Courage and Consequence
History is our most important teacher. If you know history, you can use the past to understand the present and, in many cases, predict the future.
Historians have incessantly warned us not to disregard history lest we repeat failures that could have been avoided. Nevertheless, humanity has generally ignored the obvious lessons of past mistakes. The result is usually costly and disastrous, adversely affecting the outcome of current events.
The history of the American Revolutionary Era is especially important. The story of America’s founding should be an inspiration to all who value the struggle for freedom that is our national birthright. It allows us to understand how a group of passionate and moral individuals, dedicated to individual freedom, defeated the greatest military power on earth.
Visualize, for a moment, the reality of life in the American colonies during the 1770s compared to today. Although there was business and commerce, life for most was barely above subsistence level. Of necessity, everyone was a prepper in every aspect of daily life. They had to be, just to survive.
The colonists were not citizens of America. They were subjects of the King of England, a tyrant who taxed them excessively to fund the exported wars of European monarchs. King George’s edicts were oppressive and violated the basic rights and freedoms of the colonists.
As anger grew, zealots for freedom began to meet and discuss options. Very soon, they realized that a unique set of conditions existed on the ground that favored planning a revolution. There were no long-distance communications, nothing faster on land than horses, nothing faster on the ocean than sailboats, and nothing lethal further than a cannon or an arrow. The voyage from New York to London took ten to fourteen days, so any communications between the King in England and his generals in America imposed almost a month’s delay waiting for a response. There were also plenty of hidden forest coves and valleys in which conspirators could gather and plan. In the absence of today’s military intelligence hardware, British soldiers, located in towns, had no way of knowing who was meeting with whom and where it was happening.
I can imagine Samuel Adams saying those exact words to John Hancock and Dr. Joseph Warren. I’m sure Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington had the same conversation.
Together, they decided the time was ripe to declare independence from the British tyrant King George and establish a new country based on private property rights, individual freedom, and God’s divine Natural Law.
The actions they took were not without great personal risk. King George considered signing the Declaration of Independence to be an act of treason, for which the punishment was death. Yet, our founders, great men of courage and faith, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to win our freedom and establish our constitutional republic.
Most of us know the history of our famous founders – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Benjamen Franklin, for example. They all went on to have distinguished careers as framers of the United States Constitution and early elected officials of our republic.
Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, however, did not fare as well. With few exceptions, these men were wealthy, educated, and productive members of colonial society. They understood the enormous vulnerability they and their families faced by signing the Declaration of Independence, but each had the fortitude and courage to put it all on the line for freedom. Unfortunately, many did lose their fortunes and even their lives during the War.
Caesar Rodney of Delaware, rode eighty miles at night in a torrential downpour to cast the tie-breaking vote that allowed Delaware to sign the Declaration of Independence. He had skin cancer on his face that could only be cured by a British doctor in London. Nevertheless, he signed the document, saying that he didn’t want to be treated by a British doctor who would cut off his head to cure the cancer on his face.
Thomas Nelson, Jr., was a very wealthy man with a mansion in Yorktown. During the siege of Yorktown, General Cornwallis occupied his house. Nelson insisted that the French Navy destroy his house so Cornwallis could not occupy it. The British subsequently surrendered there to General George Washington to end the war.
Our founders recognized the momentous implications of their decision to declare independence from England. They risked their own futures directly, but the War for Independence affected all citizens regardless of which side they supported. George Washington realized that every colonist would have to choose a side and live with the future consequences of that decision.
The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.
Washington’s words echo with the same force and meaning today.
What are you willing to sacrifice for freedom?
Resist Tyranny and Trust in Freedom!
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is Don Hendrix, an avid student and reader of American history for the past 55 years. Don does not claim to be a historian, but he is a good friend, a great storyteller, and a passionate American patriot.
Don is dedicated to telling the life stories of men and women whose lives and deeds were critically important to the founding of our nation. As a guest on Freedom Forum Radio, Don will discuss the lives of those who signed the Declaration of Independence and the repercussions of doing so at the hands of the British.
Don is related to three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence by their great grandfathers who were immigrants to America in the 1600s; Benjamin Harrison, Carter Braxton, and Thomas Stone. Don also has been an American Revolutionary War reenactor for over 20 years.
Part one of this fascinating interview airs on Saturday and Sunday, March 12-13, on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet. Part two airs on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20.
Air times are Saturday, 8:00 AM and 9:30 AM, and Sunday, 2:30 PM and 7:00 PM.