Today we celebrate that great moment at which the Continental Congress declared that the 13 colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states", thus creating the United States of America. They voted for "Independency" on July 2, 1776, but adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Different founders traveled to Philedelphia over the course of that long, hot summer to add their signatures to that sublime document, bringing the total who pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to 56.
John Adams, who was probably the most influential of those who pushed for independence, wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776:
"Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.
"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. 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 triumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." --3 July 1776, Letter of John Adams to Abigail Adams. The Adams Papers (2007), M.A. Horner, Ed.
Adams wrote that it was Posterity that would gain from this decision, even though the founders might well "rue it" because, by signing the Declaration, the Founders were committing treason against King George III, and if things should go badly, they would be hanged for it.
The price of Liberty is always dear, and the Founders knew it. Thus, they understood the seriousness nature of the pledge they made to each other, and to Posterity, when they said:
"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."
Today, many of us, John Adam's posterity, are watching in dismay as the Liberty that our Founders put their lives on the line to preserve is being dismantled. We are now on the express train to tyranny , shedding the precepts of Liberty that we inherited from the Founders. Thus, and most cogent, is this quote that appeared at the end of the HBO miniseries, John Adams:
"Well, posterity, you will never know what it cost us to preserve your freedom. I only hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it." --John Adams
We are that posterity, and it is our duty to protect and defend the freedom that our Founders paid such a dear price to obtain for us. This charge is laid upon us in the Declaration of Independence itself:
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown 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."
We have been drifting into tyranny, and the abuses and usurpations of our Constitution by our own government have been thus far sufferable, but soon--how soon we do not know--the petty power of our nonrepresenting representatives will have indelibly altered our Republic, and the abuses and usupations will become the absolute despotism that the Founders warned us about. Now is the time for the peaceful R3volution of the word and the pen and the vote. We must do it now, or our children will find themselves contemplating another kind of Revolution entirely.
We are, as Edward Cline so eloquently reminded us last week, The New Sons of Liberty, should we choose to rationally confront the Crisis that is upon us.
Long may Lady Liberty live and endure!