… the 240th year."
Each year, my thoughts go to the memories of my dad, my uncles and cousins, serving in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. They all had and have that quiet but steely core of people who served in times desperate and the interludes between.
I usually watch Gettysburg on this day. When I was young, I had a incomplete understanding of the battle and of the events that led up to and away from it. Blue was good and Gray was bad. Now I can say that when I visited Gettysburg itself and had tears, whether standing in the spot where Robert E. Lee stood to watch Pickett’s Charge or at The Angle or where the 20th of Maine held their ground on Little Round Top.
How to explain who we are, we Americans and why we revere this day in summer? Not only to those who are from other blessed and fabled lands but even to ourselves? My own answer is found in Walt Whitman’s writings.
“I heard that you ask’d for something to prove this puzzle, the New World,
And to define America, her athletic Democracy.
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in them what you wanted.”
Happy 4th of July to all SST corespondents, bloggers and colonel Lang.
That last line:
“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.”
It brings shivers of awe every time I hear it or read it. Happy birthday, my countrymen.
Happy Birthday America – The Beach Boys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNoa-0_UA44
Neil Diamond – America- Happy Birthday! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ipq9YRUI7I
“America, The Beautiful” as performed by the US Navy Band and Sea Chanters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OYYQEHqJ_c
I am not a fan of the Star Spangled Banner. I have always preferred America the Beautiful and that would be my choice for the national anthem. I love my country for it’s beauty and it’s people. The government… not so much.
Warning, this last video is NOT patriotic. In this comedy skit, what looks to be millennials throw a surprise birthday party for America (the gov’t)… spoiler alert, Russia crashes the party 🙂
Happy Birthday America, by Funny or Die https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UiTdoknlRA
Yesterday, I participated in a group who read the Declaration in its entirely after first debating the question whether the Declaration was primarily about equality (all “men” are created equal) or independence. We concluded that the Declaration was mostly about independence from Great Britain, but independence for whom? We all assumed it was independence for the 13 States united as the “United States”. We were sorely disabused of this notion when we read the last paragraph and could see clearly that the beneficiaries of Independence would be the 13 States who were each rightly fully entitled to enjoy full sovereignty as an independent nation. The Declaration has been reinterpreted as the “Birth of a Nation”, but that was not the case on July 4, 1776—it was the birth of 13 nations. Thus,
“”We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.””
If we want to celebrated the birth of the Nation, we should consider changing the date to March 4, 1789, the date when, under the newly ratified Constitution, the new government was to begin operating (following ratification by the 9th state, New Hampshire, on June 21, 1788).
On July 4th Independance Day, as an “originalist” Constitutionalist, here’s interesting historical info from Benjamin Franklin’s papers & other founding fathers like John Adams,
one of the real primary reasons for Independence from England wasn’t just taxation without representation, but
the power of the Colonies to issue their own paper fiat currency known as Colonial Script, which
responsible for the Colonial economic boom (shades of MMT & monetary sovereignty from Bernie Sander’s chief economic adviser Dr. Stephanie Kelton) ,
that power was revoked by King George & the Bank of England (whom were on the gold-standard), resulting in recession & higher unemployment in the colonies just as it did in England:
“He was asked why the working class in the colonies were so prosperous.
“That is simple. In the Colonies, we issue our own paper money. It is called ‘Colonial Scrip.’ We issue it in proper proportion to make the goods and pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power and we have no interest to pay to no one.” – Benjamin Franklin
Soon afterward, the English bankers demanded that the King and Parliament pass a law that prohibited the colonies from using their scrip money. Only gold and silver could be used which would be provided by the English bankers. This began the plague of debt based money in the colonies that had cursed the English working class.
The first law was passed in 1751, and then a harsher law was passed in 1763. Franklin claimed that within one year, the colonies were filled with unemployment and beggars, just like in England, because there was not enough money to pay for the goods and work. The money supply had been cut in half.
Franklin, who was one of the chief architects of the American independence, wrote:
“The Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War.” – Benjamin Franklin
This opinion was confirmed by great statesmen of his era:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.” – Thomas Jefferson
History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance. – James Madison
“Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.” – John Adams
English historian, John Twells, wrote about the money of the colonies, the colonial Scrip:
“It was the monetary system under which America’s Colonies flourished to such an extent that Edmund Burke was able to write about them:
‘Nothing in the history of the world resembles their progress. It was a sound and beneficial system, and its effects led to the happiness of the people.”
