"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist opinion reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Perhaps you thought you had conquered every sinful impulse. That was, until temptation or a new set of trials brought to light some area of your life that you thought had been conquered. This is when you wondered, How could this happen? I am supposed to be free from sin.
Oswald Chambers offers this explanation: “The Savior has set us free from sin, but this is the freedom that comes from being set free from myself by the Son. It is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20 when he said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ His individuality had been broken and his spirit had been united with his Lord; not just merged into Him, but made one with Him.”
If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, then you are one with Him. His likeness and holiness are present within your life. However, there remains within you a sin nature that must be surrendered to God.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul said he lived by faith. The gift of freedom that Jesus gives requires faith. We must believe that He can root out the strongholds within our hearts and that He continuously works to make us free from all sin and bondage. Our responsibility is to say no to sin and yes to God as we trust Him to provide the all-encompassing liberty that our souls crave.
Lord, I praise You. You know the strongholds in my life where sin lies, and You have the victory over them.
Written into our country’s famous Declaration of Independence is the noble idea that each citizen possesses inalienable rights, among which are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In the past few decades, that pursuit has become more frenzied than ever. We, a nation of millions who seek the good life, “grab all the gusto” we can.
The framers of our document of freedom did not explain that while we may have a right to happiness, finding it—and maintaining it—is another matter altogether. The more we look, the more elusive happiness seems.
Moses endured millions of Israelites who were anything but happy campers. Jeremiah and Noah preached for a lifetime under oppressive conditions with little effectiveness. Paul’s home was the inside of jail cells for several years.
Yet we cannot say these and other Bible personalities were sad, disillusioned men. Anything but that. Despite their conditions, they radiated joy.
Perhaps they defined happiness differently. Contentment would best describe them.
Searching for happiness is a roller-coaster experience. However, you can consistently attain contentment.
Father, I want to consistently radiate Your joy, despite my circumstances. Instead of seeking the “good life,” let me focus on You. Let me learn to be contented.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 195). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Charles Spurgeon. Martin Luther. John Wesley. Prominent names of Christendom, yet not without great personal struggles.
Spurgeon, known for his compelling sermons at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, battled recurring seasons of depression throughout his splendid ministry.
Luther, whose emphasis on justification by faith alone shattered centuries of false ideology, struggled with numerous physical afflictions.
Wesley, whose preaching filled the towns and villages of colonial America, endured a difficult marriage that created an unstable family life at best.
Their legacies, however, are noble and their achievements memorable. Despite their problems, the peace of God was rooted deeply in their spirits, serving as both rudder and stabilizer for their ministry and lives.
It is perfectly normal to have your cage rattled by strained relationships, financial tremors, or emotional surges. Jesus told us to expect such predicaments. But because you have Christ, you have unshakable peace in your innermost being. You can wade through dilemmas without yielding to irrational fears or anxiety. Keep Him at the center of your life, and you will reflect the peace of Christ.
Thank You, Lord, that Your unshakable peace will sustain me throughout the challenges of this day.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. (2:12)
John knew that the people to whom he was writing were believers and that their sins had been forgiven. In this verse, and in the verses that follow, the apostle said “I am writing to you” or “I have written to you” six times, in order to emphatically state that his message was limited to his readers, the ones who truly were part of God’s family.
The word translated little children (teknia) means “born ones,” speaking of offspring in a general sense without regard for age. It is commonly used in the New Testament to describe believers as the children of God (John 13:33; 1 John 2:1, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21; cf. Gal. 4:19, 28). By using this term, the apostle was addressing all who were true offspring of God, at any level of spiritual maturity. His focus was on all who mourned over their sinful condition (Matt. 5:4), trusted Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31), had their lives transformed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), lived in obedience to God’s Word (Rom. 6:17), and showed sincere love for one another (1 Peter 1:22).
Only two spiritual families exist from God’s perspective: children of God and children of Satan (cf. John 8:39–44). God’s children do not love Satan’s family or give their allegiance to the world he controls (cf. 1 John 2:15). Instead, they grow (though not all at the same rate or with equal consistency) in their love for the Lord, a love that will manifest itself in heartfelt obedience and service (cf. John 14:15).
The New Testament plainly states that all believers, no matter where they are on the spiritual growth continuum, have been forgiven of all their sins (1:7; Matt. 26:28; Luke 1:77; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18; Col. 1:14; 2:13–14). In fact, this truth is foundational to the evangelistic mission of the church. Jesus told His apostles “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47). Peter declared to Cornelius and his companions, “Of Him [Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43; cf. 13:38–39). Paul attested: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; cf. 4:32; 1 John 1:7; 3:5). Of course, this great reality of the forgiveness of sins was not new in the New Testament, but was firmly rooted in Old Testament teaching (cf. Pss. 32:1–2; 86:5; 103:12; 130:3–4; Isa. 1:18–19; 43:25; 44:22).
John concluded this sentence with the reminder that God grants forgiveness to believers, not because of their own worthiness or merit, but for His name’s sake. That expression refers to God’s glory (cf. Deut. 28:58; Neh. 9:5; Ps. 8:1; Isa. 42:8; 48:11), which is the overarching reason for everything He does (cf. Pss. 19:1; 25:11; 57:5; 79:8–9; 93:1; 104:31; 106:7–8; 109:21; 111:3; 113:4; 145:5, 12; Isa. 6:3; 48:9; Jer. 14:7–9; Hab. 2:14; Rom. 1:5). God forgives sinners because it pleases Him to glorify His name by manifesting His superabundant grace, mercy, and power. As those who have been given the gift of forgiveness, believers will forever praise and magnify God (cf. 2 Cor. 4:15; Rev. 5:11–13). Still, while on earth, they are at different stages of growth, with distinguishing characteristics.
12. Little children. This is still a general declaration, for he does not address those only of a tender age, but by little children he means men of all ages, as in the first verse, and also hereafter. I say this, because interpreters have incorrectly applied the term to children. But John, when he speaks of children, calls them παιδία, a word expressive of age; but here, as a spiritual father, he calls the old as well as the young, τεκνία. He will, indeed, presently address special words to different ages; yet they are mistaken who think that he begins to do so here. But, on the contaray, lest the preceding exhortation should obscure the free remission of sins, he again inculcates the doctrine which peculiarly belongs to faith, in order that the foundation may with certainty be always retained, that salvation is laid up for us in Christ alone.
Holiness of life ought indeed to be urged, the fear of God ought to be carefully enjoined, men ought to be sharply goaded to repentance, newness of life, together with its fruits, ought to be commended; but still we ought ever to take heed, lest the doctrine of faith be smothered,—that doctrine which teaches that Christ is the only author of salvation and of all blessings; on the contrary, such moderation ought to be presented, that faith may ever retain its own primacy. This is the rule prescribed to us by John: having faithfully spoken of good works, lest he should seem to give them more importance than he ought to have done, he carefully calls us back to contemplate the grace of Christ.
Your sins are forgiven you. Without this assurance, religion would not be otherwise than fading and shadowy; nay, they who pass by the free remission of sins, and dwell on other things, build without a foundation. John in the meantime intimates, that nothing is more suitable to stimulate men to fear God than when they are rightly taught what blessing Christ has brought to them, as Paul does, when he beseeches by the bowels of God’s mercies. (Phil. 2:1.)
It hence appears how wicked is the calumny of the Papists, who pretend that the desire of doing what is right is frozen, when that is extolled which alone renders us obedient children to God. For the Apostle takes this as the ground of his exhortation, that we know that God is so benevolent to us as not to impute to us our sins.
For his name’s sake. The material cause is mentioned, lest we should seek other means to reconcile us to God. For it would not be sufficient to know that God forgives us our sins, except we came directly to Christ, and to that price which he paid on the cross for us. And this ought the more to be observed, because we see that by the craft of Satan, and by the wicked fictions of men, this way is obstructed; for foolish men attempt to pacify God by various satisfactions, and devise innumerable kinds of expiations for the purpose of redeeming themselves. For as many means of deserving pardon we intrude on God, by so many obstacles are we prevented from approaching him. Hence John, not satisfied with stating simply the doctrine, that God remits to us our sins, expressly adds, that he is propitious to us from a regard to Christ, in order that he might exclude all other reasons. We also, that we may enjoy this blessing, must pass by and forget all other names, and rely only on the name of Christ.
12 The first of John’s five slogans/sayings, addressed to his “children,” recalls the theme of 1:9–2:2: “your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.” Because this is clearly a comment on the salvific work of Jesus, and because it refers to Jesus in the third person, John is most likely citing a community slogan rather than a saying of Jesus (some have suggested this slogan is cited from an ancient baptismal formula; so Brown, 302–3, 320–21; Culpepper, 35; Rensberger, 71–72).
