Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Birthday America!

Happy 243rd Birthday to the greatest nation ever conceived on God's earth. Sometimes you would not know it from the protests, and frankly the whining, but I have been to over 20 foreign countries and there is not a country that ever existed, nor exists today, that offers the freedoms and chance to pursue happiness like the United States. All it takes is a sense of gratefulness and individual responsibility. God Bless America!

And for those who are younger and have not been taught American history, I offered the short timeline below on the beginnings of what would come to be called the United States.

1754–1763: French and Indian War
The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War, the American phase of a worldwide nine years’ war fought between France and Great Britain.  As a result of the war, France ceded all of its North American possessions east of the Mississippi River to Britain. The costs of the war contributed to the British government’s decision to impose new taxes on its American colonies.  The experience gained by the American Colonialists fighting against the French and their Indian allies, would prove to be invaluable in the coming revolution.

March 22, 1765: Stamp Act
Like the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act was imposed to provide increased revenues to meet the costs of defending the enlarged British Empire. It was the first British parliamentary attempt to raise revenue through direct taxation on a wide variety of colonial transactions, including legal writs, newspaper advertisements, and ships’ bills of lading. Enraged colonists nullified the Stamp Act through outright refusal to use the stamps as well as by riots, stamp burning, and intimidation of colonial stamp distributors. This is a hint to American governments of the future to avoid over taxing the population.

March 5, 1770: Boston Massacre
In Boston, a small British army detachment that was threatened by mob harassment opened fire and killed five people, an incident soon known as the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were charged with murder and were given a civilian trial, in which John Adams conducted a successful defense because he believed in legal representation for all and was a fine lawyer.  Of course John Adams became a leader in the revolution and 2nd President.

December 16, 1773: Boston Tea Party
Protesting both a tax on tea (taxation without representation) and the single source monopoly controlling prices of the East India Company, a party of Bostonians disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded British ships at anchor and dumped thousands of dollars (actually British pounds at the time) worth of tea into the harbor, and this became known as the Boston Tea Party.

September 5, 1774: First Continental Congress convenes
In protests to the Intolerable Acts, the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia. Fifty-six delegates represented all the colonies except Georgia, who were likely too busy with their peach harvest.

March 23, 1775: Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech
Convinced that war with Great Britain was inevitable, Virginian Patrick Henry defended strong resolutions for equipping the Virginia militia to fight against the British in a fiery speech in a Richmond church with the famous words, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”  Patrick Henry would go on to serve two separate terms as Governor of Virginia and died in 1799.

April 18–19, 1775: Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord - the Shot Heard round the world
On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode from Charlestown to Lexington (both in Massachusetts) to warn that the British were marching from Boston to seize the colonial armory at Concord (gun confiscation as an unarmed population is a compliant one). During the march, the British force of 700 men were met on Lexington Green by 77 local minutemen and others. It is unclear who fired the first shot, but it sparked a skirmish that left eight Americans dead. At Concord, the British were met by hundreds of militiamen rallying to their countrymen. Outnumbered and running low on ammunition, the British column was forced to retire to Boston. On the return march, American snipers took a deadly toll on the British. Total losses in the Battles of Lexington and Concord numbered 273 British and more than 90 Americans. The Americans learned to use cover and concealment from the French and Indian Wars however would not always use unconventional tactics against the British and suffered dearly in set European style battles against the British in the coming years.

June 17, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill
The battle of Breed’s Hill in Charlestown, mistakenly named the Battle of Bunker Hill, was part of the American siege of British-held Boston. Some 2,300 British troops eventually cleared the hill of the entrenched Americans, but at the cost of more than 40 percent of the assault force. The battle was a moral victory for the Americans.

January 1776: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense published
In late 1775 the colonial conflict with the British still looked like a civil war, not a war aiming to separate nations; however, the publication of Thomas Paine’s book (actually a pamphlet - but you should find a copy and read it) Common Sense put independence on the front burner. Paine’s 50-page document, couched in a direct language, sold more than 100,000 copies within a few months. More than any other single publication, Common Sense is credited to pushing the path for the Declaration of Independence.

July 4, 1776: Declaration of Independence adopted
After the Congress recommended that colonies form their own governments, the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson and revised in committee. On July 2 the Congress voted for independence; on July 4 it adopted the Declaration of Independence.  For entertainment on this whole process watch the musical "1776".

November 15, 1777: The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation
Although ratification of the Constitution by all 13 states did not take place until March 1, 1781.

September–October 1781: Siege of Yorktown
After winning a costly victory at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, on March 15, 1781, Lord Cornwallis entered Virginia to join other British forces there, setting up a base at Yorktown. Washington’s army and a force under the French Count de Rochambeau placed Yorktown under siege, and Cornwallis surrendered his army of more than 7,000 men on October 19, 1781, effectively ending the war.

September 3, 1783: Treaty of Paris officially ends the war
After the British defeat at Yorktown, the land battles in America largely died out—but the fighting continued at sea, chiefly between the British and America’s European allies, mainly France but also later included Spain and the Netherlands. The military result in North America was reflected in the preliminary Anglo-American peace treaty of 1782, which was included in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. By its terms, Britain recognized the independence of the United States with generous boundaries, including the Mississippi River on the west. Britain retained Canada but ceded East and West Florida to Spain.

June 21, 1788: Constitution Ratified
The Constitution was written during the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia by 55 delegates to a Constitutional Convention that were called to amend the Articles of Confederation (1781–89), the country’s first written constitution. And on June 21, 1788 it became ratified when New Hampshire became the 9th State to ratify it.  Remember all documents and communications had to be carried on land by men on horseback.

September 25, 1789: Congress adopts the Bill of Rights - the first 12 Amendments to the US Constitution
The first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

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