Saturday, July 04, 2009
Re: The Declaration of Independence [Fred Schwarz]
Thanks for the reminder, Gregory. As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out at The Corner, every year someone tries to make a case that the real pivotal event behind the Declaration occurred on July 2, not July 4, but there’s a reason we celebrate on the Fourth: Celebrating Independence Day on the Second of July would be like celebrating your wedding anniversary on the day you got engaged. (And to be fair to Joseph Ellis, he admits as much at the end of his article; I think this was simply a case of a Daily Beast headline writer trying too hard.)
Regarding the Declaration itself, nowadays people tend to focus on the second paragraph and gloss over the rest, but to me, the essence of the document lies elsewhere: In the opening, which admits the importance of explaining the reasons behind a revolution, instead of just storming the barricades; in the passage beginning “Prudence, indeed,” which points out the wisdom of a take-it-slow approach; and in the bill of particulars, which details the British government’s numerous offenses against the colonies, and the many attempts the colonists made to work things out (remember, the Declaration was adopted more than a year after Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill).
You wouldn’t know it from the defiant tone of the Declaration’s most frequently quoted passages, but it really was adopted more in sorrow than in anger, and a similar hesitancy, and similar clarity about causes and reasons, would have well served most of the world’s other revolutions, successful and unsuccessful.
07/04 11:29 AMShare