While 1-2-3 John and the fourth gospel have surprisingly little to say about forgiveness (cf. Jn 20:23; 1 Jn 1:9–2:2), the “name” of Jesus is an important point of Johannine thought. Jesus’ “name” represents his divine identity and power, so that “belief in his name” means acceptance of John’s claim that Jesus came from God (Jn 1:12; 3:18; 1 Jn 3:23; 5:13). Those who act in Jesus’ name enjoy various benefits, including the expectation that the Father will answer their prayers (Jn 16:23–26), the hope of eternal life (Jn 20:31), and (here at 1 Jn 2:12) forgiveness of sins. Marshall, 139, notes that John may be reminding his readers of the forgiveness they received when they first accepted the name of Jesus at conversion. The perfect tense of aphiēmi (GK 918; NIV, “your sins have been forgiven”) focuses on the continuing effect of a past event (Johnson, 49). The experience of forgiveness should motivate them to remain faithful.
12 John, then, addresses his readers as children, just as he does elsewhere in the Epistle, to express their need of instruction and their state of dependence upon God and upon teachers such as himself. They are people whose sins have been forgiven; they have fulfilled the condition laid down in 1:9, and as a result of their confession of their sin, they know the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness, however, does not depend on human confession in the sense that this secures favor and pardon from God; it is granted “on account of his name,” a phrase which directs our minds back to what John has said about the blood of Jesus and his role as advocate and offering for sin (1:7; 2:1f.), and which also leads forward to the need for belief in his name (3:23; 5:13). The act of forgiveness is expressed by a perfect tense; John is thinking of the conversion of his readers, whereas in 1:9 his thought was more of the continual forgiveness for which the Christian daily prays. If John is thinking here of new converts, the appropriateness of this statement is manifest. The experience of forgiveness is the center of the Christian experience of conversion. “No man can properly rank as a Christian, in the sense of the New Testament, who has not received the forgiveness of sins, or who is not conscious that through its impartation something has happened of decisive moment for his relation to God,” wrote H. R. Mackintosh.22 In a day when many find the essence of Christianity elsewhere John’s “recall to fundamentals” deserves attention.
2:12 / The decisive fact which the Elder here wants to underscore for his readers is that their sins have been forgiven. The past has been taken care of; they have been cleansed. Forgiven is in the perfect tense, implying an act begun at a specific point in the past (conversion) and whose effects continue on into the present (they stand forgiven). This forgiveness is renewed on a daily basis by confession (1:9).
Forgiveness is based on his name. It is on account of his name that the community enjoys its victory over sin. In 1:7 and 2:1–2 the writer states the christological foundation of forgiveness: “the blood of Jesus … purifies us from all sin” and “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, … is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The name of Jesus is also the object of the believer’s faith in 3:23 and 5:13. It is by faith in his name (who he is and what he has done) that we are forgiven and have eternal life.
little children—Greek, “little sons,” or “dear sons and daughters”; not the same Greek as in 1 Jn 2:13, “little children,” “infants” (in age and standing). He calls all to whom he writes, “little sons” (1 Jn 2:1, Greek; 1 Jn 2:28; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21); but only in 1 Jn 2:13, 18 he uses the term “little children,” or “infants.” Our Lord, whose Spirit John so deeply drank into, used to His disciples (Jn 13:33) the term “little sons,” or dear sons and daughters; but in Jn 21:5, “little children.” It is an undesigned coincidence with the Epistle here, that in John’s Gospel somewhat similarly the classification, “lambs, sheep, sheep,” occurs.
are forgiven—“have been, and are forgiven you”: all God’s sons and daughters alike enjoy this privilege.
Ver. 12.—I am writing to you, little children (see on ver. 1), because, etc. Beyond resonable doubt, ὅτι is “because,” not “that,” in vers. 12–14; it gives the reason for his writing, not the substance of what he has to say (cf. ver. 21). For his Name’s sake must refer to Christ, not only because of the context, but also of the instrumental διά (cf. ch. 3:23; 5:13; John 1:12); and Christ’s Name means his character, especially as Saviour. Because they have already partaken of the ἱλασμός (ver. 2), and have had their sins washed away in the blood of Christ (ch. 1:7), therefore he writes to them this Epistle. Note the perfects throughout, indicating the permanent result of past action: ἀφέωνται, ἐγνώκατε, νενικήκατε.
 MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 72–73). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
Many people are unaware of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. The following are short profiles of some of America’s founding fathers, sharing their thoughts on how God’s hand could be seen in the establishment of this nation.
In June of 1776, John Adams was in Philadelphia, deep in the flurry of political activity. The Continental Congress appointed him, along with Thomas Jefferson and three others, to draft a “Declaration of Independence” from England. Although Adams was later to become the second president of the United States, he is best remembered for being one of the great minds and statesmen of the American Revolution. His prolific diaries, letters, and books provide an invaluable insight into the politics of the time and to what liberty meant to the founding fathers.
Freedom, Adams believed, did not rest solely on man. Instead, he wrote, “It is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand … the only foundation for a free constitution is pure virtues, and if this cannot be inspired into our people, in a greater measure, than they have it now, they may change their rulers, and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty” (letter to cousin Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776).
John Adams would face another difficult situation as the second president of the United States in 1798. He had a hard act to follow — the popular George Washington. Although he tried to avoid the trap of partisan politics, Adams soon found himself caught in its web. And if trouble at home wasn’t bad enough, diplomatic relations with France were rapidly sinking. Adams prepared the American army and navy for defensive measures against France.
It was during this time that Adams spoke to the first brigade of the militia of Massachusetts, and re-affirmed the foundations for the American government:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion,” Adams said. “Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Thomas Jefferson was just 33 years old when he was given the task of writing the Declaration of Independence. His knowledge of political philosophy, his eloquence as a writer, and his belief in natural rights made him a leader among the patriots.
But he was not without his political problems. Jefferson’s opponents often portrayed him as an infidel and an atheist. But in reality he was a staunch supporter of the freedom of religion and considered it a very personal matter — one he often pondered in his writings. The man who gave us the immortal words “when in the course of human events” also gave us these reflections on God and his role in freedom. Etched in the marble of the Jefferson Memorial in his honor are these words:
“…God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever” (from notes on the state of Virginia).
In the early 1780’s, Jefferson was drafting a plan for future territories of the United States. Much of this plan became incorporated into the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which established guidelines for territories applying for statehood. Under this law, any new states added to the nation would be recognized as equals with the original 13 states and not as colonies. The ordinance’s provisions for the states included self-government, religious tolerance and the prohibition of slavery.
Jefferson’s belief in the unquestionable relationship between good government and religious freedom is reflected in article three of the Northwest Ordinance, where he writes:
“Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Noah Webster’s dictionaries, spellers, and grammars shaped the education of America in the 18th century and his legacy still lives on today. As author of the first American dictionary and a son of the American Revolution, Webster sought to give the new country a different kind of freedom — a culture of its own. Webster considered his most important project his revision of the King James Bible. He wanted to make it accessible to every American. He believed God played an important part in the education of the people and in the preservation of the American experiment.
Here is his advice on how to choose the nation’s leaders:
“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty, and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted” (“Advice to the Young” from Value of the Bible and Excellence of the Christian Religion, 1834).
Benjamin Franklin’s role in drafting the Declaration of Independence was far from his first invention. The founding father contributed to America both in politics and in science. From almanacs and kite flying, to serving as ambassador and statesman, Benjamin Franklin was truly one of the most versatile of America’s founding fathers. Franklin’s scientific mind also led to many intellectual and philosophical discussions.
Although he was not a regular church-goer in his adult life, he expressed the importance of implementing God’s moral values in all aspects of life. His writings demonstrate an acknowledgement of God that transcended the scientific mysteries Franklin longed to answer. In 1731 he articulated a creed to live by, both personally and in public life:
“That there is one God, Father of the universe. That He is infinitely good, powerful and wise. That He is omnipresent. That He ought to be worshipped, by adoration prayer and thanksgiving both in public and private.”
In the summer of 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had been in bitter debate for ten long weeks. Tempers flared over heated issues between the northern and southern states. As tensions rose, some delegates threatened to pull out of the convention altogether, leaving the fledgling nation without a strong constitution.
When it looked like no one would ever be able to agree, the elder statesman of group took charge. 81 year-old Benjamin Franklin stood to his feet. And although he was not known to be devoutly religious, he gave this contentious gathering a stirring call for prayer.
“I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? … I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the builders of Babel … Therefore, I beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning…”
Benjamin Rush’s impact on America did not stop with his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Although he was a member of the Continental Congress, Rush was also one of the most influential physicians in early America. He served as the continental army’s Surgeon General during the American Revolution.
Under President John Adams, Rush was Treasurer of the United States Mint. More notably, the statesman encouraged support for building more African churches in Philadelphia. Rush was convinced this would reduce high black prison populations, since many of the convicted served time for stealing food and clothing.
Benjamin Rush’s advocacy reflected earlier writings of his beliefs in a strong religious and moral foundation for all people. In 1806 he wrote:
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
Little did William Penn know that his vision of establishing a society that was godly, virtuous and exemplary for all would one day birth the freedoms of a nation. After establishing Pennsylvania with land granted by King Charles the second, Penn set out to plan a city called Philadelphia. Years later William Penn’s historic city would become the first capital of the United States and out of it the nation’s foundational structure would be laid.