“In a bad hour, the British Parliament took away from America its representative money, forbade any further issue of bills of credit, these bills ceasing to be legal tender, and ordered that all taxes should be paid in coins. ”
“Consider now the consequences: this restriction of the medium of exchange paralyzed all the industrial energies of the people. ”
“Ruin took place in these once flourishing Colonies; most rigorous distress visited every family and every business, discontent became desperation, and reached a point, to use the words of Dr. Johnson, when human nature rises up and assets its rights.”
Peter Cooper, industrialist and statesman wrote:
“After Franklin gave explanations on the true cause of the prosperity of the Colonies, the Parliament exacted laws forbidding the use of this money in the payment of taxes. ”
“This decision brought so many drawbacks and so much poverty to the people that it was the main cause of the Revolution. The suppression of the Colonial money was a much more important reason for the general uprising than the Tea and Stamp Act.”
Our Founding Fathers knew that without financial independence and sovereignty there could be no other lasting freedoms. Our freedoms and national sovereignty are being lost because most people do not understand our money system.
“All the perplexities confusion and distress in America arise not from defects of the Constitution, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” -John Vanessa Adams
The Stan Kenton big band put together an album of national anthems of the world in 1971. Here is the U.S. national anthem, arranged in a subdued manner for Kenton, but still a little different–
The arrangements of the national anthems were written by Bob Curnow, another fine musician, composer, and arranger for Stan Kenton, who, in addition to composing, arranging, and publishing music, headed jazz bands of his own, and spent a lot of time promoting jazz education. Other exceptional composers and arrangers who worked for Kenton included Bill Holman and Pete Rugolo. Holman took the simple tune, Happy Birthday, and made it into a sophisticated jazz arrangement, that I have linked to before.
Here is Bob Curnow directing a group of musicians in Los Angeles playing his same arrangement of the national anthem in around 2011. At the end, he talks about the origin of the arrangement, but then the video cuts off before he finishes talking–
Bob, I suppose you now see why your Confederate ancestors believed that it was the right of their states to secede since the new constitution and the Declaration were about an agreement among the states. pl
The ignorance persists despite your or our efforts: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/books/review-bush-a-biography-as-scathing-indictment.html?hpw&rref=books&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well
Both the reviewer and the author seem unaware of whom or what the the “Commander-in-Chief” is in command of:
“Believing he was the agent of God’s will, and acting with divine guidance, George W. Bush would lead the nation into two disastrous wars of aggression,” Mr. Smith writes. “Bush’s personalization of the war on terror combined with his macho assertiveness as the nation’s commander in chief,” he adds later, “were a recipe for disaster.”
I’d like to add the story of what took place at Appomattox, after Lee had signed the surrender documents. (For completeness’s sake, I stole the account from Nat’l Park Service’s web site: https://www.nps.gov/apco/parker.htm)
“At the surrender meeting, seeing that Parker was an American Indian, General Lee remarked to Parker, “I am glad to see one real American here.” Parker later stated, “I shook his hand and said, ‘We are all Americans’.”
Happy Fourth of July to my countrymen and others who visit SST!
Colonies were hardly uniform in their attitudes towards currency (and monetary/banking policy in general), though. Hamilton’s proposal the federal government should assume states’ debt, mostly incurred during the Revolution, was one of the first major political controversies during Washington administration. Banking and regulation of paper banknotes was at the core of political fights throughout 19th century (and the financial/economic/monetary questions over federal and state roles were among the contributing factors contributing to the Civil War).
Overall, though, the British Crown, not unlike Germany now (and a lot of Wall St.), was interested heavily in maintaining sound money and creditors’ rights and power, though–incompatible not only with the colonial scrip but MANY other things–and that rubbed a lot on this side of the Atlantic the wrong way.
Colonel, you’re probably familiar with this writer, but in case you’re not (or for others here on SST) you might find her very interesting.
