On July 4, 1776, delegates to the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, approved the Declaration of Independence. The humble colonists of British America thus forged the “thirteen united States of America” out of the dying embers of a mother country that evinced “a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism.” The Declaration, a literary masterpiece ballasted by the courage of our Founding Fathers, seeded a republic without international parallel.
In this piece, Chicago Thinker writers and editors ruminate on their love for the American republic as well as their appreciation for its genesis.
The Cruciality of Prudence—Perry Zhao, Staff Writer:
One of the lesser-known lines of the Declaration is its statement on prudence: “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.” The Declaration’s emphasis on prudence aligns nicely with the Chinese immigrant background of my family, which knows first hand the consequences of reckless political upheaval—namely, the forceful and bloody imposition of communism.
My parents entered America for the first time some thirty years ago, possessing merely two thousand dollars and student visas. They lived in a rented basement, lived on bare necessities, and faced the challenge of transitioning into a new country while finishing their education. Nonetheless, with steely resolve, my parents persevered and saved with an insurmountable work ethic.
July 4 not only commemorates independence; it also reminds America of its steadfast commitment to values like liberty, opportunity, and, most of all, prudence. Today, my family and I celebrate and thank the Founding Fathers for their undying vision of a nation that adheres to these principles.
The American experiment remains to this day one of the greatest civic accomplishments of humankind. It was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty and the rejection of unjust authority. Rather than aimlessly usurping tyranny, our Founders ensured that a new, functional republic arose.
America is greater than a state or label. It is a promise that embodies the words “I dissent” and the methods of expressing them: one that fosters personal ambition and ingenuity, one that empowers the majority while protecting the minority. As a result, America is a global superpower—a world leader across all fronts, including innovation and culture.
What America is, has been, and can be is something all of us should strive to both perpetuate and advance. While the United States’ progress toward becoming the ultimate bastion of liberty has been and continues to be littered with challenges, our undertakings thus far serve as the bedrock for an enlightened and just society.
The Enduring American Creed—Mitchell Robson, Senior Editor:
I love the American republic because of the founding ideas that it embodies. The Declaration of Independence contains two revolutionary and inseparable concepts: one, that people are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” and, two, that “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off” a government that does not protect those rights.
That legacy of the Declaration of Independence remains very much alive. American citizens are uniquely aware that their rights are not granted as privileges from a monarch or arbitrarily determined by a majoritarian democracy.
Today, we see these American principles in action through our robust system of states’ rights, most prominently demonstrated in the states’ varying responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in undoubtedly better outcomes than what would have occurred under unanimous obedience to diktats emanating from unaccountable bureaucrats at the federal level.
North Carolina’s Unique Contribution—Declan Hurley, Vice President:
The delegates who affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence were some of the bravest people in the history of the United States. After all, they faced execution for treason in order to forge a shining path to greatness for the American nation.
Braver still were the trailblazing members of the Fourth Provincial Congress of North Carolina, which met in the spring of 1776 some 300 miles south of Philadelphia. Delegates to that body unanimously resolved on April 12 that, one, the Old North State had the right to form her own constitution and, two, that her delegates to the Second Continental Congress should back American independence if it came up for a vote (Broadwater & Kickler, Revolutionary Founders, 53). In the delegates’ words:
Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency, and forming foreign Alliances, reserving to this Colony the Sole, and Exclusive right of forming a Constitution and Laws for this Colony, and of appointing delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general Representation thereof) to meet the delegates of the other Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out.
North Carolina’s resolution, named the Halifax Resolves after the city where delegates met, marked the first state action for independence (William Powell, Bicentennial History, 64-65). On May 27, Joseph Hewes, a Second Continental Congress delegate from the Old North State, supplemented the Provincial Congress’s bravery by presenting the Halifax Resolves to the national body in which he served. In so doing, Hewes helped set the stage for America’s fateful cleavage from England about a month later.
God bless North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress and America’s Second Continental Congress for bringing forth, as President Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, “a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
A Hopeful Ode for Freedom—Jahmiel Jackson, Staff Writer:
I wish I could speak As freely as I write Because the words that leave my lips Always complain that it’s too tight But when my fingers carry words A flower sees its morning light.
Our problems bloom from the prayers God answered Isn’t that sad? The faithful stay grateful for the garden even when they get stung by a bee Even me I’ll wake up and smell the roses and my nose will bleed.
Our anthem roars like an earthquake But they kneel on the ground we bury our brave and God-fearing men What’s happening to our Red, White, and Blue? They say our country’s flag will not do Now they won’t stand unless it is LGBTQ.
While as an American, I still believe That I can work hard and one day achieve The trees that I couldn’t see over Would be as small as broccoli Lest we pray that today and every day We can scream that we love our country Without being canceled from a keyboard.