Although Penn is best remembered for his vision of a democratic government and peaceful co-existence with the native Indians, in 1682, William Penn’s beliefs of government fundamentals echo those of biblical principles:
“It is impossible, Penn wrote, that any people of government should ever prosper, where men render not unto God, that which is God’s, as well as to Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.”
One of the lesser-known patriots and founding fathers of our nation was Scottish born James Wilson. The young lawyer’s writings on the British Parliament’s authority impressed members of the continental congress so much they elected him to the body in 1775. The following year, Wilson signed the Declaration of Independence and later the United States Constitution.
Serving as a United States Supreme Court Justice until his death, James Wilson realized there was a much higher law than man’s to consider. When questioning what the ultimate cause of moral obligation is, Wilson determined, “I give it this answer, the will of God. This is the supreme law. His just and full right of imposing laws, and our duty in obeying them, are the sources of our moral obligations.”
In May of 1776, fighting was well under way in the American Revolution. For General George Washington it was a stressful time. Under his command in New York he had about 7 thousand men. The rag tag army was poorly trained. They were about to face some thirty thousand soldiers from the most highly trained and successful military force in the world. The Americans were outnumbered and outgunned. As they waited in New York for the onslaught of British military power, Washington issued orders for his troops to pray for the campaign ahead.
On May 17, 1776, he wrote that that day was, “…to be observed as a day of fasting humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of almighty God, that it would please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the united colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation.”
After the Revolution, Washington was elected America’s first president. Years later, as he prepared to leave office and return to his beloved Mount Vernon, foremost in his mind was the need for the young nation to stay neutral on foreign issues until it grew stronger. George Washington chose to send this message to the nation in a farewell address — not in a speech, but in the September, 1796 Philadelphia newspapers. In it, the president advised Americans to value the newly formed republic and its constitution. But Washington cautioned that the country’s success depended not only on national strength but also on two essential factors:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
CBP Arizona Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal, saying that his intent was “to dispel some of the misinformation that’s out there,” was careful to point out many of the things Ocasio-Cortez and others had claimed that detainees did not have, such as clean diapers, clean clothing, snacks and toothbrushes.
Reminder this admin is CHOOSING to round up refugees seeking asylum, fighting to not give children toothpaste or soap & making people sleep on dirt floors.
They say it’s bc of a lack of ????. You know what saves money? Not putting masses of people in internment in the first place.
Just a few days later, Ocasio-Cortez visited the border with a small delegation of Congressional Democrats, coming out of the detention centers with horror stories about over-crowded, unsanitary conditions and border patrol agents who had allegedly told migrant women to drink water from the toilet.
Just left the 1st CBP facility.
I see why CBP officers were being so physically &sexually threatening towards me.
Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets.
This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.
President Donald Trump has a message for illegal immigrants who are unhappy in US detention centers: if you don’t like them, stay home.
The president took to Twitter with his message for illegal aliens following Democratic lawmakers, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visiting a detention facility in Texas and running to the media about complaints they heard from those detained there.
“If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!
President Trump also explained that the agents running the facilities are having to do jobs that they are not trained for, in order to take care of the flood of people crossing our border.
“Our Border Patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors or nurses. The Democrats bad Immigration Laws, which could be easily fixed, are the problem. Great job by Border Patrol, above and beyond. Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions. No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are. Just Pols. If they really want to fix them, change the Immigration Laws and Loopholes. So easy to do!” Trump added.
…..came from, and in far safer conditions. No matter how good things actually look, even if perfect, the Democrat visitors will act shocked & aghast at how terrible things are. Just Pols. If they really want to fix them, change the Immigration Laws and Loopholes. So easy to do!
“Now, if you really want to fix the Crisis at the Southern Border, both humanitarian and otherwise, tell migrants not to come into our country unless they are willing to do so legally, and hopefully through a system based on Merit. This way we have no problems at all!” Trump wrote.
…..Now, if you really want to fix the Crisis at the Southern Border, both humanitarian and otherwise, tell migrants not to come into our country unless they are willing to do so legally, and hopefully through a system based on Merit. This way we have no problems at all!
Americans who celebrated the Fourth of July in 1880 were celebrating a concept of freedom that is opposite to the concept of freedom that Americans today celebrate on the Fourth.
The freedom that 1880 Americans celebrated was a society in which there was which there was no income taxation, no mandatory charity, no government management or regulation of economic activity, no immigration controls, no systems of public (i.e., government) schooling, no Federal Reserve System, no paper money, no punishment for drug offenses, and no Pentagon, CIA, or NSA, no wars in faraway lands, no secret surveillance, no torture, no assassination, and no indefinite detention.
The “freedom” that Americans today celebrate is one in which there is Social Security, Medicare, education grants, farm subsidies, and other mandatory-charity programs, government management and regulation of economic activity, immigration controls, public (i.e., government) schooling, the Federal Reserve, paper money, punishment for possessing, distributing, or ingesting unapproved substances, a massive military establishment consisting of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, and forever wars, secret surveillance, torture, assassination, and indefinite detention.
Thing about that: Two opposite systems and yet people under both systems celebrating their freedom. Something is clearly not right with this picture.
The Declaration of Independence set forth the ideal: All people have been endowed by nature and the Creator with certain unalienable rights — that is, rights that cannot be taken away or destroyed by anyone, including one’s own government. In fact, as the Declaration points out, the purpose of government is to protect the exercise of these rights, not infringe upon or destroy them.
The Constitution, which brought into existence the federal government, should be viewed in light of the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. We are all aware, of course, that the Constitution permitted the continuation of slavery, which is the most massive violation of freedom imaginable. There were also other violations of liberty. Notwithstanding such exceptions, however, the Framers were striving to achieve a society that reflected the values in the Declaration — that is, one where people are free and where government’s purpose is to protect that freedom.
That was the idea of limited government. The Framers could have used the Constitution to call into existence a government whose powers were omnipotent, one in which federal officials would simply be trusted to do the right thing, with the aim of taking care of the citizenry and keeping them safe and secure. They didn’t do that. They said: Here is the federal government and here are its few and limited powers.
Why were the Framers so intent on emphasizing the limited nature of the federal government as outlined in the Constitution? Because they knew that the American people would never accept anything less. Remember: When the Constitutional Convention met, it was with the purpose of simply altering the Articles of Confederation, a type of governmental system under which the powers of the federal government were so few and weak that it didn’t even have the power to tax.
That’s the way the American people wanted it. A strong federal government was the last thing they desired. Why? Because they agreed with the principles enunciated of the Declaration and they knew that a strong federal government would end up destroying their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness.
Instead of modifying the Articles, the Constitutional Convention proposed a different form of governmental structure, one in which the federal government would have the power to tax. Americans were extremely leery. Why? Because they were convinced that people’s own government, not foreign regimes, is the biggest threat to people’s freedom and well-being. The last thing they wanted, after successfully taking up arms against their own government in 1776 — the British government — was another government that would become just as tyrannical.
That’s why the Framers sold the Constitution as a charter that was bringing into existence a government with very limited powers. Americans went along with the deal but only on the condition that the Constitution be immediately amended to expressly prohibit federal officials from destroying their natural, God-given rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and others.
Why did they feel the need to expressly restrict federal officials from doing such things? Because they were certain that federal officials would end up doing those sorts of things if they weren’t expressly restricted from doing them!
They also restricted the feds from killing anyone, including foreigners, without due process of law, which meant a trial and a right to be heard. They also restricted the power of the feds to search people’s persons, homes, or businesses. They expressly guaranteed such things as trial by jury, right to counsel, and right to confront witnesses.
Why did they feel the need to detail such protections? Because they were certain that the feds would do such things if they were not expressly restricted from doing them.
The society that Americans brought into existence (notwithstanding slavery and other violations) reflected their belief in the principles of the Declaration. Freedom for them was the right of a person to engage freely in any occupation or profession without governmental permission, to engage freely in trades with others, to accumulate the fruits of one’s earnings, and to decide for himself what to do with his own money. Freedom entailed the right to live one’s life any way he chose, so long as he didn’t murder, rape, steal, defraud, trespass, or otherwise violate the rights of others to live their lives the way they chose. Freedom also meant the absence of a vast, permanent military-intelligence establishment (i.e., the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA).
Those were revolutionary notions. Those Americans are the only ones in history to have subscribed to them and actually put them into practice.
Imagine if the Framers had said to Americans that the Constitution was going to bring into existence the type of governmental system we have today — one based on mandatory charity (that is, the power of the federal government to forcibly take money from one person and give it to another person, as with Social Security and Medicare), government management and control of economic activity, government-issued paper money, a central bank (i.e., Federal Reserve), immigration controls, drug laws, income taxation and the IRS, trade wars, and an enormous, permanent, ever-growing military-intelligence establishment that would have the powers to round up people, incarcerate them in military dungeons or concentration camps for indefinite periods, torture them, assassinate them, spy on them, and embroil them in foreign wars, coups, meddling, and interventions.
The American people would have died laughing. They would have thought it was a joke. They would have tarred and feathered the Framers and given them the boot. They would have simply continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, where the federal government didn’t even have the power to tax.
