Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day: (United States)

Start:     Jul 4, '11
Location:     Anywhere in the former 13 Colonies of the Former British Territory known commonly as America or Baja Canada. This territory is sovereign and not eligible for Commonwealth status until things improve. Also added to the festivities are bits formerly belonging to Spain, Russia, France and Mexico. Bits of Native American Territory, too. Other bits include the islands of Puerto Rico, Guam and a couple of the Virgin Islands if they want to observe it...or not.
According to Tom Burnam's fun and lively argument-settler of a book "The Dictionary of Misinformation" (1975, Ballintine Books), none of the members of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia signed the "Declaration of Independence" on July 4th 1776. All that happened was that the final draft of the Declaration was approved by a majority of members. The New York delegation was not even present, and only showed up five days later to affirm the general will of the other members.

One fellow named Thomas McKean signed it only in 1781! One of the original committee of five to draft the document, Robert Livingston, never did sign the Declaration, although he both framed and voted for it.

It took over a month for most of the 56 signers of the Declaration to affix their signatures to this seditious and dangerous document.

The document was written by Thomas Jefferson after he was appointed on June 7th by Congressional delegate Richard Henry Lee, who was later a senior officer in the Continental Army. Mr. Jefferson was to write the document and have it vetted by four others, including Ben Franklin and John Adams. It was vital that a Virginian write this because of that colony's impact on commerce and exports to England.

A resolution of independence was actually approved by the Congress on July 2nd. The last draft was voted on two days later. Many, including Adams, believed that it would be the Second of July which would be the day for celebrations and fireworks in future years. That's was of course if the revolution succeeded, a far from likely outcome at that point.


  1. Kean by name but not that Kean by nature, hehe!

    There are a lot of very lazy historians out there. Megellan never circumnavigated the globe. He died half-way around.
    Columbus never set foot on North American soil, preferring to jolly it up in the Caribbean instead.

    I think that history is rarely written honestly. It is always shaped to suit those in power at any particular time.
    I wonder if George W will be seen as a great hero at some point in the future. Or maybe Sadam Hussein will.

    Even the War of Independance has been written-up as an inevitable victory for heroic rebels against Old World tyranny. But if the "Freedom Fries" French hadn't leant the fledgling US some of it's navy it is unlikely that the New States would have won for some time after. (Though the British Empire clearly documented just how hard it is for an empire to maintain it's macro-borders forever).

    Then along came another bunch of rebels, The Confederates, but they got a somewhat different write-up.

    Yes, this must have been a very scary time for the signitures of the Declaration. Almost a Gunpowder Plot, but on a grander scale.

    Clearly the important thing was that justice was done to the new colonies. After all, the country was being built largely by the hard-work and suffering of the New Americans. And though there was a lot of initial investment from England in Project New World, I'm pretty sure that they more than made a profit on this back home.

    So, no-one signed on the 4th? Typo perhaps?

  2. LOL! Suffice to say Mr. Kean was hedging his bets, Oakie.

    History is a tool usually for the victors. Sometimes the losers (like the pro-Confederate writers) gain ground for a while with the romantic notion of a lost cause and all. But eventually the truth is stumbled upon if enough documents are found.

    Hard to say what history will make of the Iraq matter. Saddam Hussein was not a good leader, he wasa tyrant. But I feel George W was equally a tyrant as far as pursuing a war America didn't and should not have sent troops to fight over. That wasa war about oil first and foremost and no heroes will emerge from the corridors of power in that one.

  3. What would we do without the History Channel?

  4. Yes, his bets, though I bet he kept telling them that he was hedging his garden and would be with everybody soon.

    That is the good thing about the internet and television. We all have some sort of access to documenatry evidence now. The history writers really have to tell it like it is nowadays or they will soon look like toadies of the establishment or just plain incompetant.

  5. Yes, he was a Kean gardener I have read. Just couldn't get him out of the cabbages to take care of the signature business.

    The Frenc hhad a lot to do with the Americans winning that war but Washignton and the Commanders also had tp prove they could halt the British in a key battle which they did at Saratoga in New York in 1777.

