A fireworks company recently misquoted John Adams in order to peddle its Chinese-made bombs and sparklers. Adams did not say that the Fourth of July should be celebrated with fireworks.
Actually, he was speaking of July 2, when the resolution for independence was adopted by a committee, but he was talking about the independence of the United States.
And this is what he said:
"It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."
There are three important ingredients of Revolutionary America that modern-day weasels are trying to drop down the memory hole: God and guns and our European heritage.
Anyone who tells you that the American Revolution was a secular event led by secular men is either lying or ignorant. Anyone who suggests that a group of violent revolutionaries at the end of a long war would restrict ownership of firearms only to state militias is a liar or an ignoramus.
There had been a great national Christian revival prior to the Revolution, and patriotic sermons were thundered from pulpits before and during the long struggle for independence. The first military success, the defeat of Gen. John Burgoyne in upstate New York, was accomplished by Kentucky riflemen and New England farmers and craftsmen wielding their own firearms.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is plain to anyone who understands English grammar. The main sentence is, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." If they had intended that only state militias could keep and bear arms, they would have said so. Instead, they said "the people." That means everyone as individuals.
Besides, at that time, the militias were the people. It would have been inconsistent and unsustainable to ban the private ownership of firearms. Guns were as much a part of American life in those days as automobiles are today. There was no large standing army, no national or local police. Americans had to take care of themselves, and you can be sure that every time Thomas Jefferson mounted his horse to ride to Williamsburg or Washington, he rode armed.
And, yes, the overwhelming majority of the people in those 13 Colonies were Christians, and if not Christians, believers in God. So, to say that America began as a Christian nation is just as accurate as to say that Europe was once known as Christendom. Furthermore, they were mostly Englishmen and other Northern Europeans. There were African slaves, Native Americans and a smattering of Jews. Perhaps even a Muslim or two. The bulk of the population, however, was Christian and European. Our institutions and political philosophy came directly from England and Europe.
Of course, today I would not call us a Christian nation, as there are more professors than practitioners of that religion. We no longer have the rule of law, either, since judges routinely legislate or amend the Constitution by interpretation while federal legislators and presidents ignore it. Intellectuals claim that everybody can be proud of his or her heritage — unless it is the heritage of the British Isles and Europe.
What made America was not multiculturalism, secularism or unrestrained tolerance amounting to license and an absence of standards. But those things will destroy America. You can put that in the bank.
July 13, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.