Why would our American ancestors have chosen to reject the type of governmental system Americans today celebrate as “freedom”?
Because unlike today’s Americans, our American ancestors understood that the type of system that Americans celebrate today as “freedom” isn’t freedom at all.
Few dispute that Christianity has played a prominent role in the history of the United States from its founding in the 18th century into the modern day.
Oftentimes, American clergy have spoken to churches or other gatherings about Independence Day, patriotism, and what relationship if any it has to piety.
Many inspirational sermons and messages have been preached on American soil, and on a host of diverse issues social, religious, and political.
Here are five profound messages given by preachers in American history centered on the Fourth of July, patriotism, or the call to create a more perfect union.
On May 17, 1776, famed 18th century preacher John Witherspoon gave a sermon generally considered a major inspiration for the American colonists in their struggle for independence.
Witherspoon was president of the College of New Jersey, later renamed Princeton University, and was an ordained Presbyterian clergyman.
In a famous address given at Princeton titled “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men,” Witherspoon based his sermon on Psalm 76:10.
“I willingly embrace the opportunity of declaring my opinion without any hesitation, that the cause in which America is now in arms, is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature,” declared Witherspoon.
“I am satisfied that the confederacy of the colonies, has not been the effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep and general conviction, that our civil and religious liberties, and consequently in a great measure the temporal and eternal happiness of us and our posterity, depended on the issue.”
Author and Christ Covenant Church Senior Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote in 2016 that he believed the popular sermon “helped push the colonies toward independence.”
“It is widely regarded as one of the principal sermons that prepared the way for the Declaration of Independence, a document that Witherspoon himself — the lone clergymen — would sign on July 4, 1776,” wrote DeYoung for The Gospel Coalition.
Preached in honor of the recently acquired independence of the United States, Lathrop argued that a republican form of government is the only one “framed under the immediate direction of heaven.”
“Moses was immediately ordained by God to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, and to communicate to them the divine ordinances and laws. But he claimed no authority to command them until by exhibiting evidence of his divine commission, he had obtained their consent to follow him. Much less did he claim for his family an hereditary jurisdiction over them,” he said.
“When he found the burden of government too heavy, for him to sustain alone, he laid the case before the people. He never presumed, of his own prerogative, to create officers under him; but he proposed to them, that they should choose proper persons to assist him.”
Not to be confused with the best-selling author of the modern day, the Rev. James Patterson served as pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In a sermon preached on Independence Day 1825, Patterson denounced the practice of slavery, drawing on the Old Testament Book of Exodus and the history of Hebrews demanding freedom.
“But while offering up our prayers and thanks to our Great Deliverer for our political redemption, Fellow citizens will you suffer us to remind you of a race of beings at our own firesides, wearing a chain much more galling than that of our fathers, when with their hearts up to heaven, and their swords in their hands they resolved to die, or be free,” said Patterson.
“It has always appeared to us equally incongruous and unchristian to assemble together to hear our Declaration of Independence read, while we at that very moment are holding men in slavery — and men whose blood is the same with that in our own veins.”
Patterson concluded his speech by stating that he hoped “day is not far off, when this abominable traffic, by the united exertions of Christian nations will be declared piracy throughout the world.”
REV. MARK H. CREECH — July 4th – it is the main national holiday of the United States. We call it Independence Day. Alan Keyes, former ambassador during Reagan days and conservative political activist, pundit, and author today, says it really ought to be called “Declaration of Independence Day.”… (more)
BRYAN FISCHER — Uh-oh. New data from the notorious pro-homosexual organization GLAAD reveals that America is rapidly falling out of love with the radical LGBT movement. And guess who is leading this wave of disaffection? Millennials aged 18-34…. (more)
THE HILL — The “Salute to America” event in Washington, D.C., on July 4 is set to have the largest and longest fireworks display the capital city has ever seen, officials said. Following President Trump’s speech from the Lincoln Memorial and flyover from military jets, the fireworks display has been bulked out thanks to donations from two major firework distributors, according to the Washington Examiner…. (more)
YOUTUBE — Expected Live at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 4th in Washington, D.C. President Trump will take center stage at this year’s July 4th festivities that will include Army tanks, military flyovers and remarks by the president…. (more)
WHITEHOUSE.GOV — President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will celebrate Independence Day at the White House by welcoming military families to the South Lawn for an afternoon picnic. In the evening, staff and guests will join the military families to enjoy the traditional fireworks display provided by the National Park Service…. (more)
BREITBART — First, there will be a new event at the Lincoln Memorial that is specifically dedicated to honoring the United States armed forces called “Salute to America.” The one-hour “Salute to America” program from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET will feature an address by Trump, military aircraft flyovers, and performances by each branch of the military…. (more)
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Stormy weather could play spoiler for people hoping to catch a glimpse of President Trump’s Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital, but the show will go on rain or shine…. (more)
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., screamed at federal law enforcement agents “in a threatening manner” during a visit to a Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, and refused to tour the facility, according to two people who witnessed the incident…. (more)
FOX NEWS — The 8-year-old child actor who went viral for impersonating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, is no longer going to make videos due to death threats and harassment she and her family have received…. (more)
NEWSMAX — The job as White House press secretary has already proven to be a bruising one for newly appointed Stephanie Grisham, who was reportedly battered and “bruised” in a scuffle with North Korean guards, according to reports. CNN’s Jim Acosta, a frequent Trump administration antagonist, tweeted sources called it “all out brawl”: “New WH Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham got into a scuffle with the North Koreans to move members of the WH press pool into position to cover Trump and Kim, I’m told. Grisham was a bit bruised. Source called it ‘an all out brawl.'”… (more)
Red Hen Restaurant owner who ousted Sanders in 2018 says ‘new rules apply’
BYRON YORK — The toxicity of the resistance to President Trump has risen in recent days, with the nation’s most respected newspapers publishing rationalizations for denying Trump supporters public accommodation and for doxxing career federal employees, while a journalist found himself under physical attack from the so-called anti-fascist group Antifa, which has stepped up its violent activities since Trump’s election…. (more)
How the leftwing lords of the internet intend to swing the 2020 election
WORLDNETDAILY — It’s one of the great paradoxes of our time. Even though by all appearances the Democratic Party has gone mad, embracing wildly radical policies out of sync with most Americans – – from mass gun confiscation to socialism to late-term abortion to allowing convicted terrorists to vote – – the party could well see its candidate elected president in 2020…. (more)
FOX NEWS — After days of speculation – – and optimistic statements by the two leaders – – President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met and shook hands Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. It was their first face-to-face meeting since an ill-fated summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February…. (more)
Ex-Obama adviser Ben Rhodes says ‘Trump is lying’ about Obama’s failed N. Korean initiatives
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump made history by crossing the border that divides North and South Korea on Sunday. Less than two days after Trump extended an invitation over Twitter, the president shared a handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Korean demilitarized zone in what was an unprecedented display of goodwill between the U.S. and North Korea…. (more)
THE HILL — MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called the second night of the first 2020 Democratic debates a “disaster for the Democratic Party” and said that he hopes voters were not watching the face-off, which aired on his network. “With apologies to our friends and watching, last night was a disaster for the Democratic Party,” Scarborough said Friday on “Morning Joe.” “My only hope is people were not watching and I will tell you why.”… (more)
REV. AUSTIN MILES — MIAMI 6/26/19 – Wednesday night, ten Presidential hopefuls took the stage in Miami to sell the public on their qualifications (?) to be President of The United States. These 10 candidates (out of 20) included: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); former HUD Secretary Julián Castro; former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas); Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Yes, Pocahontas rides again…. (more)
NEWSMAX — Pollster and political consultant Doug Schoen said President Donald Trump emerged as the true winner of the Democrats’ debate. He made his comments Friday in a column posted on the Fox News website. “Thursday night, the remaining 10 Democratic candidates took the stage in Miami, Florida for the second night of the Democratic National Committee’s first primary debate,” he wrote…. (more)
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump said Friday that he “wasn’t impressed” with the first Democratic primary debates held this week, suggesting that the party is moving too far to the left. “You know I’ve been watching the debates a little bit in between meetings and I wasn’t impressed,” Trump said while answering questions with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro while in Japan for the G20 summit, according to The Hill…. (more)
CNN — Author Marianne Williamson criticized Democratic candidates’ emphasis on “plans” during the second night of primary debates and claimed they would be insufficient to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election…. (more)
BYRON YORK — On the second night of the Democratic presidential debate in Miami, NBC moderators asked candidates whether they would support decriminalizing the act of illegally crossing the border into the United States – – that is, reducing the seriousness and consequences of illegal entry to the level of a parking ticket…. (more)
JERRY NEWCOMBE — Last week’s cross decision was a major case for religious liberty. Perhaps it even spells the death knell of the so-called Lemon Test…an aptly-named decision from the early 1970s that has often been used against any religious expression in the public square. The Supreme Court ruled that a 40-foot memorial cross in the state of Maryland was not unconstitutional. The cross was built beginning in 1919 to commemorate many soldiers from Prince George’s County who died in service to their country in World War I…. (more)
JAMES LAMBERT — I fondly remember the time during my freshman year (second semester) in college when John Parrott was my roommate at “New Dorm.” I lost my previous roommate during my first semester when he decided to leave the college in 1969…. (more)
BRYAN FISCHER — Bob Mueller will testify before two congressional committees on July 17, a day which promises to be the worst day of his life. The problem for Mueller is that even though the Democrats have called these hearings, Republicans get to ask questions too, a prospect which will have Mueller quaking in his Gucci loafers…. (more)
So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
It wasn’t easy for Peter to restrain himself. He was a natural leader, and leaders lead others. However, the events of Christ’s last week on earth shattered any dreams Peter might have had concerning self–glory and leadership.
