The Liberty We Earn is the Freedom We Keep


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Governance by Accusation cannot and demonstrably does not work except to congeal political power into the hands of the wicked. Its roots are spiritually inhuman to the core and morally corrupt by any wholesome measure or definition.

Governance by Accusation is always destructive and continuously corrosive to the human social fabric everywhere: For individuals, families, tribes, communities, towns, cities, states, and nations.

Governance By Accusation

These are strong words but currently and historically demonstrably true.

For good reason, the healthy management of our all-too-human predilection to accuse the other based upon our assumption of their internal intentions is a centermost topic of all major religions. It is the center of relevant, and most irrelevant, political discourse. This topic and its resolutions are even the obvious foundation of philosophies that pretend not to be religious – aka Secular Humanism et al.

The Shouts of the Accuser are nothing more than sound and fury signifying nothing. All sorts of Biblical allusions and literary references there if you catch the drift.

This most horrific aspect is particularly true when accusation portends to reveal and rest upon the unknowable intentions of others.

Obviously, it is not my intention in a post to answer those eternal and deeper human questions. These appear to be a matter of Faith and Belief and open to debate. However, I must say that debate based on accusation and assumed intention is itself a form of governance by accusation.

Given we will celebrate another Fourth of July it seemed important to clarify how these problems of accusation and assumed intention were directly addressed in the documents and founding events of our Republic.

Why We Celebrate the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is not a list of accusations as has been falsely ascribed by some in the current political morass. There is nothing new about people trying to do that. The truth of the matter may be even more disturbing.

The Declaration is not a call to or for activist violence, but a declaration for the more righteous behavior required of all governments and behaviors of all men to aspire to and work for in the future.

Almost all the signers were thoughtful, prosperous men with substantial families, businesses, and fortunes they put at ultimate risk of life and loss for a something they believed to be more worthy than themselves.

The Liberty they proclaim is an existing and demonstrated freedom to govern themselves.

This is quite the opposite from the spurious motive to accuse and thence destroy the lives and property of others for any political, financial, and personal gain.

Most of them already had power and means aplenty. Each had little to gain and much more to lose by putting their necks literally into the hangman’s noose. Yet, they did.

Most of them did suffer serious consequences for their actions. As to fame and glory - only two signers ever became President. Those two Presidents both died on July 4, 1826. Adams and Jefferson argued until that day about whether to celebrate the birth of our country on that particular day.

A Proactive and Practiced Solution

Contrary to popular educational myth the signers did not pursue some new, vague concept or future governmental architectural fantasy but a substantial and real form of successful and, albeit painful, form of government with which they were already all too familiar.

The American colonies were already self-governed with elected legislative governments to one degree or another.

We cannot discuss these very specific legislative and governance realities without an understanding the historical context of the English Civil War and the political, social, religious, and ethnic ramifications of the same. Without going into historical detail here - to dismiss that past turmoil and conflict would be like trying to avoid the World Wars in a discussion of the 20th century.

Local government legislative autonomy, local accountability, and taxation with representation were the substantive issues of the moment. They were not new then, and remain to date, significant matters that are always worthy of debate.

It is telling that our first two political parties were the Federalist Party and the Anti-Federalist or Democrat-Republican Party. If those names appear confusing to moderns, it should not be. The rationales behind their political differences and the often-rancorous personal debate between Adams and Jefferson remain significant today.

The Federalists contended that the Constitution did not require what we now call the Bill of Rights. Those specific powers were not a federal power and thus those rights were already in the hands of the State governments and, even more crucially, in the hands of the people themselves.

The Anti-Federalists called for a Bill of Rights to be formally amended to the Constitution to guarantee the formal constraint of the powers of the federal government not to create rights as many people currently imply.

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights intentionally mirrors the Ten Commandments and enumerates a few Thou Shalts followed by a lot more Thou Shalt Nots for the federal government. The themes of accusation and assumed intention are clearly apparent Bill of Rights addendums to the 7 Articles of the Constitution that define the limited, separate powers and structures of federal governance.

Many people these days would be totally surprised by the first States to threaten and formerly act to succeed from the United States and why.

The signers certainly were not protesting for anything like the modern twisted term - social justice.
To employ the old joke – "social justice are words that appear be nonsense when employed together."

John Adams had defended the British militia men who fired on angry mob of colonial protestors in Boston.

Thomas Jefferson had defended the June 1769 Anti-Inoculation smallpox rioters even though Jefferson supported and had personally employed the practice of smallpox inoculation himself.

Putrid politics, pandemics, and pandemonium do seem to arise together.

The Short and Sweet

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

You might want to reread that last line ten times to let it sink in.

The signers agreed and understood clearly what we were in for.

What is Unsaid for Good Reason

It would be safe (and these days politically incorrect) to say that almost all the signers of the Declaration would ascribe to some variation of the belief that citizenship and the right to vote were something everyone made by the Creator had the right to earn.

An unalienable right to vote (and many other historical and modern dubiously proclaimed rights) is demonstrably absent both here in the Declaration and the Constitution. This was demonstrably intentional. These issues were also hotly debated based on historical accounts.

