Today, July 4 2009, marks the 233th anniversary of the ratification of one of America’s greatest documents- The Declaration of Independence. We celebratethis day with American cuisine, fireworks, patriotic songs, and parades (to name a few). While some of us may make a system of trying to remember this day (Barney Fife once remarked to Andy that to remember this day all you have to remember is “one”, because that’s the first number in the alphabet, “seven”, lucky number seven, “seven” again because you just remembered “seven”, and “what’s one from seven”- “six!”), others will hopefully remember this day because we did something the whole world thought was foolish; we declared our independence from the most powerful nation in the world- Great Britain. We must not forget or take for granted the liberties we have being Americans, especially Christians. Yet what gave our Founding Fathers the idea of declaring independence?
Ask any elementary student the question, “Why did America split from England in 1776?” and they will most likely answer, “Because of taxation without representation.” True, but there is more to it. England did unlawfully tax us; we were not represented in parliament and we were already paying colonial taxes. The Quartering Act gave legal rights for soldiers to live within the colonists homes; this often led to many atrocious acts by the soldiers upon the colonists. Another act of Parliament that angered the colonists is not as well known being that they gave the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains to the French. As the French were Catholic, this angered the mostly Protestant colonists to have a neighbor who was opposed to their free exercise of religion. High tariffs were put on goods imported from the Colonies to Britain and this angered the colonists even more because it put limitations on their business.
Therefore, with the entire Colonies brewing under the tension of abuses from Britain, brave men met in July to convene a continental Congress to possibly split from Britain. The Declaration was the offspring of that meeting and it transcribed the abuses of Britain so that the king would know why his colonies were in uproar. This was not the first type of declaration, Scotland had created one four hundred and fifty years before in the form of the Declaration of Arbraoth. It declared Scotland as free from England’s tyrannous rule and even named the abuses of the King of England against Scotland. One must also remember that many of the colonists were of Scottish blood. King George III even remarked that the “American Revolution” was a “Presbyterian Parsons Rebellion.” As one reflects on Independence day, don’t forget the great influence Scotland has had on this country.
In closing, I reflect on the liberties I now enjoy and I thank God for the men, in the past and present, who died defending this great land. We owe much to them and should not forget them. Nor should we forget the kind Providence of God that has sustained this country. Pray for our leaders that they may have wisdom to continue to give us this liberty. Also remember an excellent portion of the Declaration of Independence. ” That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, [the rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness] it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” That should keep us on our toes this July 4.