He watched in frustration as the Savior wrapped a towel around His waist and began washing the disciples’ feet (John 13). When He approached Peter with the basin of water, the disciple recoiled: “Lord, You shall never bathe my feet!”
Jesus was firm in His reply, “Peter, don’t you understand? Unless you allow Me to do this, then you will have no part of Me.”
A restless silence stood between them. God was confronting the motive of Peter’s heart. Peter didn’t understand the ways of God, and he wasn’t ready for service. It takes both humility and grace to serve others. It also takes the same to allow others to serve you. Peter’s life was still on the drawing board. Soon he would learn firsthand of God’s grace through the painful trial of humility.
Jesus said to the disciples: “If you want to be first, you must first learn to be last.” The only way you will develop a servant’s spirit is to treasure this truth deep within your heart.
Lord, I need the grace to serve and be served by others. Give me a humble spirit. Let me learn how to be last.
Despite our many national failings, it cannot be denied that our nation has deep Christian roots. And it is because of, not despite, these godly, Christian origins that America became a great nation and that our daring national experiment succeeded as wildly as it did.
After all, in the beginning, we were just a bunch of struggling, fragmented colonies, and it seemed like the height of folly to take on the might of the British homeland. How, then, did we become the greatest global superpower in world history?
It is our biblically based foundations that paved the way. To the extent we have cast those off, we have deteriorated.
Consider the original charters of our first colonies. Stephen McDowell cites these representative examples.
The First Charter of Massachusetts (1629) states the desire that all the inhabitants would “be so religiously, peaceably, and civilly governed, as their good life and orderly conversation may win and incite the natives of country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in Our royal intention and the adventurers’ free profession, is the principal end of this plantation.”
Adopted Jan. 14, 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut began with the inhabitants covenanting together under God “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess.”
In 1682 the Great Law of Pennsylvania was enacted revealing the desire of William Penn and the inhabitants of the colony to establish “laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, (whereby God may have his due, Caesar his due, and the people their due).”
Not surprisingly, in some of these colonies, Sabbath (Sunday) laws were enforced, church attendance was mandatory, and biblical morality was required.
Obviously, we cannot return to those days, since America today is greatly diversified. And even among professing Christians, we are far from totally unified. Plus, we cannot expect tens of millions of non-Christians and non-believers to practice some form of Christianity.
To be quite frank, it would be dangerous to think that by passing certain laws, we could turn 21st century America into 18th century America.
Certainly not. To do so would be the equivalent of trying to make America into a Christian theocracy, which is something I categorically reject.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot recover much of the spirit and ethic of our earliest founders. And it certainly doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus cannot live as followers of Jesus. To the contrary, given the unique history and Constitution of our country, our nations depends on it. And without a thriving church, America cannot be truly great.
So, as the colonies developed and the United States of America was born, as the population grew and diversified, changes had to come. And they most certainly did.
There were greater divergences in Christian expression along with an ever-increasing secularism.
But the Bible still remained prominent in American thinking. And, quite certainly, the nation identified as Christian and was, broadly speaking, a God-fearing country.
This is reflected by the observations of the French philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville during his celebrated visit to America in the 1830s.
As he famously remarked, “Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.”
De Tocqueville noticed how bookseller shops contained “an enormous quantity of religious works, Bibles, sermons, edifying anecdotes, controversial divinity, and reports of charitable societies.” He also spoke of visiting people living in log cabins whose only book was the Bible.
So, despite the diversity of the United States in the 1830s, the biblical principles on which the nation were founded continued to have a profound influence.
As de Tocqueville also noted, “The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.”
And, he added, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other. Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts – the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.”
Ultimately, it was our Christian foundations that enabled us to eradicate slavery and fight against other injustices. If we believe in certain fundamental God-given rights, they must apply to all.
As our first president, George Washington, said in his Farewell Address, “Religion and morality” are the “firmest props of the duties of men and citizens” and therefore are “indispensable supports” of “the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity.” And, he added, “[R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
On this Fourth of July, we do well to remember his words. Our very freedoms are at stake.
Not much has changed in the way Americans celebrate the Fourth in the last 243 years.
A bright blend of family, friends, picnics, and patriotism fills the summer air; red, white, and blue adorns every Main Street; parade floats roll by to the brassy tunes of the local marching band. Sparklers and firecrackers dazzle the kids in the backyard (no more Roman Candles after what happened last year) while the parents revel in happy hour all day long. Ah yes, Independence Day — a day for flipping some burgers, blasting some Lee Greenwood, and (of course) pouring on the bug spray for the evening fireworks show.
It’s safe to say that most of us love our Independence Day traditions, but where did these traditions come from, anyway? Why is it that we religiously stare at sky explosions every time July 4th rolls around? With all of the fretting over Trump’s “Salute to America” extravaganza, an inquiry into the history of Independence Day celebrations seems to gain extra precedence.
From the very beginning, the Founders envisioned Independence Day as a spectacular celebration. In a letter John Adams penned to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, regarding the colonies’ newly declared independence from Great Britain, he wrote:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
In his letter Adams anticipates quite presciently the nature of Fourth of July celebrations up to the present day. In nearly any American town or city, one can stumble upon a Fourth of July parade, a special show or concert, or ceremonial gunfire. And with Americans spending over $1 billion on fireworks every Fourth, “Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other” is an apt description of the nightscape of Independence Day.
While Adams predicted the nature of Independence Day festivities, he was off about one important thing — the actual date when American independence would be celebrated “in succeeding Generations.”
He assumed the “Second Day of July 1776” would go down in history because the (Second) Continental Congress, that astute body of delegates from the original 13 colonies, officially declared freedom from Great Britain on July 2nd, 1776 (not on July 4th). On July 2nd, the Congress unanimously passed a resolution submitted by Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia. The resolution stated:
Resolved, 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.
By passing the “Lee Resolution,” the Continental Congress officially cleaved the young colonies from the Crown. No more King George III, no more taxation without representation. The United Colonies were colonies no more. Arguably, this moment was the true beginning of an independent United States.
While Lee’s Resolution cut straight to the question of independence from Great Britain, his words did not possess the finesse and charisma required to inspire a nation to rebel. This great task — persuading the people of America to reject the Crown by a formal Declaration of Independence — was left to the “Committee of Five,” which consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman.
After some encouragement from Adams, Jefferson personally drafted the Declaration. After a few rounds of edits, wherein Jefferson’s anti-slavery clause was notoriously removed, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This document was swiftly published and sent out to the populace to stoke up patriotic fervor, and the rest is, well, history.
Thanks to Jefferson’s eloquence and the fame of the Declaration, July 4th prevailed as the day to commemorate American independence. An article from a 1777 issue of the Virginia Gazette described a Virginian town’s celebration of America’s first birthday, with streamers, cannon fire — the whole shebang.
Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colours of the United States and streamers displayed. At one o’clock, the yards being properly manned, they began the celebration of the day by a discharge of thirteen cannon from each of the ships, and one from each of the thirteen gallies, in honour of the Thirteen United States.
To top off celebrations, a bright array of fireworks lit up the sky.
The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.
As the record shows, from the very inception of American independence, the Fourth of July has been celebrated with grand cannon fire, ceremonial displays of military prowess, and a whole lot of fireworks.
While Independence Day was celebrated on July 4 from the very beginning, Independence Day was not an official federal holiday until Congress passed a law on June 28, 1870. With the Civil War recently over, and the Thirteenth Amendment recently passed, Independence Day could at last begin to gain a coherence it always lacked.
Americans towns celebrated the newly dubbed federal holiday with parades, picnics, barbecues, ceremonial cannon fire, public games, and play-acting. Military companies of infantry assembled from the surrounding counties to participate in drills, dress parades, and the overall pomp and circumstance of the day. Fireworks concluded the day’s festivities as traditional. Sound familiar?
In short, not much has changed in the way Americans celebrate the Fourth in the last 243 years even though much has changed about America. And while I do think rolling tanks onto the National Mall is ridiculous, militaristic pomp and circumstance has always been a part of Independence Day celebrations.
So, when the fireworks start and that first mosquito bites, just remember that you are taking part in a long and storied tradition of Independence Day in the USA.
The aftermath of the revolutionary story, even in brief, is rich and exciting.
Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the July 23, 1976, issue of National Review.
