Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

04 July, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans! It's been 231 years since our Founding Fathers proclaimed "No more kings!" and told George III to take a hike. Here is an animated look at those events:

Actually, the anniversary of our declaration of independence is 2 July. To learn more about why the 4th is our day of celebration head over to the History News Network's Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July.

For more info on and to see a fading copy of the Declaration of Independence, the best place is The National Archives.

While I'm a huge admirer of Thomas Jefferson and own Dumas Malone's 6-volume bio of the man , there's no doubt that Jefferson was greatly influenced by the writings of John Locke.

In fact, some say there was plagiarism involved. Go read Locke's The Second Treatise of Civil Government and find out for yourself. (And let's not forget that Locke's notions of property being "created by the application of labour" helped lead to Karl Marx as well.)

Our notions of freedom & rights have changed over the past 231 years with slavery being perhaps the first and greatest challenge to America's conceptions of these ideas as enunciated back in the 18th century. On 4 July 1852 Frederick Douglass, a former slave, asked, "Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?" This question is from his great speech, "What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?" which I highly recommend you read if you haven't already.

The issue of slavery would be resolved in the following decade but this was also the time when the Women's Rights Movement was getting off the ground which would lead to the 19th Amendment in 1920 and a new vision of freedom & rights. In a certain sense, we declared independence in 1776 and have spent the intervening 231 years arguing amongst ourselves about who is free and who gets what rights. The debate continues today. Check out local blogger Erik Opsal's "About Freedom" where you can read about his conception of freedom and contrast it with Owen Robinson's.
|| Palmer, 10:01 AM


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