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Paying homage to the 'Signers'

Chasing Down The Muse

July 01, 2010|Catharine Cooper

By Catharine Cooper

Happy 234th birthday, America!

On Sunday, we will celebrate the bravery and vision of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It seems hard to fathom that we were ever under the ruling influence of any other country. Decades after its signing, President Abraham Lincoln called the Declaration of Independence "that immortal emblem of humanity," for it clearly set us apart from the rest of the world.

It was a ragtag army of committed patriots that banded together to demand an end to the repression and excessive taxes of England. Their actions paved the way for the establishment of a democracy unlike any other, grounded in our Constitution. With three arms of government — the executive, the legislative, and the judicial — we provided ourselves a framework of constant checks and balances, to insure that no one arm of government would ever control the fate or future of our country.

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The Revolution and the Declaration, written by Thomas Jefferson, was founded in the writings of Thomas Paine. In his book "Common Sense," Paine argued that England was ill-poised to rule a continent.

He wrote, "I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, a little more, a little farther, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth."

As we celebrate this weekend with beach parties, barbecues, family gatherings, friends and firework displays, in the back our minds, I hope we take a few moments to pay homage to the momentous event that was the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

There are echoes of 1776 in many of our current events. The birth of a "Tea Party" platform harkens back to the seemingly mad action of dumping all the British tea into Boston Harbor. The renegades were afraid that given a chance, the colonists would not hold fast to the tea embargo, but rather purchase and consume the tea. While I don't espouse the current Tea Party's actions, I find it interesting that they used the Boston event as a rallying cry.

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