In honor of that moment, which we know as July 4th or Independence Day, below is a column by Ron Chapman of Chalmette Louisiana. --Bayoubuzz Staff
It is July 4th weekend and most people will be out celebrating by barbecuing, playing sports, swimming, or shooting off fireworks. Unfortunately, so few recognize the true meaning of this date.
The conflict between England and the colonies began at the close of the French & Indian War in 1763. After that war, England faced the reality of a much larger empire to manage along with a substantial increase in war debt to secure. Both of these issues required Great Britain to make substantial administrative changes.
On the one hand the larger empire demanded a new colonial policy to better manage the extensive lands now under England’s control. That meant changes in the colonial policies and institutions that had become natural to the American colonists.
In order to pay off the war debt, most of which was spent on the American continent, the British decided that a variety of taxes should be imposed. These new revenue sources would meet expenses. This all seemed reasonable enough to Britain.
The American colonists refused to accept this change in arrangement. They were willing to pay taxes, but not without having representation in Parliament. They also rejected the changes in colonial laws which, in effect, took away the legal rights they had developed over one hundred and fifty years.
Troubles arose almost immediately with the imposition of the Stamp Act in 1765. Over time, problems accelerated and the conflicts increased until blood was finally shed first in the Boston Massacre in 1770, then at Lexington/Concord and Bunker Hill in 1775.
It took ten years for the issues of taxes and loss of independent political control to degenerate into physical conflict. Even then, most of the colonists believed some sort of an accommodation could be achieved. It was not until a year later, in July 1776, that tensions had reached the point that the Continental Congress voted to have Thomas Jefferson compose a Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776 Congress passed that resolution. That date marks the re-birth of the democratic spirit.
July 4th was the turning point and must be cited as a monumental change in the relationship of all governments and people. This date manifests the first time that common people determined their own political fate through representative government since the collapse of the Roman Republic…nearly 2,000 years before. July 4th marked the re-birth of democracy.
It would take another seven years before that declaration of rights would become a reality. The American Revolution did not end until 1783. The American constitution was not ratified until 1790. Therefore, the rise of democracy from the ashes of ancient Rome required twenty-five years of struggle.
Thus, July 4th is not merely an American holiday, but a celebratory occasion for all people who believe in freedom and democracy. On that date the march of democracy began accompanied by the gradual demise of monarchies and dictatorships. Democratic institutions have become a dominant form of government in most of the world today and they all share one thing in common. It all began on July 4, 1776!
This date deserves to be acknowledged by all who people cherish freedom and self-determination.