As we come to the end of the first half of the year, we who value the republic given by the Founders pause to observe and celebrate the separation from a despotic monarchy. It was established by unanimous vote of the delegates of the thirteen states in convention to submit the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
The first state to ratify was Delaware on December 7, 1787. New Hampshire was the ninth state to approve in June of 1788 and then came New York and Virginia. North Carolina ratified after a Bill of Rights was proposed in 1789 and then Rhode Island ratified on May 29, 1790.
Over twelve years earlier, in the summer of 1776, a crowd of people had gathered on a hot, humid July day outside a hall in Philadelphia.
They were in anticipation that the results of a session of the Continental Congress called to amend the articles of the colonies would be forthcoming. Finally, a member of the Congress stepped out of the building and began to read from a handwritten document the awaited results: “The Declaration of Independence…In Congress, July 4, 1776…The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united (sic) States of America.”
This was a truly historic occurrence in that never before or after in history (to my knowledge) has any people striven to separate themselves peacefully from a dictatorial and repressive ruling government. The crier went on to read the entire Declaration, complete with the detailed accusations against the King of England and his rubber stamp Parliament.
My schooling did not include a reading of either document although we did, if memory serves correctly, become acquainted with the Preamble to the Constitution.
So, it was a welcome act of the staff of Hillsdale College of Hillsdale, Michigan, when in 2012 or 2013 a plea was issued in April to have anyone so inclined read aloud the entire Declaration to whatever groups would listen. It therefore became my project to make a 12-point printed copy of the document as the print in the small pocket-size copies were too small print to be read from aloud.
In the course of that transcription, it was brought home to me the clear language and precise description of the mistreatment the colonists had suffered. Some of the accusations seemed to be strangely true today in our present administration, as well as those dating back to the early 1930s. I am truly grateful that the challenge was set forth and I accepted it so eagerly.
The first year the opportunity was given for me to read it aloud to various gatherings, including a meeting of the World War II Vets, Central High School Class of 1943 lunch, and a couple of Republican club meetings. Each time the reading was received with a strong applause. The next year, the number of opportunities declined to about three and last year, only one (the June meeting of the Ottawa County Republican Women
in Miami, Oklahoma). In cases where it had been done before, some of the attendees objected with words to the effect that “we have heard it before.” This year, there was even a discussion about a reading in conjunction with what had been an annual God and Country Concert at our church or at the service immediately before Independence Day. But the schedule does not include either.
This makes me wonder if a desire for learning what our nation is and how it came to be has declined substantially, as has the willingness, in some groups, to decline to push back against the ongoing War Against Christianity now being pursued all over the world. If so, I fear that the result may be disastrous for the lives of my children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren.
I strongly recommend that everyone take the time to read both the Declaration and the Constitution and Amendments. They are not boring and what was amazing to me is the clarity and clear meaning of the words contained. It really was uplifting to me, and is a shame that more people have not become acquainted with the content of these wonderful documents.