Happy Independence Day to all Redstate readers! Today is the day we celebrate the birth of our Nation with barbecues, fireworks and family. It is also the day the voices of the Left crawl out from under their rocks and use this as an opportunity to attack and pillory our Founders.
Of course, absolutely no one on the Left in history or currently could hold a candle to the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John and Sam Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, John Hancock and others. There are very few moments in history where such great men are thrown together in mutual agreement to produce a document like the Declaration of Independence (whether those listed were there or not).
We will hear assertions that our Founders did not intend for the new Nation to be a Christian Nation. That much is true. It is why they gave us the religion clauses in the First Amendment after we secured independence and the new Constitution was ratified. But, their notions of a deity, or God, or Creator were most definitely Christian. Lest we forget, each colony had an established religion at some point. Connecticut was the last to abandon the practice after the Constitution was ratified. And each established religion was certainly Christian.
Leftists seem to believe that our Founders were atheist when in fact they were devoutly Christian at the most, or a “deist” at the least. Bottom line: they all agreed in the existence of a higher power greater than them. Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation of church and state” is usually trotted out, but nowhere in the Declaration, the Constitution, or the First Amendment do we find that phrase. And the First Amendment applied to the Federal government, not state governments at the time. The document we celebrate today notes that our rights come from “our Creator.” Those words were written by Thomas Jefferson, the man the Left uses as the prototypical colonial atheist.
Most importantly, they will point out the apparent hypocrisy of our Founders by noting that many of those who signed the Declaration were slaveholders. Slavery was a fact of life in the 18th century and was not necessarily confined to the South. From historical documents, we know that Jefferson grappled with the issue of slavery in his draft of the Declaration. He originally noted that it violated his conception of liberty, but threw the blame on the British and absolved colonists of any responsibility. It was such a tortured exercise in logic that it was omitted in the final draft.
It is easy to sit on a campus lawn in front of your bearded professor and rail against our Founders and their treatment of slavery. Put in perspective, however, that treatment makes perfect sense. There was, at the time, the bigger goal of securing independence from Britain and, equally important, securing a united front in doing so. The South was especially important since there were more Loyalists there than elsewhere. Fact: with or without independence, there was going to be slavery.
Some argue that the British were ahead of the curve and had ended slavery. Actually, they ended participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and even enforced prohibitions where they could. But there is no doubt that Britain also enjoyed the economic advantages from the labors of slaves in America. There was no organized boycott of American agricultural products produced through slave labor.
Since he was the writer of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson enjoys a schizophrenic characterization from the Left. He is revered for a letter he wrote- the celebrated “wall of separation” letter- yet reviled for writing that “all men are created equal” while hypocritically owning slaves. The Left has a propensity to pick and choose particular writings from the list of Founding Fathers and use them to their advantage to prove a point totally ignorant of the social and historical circumstances in which those statements took place.
The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was not to end slavery, or to secure equal rights for women, nor establish an economic socialist Utopia, or any other speculation from the Left. It was written to declare to the world that the American colonies were fed up with British rules and tyranny and that they would no longer be a part of it. They listed their many reasons in particular and in the grander scheme of things.
The fact is that we cannot categorize our Founders as “conservative” or “liberal” since the terms did not exist at the time. Back then, a “conservative” was one to move slowly, if at all, on the question of independence. New York, Maryland, and Georgia (who sent no representatives to Congress) were, therefore, conservative.
A perfect example of this ambiguity is Patrick Henry’s declaration, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Some historians have analyzed this statement. Was he a liberal radical calling for anarchy? Or was he a staunch conservative asking for no restrictions on personal liberty? Yet today the Left acts as if they know the answer and it is invariably in their favor.
The Left wants us to feel remorse on July 4th because in their eyes the Union is less than perfect. Ironically, even saying those words in other countries can land you in jail. No country is “perfect” including their rendition of a “perfect country.” But, the Nation in which we live is as close to perfection as one can get. It is why people die trying to get here and not Venezuela, or Cuba, or any other socialist oasis. Instead of attacking our Founders and their words, they should join in rejoicing the fact that 240 years ago, fifty-six white men in Philadelphia brought forth the very Nation that allows the Left to spout the nonsense they do today with aplomb.