    The fact that the "Redcoat" General Johnny Burgoyne got his forces lost in the wild and swampy Hudson Valley lowlands of upstate New York (and lost the support of his Indian warrior allies) made things easier for the rebel army under General Gates and his second-in-command, Benedict Arnold.

    Arnold would later become a traitor of course.

  6. I'd know a lot less that's for sure.

    I apologize to my American friends for showing a clip with Newt Gingrich in it. But what he says is not all that wrong, so I decided to use it.

  7. I think a lot of historians would say that the English Civil war and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 were really a good model for what the Americans did, so in a way it was the home country showing the way to change a government in a radical way and make it stick that aided the cause in the minds of those who had it up to the neck with rule from Westminster.

    And, yes, English investors had a lot to do with the development of the nation. Railways for instance. All wars I think have an economic basis at their heart and there was no reason why these fellows couldn't all make a buck or a pound or two after the sacrifices and the bloodiness calmed down. It was really a win-win if you had the capital. But of course poor people came to America to work and many did better than they would of in Britain, especially the Irish settlers.

  8. Hehe! Cabbages and Keans!

    Yes, just rebellion is always up in the air until the last, and then is written down as as the inevitable victory of good man and God.
    I think that whilst the British Army would have won a conventional war with the rebels all day long, the guerilla tactics and bravado of the latter sapped the British psychology and will. A bit like the Afghans against the Russians.
    So the early Americans were a tough breed of survivors who quickly adapted to their new environs. Or died trying.

    So Burgoyne was the Varus of his day then! Hehe!

    As for Benny Arnold. He just seemed to like a scrap. Didn't matter who for or who with! I'm sure the British would preferred to have called him a double-agent, though. Hehe!

  9. Haha! Have to give you credit for that, Oakie. I hadn't even realized the connection.

    Yes, the colonies were very divided over the whole indepenence business. Only a third were that suportive of it at first, and many in the halls of power in Britian wanted a solution involving some type of what might later be called Home Rule. But, yes, we learn in school about it like it was all meant to be from the start. Like hell it was!

    Yes, even with the guerilla tactics of the Amerians it was a "near-run thing" this American war. I gather, like Vietnam or the Russian/Afghan business , that the war was lost when the public and eventually enough leaders realized it couldn't be won and it looking more and more like an endless conflict.

    Yes, Varus and that dark defeat in the forests of Germanica is a good analogy. I think more redcoats lived to tell the tale than any Roman legionaires did however.

    Wonder if losing the war helped drive George III further around the bend?

    You're probably right about Arnold. The guy was a reckless fellow, that much I know. His initative won the Battle of Saratoga. Then he got passed up for promotion or something. Thing is the British didn't trust him all that much even after he did his work as a double-agent. He felt let down by both sides I gather.

  10. July 2th was probably on a Saturday back then, Doug,and we all know that government people don't work weekends!
    Oh, and that was Thomas McKean, but I didn't find the year that he signed it.

  11. Ah, there's the trouble. :-) Damn that colonial civil service!

    Thomas McKean, eh? Sure enough you're right Jacquie. He also spelled his name Thomas M'Kean. Not a character to be trusted with all these different names and such.

    Probably signed a few bad checks too.

  12. Oh yes, Varus's legions were completely obliterated by the cunning Arminius. What a psychological body blow that must have been to the whole Roman Empire.
    Funnily enough, The British army went into Afghanistan 6,000 strong in late C19th. ONE British soldier escaped with his life. The rest were killed or enslaved. Varus was not the only calamitous leader of a supposedly hegemonic power.
    Then there was Isandlwana, of course.

    As for George. Fat kings care little for imperial matters compared to their desire for more wine and pheasant, in my view.

  13. Independence, now there's a thought to conjure with Doug, independent from whom I wonder?

    The British perhaps, but who were they?...... the Scots, Welsh, Irish, and English settlers and soldiers in the 13 states?..... or the House of Hanover - a German dynasty - George III and European old money, the ancien régime of the ruffled aristocracy?

