Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday's Quote(s): Why this day is special

Our Nation turns 234 years old today.  Before the quotes, I want to share some background about the Founders, including their trials and tribulations, which I originally collected, as I recall, from several different sources and fellow compatriots about two years ago:

Most of the Constitutional delegates were natives of the Thirteen Colonies, but nine were born elsewhere.  Pierce Butler, Thomas Fitzsimons, James McHenry, and William Paterson were born in Ireland.  William Richardson Davie and Robert Morris were from England.  James Wilson and John Witherspoon were sons of Scotland, and Alexander Hamilton was a native of the West Indies.

The Founding Fathers had strong educational backgrounds.  Some, like Benjamin Franklin, were largely self-taught or learned through apprenticeship.  Others had obtained instruction from private tutors or at academies.  About half of the men had attended or graduated from college in the Colonies or Great Britain, and some held medical degrees or advanced training in theology.

Some of the Founding Fathers were anti-clerical or vocal about their opposition to organized religion, such as Thomas Jefferson (who created the "Jefferson Bible"), and Benjamin Franklin.  Yet other notable founders, such as Patrick Henry, were strong proponents of traditional religion.

While some of the delegates had no religious affiliation, most were Protestant, except Charles Carroll, Daniel Carroll, and Thomas Fitzsimons, who were Roman Catholic.  Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were members of the Church of England (Episcopalian, post-Revolution), eight were Presbyterian, seven were Congregationalist, two were Lutheran, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodist, totaling 49 of the 56 representatives.

These men signed the Declaration of Independence fully aware of the consequences if captured.  Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy.  He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.  He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding.  His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.  The home of Thomas Nelson, Jr. was used by British General Charles Cornwallis as his headquarters. It was destroyed at the Battle of Yorktown, and Nelson ultimately died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis also saw his home and properties destroyed.  The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months of her incarceration.  John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children were forced to flee for their lives, and his possessions were laid to waste.  For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

In total, five of the Signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.  Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.  Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.  Nine of the Signers even died from wounds or hardships that resulted from the Revolutionary War.

The Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for so much that we take for granted today.  May we always be inspired to maintain our society in their honor.

"Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States, General of the Army (five-star) of the United States and Supreme Allied Commander (Europe) during World War II

"Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty."
-- Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and namesake of both Brandeis University & the University of Louisville's School of Law

"We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls."
-- Robert J. McCracken (1904-1973), Scottish Baptist minister, author, and professor of theology who cited "the chasm between Christian principle and Christian practice"

"It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you."
-- Author unknown

"It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism."
-- J. Horace McFarland (1859-1948), environmental conservationist

"The United States is the only country with a known birthday."
-- James G. Blaine (1830-1893), Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State, and leader of the Republican "Half-Breeds"

"What is the essence of America?  Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom 'to' and freedom 'from'."
-- Marilyn vos Savant (1946-), columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright who was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for three years as having the "Highest IQ."  She has written her "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade magazine since 1986.

"My God!  How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!"
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third President of the United States, first U.S. Secretary of State, second Governor of Virginia, Delegate to the Second Continental Congress and the Congress of the Confederation, founder of the University of Virginia, and principal author of the Declaration of Independence

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government... [is] staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
-- George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, overseer of the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution, and the "Father of Our Country"

No comments: