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Lest we forget why we celebrate the 4th of July . . .

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Dave Hahn, Jun 29, 2004.

  1. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    In Congress, July 4, 1776

    When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident:

    That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown 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. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

    He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

    He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

    He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

    He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

    For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

    For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

    For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

    For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

    For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

    For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

    For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

    For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

    In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

    We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

    [Signed by] JOHN HANCOCK [President]


    New Hampshire
    JOSIAH BARTLETT,
    WM. WHIPPLE,
    MATTHEW THORNTON.

    Massachusetts Bay
    SAML. ADAMS,
    JOHN ADAMS,
    ROBT. TREAT PAINE,
    ELBRIDGE GERRY

    Rhode Island
    STEP. HOPKINS,
    WILLIAM ELLERY.

    Connecticut
    ROGER SHERMAN,
    SAM'EL HUNTINGTON,
    WM. WILLIAMS,
    OLIVER WOLCOTT.

    New York
    WM. FLOYD,
    PHIL. LIVINGSTON,
    FRANS. LEWIS,
    LEWIS MORRIS.

    New Jersey
    RICHD. STOCKTON,
    JNO. WITHERSPOON,
    FRAS. HOPKINSON,
    JOHN HART,
    ABRA. CLARK.

    Pennsylvania
    ROBT. MORRIS
    BENJAMIN RUSH,
    BENJA. FRANKLIN,
    JOHN MORTON,
    GEO. CLYMER,
    JAS. SMITH,
    GEO. TAYLOR,
    JAMES WILSON,
    GEO. ROSS.

    Delaware
    CAESAR RODNEY,
    GEO. READ,
    THO. M'KEAN.

    Maryland
    SAMUEL CHASE,
    WM. PACA,
    THOS. STONE,
    CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton.

    Virginia
    GEORGE WYTHE,
    RICHARD HENRY LEE,
    TH. JEFFERSON,
    BENJA. HARRISON,
    THS. NELSON, JR.,
    FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE,
    CARTER BRAXTON.

    North Carolina
    WM. HOOPER,
    JOSEPH HEWES,
    JOHN PENN.

    South Carolina
    EDWARD RUTLEDGE,
    THOS. HAYWARD, JUNR.,
    THOMAS LYNCH, JUNR.,
    ARTHUR MIDDLETON.

    Georgia
    BUTTON GWINNETT,
    LYMAN HALL,
    GEO. WALTON.
     
  2. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Amen.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    George Washington didn't sign the Declaration? I see John Adams (2nd Pres) and Thomas Jefferson (3rd) did, IIRC Benjamin Harrison was also a later President (the one whose grandson also went on to become President).

    And I see Jed Bartlet's ancestor signed for New Hampshire [​IMG]

    Nonsense section: I recall a Jeffrey Archer novel that involved forging (for some reason or other) the Declaration. IIRC the difference between the real and the forgery was a spelling error in "British brethren", which was misspelt as "Brittish brethren" -- but again IIRC the misspelling is in the original, and was "corrected" in the forgery.
     
  4. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    [​IMG]

    Happy Birthday, America [​IMG] We disagree at times, but never forget how much we appreciate you.
     
  5. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    No and yes. The Benjamin Harrison who signed the Declaration of Independence was father of William Henry Harrison, the ninth President. In turn, William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President. William Henry Harrison has the distinction of being the shortest-serving President, taking office in February of 1841 only to die of pneumonia two months later in April.


    On July 4 I always pop in 1776. I'm not much for musicals but I'm very fond of this one and it's a great take on the founding fathers. It's witty and light with good music but it has moments of profound power, particularly the end. I often wonder what it must have been like to be there with such an astonishing collection of brilliant minds building a country out of thin air. When I think of the odds they faced I am in awe.

    [​IMG]

    Happy Birthday to us!
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Thanks for the clarification Jason. I distinctly remember a Benjamin Harrison being a president (come to think of it now, the one who served between Grover Cleveland's two separate stints), but I couldn't remember offhand what his presidential grandfather's name was.

    And what Ricardo said. [​IMG]
     
  7. andrew markworthy

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    Note the stress on mad King George (and by extension, his government) as the cause of discontent, not Brits. This is why we Brits tend not to be remotely offended by the events of 1776. On the contrary, since most signators were Brits by descent (and by education) how could we feel anything but a faint pride?

    Brits typically find the first section of the document as moving as Americans. Other than the King James Bible, it's probably the only time a committee has produced anything worth reading. However, we Brits can't help twisting the knife by noting that all this ranting and raving about liberty wasn't going to be applied to anyone with a coloured skin, whilst within a few decades nasty repressive Britain would have abolished slavery. Also, those Loyalists (and let's not forget a significant proportion of the population didn't like the DOI) who ended up fleeing to Canada to live under despotic British rule ended up pretty well off.
     
