Our View: This nation’s founders displayed uncommon nerve, courage (editorial)
Happy Independence Day.
On this date in 1776, the Continental Congress, made up of representatives of England’s 13 colonies, voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. The congress had actually voted for independence on July 2 of that hot summer in Philadelphia, but adopted the declaration two days later.
That declaration forwarded a bold notion: Political power should spring from the people of a nation, not its sovereign.
That audacious statement, along with a relatively lengthy bill of particular complaints against England, was a serious insult to King George III. But it would have been little more than the 18th century version of an angry tweet without the will of thousands of colonists, many of whom gave their lives in service to this radical idea.
The colonists fighting for independence knew well what they were getting into by daring to leave the British Empire, at that point one of the pre-eminent military powers in the world, one that already had a significant military presence on these shores.
All of the 56 signers of the Declaration knew they were committing high treason against that power and faced the hangman’s noose — or worse.
Even after hard-won victory, most of the signers of the Declaration lost just about everything they had. Only a relative handful died in old age.
The notion of separating from England also violently split opinion in the prospective new country. A good number of colonists had no intention of splitting from the mother country.
It was a difficult birth, to say the least.
In fact, those who worry about our split polity today would do well to remember the violent birth of this country.
The men who midwifed that birth showed courage, fortitude and, frankly, a level of sheer nerve that today would stun most of us.
Out of that daring, dangerous experiment came the country we know and love today.
No matter your political leanings, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution that followed several years later, laid the groundwork for a remarkable experiment in self-governance that has now lasted 242 years.
It hasn’t been easy, and heaven knows this experiment has been far from perfect. But on this day, let’s celebrate the spirit, courage and tenacity of those who gave so much to give us this country.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.