Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Fourth of July

There is an old riddle that asks – “Do they have a 4th of July in England?” Well of course the answer is yes – they just don’t celebrate it like we do. The 4th of July in America is the big day – the day we celebrate our independence. For without our liberty every other day would be very different.

I am not going to speculate about the ways this country would be different without individual freedom and liberty – I don’t have to. It’s happening before our eyes. But for now, let’s pretend everything is O.K. and let me regale you with a list of the Presidents who were born and died on July 4th. What they had to say concerning how government works and its relation to the people it serves is fit for application today.

John Adams, the 2nd President of The United States died on July 4th, 1826. His last words were “Thomas Jefferson still surv (ives).” But what he didn’t know was that Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of our country, would also die the very same day. Jefferson’s last words: “This is the fourth?” Adams had wrote previously that “The happiness of society is the end of government,” meaning the goal of government is the happiness of society.

Perhaps this is what Thomas Jefferson was alluding to when he wrote in The Declaration of Independence: “We hold these to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In 1809 Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of citizen’s in Maryland that “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” Is it these words that President Obama is using to fuel his fervor for national health insurance, or do these same words give us pause when we debate the subject of how we care for the unborn?

President Jefferson was a prolific letter writer. In a letter to James Madison he said “…a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political worlds as storms in the physical.”

James Madison, the 4th President, broke tradition when he died just 6 days shy of July 4th on June 28th, 1836. In a speech given in 1788 he said that “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” President Madison forgot to tell us about the encroachments that are neither violent, nor gradual, and where the usurpations are both sudden and seen.

James Monroe, our 5th President, perhaps trying to reestablish a tradition, also died on the 4th of July (1831). In his inaugural address of 1817 he said “National honor is national property of the highest value.” Recently we have lost much of our national honor which has given our enemies the impression that we are weak and vulnerable.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, is the only President who was born on the 4th of July (1872). In a speech given to a group of newspaper editors in 1925 he declared “The chief business of America is business.” With government taking over banks, insurance companies, and auto maufacturers it should be restated as “The chief business of the government is taking over American business.”

Do we have the 4th of July in The United States of America? Of course, but are we losing our freedom and liberty?

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