Today is the Fourth of July. Commenting on the day he believed would represent the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Founding Father John Adams stated:
“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 [sic], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
Today we do as a nation celebrate the signing of our nation’s birth certificate. Fireworks from coast to coast light our shores in commemoration to the deeds of the fifty-six men who affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. But amongst the hot dogs and fireworks, do we remember what the Signer’s cause was?
While the Signers believed the principles of their declaration were “self-evident,” rooted in the immutable nature of God Himself, they made sure the world would know why the 13 colonies had chosen to become 13 States.
“He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone…”
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation…”
“For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and 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.”
As you read through the twenty-seven reasons set forth by the Signers, it become clear that they were concerned about preserving their very society from being stripped away by a tyrannical king who had already begun to wage war upon them. In subjecting their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the wrath of the British military forces, they acted as the protector’s of posterity’s future.
Continuing on, John Adams stated:
“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.”
And it indeed cost them toil, blood, and treasure. Many Signers lost all of their worldly possessions. Others lost their families in the struggle. Some of the Signers even died as a result of their stand against the King. While excessive taxation may not be a reason to give one’s life, preserving their way of life for future generation was a cause worthy of death. Adams’s concluding statement confirms such a perspective:
“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 tryumph [sic] in that Days Transaction, even altho [sic] We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
As I sit by a pool this Fourth of July, I enjoy the fruits of their labor. I also enjoy the labors of the American men and women who right now are far away from home on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They give their lives just as the Signer did so that America will shine brightly into their children’s future. I pray that we today will, like the Signers, never count our own pleasure so valuable as to purchase it at the cost of our children’s future. Americans have always looked beyond to posterity. And I believe that they will continue to do so. May God bless these Unites States of America on this Fourth of July and may we always find ourselves “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…”