  8. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Independence would not have been possible if slavery had been abolished at the same time. The vote for independence had to be, by the rules of congress, unanimous. The south would not have gone along with the north despite the attempted persuasion by Adams, Franklin (who served as president of the first Abolishonist society in the US of which Thomas Paine was a founder), and others. They came to the conclusion that they could only do what they could and that the question of slavery would have to come later though, prophetically, Franklin warned that slavery would be the one issue that could destroy the country. The subject was debated incessantly and was the one sticking issue that caused more delay than anything else nearly bringing independence to ruin.

    One has to wonder if the UK would have discarded slavery so soon had the US still been a British colony.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Good point, but it helps that Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft alone—and the first revision was by John Adams followed by Benjamin Franklin. Then the committee began its work.

    IIRC, the opening was pretty close to what Jefferson wrote.

    A great thing to do on the 4th, is to stand outside of Faneuil Hall and listen as the Declaration of Independence is read to the crowd below—as has been done since 1776. On can listen ,just as Abigail Adams was in the crowd for the first reading hearing what her husband had helped write, and think about how the crowd must have reacted back then.

    I’d never been much on the litany of charges against King George, but as I heard this read to the crowd, I understood for the first time, why its inclusion was important, as there had to more than philosophical reasons to justify the rebellion to the body politic.
     
  10. Maurice McCone

    Maurice McCone Stunt Coordinator

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    I am always amazed that Americans think that we Brits are bothered by the result of the war of Independence - we don't, at the end of the day it was a civil war, it was mainly Brits against Brits, and the mainland was more concerned with fighting Napolean, thats where the best troops went.



    well yes...we abolished slavery and led the way for it to be abolished around the world. For decades British lives and the Navy and Army fought slavers and stopped ships on there way to the States and freed the unfortunates held.

    I believe that if the States had not gone Independent in 1776 then the war would have happened a few years later over slavery. The States fought against Mexico when that country abolished slavery, in fact the Alamo was a fight for the Texans (not yet a state I know) to retain their slaves as much as anything else.

    Unfortunately, the all men are created equal clause meant nothing till nearly 200 years later when most of the States caught up with rights which have existed in Britain for nearly 200 years.
     
  11. andrew markworthy

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    I think it's worth stressing that whilst the UK abolished slavery within the homeland and abolished the slave trade (both, incidentally, at great commercial cost - it's a myth that it didn't hurt Brits financially) slavery continued in the colonies for some time under different guises. So I suspect the American situation would not have dictated matters.

    My hunch is that if the USA had remained loyal to Britain, then the USA would have gone the way of Canada or Australia. I.e. you'd be very much your own bosses and simply put up with a few more royal visits. But I seriously doubt if you'd have been materially impoverished or oppressed. Our legal systems, religious practices, cultural sensibilities, etc, are very similar so I doubt if things would really have been that much different. And just think - your two main political parties would probably be Democrats and Royalists.
     
  12. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Hmmm... that one is too easy... Must resist... Someone, take this keyboard away from me!!!

    --
    H
     
  13. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    And here I thought the 4th of July was a celebration of summer movie blockbusters.

    /Mike
     
  14. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    Now they are similar. [​IMG] Some argue that the American Revalution was waged by rich landowners out for more. However, once the Constition was passed every man, (not slaves, nor Native Americans, nor women), enjoyed rights that Europeons wouldn't see until the French Revolution. We now consider Freedom of speech, Freedom of assembly, no state regligion, freedom of press, trial by jury, etc. to be our sacred rights but in the late 18th century they were priviledges enjoyed by few indeed.

    I agree that Great Britain, the United States, and most modern countries share similar laws, religious tolerances, and sensibilities, but let's give credit where credit is due. In writing the Declatation of Independence and the Constitution, our Founding Fathers gave the world a blueprint for all right-thinking men to follow.
     
  15. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Surely more likely Liberals v. Conservatives?

    I must say, in my limited experience of American jurisprudence, it is startling to see how many similarities there still are in common law, the principles are similar, just the leading case who's name is applied to the principle is different.
     
  16. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Yet in the UK, to this day, there is no equality. In fact, inequality is instutitionalized in government by retaining a monarch and aristocracy with rights peculiar to them and theirs only by accident of birth. The 20th century, and the Blair government in particular, has swept away many of those privileges but keep in mind that until Blair hereditary peers had right to sit in Lords, Scottish land law was literally medieval, and it wasn't until the 1950s that peers finally were made subject to the court system the rest of the country was bound to.

