The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Weeks in advance, I dust off my old Revolutionary War books and re-watch old documentaries about the Founders.
I became a constitutional conservative at a young age. I remember exactly when this happened; I was in my fifth grade American History class.
We were taught about, and made to read about, the American Revolution and the entire Founding Era.
I was riveted by the story of the founding of our nation. I was attracted to the rebel spirit of the early patriots and their willingness to sacrifice their lives in the name of a noble pursuit.
The underdog aspect of the story appealed to me as well. The colonists were going up against the most powerful nation on the face of the earth, with the largest military on the planet. They were not supposed to win.
At times, the Continental Army looked like they were on the verge of defeat. It looked like a lost cause.
The enlisted men were undermanned, underfed, and underpaid for their service.
No one could blame them for giving up and returning to their families and homes. Yes, some did do just that, but many stayed in the fight. They were fighting for a cause that was greater than themselves. These men were fighting to defeat a tyrannical king who usurped their rights as British citizens.
However, they were not just fighting to defeat a king; they were fighting to change the course of human history.
Never in history was there a nation founded on the principles of limited government and individual liberty.
Most nations were bonded by a common ancestry and homogenous culture. The American colonists, in contrast, came from many different nations and cultures. This melting of cultures usually spells disaster, as it is difficult to assimilate multiple cultures into one nation. This, however, was not the case in the US. That is what makes America so unique. The American motto is “E Pluribus
Unum,” which is Latin for “out of many, one.”
Americans were bonded together by their adherence to Liberty. They wanted to govern themselves more than anything else.
The road to independence was not easy. There were many setbacks.
The Americans, led by George Washington, were routed and forced to retreat at the Battle for New York. The Washington-led colonial army performed a daring escape in the middle of the night that left the British forces befuddled upon waking the next morning to find that the Americans had fled their camp and escaped into the night.
The British chased Washington’s Army down through New Jersey. Then, on one cold Christmas night, Washington made a daring move: he and his forces crossed the Delaware River and carried out a late-night raid on the Hessian forces at Trenton.
The Colonial army won the Battel of Trenton the following the day, saving the Americans from pending doom.
However, the war would continue for another six years. There were many defeats and casualties. The capital of the new nation, Philadelphia, was captured by the British following the American Defeat at the Battle of Brandywine.
The turning point came when the Americans defeated the British at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. This made it possible for Ben Franklin to convince the French to join the American side.
General Nathaniel Greene chased the British all over the southern colonies, eventually pinning them down in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, where the British were forced to surrender to General Washington; the war officially ended two years later.
The Americans won; they shocked the world.
On this Fourth of July, sit down with your kids, or by yourself, and read the Declaration of Independence. It doesn’t take that long to read. The principles imbedded in that document were what that ragtag team of rebels were fighting for.
It is up to us to pass those principles onto the next generation.