As we continue into the most memorable and moving of our United States of America holidays, I was reading over some of the items that are important to our independence.
The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is quite important and prophetic as it turned out. The Liberty Bell was commissioned in 1751! A full 25 years before our Declaration of Indendence and was made at the same foundery as the Westminster Chapel’s “Big Ben.”
In 1751, the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania ordered a bell from Whitechapel Foundry in England, to weigh roughly 2000 pounds. Ironically, the inscription chosen for the bell a full quarter century before the revolution read: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof . . .”
Fate, it seemed, had cast the bell’s destiny as a symbol of the Revolution as surely as the foundry had cast its form.
Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem
There were other wonderful songs penned during this time frame, but only one could become our National Anthem. The music and words are so moving to me, as to most Americans. It tells us of only one Battle for our Independence, but commemorates them all.
The American Revolution was not fought in one day. Our Independence didn’t happen in reality for many long hard, bloody and dangerous years after it’s Declaration. Many lives were lost and families suffered to make it so.
The Star-Spangled Banner, our National Anthem, has an origin nearly as colorful as the verbal description it contains. Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer and aspiring poet, wrote the now famous words during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in September of 1814. What is often forgotten, however, is why, how and what Key actually witnessed that lead to the creation of those phrases.
During the war of 1812, the British were attempting to control American shipping and other trade activities. Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, decided in the summer of 1813 that he wanted a flag so large “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.” Mary Young Pickersgill, a local “maker of colors,” created this banner for him with her daughter’s help.
Measuring 30×42 feet in size, with stars two feet from point to point, the flag used over 400 yards of bunting and actually had to be completed on the floor of the malthouse of a local brewery. This flag would, ultimately, be memorialized as “the star-spangled banner.”
The following August, British forces entered Chesapeake Bay, invaded and captured Washington, burned the White House and set their sites on Baltimore. Those fabled words, ” . . . and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there . . . ” actually are an accurate account of what Key and the others saw on September 13th and 14th, 1814.
At roughly 7:00 a.m., the British fleet opened fire on the fort expending, during the next 25 hours, roughly 1500 rounds of heavy shells, each weighing in at roughly 200 pounds. Though set with time delay fuses which were supposed to explode after reaching the target, many detonated in mid-air. The British fleet also used the new Congrove rocket, which left an erratic red path across the sky as it sped towards its target.
Moved by what he had experienced, the lawyer-poet wrote down his observations in metre and rhyme on the back of a letter that he was carrying. The work subsequently was printed and circulated around Baltimore under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” As the poem gained popularity and was published in papers in other parts of the country, it was also performed in public.
During one of the public performances, an actor first called the song “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Although immediately popular, it was just one of a number of patriotic songs until it was adopted as our national anthem on March 3, 1931.
Have you ever thought about what our Founding Fathers actually went through to make our Liberty and Independence a reality? And, all the other brave souls in our country that lived in their time?
Well, I think that we may never know, or maybe personally understand, the total extent of the turmoil that many families went through, although they have been depicted in some very moving movies.
But there is a trail of blood and suffering that made our Founding Father’s words so very dear to me and to most Americans. What words am I referring to? Well alot of words actually and many can be found on, or linked to from the website: FoundingFathers.info.
But they were summed up in the extremely non-trivial statement made in the Declaration of Independence, made with full knowledge of what such words would entail:
“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
Not just idle words when you realize what that would mean to each of them.
As stated on this site:
What Happened To Our Founding Fathers ?
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Perhaps you can now see why our founding fathers had a hatred for standing armies, and allowed through the Second Amendment for everyone to be armed.
And I think our Founding Fathers would be horrified to know that the ‘Courts’ in this country, the very Courts that the Founding Fathers were concerned about as being the one chink in our Constitutional armor, have declared the Pledge of Allegience to be unconstitutional!
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
For those who maybe didn’t realize this. It happened in 2002 and there is an article on the CNN Archives about it:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) — “Political correctness run amok” is how one senator is describing a court’s ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is an unconstitutional “endorsement of religion” because of the addition of the phrase “under God” in 1954 by Congress.
A three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to a lower court. If allowed to stand, the ruling would apply to schools in the nine states covered by the 9th Circuit. (Analyst on whether it will stand)
The defendants — the federal and state governments and the local school board — also have the option of appealing the ruling to the full appeals court or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Attorney John K. Vincent said his office was “reviewing the 9th Circuit’s decision.”
“We will consult with the Department of Justice in Washington concerning our options in overturning this decision,” he said.
Outraged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the ruling as “outrageous,” “nuts,” and “stupid.” The U.S. Senate was so outraged by the decision that it passed a resolution 99-0 “expressing support for the Pledge of Allegiance” and asking Senate counsel to “seek to intervene in the case.” (Full story)
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, was one of many lawmakers who immediately reacted in anger and shock to the ruling.
“Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. This is the worst kind of political correctness run amok,” Bond said. “What’s next? Will the courts now strip ‘so help me God’ from the pledge taken by new presidents?”
It has always been a great benefit to me read over some American History as it relates to our Declaration of Independence and helps me never to forget what it cost our Founding Fathers and their contemporaries to bring us this Freedom and Liberty.
Here is just one small piece on the USAHistory.info page listed above.
Jefferson had ere this put the sentiments of Congress into a terse and fitting form; in other words, he had written the “Declaration of Independence” as we know it. This document was now taken up, and, with a few slight changes, was adopted by the vote of the twelve colonies on the evening of the 4th; and this day became the recognized national holiday of the newly founded nation. New York joined with the twelve on the ninth, and the thirteen colonies were then unanimous. This Declaration practically ignored Parliament and the English people, and laid the entire blame for the dissension on the king. In short, nervous, almost passionate sentences, it recounted the political crimes of his Majesty and characterized him as a despot and a tyrant. It pronounced the colonies absolved from all allegiance to the Crown, and invested them with imperial power. The Declaration, whatever its defects (and it is not above criticism), was a true expression of the popular will. The people were not unmindful of the gravity of the step they were taking, of the vastness of the responsibility they were assuming. They knew that a long and bloody war must follow — that it meant untold suffering and sacrifice, vacant chairs at the family fireside, widowed mothers and fatherless children. But they took no step backward; they saw in the dim future a new nation born, commercial and political freedom, self-government. “America was never so great,” says a famous English writer, “as on the day when she declared her independence.”
The news of the great act rang forth to the expectant city in joyful peals of the old bell in the tower of the statehouse, and the people were thrown into a state of delirious joy. Post riders were sent in all directions with the great news, and in many places people abandoned themselves to the most unrestrained enthusiasm. In New York a leaden statue of George III was torn from its pedestal in the public square and melted into bullets. The Declaration was read at the head of each brigade in the army, from the pulpit and the public platform; and it was welcomed everywhere with shouts and processions, with the firing of guns and the ringing of bells, with bonfires and illuminations. For fifteen years — since the granting of the writs of assistance in 1761 — the people had borne one indignity upon another; they had groped in the dark, unable to divine the next move on the great chessboard. Now there was a goal, a prize for which they were willing to stake their all — their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.”