  14. Yes, ibelieve that left poor Emperor Augustus quite vexed; walking about the plaalce at night, sleepwalking so we are told, and shouting out, "Varus, where are my legions!"

    Yes, the "retreat/flight from Kabul" is a harrowing warning tot the expansion of power. The British sent a punitive expedition later on the next year to blow up some markerts in Kabul, but that was the end of the line as far as getting the place in some degree of colonial control even after one or two more wars.

    I often wonder how much our modern history vis a vi the Taliban and all would have changed if The British Raj had managed to get a railway line established over the Kyber Pass and into the interior of that isolated spot, as was offered to the Afghan ruler of the city in the late 19th Century.

    I'll have to look up Isandlwana, Oakie. Sounds like that military school my parents thought of sending me off to if I didn't start behaving. ;-)

    I can hear it now:

    St. James Palace, 1781. King at table. Enter the PM to his presence. He bows.

    Lord North, Prime Minister(clearly agitated, wig askew) : "Majesty, our forces have just lost the biggest battle of the American war. Spot called Yorktown. The French fleet under De Gasse showed up at the wrong time. Washington's forces and his Franco allies have Lord Cornwalis' regiments in the bag, I'm afraid. It's dreadful, sire! I'm sick over it I assure you. Sick, sick, sick. I even vomited in the vestibule waiting to see you. I will, of course, resign immediately if you like."

    George III: "Calm down, North. "Tis a trifle. Canada still will serve to feed the rabble their codfish. Oh, look, pass that new bottle of port in my direction. There's a good chap."

  15. Point taken, AA. Yes, there's the republican political idea of Independence that the plucky guy from Norfolk, Tom Paine, wrote about in his seminal 44- page pamplet, "Common Sense". What he wrote five months before the Declaration moved a lot of hearts and minds to Independence.

    And then you have Tom Jefferson, whom to many moderns seems a strange lad to be talking about equality with all those slaves planting and toiling on his haunt at Montecello. But he and his contemporaries could only see so far, just as I see freedom a bit further but, like many, not enough.

    The philosophy of a greater freedom seems to have been built on this republican framework that certain American, French and British philosophers and politicans of various degrees of education and hard knocks in those days could achieve.

    I suppose I should pay more attention to what is left in writings from the common soldier and women on farms and streets might have said about these stirring ,lofty but not always encompassing documents.

  16. You did it all wrong, Doug. There we were thinking about taking over the USA and giving you free medical care and you chose Independence. Much later along the line we gave that free medical care to Scotland, just look what you missed out on.

    Chortles at being so cheeky.



  17. Oh, THAT was what was the big issue! Who knew back then medical care was going to be so expensive--it was all leeches and lanclets back then, wasn't it?

    Our loss was Scotland's gain, Cassandra. :-)

    Thanks for remembering our 'umble republic on this national birthdate.

  18. Given the large US military presence in England I am wondering when we will get independence Doug?

  19. I'm not on that committee, AA, but I assure you if I did you could be a key witness at the next meeting of that body.

  20. In a good gesture one whom write for the newpaper here I thought I would share this with you Doug as it's his write not that of mine.

    "Let’s say hello to our American friends as they celebrate their Independence Day. It was on July 4th, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed separating the United States from England. Thomas Jefferson was assigned the task of collecting all necessary signatures and apparently it took weeks but today is celebrated as America's birthday because John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, was the first to sign on this day in Philadelphia. It is said he signed it with a great flourish so that King George III could read it without his spectacles. King George was the ruler up to that time of the 13 colonies that comprised the U.S. These colonies had been miffed for some time about what they called taxation without representation. We Canadians celebrated our birthday on Friday. July 1st commemorates the British North America Act of 1867 when the various segments of Canada were united into a British Dominion. We didn't have to fight a war to gain our independence so we should consider ourselves lucky. We adopted the British parliamentary form of government while America is a Republic. Both are free democracies with some differences. Sometimes I think if we combined the best of both systems we'd really have something, but that's a topic for another day."

  21. I agree with that, Jack! Thank you for sharing that article.