July 2, 1776: On this day -- America's true Independence Day -- with the British fleet and army storming into New York harbor to set straight King George III's 13 errant Colonies, the Continental Congress declared independence from British rule.
As John Adams, delegate from the Province of Massachusetts Bay, wrote to his wife, Abigail Adams:
The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
We'll give Adams his due on July 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration's adoption and its first printing. But, today's singular milestone in the making of America gives us cause for reflection -- and pause for a few questions.
Hence, this Open Letter:
Dear Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers,
What were you thinking? On July 2, you had Thomas Jefferson's "original Rough draught" (draft) of the Declaration in hand. You had a chance to set things right. Two more days you took to argue the points and then, you blew it!
From what we've heard, Benjamin Franklin gave the prod ("We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately"). So, you got it together by making a few compromises.
How's it working for you now? The bargaining chips you played then -- slaves, women, Native Americans -- are still being played today.
Voting rights for Blacks is on the block again. Women's rights are repeatedly challenged by men who want the hands of government out of their lives and all over women's bodies. As for Native Americans, forget about them -- their rights have been infringed upon and marginalized for years.
When Jefferson indicted King James III for his crimes against the colonies (nice move, putting him on the defensive), you could have put the kibosh on slavery.
Here's what Jefferson wrote:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither. This piratical warfare... is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain...
Even the slave owners among you knew slavery was a drag. Paving the way for pro-racist political-correctness for generations to come, Jefferson cleverly blames the King for forcing you to be rich slave owners. It's all the King's fault! You should have kept that part. Nowadays, we blame you.
Look what's happens instead: Slavery continues, then segregation -- we're still struggling with those two. (Did you read my Open Letter to Paula Deen last week? You really should.) America even has colonies (we call them "protectorates" now). You passed these problems down to us, then remade your Declaration into a constitution, legalizing this mess.
OMG! We have an African-American president now -- a wonderful man, long overdue in your line of succession. But, certain people who shall remain nameless (albeit not blameless), still treat him with that special invective reserved for YOUR race problem.
We still haven't had a woman president. But we're working on it. Next time, listen to your Founding Mothers!
Months before your Declaration, in her letter of March 31, 1776, didn't Abigail Adams warn your co-founder, John, about short-sightedness?
I desire you would Remember the Ladies... Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
Wife to one future president (John), mother of another (John Quincy) plus five more children, one of the most prolific writer/thinkers of your day and you diss Abigail in the Declaration?
One more point: Native Americans. George Washington, this one is for you. I know you weren't in Philly on July 2, busy as you were fighting the war, but you of all people know that you modeled self-governance for the future United States on the Six Nations (Iroquois Confederacy).
Founders, this is how repay them? (By the way, there's still billions due them that really should be repaid.) You kept the slavery thing out, the woman thing out, but let this slip in? "He has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
Dear Forefathers, forget politics. Have you no shame, sirs?
Whew. Enough on my end: Win some, blow some. You had your time and did the best you could with it. I guess the rest is up to us.
Happy Independence Day!