Today, Americans celebrate a massive act of treason against the British Government. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t the first act of treason. The colonists were previously accused of being traitors after the Boston Tea Party and similar activities that took place before July 4, 1776. The colonists were fully aware that these were crimes against the British Empire. For instance, Benjamin Franklin stated, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Capital punishment has long been the penalty for people found guilty of treason, so Franklin’s statement was quite relevant.
The restless colonists took an incredible risk in defying the superpower of the age. Without the organized leadership of our nation’s founding fathers, and Thomas Jefferson’s authorship of the Declaration of Independence the conflict with the British overlords may not have been so focused nor centered upon lofty ideals. Without such leadership, our nation might not have been birthed under the principles of liberty and freedom. Who knows what form the Articles of Confederation and later the Constitution may have taken? Would there have been anything like the Bill of Rights if the colonists had not been so revolting?
The clarion call was urgent among the anti-British coalition of the 13 Colonies. “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!”–Patrick Henry
The very act of signing the Declaration of Independence was evidence of high treason. It should be noted that not all of the colonists were of this mindset. A sizeable share were content with being under the leadership of the British Crown. They enjoyed commercial and political advantages–the status quo served them very well. Indeed, many of the Tories filtered into Canada during the war. Then, following the American victory, more than 50,000 “United Empire” loyalists were expulsed and settled in Canada and some seven-thousand went to Britain.
Meantime, the overt stirrings of treasonous acts left the revolutionaries with no further choice than to escalate their insurrections into full-fledged, organized rebellion. Their resistance movement quickly resolved into focused violence against the British military. The colonists had passed the point of no return, so the blatant guerilla conflict with Britain continued to evolve. Britain’s European adversaries also added aid and comfort to the American cause. The end result being the nation we have today.
Today’s U.S. holiday marks the official act of defiance against the British Empire and the Monarchy. We have our revolting ancestors to thank for the beginnings of our nation. Happy Independence Day!
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Thomas Jefferson. “That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”