchy and constantly refer to a text written by a guy who’d be a Breitbart contributor today (try reading his treatise on how immigration with impure blood ruined England).

    Fealty to our founding mythology and a fairly shitty text of political science designed to maintain an oligarchy against popular will is the fundamental problem we face. But go on and keep doing it. I’m sure it will help this time.

    • Rayne says:

      O, let America be America again—
      The land that never has been yet—
      And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
      The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
      Who made America,
      Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
      Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
      Must bring back our mighty dream again.

      Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
      The steel of freedom does not stain.
      From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
      We must take back our land again,

      O, yes,
      I say it plain,
      America never was America to me,
      And yet I swear this oath—
      America will be!

      Excerpt, Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

      Nice indigenous name you have there, lex. Interesting lack of awareness about the arguments regarding slavery up to the final draft of the Declaration.

  8. Trip says:

    Guys, I just found out from Alan Dershowitz that we have the right to be invited to fancy Martha’s Vineyard parties, even if those people don’t like us, or the things that we do. The fact that no one has called me for such an occasion makes me feel persecuted. Since I have been denied this important civil right, do you think I should contact the ACLU?

  9. harpie says:

    Pruitt resigned. His replacement is Andrew Wheeler.

    [That’s kind of like saying The King is dead. Long live The King.]

    Here’s a Politico piece on him: The man who could WILL replace Scott Pruitt […] Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/05/scott-pruitt-epa-andrew-wheeler-570641

    Mike Scarcella links to his financial disclosures: https://twitter.com/MikeScarcella/status/1014959059110416385

    From Daniel Dale on Trump’s 7/3/18 West Virginia rally:

    Here’s the transcript of the president’s [7/3/18] West Virginia remarks about how coal is safer than oil from a “national security” perspective, since it’s easy to bomb an oil pipeline but coal is “indestructible.”

    Read the rest of it…

  10. pdaly says:

    FYI, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers are requesting the recordings the FBI made while interviewing Ibragim Todashev in Florida in 2013– the interview that ended in Todashev dying from bullets fired by the FBI. Apparently, Todashev admitted in that interview the he and Dzhokhar’s older brother did participate in the 2011 murders in Waltham, MA.

    “The attorneys, whose arguments for sparing Tsarnaev’s life are due next month before the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals, did not spell out the reasons for their request.”

      • Rayne says:

        You’re referring to a collaborative document written by a collective of white males, one of which included this bit in the penultimate draft, struck out by majority agreement before the final document was published:

        he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

        The authorship of the Declaration is frequently attributed to Jefferson, a slave owner, but he alone was not the author, and his own opinion of slavery was that they should eventually be freed — read his notes. His flawed opinion evolved though not fast or persuasively enough to ensure the Declaration would likewise ensure enslaved humans were freed.

        Welcome to emptywheel, by the way.

        • pdaly says:

          Thanks, Rayne. That excised part sounded so much like John Adams that I did a search to see if he was part of the committee. I learned Adams wasn’t, but I found his comment about this stricken passage on slavery. He was pleased to see it in the draft:

          John Adams to Timothy Pickering, 1822:
          “I was delighted with [the draft’s] high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. . . . Congress cut off about a quarter of it, as I expected they would; but they obliterated some of the best of it, and left all that was exceptionable, if anything in it was. I have long wondered that the original draft had not been published. I suppose the reason is the vehement philippic against Negro slavery.”

  11. harpie says:

    The Preface from my personal newsletter today, 7/6/18:
    1a] 14 month old boy separated from immigrant parents at the border, was returned after 85 days, covered with lice, had apparently not been bathed – part of lawsuits filed by states against Trump administration @LisaDNews reports @NewsHour tonight https://twitter.com/JudyWoodruff/status/1014998271532597248
    1b] Trump starts his day at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. This is Trump’s 166th day at a Trump property as president and his 123rd day at a Trump golf club as president. https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1015199933517852672

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