* * *
O! Ye unborn Inhabitants of America! Should this Page escape its destin’d Conflagration at the Year’s End, and these Alphabetical Letters remain legible — when your Eyes behold the Sun after he has rolled the Seasons round for two or three Centuries more, you will know that in Anno Domini 1758, we dream’d of your times.
So the Boston philomath Nathaniel Ames wrote in his almanac almost two decades before Congress declared the 13 colonies independence from Britain. It had been a century and a half since Captain Newport established at Jamestown the first permanent English foothold; almost as long since Ames’s New England forebears established their “city upon a hill” along Massachusetts Bay. Now, in the mid-eighteenth century, England’s American colonists began to share a sense of special destiny that would later be woven into the fabric of a new American nationalism.
Without this awakening consciousness of the uniqueness of the American experience, the colonists could never have transcended their traditional loyalty to the “English nation.” Their commitment crossed colonial boundaries to embrace the American continent. It is this cultural phenomenon — the emergence after 1750 of a new American self-consciousness — that underlay the American Revolution begun in 1763 and consummated in 1789.
We are commemorating on July 4 of this year the Bicentennial of one event in that tremendous transformation. Independence, however, did not then and there create the American nation. Independence alone, without the existence of a continental political structure, could not have fulfilled the vision Ames articulated 18 years before. It was one thing for a South Carolinian, for example, to feel a sense of common destiny with a citizen of New York. It was quite another for the Carolinian and the New Yorker to come together under a single national government. Separation from Great Britain was one step in the morphology of the Revolution. But the “real revolution,” to use John Adams’ term, consisted in the creation of the United States of America out of 13 highly individualistic English colonies.
The juridical origins of our federal democratic republic go back to the 1760s, when the 13 separate colonial representative assemblies were each making insistent demands for legislative autonomy. Such demands by 13 “little parliaments” in the American woods conflicted with the British Parliament’s declaration of imperial legislative supremacy. We see a groping towards federalism in the colonists’ tentative thought that Parliament might legislate on external affairs (trade, for example), while the assemblies would legislate autonomously on internal affairs (taxation, for example).
That formula — clearly enunciated in 1767 by John Dickinson — failed. It represented a half-way house that satisfied neither Parliament nor, ultimately, the colonists themselves. The former clung to its declaration of legislative supremacy “in all cases whatsoever”: the latter, 13 distinct political societies with a growing sense of a common American identity, had gone too far along the road to self-government. The colonies and England came to blows when the assemblies at last denied that Parliament had any right to legislate for them at all.
For seven years, in fact, from the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774 to the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, the colonies-become-states operated as independent commonwealths cooperating with each other in pursuit of a common cause. They were a sort of United Nations without benefit of charter.
Following Lexington, several members of the Continental Congress pointed to the lack of a written legal agreement for joint action by the states. Even before the Great Declaration, Benjamin Franklin had startled the members of Congress with his suggestion for articles of confederation. A resolution for such an instrument was eventually coupled with the resolution for independence. In consequence, articles of confederation, fittingly written by the same John Dickinson who had suggested federalism within the Empire, were brought forward within the week following the act of separation.
It took almost a year and a half, however, for Congress to agree on a draft to be transmitted to the states. Understandably, Congress was busy with other matters at that time, including keeping out of reach of the ever-threatening Redcoats. (Indeed, when Congress was not fleeing from the British army, it was avoiding another invasion: the hundreds of European volunteers pursuing commissions and glory in the American service.) Not only did Congress have ultimate responsibility for the military conduct of the war, including raising and paying armies, it had also to obtain foreign aid, attempt to uphold the public credit, and — above all — maintain American independence in the face of the most discouraging odds. Historians have unfairly maligned this Congress, which did, after all, see the states through to victory in a very doubtful contest.
Congress finally submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states on November 15, 1777. Ratification was to be by unanimous consent, a consent not forthcoming for another four years.
The chief stumbling block to agreement was the enormous western landholdings of some of the states. Virginia claimed the grandest domains of all, a domain based on the sea-to-sea charter originally granted her by a king whose successors she now disdained.
The so-called landless states, led by Maryland, refused to ratify the articles until the others ceded their western claims to the general government. New York and Connecticut (excepting the three-million-acre Western Reserve) soon complied. The English southern campaign that began with the occupation of Charleston in 1780 helped convince Virginia to cooperate. (In January 1781, the month of Virginia’s acquiescence, traitor Benedict Arnold led a Redcoat raid on Richmond, the new capitol.) Virginia’s cession, which included a federal guarantee of the previous land claims of her citizens, led to Maryland’s ratification of the Articles of Confederation on March 1, 1781. At last, only eight months before Yorktown, the United States had a constitution.
There were, fittingly, 13 Articles of Confederation. The fifth of these authorized what Congress had been doing all along: each state would be represented by no fewer than two nor more than seven delegates, their salaries to be paid by the states; voting in Congress would be by state, not by head. The ninth, which is the longest article, laid out Congress’ powers, which were few: to declare war, to adjudicate interstate disputes, to coin money; each power required the agreement of nine states. Amendments to the Articles required unanimous consent. In a burst of optimism, Article Eleven offered a place in the American Confederacy to Canada, an offer which the ungrateful Canadians declined. (Article Eleven was more modest than Franklin’s earlier, rejected federal plan, which included the British West Indies and Ireland as well as Canada.)
But even with the long-postponed ratification of our first constitution, the particularistic Spirit of ‘76 remained in the ascendant. The Articles of Confederation were ratified by the states, not by the people. “The said states,” according to Article Three, “hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other.” The Revolution had yet to be consummated. A governmental structure capable of giving political expression to American national feeling had yet to be created.
Every student of history remembers being taught somewhere, sometime, of the “weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.” And from a nationalist point of view, they were weak. The Congress under the Articles could neither tax nor regulate trade. The states, as well as the Congress, could coin money (an important attribute of sovereignty). The general government’s slight authority was over states, not individuals. There was no executive branch, no federal judiciary. The states remained supreme.
A depression in the mid-1870d exacerbated the financial chaos: agrarianized state legislatures issued legal tender bills of credit and legislated postponement of private debts. Rhode Island (conservatives labeled her “Rogue Island”) presented a picture of eager debtors waving inflated Rhode Island dollars as they closed o’er the landscape frantic creditors who hurled themselves across state lines or into Narragansett Bay to avoid receiving payment in worthless currency. With no central regulatory authority, states vied with one another in a kind of commercial warfare; New Jersey, for example, placed a prohibitive tax on the Sandy Hook lighthouse in retaliation for New York’s tariff, which discriminated against both New Jersey’s and Connecticut’s commerce. True, by 1787, most states had come to reciprocity agreements with one another. But who could say when and where commercial warfare would break out anew among the potentially proliferating states of the confederation?
In foreign affairs, the Congress unsuccessfully attempted to cope with Spain’s monopolization of the lower Mississippi. Negotiations only succeeded in stirring up regional animosities when northern representatives seemed ready to sacrifice the Mississippi for commercial relations with the Spanish West Indies. Here lies the origin of the two-thirds rule for ratification of treaties, intended to prevent one region from sacrificing the interests of another.
The United States were in conflict with Britain over her retention of military forts on American soil along the Great Lakes, and over compensation to loyalists, pre-war debts, the West Indian trade, and commercial relations in general. Proud John Adams’s ministry to the Court of St. James provided constant humiliation. Where, wondered the haughty Britons, were the other 12 ministers? Queen of the seas, Britain seemed to countenance the pirating activities of the North African corsairs. These preyed upon American merchantmen who either payed tribute or showed forged British passes. (Wise Ben Franklin quipped that if the corsairs did not exist, Britain would invent them.)
An emphasis upon the domestic and foreign difficulties of the nation under the Articles should not blind us to the solid achievements of the period. Slavery, for example, was abolished north of the Mason-Dixon line. The precedent-shattering Northwest Ordinance set a liberal pattern for westward expansion. Church and state were separated in Virginia. Industry and commerce discovered new opportunities outside the British Empire, included an astonishing trade with the Far East beginning in 1784. (One staple of this trade was the New England root ginseng, which optimistic Chinese believed would restore virility to the aged.) Such commercial initiative led to Captain Robert Gray’s establishment of the American claim to the watershed of the Columbia River.
It was in the 1780s, too, that Hector St. John de CreveCouer set down on paper the essential configuration of a new American ideology. In Letters from an American Farmer, first published in 1782, the transplanted Frenchman described a system of values that would long remain characteristic of American nationalism. “What, then,” asked Crevecour, “is the American, this new man?”
He is neither European nor the descendant of a European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country…. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new modes of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds…. Here individual of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world…. The American ought therefore to love this country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labor; his labor is founded on the basis of nature, self-interest; can it want a stronger allurement?…. The American is a new man who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labor, he has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence. This is an American.
Here in striking combination are the themes of the melting pot, the mission or America, work justly rewarded, patriotism, equality, and individualism. Crevecouer was not blind to his adopted country’s faults. He particularly condemned slavery and whites’ treatment of Native Americans. But his Letters, like Nathaniela Ames’s apostrophe to generations unborn, is eloquent testimony to the emergence of an American ethos.