    I admire the British parliamentary system. I still have family there with whom I keep contact and visit, and my ancestory includes Scots, Welsh, and English members back to the time of 1066 and, likely, beyond. I think it's a wonderful place and travel there when I can but it's also the most class-restricted country I've ever visited. I could not fathom myself a 'subject' instead of a 'citizen.'
     
  17. andrew markworthy

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    Well, yes, we have a class system, that can't be denied. However, it isn't structured in the way most non-Brits suppose. First, you aren't oppressed because you belong to a particular class or racial group. We have never had a Klu Klux Klan or similar in this country (yes, we have had fascist organisations, but they have always been a minority and confined to - usually fruitless - political campaigns). We have never had lynch mobs hanging people because they had the temerity to vote. We have never ever had racial segregation as an official policy. We have never passed laws restricting immigration from specific countries. We have never had an official policy of sterilising people because they were of below-average intelligence. Second, basic human rights are available to all. You will never be denied medical treatment - this is free to all (although you hear tales of long waiting lists for non-essential operations, emergency and essential treatment is offered very promptly). Schooling is free to all. University education, whilst no longer free, is means tested and there is no differentially higher fees if you gain a place to a more prestigious institution. Third, although we are all subjects of a monarch, the monarch reigns, not rules. It is purely a nominal thing. The monarch acts as a figurehead, opens new factories and hospitals, and acts as host for visiting heads of state and similar.

    The British class structure is not based on oppression but very more on your lifestyle. What defines your social position is how you behave and speak. This is in many respects wrong (I certainly am not defending it) but it would be folly to suppose that people are rigidly forced to belong to the class to which they are born, like a caste system.

    So, amongst other things, no history of institutionalised racist policies and a health service that is free to all. Hmm ... I wonder how class-ridden Britain is?
     
  18. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    You never know Yee-Ming. The conservative party in Australia is the Liberals. The liberal party is Labor. [​IMG]
     
  19. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I have this horrible vision in my mind of Michael Moore's latest film, decrying the Royal Visit to the Dominion of America of Elizabeth II.....


    I've always considered the American War of Independence to be "Britain's Vietnam War". There was a split in Parliament over the prosecution of the war - a large portion of Parliament wanted to just give up and let the Americans go. There was great unrest and debate in Britain about this subject. The heavy use of Hessians and other hired troops was debated just as was the heavy use of minority draftees during Vietnam.

    The lessons learned by Britain from its American experience were put to good use as its post-George III enlightened administration of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa led to prosperity in those Dominions (ignoring the Boer War of course).
     
  20. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    This is patently not so.

    The queen cannot be sued.
    The queen does not require passport or licenses of any sort.
    The queen is not required to pay taxes.

    The queen retains 11 royal prerogatives that she can exercise at her pleasure. People are expected to bow or curtsey to her as a matter of deference (though I don't imagine they get locked-up any longer if they don't).

    Now that's the queen, granted she could chuck the whole thing and retire to Baffin Island or something but she wasn't appointed to that job, she was born to it. No commoner, no matter how educated or qualified, no election no matter what the turn-out, could make that person the monarch. In light of this I don't understand how you can say that everyone is equal under your law when the law is enacted in the name of a woman with no other qualifications for the job than having been born to it.

    I'm not knocking the lady. I rather like her and I know it must be a very difficult job given the travel, horrendous hours, and constant scrutiny. She does a good job of representing her country and I don't doubt her decades at the top of government haven't given her invaluable insight and wisdom into world politics. I think it's a brilliant move to divide the jobs of head of state and leader of government. I wish we did that here.

    There are others:

    Every member of the upper peerage has the right to attend the coronation of the monarch. As this is a state event, it is a function of government, which acts in all affairs in the name of the sovereign. How does one attain this right? By being born someone and not someone else.

    The Duke of Argyll may, by law, raise his own private army and has done so in the 20th century. Other nobles retain feudal rights like this though none so grave. Peers cannot serve on juries, sit in Commons, be sued for debts, and if are entitled to sit in Lords, be arrested during the time Parliament is in session. They still retain the right to attend the coronation of the monarch, a state function, by nothing more than the virtue of birth.

    The function of Lords itself is of little importance when you consider that it is a house of Parliament, a branch of government where people have the right to sit simply because of how they were born. It's like saying the Senate must allow duly appointed members-- and those of the descendents of the Mayflower.

    The British aristocracy is just that, a group of people above and privileged, even if just in forms of address, when compared to everyone else by nothing more than virtue of birth or elevation by a government official.

    I don't know Andrew, maybe you don't see it because you live there, but even if being an aristocrat gives someone the right to a silly hat and to sit in the presence of the monarch without leave, it doesn't remove the fact that the monarchy and aristocracy is a government-sanctioned, government-created, and government-enforced class system which still confers rights that "commoners" do not possess simply by virtue of birth.
     

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