The concept that a supernumerary federal government might define who could participate in the governments of the individual States and/or local governments was understandably abhorrent to most, if not all, delegates.

That same form of usurpation of unrepresented political power is exactly what they are Declaring their Independence from and for good reason.

Skin in the Game

Both an investment in local property and public testimonies of personal character were deemed by all to be important and vital to the necessary self-interest required in all democratic governmental processes in the proposed republican government.

Why? These not so simple individual tests of personal and social self-governance were known and proven to work historically even if sometimes these tests demonstrably work imperfectly.

The Constitution purposefully separates and limits the specific forms of power and forms of governance allowed to individuals.

In all States the right to vote could be taken away if a citizen was found guilty by a jury of their peers in a court to be a felon. The complimentary act of Pardon by the executive existed to restore that right, if and when, that act was deemed appropriate. These powers are notably separated as well.

What was and is the Fourth of July?

A 4th of July celebration was/is historically and commonly a political event. Most suffrage and other US historical political movements employed the day as such. The political hope - to attach their cause to the Declaration of Independence itself by mere association.

This on-going July 4th political theatre is one significant reason why it took almost a century (June 28, 1870) for Independence Day to become an official federal holiday approved by Congress and signed by the President. Arguably, the July 4th inclusion only occurred because the other three popular holidays: New Year’s Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving were also included.

Once a year everyone should read and hear the entire Declaration of Independence

That American Testimony is what the day is there for.

The Declaration of Independence is a notice from a delegated legislative body to the British government. This is not a list of activist demands. The actual list of offenses in the Declaration is telling. The list often and commonly avoided by the political plagiarists. This is a sure sign of sin and spin you might say.

All the listed offenses concern actions deemed by that legislature to be improper and usurpations of the powers over their existing fellow citizens and their existing colonial governments in which many of the signers were active participants.

The Liberty they declare is the Liberty to govern themselves responsibly.
The Tyrannies expressed are arbitrary acts of power towards their existing citizens and their existing colonial governments.

The signers are representative delegates of the 13 separate colonial governments together informing the King’s government they were now together founding a new standing governmental authority separate from his own.

Each person who signed this Declaration signed for well thought out legislative, governmental, and religious reasons.

The signing delegates had to both be chosen and to volunteer.

More than one of the 56 signing delegates was not the official lead delegate from their respective State.
Some signed for others which is even more disconcerting when you consider the consequences.

The Fourth and the War

The colonists were already in an active war with the British Empire since April 19, 1775. That wasn’t a riot. It was an actual armed insurrection. American militia troops had already besieged the British army who had occupied Boston.

This Continental Congress already had an army of their own. There were additional colonial militias being assembled at the time to further make the point. The Continental Army was formed over a year earlier on June 14, 1775 by the same Second Continental Congress.

Since I’m named after either the second or first US Army veteran commissioned on that day (depending on the story you want to believe) that is an easy date for me to remember. Washington arrived in Boston to take command of the American militia forces on July 3, 1775.

Let’s count the years in the rest of the story.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified by the States on Nov 15, 1777. This effectively legalized the Continental Congress as a limited national government.

It took the Continental Army 6 ½ years from April 1775 until the British surrender at Yorktown on Oct 19, 1781 to make the point a reality in practice. Many colonists considered that surrender day in October to be Independence Day for many years and celebrated it as such.

The United Kingdom officially recognized American independence by signing the Treaty of Paris of 1783 signed on Sept 3, 1783.

The Constitutional Convention began on May 25, 1787 to fix the problems with the 10-year old Articles of Confederation.

The Constitution (without the Bill of Rights) officially replaced the Articles of Confederation on March 4, 1789.

Washington took the oath of office as the first US President on April 30, 1789 – 7 ½ years after the victory at Yorktown and 14 years after becoming the Commander of the Continental Army.

The last State ratified the Constitution on May 29, 1790 notably after the US already had established the United States constitutional republic as a government with an elected President, an elected House, a State legislature appointed Senate, and a sitting Supreme Court.

The Bill of Rights – the first 10 Constitutional amendments were officially ratified by the required majority of States by Dec. 15, 1791. Notably, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia did not officially ratify the initial 10 Amendments in the Bill of Rights until 150 years later in 1939.

The Rest of the Story

I attempted to draw careful attention to the long time scales involved and the apparent inconsistencies frequently glossed over in many modern American Revolution historical narratives.

The English tradition of the July 4th weekend began long before the Declaration of Independence as political protest (you might bury or hang the King or other interested parties in effigy), local political celebrations, and/or both.

The Continental Congress delegates picked this particular weekend for the official signing of the Declaration of Independence on purpose and not by chance.

My namesake was the only person ever officially allowed armed into the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and Congress.

I trust that fact alone speaks volumes as to the nature and heated passions of the long winded and prolonged political debates involved.

By all accounts lots of accusations were made during the long process.

In the end, the participants managed to resolve and create a new form government not based on governance by accusation but in spite of that all too common human frailty.

Happy Independence Day!

The Liberty You Earn is the Freedom You Keep