I’ve been called a variety of names by some who don’t like my constant reference to the Founding Fathers. Apparently, a “living, breathing” Constitution that fits today’s societal norms is preferred by some, especially the English who persist in living on this side of the pond. They didn’t like the rebellion 240 years ago and they still don’t. I went back to the books to research our Independence Day, the declaration of separation from England, which started all things good for the modern world.
There are some experts who think the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776. I, however, tend to go with July 4th since Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin all said that they signed it on that date. To further prove the validity of that date, President Thomas Jefferson, President John Adams and President James Monroe all died on July 4th, making three presidents in a row to die on that date. Coincidence? I think not.
Despite the testimonial evidence of such distinguished luminaries and the deaths on that same date, a good number of historians contend that the document was not actually signed until August 2, 1776, while acknowledging that Congress ratified it on July 4th. The assumption is that Jefferson and his colleagues were wrong about the date, due to their advanced age when questioned years later, and that the actual signing was so uneventful that no one bothered to write home about it. Historians point to the lack of a historical written record of any such signing on July 4, but there are documented minutes of a meeting on August 2nd wherein some signed the Declaration. The official document wasn’t even released to the public until January the following year with everyone’s signature on it, that’s how unimportant the signing date was, or so say some egghead historians.
What difference does it make? To me, it’s a big deal. If we can’t trust that Independence Day was on July 4th, then what can we trust about our government? I pick on politicians all the time, deservedly so. Some of them lie, steal and most generally are curmudgeons. I don’t have complete faith in any current politician. I just don’t. Even the best president of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan, had a misstep or two. But I have faith in the United States of America. It endures because of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the system of checks and balances created the best government in the history of the world. And while the Constitution can be changed, what we have never done, well to this point, is to the change a single one of the Bill of Rights.
If you missed civics or history class, the Declaration of Independence isn’t the document that addresses the Bill of Rights. Frankly, neither does the original Constitution, directly. The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and yes, they followed the establishment of the Constitution, but for a reason. Even moreso than the Constitution, the Bill of Rights were hotly debated and contested, so more time was taken for each state to consider the passage of such monumental rights.
So let me conclude this way: You can attack me, I’m a big boy. But if you don’t honor and acknowledge that July 4th is, in fact, Independence Day, then aren’t you attacking the Declaration of Independence? To attack the Declaration is to attack the Founding Fathers and the Constitution they authored. If you’ll be so brazen as to attack the Constitution, you’d be willing to attack the Bill of Rights. And if you’ll attack the Bill of Rights, aren’t you really attacking America? Now look, I can take the criticism of me, or if you want to believe that someone got a date wrong on your high school transcript, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you attack July 4th, as that is an attack on America. I won’t stand for an attack on America! (I then exit the room.)
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Animal House defense of July 4th.
If you don’t get the reference, check this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PYb_anBMus