Do We Deserve To Be Free? On The Fourth of July, 2006 | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | July 2, 2006
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." -- The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies. In Congress, July 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration.
This is the two hundredth and thirtieth anniversary of a political act that established the United States as a free and independent nation. This act had consequences. Immediately, it led to a war with a proud nation from whom most citizens' ancestors at the time came. In one sense, it was a successful civil war. The colonists maintained that the home government in London acted unjustly toward them by England's own principles and those of mankind. Not a few in the colonies did not accept this act of separation as legitimate. Many of them fled to Canada or back to Britain. Those that stayed eventually accepted the new government.
England, however, itself concerned with French power, could not ignore this challenge to its very empire. The war ensued, fought from Fort Ticonderoga till the final surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. The French were helpful, as were the Poles, but Washington also fought Hessians on the Delaware River. The victors subsequently proceeded to establish, with the Constitution, an effective government on the lines of thought they had set down, much of which they learned from English practice and English thinkers. They thought free men should be self-governing.