The View From 1776
Friday, July 04, 2014
The War Of Independence
Our struggle formally commenced on July 4, 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. Calling the ensuing conflict the Revolutionary War is a misnomer.
Our 1776 struggle with Great Britain should be called the War of Independence, not the Revolutionary War. Liberal educators want you to believe that we Americans share a common heritage with the savageries of the French and Russian socialist revolutionaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ours was not at all a revolution in the sense of the 1789 French Revolution or the 1917 Russian Revolution. Those were mob uprisings that wiped out the existing systems of government, society, spiritual religion, and private property rights, ending with the subordination of individual rights to the rule of an intellectual elite.
The Americans’ purpose was the exact opposite: to preserve the already well-established colonial systems of self-government without in any way affecting the institutions of religion or the rights of property. Our War of Independence was, in short, a conservative defense of well-established tradition, not a radical upheaval.
American colonists would have happily remained British subjects if their rights as Englishmen had been respected by Parliament and the king. They were in fact very proud to be Englishmen, because England was the most powerful and the freest nation on earth.
They objected to the administration of George III, because it had abruptly decided to change fundamental procedures of self-government that had evolved in the North American colonies during the previous century and a half. American colonists, and their cousins in England, believed that neither the king nor Parliament could arbitrarily impose heavy and unprecedented taxes. Nor could the king enforce collection of those taxes with military troops quartered among the private citizens, at those citizens’ expense. These things they saw as unconstitutional seizure of their property by the crown. The best known slogan from the War of Independence says it all: “No taxation without representation.”
Freedom, in 1776, meant limitations that kept government from arbitrarily encroaching upon individuals’ political and property rights. Today “freedom” means that the Federal courts can arbitrarily legitimize the latest academic fads that attack the centuries-old traditions of morality and natural law upon which the United States was founded.
Freedom has come to mean lack of restraint and the absence of consideration for the rights and sensibilities of others. First and foremost today it means animalistic gratification (sexual promiscuity, marital infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse) without personal responsibility and without regard to the corrosive effect on society.
As Alexander Hamilton noted in the Federalist papers (which were written in 1787 and 1788 to persuade the states to ratify the Constitution), the words of the Constitution, by themselves, are not much protection for the individual liberties claimed in the Declaration of Independence. Lawyers and judges can weasel around words and take them out of context to make them appear to mean almost anything they wish. The only safeguard is a knowledgeable public, steeped in tradition and alive to every threat against those liberties. We no longer have that safeguard.
After more than three generations under the socialist welfare state imposed here in 1933 by the New Deal, we are far advanced along what Nobel-Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek called The Road to Serfdom. In that classic 1944 analysis of the inescapable shortcomings of socialism, Hayek accurately predicted the general malaise and economic decline in post-World War II Great Britain under its socialist government. At about the same time, President Franklin Roosevelt was praising the benefits of the socialistic collectivism of his New Deal in his 1944 State of the Union address. The original Bill of Rights based on Jeffersonian individualism, he said, had proved inadequate. The People had accepted a Second Bill of Rights that promised Security in the sheltering arms of Big Brother’s socialistic welfare state.