Despite solid achievements, and notwithstanding Crevecouer’s hymn of praise, the Confederacy’s problems both at home and abroad were real enough. The movement for the creation of a truly national government began, in fact, before the ink was dry on the 13 Articles. Sparked mainly by public creditors and abetted by discontented army officers, the movement was weakened by the coming of peace and the local jealousies of the states. Rogue Island alone, for example, prevented the passage of a constitutional amendment by which the Congress could have enacted uniform a uniform impost throughout the nation. Lack of funds, therefore, remained a crucial congressional weakness.
Mt. Vernon was the appropriate setting for a renewed effort at strengthening the central government. In the presence of the living symbol of the nation, commissioners from Maryland and Virginia met to consider interstate commercial problems. Among these was the disposition of Chesapeake Bay’s oysters; so it was that the Constitution would rise, like Venus, from a sea shell.
An amicable settlement of various problems (including the disposition of the oysters) encouraged the commissioners to make more ambitious efforts to strengthen the central government. During September 1786, delegates from five states met at Annapolis. Convinced that a radical revision of the Articles of Confederation was essential, these delegates, Madison and Hamilton in the vanguard, issued a call to the Congress for a convention of the states. Its purpose would be “to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the Constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the union.”
Persuasive as this call may have been, captain Daniel Shays in western Massachusetts unwittingly presented reluctant congressmen with an even more compelling motive for shoring up the government. The postwar depression wreaked economic havoc among New England’s yeoman farmers. The rebellion that Shays led in the winter of 1786-87 focused first upon the courts, which Shays and his men forced to disband. Dispossession had become endemic in the debt-ridden western counties. Closing the forts frustrated foreclosure proceedings; moreover, for Shay’s enraged agrarians, the courts were a tangible symbol of the eastern moneyed interest and of a government unresponsive to their needs.
Shay’s attack upon property rights was frightening enough, but when he and his men went after the federal arsenal at Springfield, it seemed that the social order was on the verge of collapse. Massachusetts, after all, possessed the first state constitution to be ratified by the people. Shays appeared to be testing the survival of republican government based on consent. Great was the establishment’s relief when General Lincoln easily dispersed the rebels. Relief became dismay, however, when the frightened Massachusetts legislature enacted some of the rebels’ demands into law.
“I feel, my dear General Knox,” wrote Washington to his old companion in arms, “infinitely more than I can express to you, for the disorders which have arisen in these States. Good God! Who, besides a Tory, could have foreseen, or a Briton predicted them?” Sharing Washington’s sentiments, a Shays-traumatized Congress, on February 21, 1787, asked the states to send delegates to a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation.
This is no place for the historiographical battle over the motives of the 55 men who met in Philadelphia during the simmering summer of 1787. More than half a century ago, Charles Beard called them conspirators against a prevailing order that had failed adequately to represent their property interests: the Philadelphia Convention was our Revolution’s Thermidor.
It seems clear today, however, particularly in the light of exhaustive research into the ideology of the Founders, that the Philadelphians meant not to subvert the Revolution, but to secure it. They believed, of course, in the sanctity of property; in the eighteenth century, property rights were thought to provide the essential foundation of human rights. The Founders did not see, as some see today, any incompatibility between the rights of property and the rights of man. The Constitution, Beard to the contrary, is a political, not an economic document. The Founders’ art consisted in the creation of a national institutional framework consonant with the Revolutionary commitment to local self-government. They turned a “league of friendship” into a “more perfect union,” to be ratified not by the states, but by the people.
The late Catherine Drinker Bowen denominated the Founder’s success in forming a truly national government the “Miracle at Philadelphia.” A century earlier, the historian von Holst had found it necessary to utilize a similarly heavenly metaphor in describing the work of the Constitutional Convention. The Founders, he commented, had ventured to outdo the mystery of the Trinity by endeavoring to make 13 one, while leaving the one 13. John Marshall, in 1821, put the matter in a decidedly more sober, not to say earthly manner. “America,” he said, “has chosen to be, in many respects, and to many purposes, a nation.”
The Constitution at last created a national government that gave adequate effect to the Americans’ increasing self-consciousness as a united people. It left to interpretation the precise juridical balance between state and nation, a problem which would remain at the base of American politics through the Civil War, and which, in fact, is with us still. Yet, the Constitution itself remains above the battle. South and North warred over its meaning, but the universal veneration of the national charter survived even that holocaust.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution define the American nation. As we enter the third century of independence, however, it is well to recall that we are in the fourth century of American history. It is to the colonial period we must look for the roots of republicanism and federalism. While the colonies were becoming mature societies — and their representative assemblies, fully developed organs of self-government — England recognized them only as overseas corporations dependent on her sovereign authority. Denied self-government within the Empire, the colonies, many of them reluctantly, declared their independence — a declaration they made good within eight years of war. The final act of the drama consisted in their coalescing into a nation.
It seems appropriate to give George Washington the last word. As he assumed the executive office for which the new Constitution provided, he remarked upon the “providential agency” that seemed to accompany every step by which the United States “have advanced to the character of an independent nation,” including “the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government.” In this First Inaugural Address by the First President of the United States, Washington quietly announced the completion of the American Revolution and the beginning of the national period of American history.
Thirty-eight-year-old King George III ruled the largest empire that planet earth had ever seen.
The Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776, listed 27 reasons why Americans declared their independence from the king:
He has made judges dependent on his will alone. …
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. …
To subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution. …
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. …
For imposing taxes on us without our consent. …
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of trial by jury. …
For … establishing … an arbitrary government. …
For … altering fundamentally the forms of our governments. …
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny. …
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Thirty-three-year-old Thomas Jefferson’s original rough draft of the Declaration contained a line condemning slavery: “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself … in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither … 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.”
A few delegates from southern states objected, and since the Declaration needed to pass unanimously and time was running short with the British invading New York, the line condemning slavery was unfortunately omitted.
John Hancock, the 39-year-old president of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration first, reportedly saying “The price on my head has just doubled.”
Next to sign was Secretary, Charles Thomson, age 47.
Seventy-year-old Benjamin Franklin said: “We must hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”
The Declaration referred to God:
“Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. …”
“All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. …”
“Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions. …”
“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.”
This was revolutionary, as kings claimed “The divine right of kings,” namely, that the Creator gives rights to the king, who dispenses them, at his discretion, to his subjects. The Declaration of Independence bypassed the king, declaring that the Creator gives rights directly to “all men.”
Many of the 56 signers sacrificed their prosperity for their posterity. Of the signers:
11 had their homes destroyed
5 were hunted and captured
17 served in the military
9 died during the war
George Walton, age 27, signed, and at the Battle of Savannah was wounded and captured.
Signers Edward Rutledge, age 27, Thomas Heyward Jr., age 30, and Arthur Middleton, age 34, were made prisoners at the Siege of Charleston.
Signer Thomas Nelson, age 38, had his home used as British headquarters during the siege of Yorktown. Nelson reportedly offered five guineas to the first man to hit his house.
Signer Carter Braxton, age 40, lost his fortune during the war.
Signer Thomas McKean, age 42, wrote that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy, compelled to remove my family five times in three month.”
Richard Stockton, age 46, signed and was dragged from his bed at night and jailed.
Signer Lewis Morris, age 50, had his home taken and used as a barracks.
Signer Abraham Clark, age 50, had two sons tortured and imprisoned on the British starving ship Jersey.
More Americans died on British starving ships than died in battle during the Revolution.
Signer Rev. John Witherspoon, age 53, had his son, James, killed in the Battle of Germantown.
Signer Philip Livingston, age 60, lost several properties to British occupation and died before the war ended.
Signer Francis Lewis, age 63, found out that the British plundered his home and carried away his wife, Elizabeth, putting her in prison. The British wanted to make an example of her, so they denied her a change of clothes, a bed, and gave her nothing but the most meager food. She was treated so harshly that she died shortly after being released.
Signer John Hart, age 65, had his home looted and had to remain in hiding, dying before the war ended.
John Adams, age 41, wrote to his wife of the Declaration: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
Gustave de Beaumont, a contemporary of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in “Marie ou L’Esclavage aux E’tas-Unis,” 1835: “I have seen a meeting of the Senate in Washington open with a prayer, and the anniversary festival of the Declaration of Independence consists, in the United States, of an entirely religious ceremony.”
John Adams continued in his letter to his wife: “You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
When 54-year-old Samuel Adams signed the Declaration, he said: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”
James Wilson, age 34, signed the Declaration. He later signed the Constitution and was appointed to Supreme Court by George Washington. James Wilson stated in 1787: “After a period of 6,000 years since creation, the United States exhibit to the world the first instance of a nation … assembling voluntarily … and deciding … that system of government under which they and their posterity should live.”
Senator Daniel Webster stated in 1802: “Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”
John Jay was president of the Continental Congress, 1778-1779, and later nominated by George Washington to be the first chief justice of Supreme Court. John Jay wrote in 1777: “The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of … choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances. … Your lives, your liberties, your property, will be at the disposal only of your Creator and yourselves.”
