Happy Independence Day!

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

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 shewn 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 invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations 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 benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring 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, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & 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 insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured 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 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 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 to 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.

New Hampshire:
Josiah BartlettWilliam WhippleMatthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott

New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross

Delaware:
Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton

North Carolina:
William HooperJoseph HewesJohn Penn

South Carolina:
Edward RutledgeThomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas Lynch, Jr.Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton

Vive la liberté!

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Today’s countdown to Independence Day is brought to you by … the French? Yes, you read that correctly. In addition to being a Reading Specialist, I am also a French teacher. As such, the involvement of the French in the American Revolution holds special interest for me. As I mentioned at beginning of this countdown, I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition to belonging to my own local chapter, I am also an associate member of the Rochambeau Chapter in Paris, France. That is why I was thrilled to find Selene Castrovilla’s book Revolutionary Friends: George Washington and and the Marquis de Lafayette. This tale relates the story of the remarkable friendship between these two men and the role it played in boosting French support for the patriot cause. Inspired by Lafayette’s passion for American independence, the formal alliance between France and the United States was signed on February 6, 1778. It gave the Americans much needed military and financial resources which lead to their eventual victory over the British. So as you celebrate your Independence Day tomorrow, give a thought to Lafayette and our first allies and their sacrifice for our independence. Vive la France et vive la liberté!

 

 

Remembering the Ladies

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In today’s countdown to the Fourth of July, we will be getting to know the women of the Revolution through Cokie Roberts’ book Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies. In a letter dated March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.” Roberts takes this message to heart and presents the untold stories of the ladies who helped forge our nation. Through lively, captivating language and engaging illustrations (provided by Caldecott Honor-winning artist Diane Goode), she deftly reveals the remarkable contributions America’s Founding Mothers. I hope you enjoy getting to know these brave, patriotic women as much as I did!

Revolutionary Espionage

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For today’s countdown to the Fourth of July, I present George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas Allen. Our first president is known for his truthfulness and honesty, apocryphally stating, “I shall not tell a lie.” However, history reveals a very story. Washington was a master of secrets and intrigue. His keen aptitude for intelligence played an integral role in the success in Revolution, most notably exposing the betrayal of Benedict Arnold. This book reveals the little-known story of how the Father of our country pioneered the field of espionage and spying to win Independence and form a new nation. Sometimes fact can be just as fascinating as fiction, and no where is there more true than that of America’s first secret agents. 

The Price of Freedom

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In today’s countdown to Independence Day, we will take a look at another classic, My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier. It is a Newbery Honor book and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and nominated for a National Book Award in 1975. This powerful and thought-provoking tale recounts the experiences of Tim Meeker during the American Revolution. While Tim’s father is a loyalist, his brother is a patriot. This ideological conflict results in the breakup of Tim’s family with disastrous consequences. This novel does an excellent job of presenting each side of the Revolution and demonstrating how it was really the original civil war. This story also proves the old adage that freedom is never free. 

Dear America: a Tale of Two Patriot Diaries

Today I present a two for one deal in our countdown to Independence Day. The “Dear America” books are a series of historical fiction stories written in the form of diaries from different periods of history. There are two that take place during the Revolutionary War. The first one, The Winter of the Red Snow, recounts the experiences of Abigail Jane Stewart as she serves Washington’s army and witnesses their struggles during their winter at Valley Forge. The second, The Journal of William Thomas Emerson: A Revolutionary War Patriot, is set in Massachusetts and details William’s adventures as a rebel spy. Each book provides a vivid depiction of the Revolution and, when read together, imparts to the reader a thorough understanding of the war. I have always loved diaries and personal letters (and have kept a regular journal since I was a little girl). They provide such an intimate perspective into the time period in which they are written. This format gives a depth to these two books that they wouldn’t otherwise have. So settle in and get ready to travel back in time with these two tales! 

 

Johnny Tremain

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In our countdown to Independence Day, the next book I present to you is Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. This classic tale, winner of the 1944 Newbery Medal, is a must-read for anyone interested in the Revolutionary War. The main protagonist’s journey overcoming adversity and finding new purpose working for the patriotic Boston Observer and the Sons of Liberty takes the reader through many of the seminal events of the American Revolution. Along with Johnny, the audience encounters luminaries of the Revolution such as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. This story was also turned into an excellent Disney movie starring Hal Stalmaster as the title character. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do!