“A Round Table of the Representative American Catholic Novelists” (Benziger, 1897):
“Mrs. Frances C. Tiernan, whose books are published over the name of ‘Christian Reid,’ was born at Salisbury, North Carolina, where her people have lived from the first settlement of the country. Her father, Colonel Charles F. Fisher, was killed on July 21st, 1861, in the battle of Manassas, while in command of his regiment of North Carolina State Troops. His daughter was devoted to him and his death greatly saddened her life. All attempts to lure her into society proved futile, for she neither asked any one to call on her nor accepted the invitations to visit which her neighbors sent. For years after, she lived a lonely life, with a maiden aunt as her only companion, in the Fisher homestead, an old fashioned brownish-gray house, with large columns in front, which stands in a grove of grand old oaks and cedars. During the summer she sometimes visited Ashville, but most of her time, when not writing, was passed in walking or driving about the beautiful mountain region. A zealous Catholic, Miss Fisher gave up part of the lot on which her old home stands and built a church upon it.”
One of her works you might find very interesting:
Under the Southern Cross: A War Drama in Four Acts
By Christian Reid (RALEIGH: Capital Printing Company, Printers and Binders, 1900).
Other public domain electronic copies of her novels can be found here:
I had similar experience when I went to Valley Forge. Sort of, “Oh, yeah. I get it.”
One can read however many books and essays about a place and the events that transpired there, but when one goes and stands upon the hallowed ground and feels the souls of the heroes who served there, it creates a real sense of what nourished the tree of liberty.
On the Valley Forge muster roll you will find Amos Hall, sergeant, 7th Connecticut Line. He is my 3rd great-grandfather. pl
Ramin Karimloo singing Oh, Canada and The Star Spangled Banner.
Col: Are there still “line regiments” in the USA, or is everyone some sort of specialist now?
In the 18th Century “line” meant infantry. Of course there are today. All infantry, artillery and armor units are “line” units. pl
I have a lot if Revolutionary War ancestors, half a dozen in the Continental Army, more in New England militia. One of the militia fellows was a colonel of Massachusetts militia who had raised his own regiment. Amos Hall was the only one I know of at Valley Forge. He joined in 1775 when he was 17 and served until the dissolution of the Continental Army after the Treaty of Paris. He was present at Cornwallis’ surrender. He then moved to NH and became a large scale landowner and tavern keeper. He was a captain of NH militia. In 1802 he moved to Quebec where he was a justice of the peace. He died in 1854 and is buried at Lac Megantic, Quebec. pl
Yes, the “agreement between states” argument was bred in the bone and many of the delegates at the Philadelphia convention left the Convention with the view that the new Constitution was an agreement between the states, although Gouvernor Morris muddied the waters and muddled the minds of countless generations thereafter with the “We the People” preamble.
Still it was jarring, very jarring, to read the last paragraph of the Declaration very carefully to come to an understanding, clearly, that the “agreement between states” had been “baked” into the Declaration by the drafters and signers to clearly set forth the proposition that the drafters were referring to a Declaration of Independence by the 13 Colonies who were now asserting their right to function as 13 independent nations. This was likewise the case with my co-readers, none of whom (like me) had ever grasped the full import of the last paragraph of the Declaration.
It was Jefferson, ironically, who led the way for a reinterpretation of the document as a “Nationalist Manifesto” when he became the first President to celebrate July 4th at the White House.
Yes, my ancestors had the better side of the legal argument, but it did not carry much weight in the field once Grant became Commander of the Army of the Potomac.
Yes, it was all force majeur, a simple and brutal suppression of the agreed on intent of the states in their signature of the Declaration. BTW Grant became Commanding General of the US Army in the winter of 1863-64. He left Meade in command of the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war. he accompanied Meade’s army during the Overland Campaign. His separate headquarters accompanied Meade’s army but Grant continued to direct all the other armies of the US while doing that. Telegraph worked very well by then. There were also large forces not assigned to the Army of the Potomac that were immediately available as reinforcements for Meade, i.e., Burnside’s large IXth Corps. Grant committed these as he saw fit as Meade’s losses mounted. Yes, your ancestors had the better “legal argument” but, after all, the constitution that resulted from the Declaration’s success was in itself a legal matter, not a sacramental matter. JF Davis makes your argument in his book, “the Rise and Fall of the Confederate States. pl
Off topic, perhaps- but FBI Director Comey just announced no charges against HRC.
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