Yale President Ezra Stiles, 1788: “All the forms of civil polity have been tried by mankind, except one: and that seems to have been reserved in Providence to be realized in America.”
At the time of the Revolutionary War, nearly every other country on Earth was ruled by a king. Dr. Pat Robertson wrote in “America’s Dates with Destiny,” 1986: “On September 17, 1787, the day our Constitution was signed, the absolute monarch Ch’ien Lung, emperor of the Manchu (or Ch’ing) Dynasty, reigned supreme over the people of China. … Revolts were put down by ruthless military force. In Japan the shogun (warriors) of the corrupt Tokugawa chamberlain Tanuma Okitsugu exercised corrupt and totalitarian authority over the Japanese. In India, Warren Hastings, the British Governor of Bengal, had successfully defeated the influence of the fragmented Mogul dynasties that ruled India since 1600. Catherine II was the enlightened despot of all the Russias. Joseph II was the emperor of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary. For almost half a century, Frederick the Great had ruled Prussia. Louis XVI sat uneasily on his throne in France just years away from revolution, a bloody experiment in democracy, and the new tyranny of Napoleon Bonaparte. A kind of a constitutional government had been created in the Netherlands in 1579 by the Protestant Union of Utrecht, but that constitution was really a loose federation of the northern provinces for a defense against Catholic Spain. … What was happening in America had no real precedent, even as far back as the city-states of Greece. The only real precedent was established thousands of years before by the tribes of Israel in the covenant with God and with each other.”
President Theodore Roosevelt stated in 1903: “In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country.”
President Calvin Coolidge stated in 1924: “The history of government on this earth has been almost entirely … rule of force held in the hands of a few. Under our Constitution, America committed itself to power in the hands of the people.”
A king has “subjects” who are subjected to his will. The word “citizen” is Greek, and it means a co-ruler, a co-regent, a co-king. A republic is where the people are king, ruling through representatives.
America is a republic where the people get to rule themselves. When someone protests the flag, what they are saying, is that they no longer want to be king. They protest this system where they participate in ruling themselves. They want someone else to rule their life.
Ronald Reagan opened the Ashbrook Center, Ashland, Ohio, May 9, 1983: “From their own harsh experience with intrusive, overbearing government, the Founding Fathers made a great breakthrough in political understanding: They understood that it is the excesses of government, the will to power of one man over another, that has been a principle source of injustice and human suffering through the ages. …”
Reagan continued: “The Founding Fathers understood that only by making government the servant, not the master, only by positing sovereignty in the people and not the state can we hope to protect freedom and see the political commonwealth prosper. In 1776 the source of government excess was the crown’s abuse of power and its attempt to suffocate the colonists with its overbearing demands. In our own day, the danger of too much state power has taken a subtler but no less dangerous form.”
John Adams wrote in his notes on “A Dissertation on Canon & Feudal Law,” 1765: “I always consider the settlement of America … as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for … the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”
John Jay noted in 1777: “This glorious revolution … distinguished by so many marks of the Divine favor and interposition … and I may say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history they will be tempted to consider a great part of it as fabulous. … The many remarkable … events by which our wants have been supplied and our enemies repelled … are such strong and striking proofs of the interposition of Heaven, that our having been hitherto delivered from the threatened bondage of Britain ought, like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude.”
Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1939: “Rulers … increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers. … What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay … but mankind’s second chance – a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one. … The Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that second chance until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty.”
Ronald Reagan stated 1961: “In this country of ours took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in the world’s history – every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. … Here for the first time in all the thousands of years of man’s relation to man. … The founding fathers established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God-given right and ability to determine our own destiny.”
British Edwardian writer G.K. Chesterton stated in “What is America”: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth … in the Declaration of Independence … that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice. … It certainly does condemn … atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived.”
Calvin Coolidge stated July 5, 1926: “The principles … which went into the Declaration of Independence … are found in … the sermons … of the early colonial clergy. … They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the Divine image.”
Henry Cabot Lodge, who filled the role of the first Senate Majority Leader, warned the U.S. Senate in 1919: “The United States is the world’s best hope. … Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance … for if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.”
The “Star-Spangled Banner,” the martial, difficult-to-sing yet inspiring music that the United States claims as its national anthem, has been around for more than two centuries.
Some like it, some don’t. But it’s performed regularly at sporting events, concerts, marches, dances and rodeos.
Kids and recording artists sing it. Orchestras play it. Even rock musicians perform it.
The one thread that ties it all together is the patriotism it inspires.
Listen here to a variety of performances and pick your favorite.
You’ll note that some renditions have tens of millions of views, giving the song a strong claim to being one of the most popular ever.
The Gaither Vocal Band, in an a cappella version featuring Bill Gaither, Mark Lowry, Wes Hampton, David Phelps and Michael English:
The Isaacs, a vocal trio:
Here’s Madison Rising:
And Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV in 1991:
Malea Emma, just 7, at an Los Angeles Galaxy-Seattle Sounders game:
Lady Gaga and Super Bowl 2016:
Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, 1969:
500 high-schoolers in a hotel lobby:
Metallica, circa 2019:
The combined choirs of the U.S. Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Military Academy at West Point and Coast Guard Academy, accompanied by the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets:
The “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band:
At a soccer game in London:
The Red Army Chorus:
A blind girl at a local sports event:
A congregation at St. Paul’s in the United Kingdom, accompanied by the church’s thundering pipe organ:
The Cactus Cuties:
And a video story of the writing of the anthem:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
It has been performed by a wide range of groups and in a variety of styles, although most performances do not include the latter verses, including the fourth stanza’s description of America as a “heav’n rescued land” with “In God is our Trust” for a motto.
The Pledge of Allegiance has been contested in the courts for years already, by those who defy the inclusion of “under God” in its text.
Actions just this week by Nike, pulling a shoe product that included an image of Old Glory because someone might be offended, have undermined respect for the flag.
But one of the most memorable, and challenging, explanations of the Pledge was given 50 years ago, by a comedian.
It was on Jan. 14, 1969 he explained what he’d learned from his school teacher.
Crediting 7th grade teacher Mr. Lasswell, Skelton recited:
“I: Me, an individual, a committee of one.
PLEDGE: Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.
ALLEGIANCE: My love and my devotion.
TO THE FLAG: Our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.
UNITED: That means that we have all come together.
STATES: Individual communities that have united into 48 great States. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for Country.
AND TO THE REPUBLIC: Republic; a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people, and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION: One nation, meaning “so blessed by God.”
INDIVISIBLE: Incapable of being divided.
WITH LIBERTY: Which is freedom, the right of power to live one’s own life without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
AND JUSTICE: The principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.
FOR ALL: For all, which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.
Skelton continued: “Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: ‘Under God!’ Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, ‘That is a prayer!’, and that would be eliminated from schools too?”
A Russian oligarch well known to the FBI for many years and closely aligned with Vladimir Putin says he told FBI agents early in the Russia probe that he strongly doubted the bureau’s theory that the Trump campaign, through Paul Manafort, was colluding with Moscow to hijack the 2016 election.
Oleg Deripaska told investigative reporter John Solomon in a Hill TV interview that he was a legal research client of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the infamous anti-Trump dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. And he confirmed he was an occasional friendly cooperator with the FBI and its fired deputy director, Andrew McCabe.
Solomon said Deripaska is “breaking his silence,” and what he has to say could impact former special counsel Robert Mueller’s July 17 testimony before Congress.
Deripaska, a former disaffected business client of Manafort, said he told the FBI agents in September 2016 that if anyone had tried to contact Manafort to influence the election, he would know about it.
“I told them straightforward, I just don’t believe that he would represent any Russian interest,” he said. “And knowing what he’s doing on Ukraine for the last, what, seven or eight years.”
Not just any Russian
Solomon explained the significance of Deripaska’s claims, noting he “wasn’t just any Russian,” having been closely aligned with Putin and helpful to the FBI since 2009.
Most importantly, Solomon said, Deripaska’s interview with the FBI was never provided by Mueller’s team to Manafort’s lawyers, even though it was potential evidence of innocence, according to Manafort defense lawyer Kevin Downing.
Initially investigated for collusion, Manafort instead was convicted on tax and lobbying violations unrelated to the Russia case.
Solomon noted the Brady rule that bars hiding exculpatory information from a defendant.
Lawyer: Mueller didn’t have a case
Downing told Solomon the revelations by The Hill show that the Mueller team’s claim that it had a legitimate basis to include Manafort in the collusion probe is “false.”
The lawyer said further that the revelations may also show the special counsel “had no legitimate basis” at all “to investigate potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.”
Deripaska said his legal team hired Steele in 2012 to do research for a lawsuit involving a business rival. The Russian businessman was unaware, however, that Steele also was working for the FBI on projects such as a special program to recruit Russian oligarchs to provide intelligence on Putin and Russian organized crime.
He said Steele invited him to a September 2015 meeting with Justice Department officials.
Deripaska later, he said, was shocked to learn that Steele eventually went to work for the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS and the FBI, and spread allegations of the now-disproven Russia-Trump collusion.