On July 4, 1776, after years of turmoil, a group of young men declared that the United Colonies would be free from British rule. Little did they know that this declaration of independence would change the country and the world as we know it. These men pledged their “Lives, Fortunes, and sacred Honor” to make this declaration. We have celebrated the 4th of July every year since. The day celebrates independence from tyranny, oppression, and taxation.
The Declaration of Independence was a long time coming. Great Britain began passing regulations that extended its control within the colonies. They increased taxes to raise the revenue needed to pay back debts incurred during the French and Indian War. Other pieces of legislation such as the Stamp Act of 1765, the Tea Act of 1773, and the Coercive Acts, which followed the Boston Tea Party, brought about the phrase “no taxation without representation.” The colonies were being forced to pay taxes without having any say in policies that were being enforced or where tax revenue was being spent. Of course, there were more issues than just unfair taxation. Colonists were also angry about the British being increasingly hostile and cruel, going so far as to burn down entire towns forcing people to grab their possessions and run for their lives.
Declaring independence against the British was a big, bold move. Great Britain was a global powerhouse, and fighting against them seemed like an impossible and dangerous task that took massive amounts of courage. This Independence Day, let’s remember that spirit and think about how it can be applied today.
Although we celebrate the 4th of July as the day we became a free nation, a topic of discussion that can’t be ignored is that when the United States broke free from Great Britain, not everyone in the country was free. At least 80,000 people were enslaved. Women did not have rights. The Indigenous were being slaughtered by those who came to their land and now wanted to be free. However, we have come a long way since then. Our country is far from perfect, but we have the ability to fight for the changes we want to see, and throughout our history, many groups of people have done just that and deserve to be celebrated as well.
The Declaration of Independence states that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” Is it time to reign in the government? Has it become too powerful? Have we forgotten what freedom means? Freedom is defined as living a life without hindrance or restraint. Perhaps we should spend some time this holiday weekend to appreciate the freedoms we have while also recognizing that the government does restrain us in many areas and think of ways we could fight against those restraints.
So, this Independence Day, let’s take time to celebrate the bravery of the Founding Fathers who took action against a government that was treating them unfairly. Let’s also celebrate all the brave men and women who followed them and fought for change when it was needed. But, let’s not let that spirit die. We have to remember that the purpose of our government is to protect our rights and freedoms – not to tell us what those rights and freedoms are.