Wednesday, July 4, 2012


by Brian Kesler

On July 4th, 1826, two men died, a few hours apart: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican who believed in the common man. He thought the nation should build itself on agriculture rather than industry. He favored a limited Federal Government and stressed States’ rights. He called for a “Wall of Separation” between Church and State. John Adams, on the other hand, was a Federalist. He believed in the power of centralized government, believed in a large and powerful Navy, and even made it a crime to criticize the government. Jefferson and Adams were known for their bitter rivalry, but they also came together at one point in their lives to create the most important document in the history of the United States of America: The Declaration of Independence. What a remarkable coincidence that their famous document was signed on July 4th 1776, fifty years – to the day! – before both their deaths.

You see, on such a historic day, politicians and politically minded people on all sides will try to sway you into thinking that the “Founding Fathers” believed such and such, or that the “Founding Fathers” obviously intended whatnot. The truth is that our Founding Fathers were not sustained on a collective heartbeat, but were individuals with vastly different ideas about the role of government. George Washington believed in a strong Federal Government; Benjamin Franklin opposed strong Federal Government and proposed we have three sitting Presidents at one time; Alexander Hamilton believed that intellectuals should rule the nation and created the National Bank, calling national debt a “blessing.”; George Mason opposed the Constitution; Morris believed Senators should be chosen for life and that only a select few citizens should elect the President; Roger Sherman opposed the Bill of Rights; James Wilson believed in Central Government and strongly supported Congress’ power to tax; Edmond Randolph was a supporter of States’ rights and refused to sign the Constitution, seeing it as a vast overreach of the Federal Government. In fact, the Constitution was known, at the time, as a bundle of compromises.

At a time when the political atmosphere has become so divisive, it’s easy for one party or the other to try to say they have a monopoly on American ideals, when the very nature of American Ideals have been fought over since the formation of our country. We are all Americans and we all deserve a say in how our country is governed. That is part of the reason the Declaration of Independence was written in the first place. Happy Independence Day!

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