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Happy Independence Day. Or, from Britain’s perspective, Happy Treason Day, you ungrateful colonials.
One good habit on this anniversary of our Independence is to read the actual Declaration by the Second Continental Congress, agreed to on July 2nd but announced a couple of days later. It’s not a lengthy document but is the “why” behind the “how” of the Constitution, ratified some 13 years later after our war for Independence, which I’m reminded of every time I pass by the Brandywine River a few miles west of our home.
But I suggest reading two more documents by the American patriot, Thomas Paine, who is perhaps the most interesting of our nation’s founders. British born, he came to America in 1774, and a year later, wrote the document — a pamphlet — “Common Sense” that makes the case for American independence. It’s a bit longer than the Constitution, but worth your time.
The colonies did not go into rebellion quickly, easily, nor unanimously — when the British won the Battle of the Brandywine (Sept. 11, 1777) and marched into Philadelphia, they were literally cheered greeted by a great many locals (the patriots, for obvious reasons, had left town). Paine’s pamphlet did much to advance the cause of independence. PDF linked here.
But don’t stop there! Around Christmas of 1776 — dark times for the rebellion — Thomas Paine wrote another profound, and short, document that is also crucial to understanding the sacrifice required to truly win independence. It is called “Crisis No. 1.”
So, enjoy the day, despite many of our festivities being canceled by gleeful would-be tyrants, especially, and ironically, around here in Philadelphia. And while you’re at, remember the patriots who have, as well as those who continue to keep us free for at least one more generation. Yes, they have their commemorative holidays, but their work never gets a day off.Published in