March 30th, 2006 12:30 EST
On the 4th day of the 7th month of the 2006th Year Of Our Lord, 230 years will have passed since 13 colonies on the North American continent declared independence from the British Crown.
Interestingly, we recognize, celebrate and commemorate the anniversary of the 4th of July, 1776 as the attainment or establishment of American sovereignty as an independent nation. But the American Declaration of Independence— both as a document and as a deed-- was more, in actual fact, a Demand of Independence. True independence could not genuinely or practically be declared until the signing of the Treaty of Paris, in which the 13 Colonies and Great Britain mutually and officially ceased hostilities and resumed peaceful relations, on September 3rd, 1783… 7 years later.
Although the American Revolution was ultimately orchestrated successfully by those men of the Continental Congress who would later be “canonized” as The Founding Fathers, desire for that Revolution was neither certain to bring victory, nor unanimous, in the Colonies.
If the American Revolution had, instead, ended badly for the would-be-United States, if the 13 Colonies had lost the war with Britain, then this date and that document would represent a colossal, and perhaps tragic, defeat of the Colonial States. And the only thing to celebrate this day about the Colonial revolt for independence would be, if it were celebrated at all, either the point that the rebellion was foiled, or that a bold attempt for independence was made-- considering that, had the American Revolution failed, The United States of America would have been denied existence, quelled.
Having won our independence, the Founding Fathers are now generally honored, exalted and regarded by American citizens as national heroes. Romanticized symbols or icons of freedom and democracy. We thank, appreciate and admire them and their courage, because, were it not for them, there would either be no America, or at least not one as we know it. If their resistance movement had failed, mainstream society would very probably remember them quite differently.
However, it is the end of wars that determine the outcome of things to come, more so than the start of wars.
July 4th would have been rendered effectively meaningless and moot, beyond the symbolic, were it not for September 3rd.
So I think it is equally important that this date be similarly noted and appreciated as significant.
But I wonder if such independence minded individuals might, today, be considered terrorists… charged with treason, sedition, and conspiracy to mutiny.
Keeping in mind that, at the time, the colonies were officially subjects and territories of Great Britain, certainly King George III, some fellow Brits, British Loyalists and maybe people in other countries must have perceived the rebellious actions of those aligned with the Continental Congress as a form of terrorism and treason against King and country.
These days, people who disagree with and oppose the Bush Administration, or just President Bush, are often called and criticized as UnAmerican or unpatriotic.
Yet, despite such meager and small minded reactionary response, a fundamental trait, right and responsibility of Americans is to dissent, as well as consent, as the situation warrants. It’s an essential principle on which this country was created and developed.
A true patriot realizes this, and defends the idea and ideals of their country, not simply the arbitrary substance nor subsistence of their country.
The 56 determined individuals who signed America’s Declaration of Independence (their own death warrant) made the United States of America possible by dissenting the iniquities and indignities of their British ruler, and shirked British dominion over them.
Several movies in recent years have been thematically laced with a profound and progressively intended spirit of revolution against injustice and oppression. That seems to be a recurring theme in contemporary stories, consisting of disobedience, and operating independent, of governmental authority by acting outside the law while often utilizing violence as a means to achieve goals… which may be indicative of a potentially latent revolutionary spirit still extant within the American psyche.
The Matrix, Fight Club, Equilibrium, Boondock Saints, V For Vendetta, Serenity, and Batman-- a character whose chief weapons are fear and surprise.
All of the main characters presented as heroes and champions of The People… and/ because they are threats to the power base of deficient or inadequate government authorities; a.k.a.- “The System”.
Commending, even if not recommending, the notion of “Viva La Revolution”, these movies feature renegade heroes who circumvent and/or subvert the authority of The Authorities, in defiance of a corrupted or insufficient system, and in pursuit of a liberty and justice that the system cannot or does not provide. Within the reality of such stories, these heroes are officially labeled and condemned by governmental authorities as vigilantes committing terrorist acts.
In the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, “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, 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”.
But I have to wonder: if it ever again becomes necessary to oppose and depose a faulty or fraudulent government, or its leaders, that fails to properly serve the best interests and will of We The People, as it became necessary for America’s Founding Fathers— assuming it hasn’t already become necessary for us, whether or not Americans could and would dare to assert the revolutionary spirit in which this great nation was (literally and metaphorically) conceived. Would we be willing and able to seek to destroy this country, or its leaders, in order to save it— and/ or ourselves, rather than sit back and hope for a happy ending while the ideals this country was founded on are corrupted, disrespected and neglected? The will or wish to change not being enough to ensure that change, who among us even has that kind of power? Is there anyone whom we could rally around who shall step forth to issue that challenge, the call to arms? Who may lead the way?How many Americans would “pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” trying to protect and preserve our liberty from a Prince unfit to be the ruler of a free people? Who among us could?
“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.”
And in a world where most Americans seem hastily to prefer security more than liberty, do we— as Ben Franklin supposed— deserve neither?
To this, I say:Remember, Remember,
The 3rd of September.
Surely, every good American has read the Declaration of Independence, at least once in their life. But did you read, or even know about, its sibling?
The Paris Peace Treaty of 1783
In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.
It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch- treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse , between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony; and having for this desirable end already laid the foundation of peace and reconciliation by the Provisional Articles signed at Paris on the 30th of November 1782, by the commissioners empowered on each part, which articles were agreed to be inserted in and constitute the Treaty of Peace proposed to be concluded between the Crown of Great Britain and the said United States, but which treaty was not to be concluded until terms of peace should be agreed upon between Great Britain and France and his Britannic Majesty should be ready to conclude such treaty accordingly; and the treaty between Great Britain and France having since been concluded, his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, in order to carry into full effect the Provisional Articles above mentioned, according to the tenor thereof, have constituted and appointed, that is to say his Britannic Majesty on his part, David Hartley, Esqr., member of the Parliament of Great Britain, and the said United States on their part, John Adams, Esqr., late a commissioner of the United States of America at the court of Versailles, late delegate in Congress from the state of Massachusetts, and chief justice of the said state, and minister plenipotentiary of the said United States to their high mightinesses the States General of the United Netherlands; Benjamin Franklin, Esqr., late delegate in Congress from the state of Pennsylvania, president of the convention of the said state, and minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America at the court of Versailles; John Jay, Esqr., late president of Congress and chief justice of the state of New York, and minister plenipotentiary from the said United States at the court of Madrid; to be plenipotentiaries for the concluding and signing the present definitive treaty; who after having reciprocally communicated their respective full powers have agreed upon and confirmed the following articles.
His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.
And that all disputes which might arise in future on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared, that the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz.; from the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz., that nagle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of St. Croix River to the highlands; along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River; thence down along the middle of that river to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; from thence by a line due west on said latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy; thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario; through the middle of said lake until it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said communication into Lake Erie, through the middle of said lake until it arrives at the water communication between that lake and Lake Huron; thence along the middle of said water communication into Lake Huron, thence through the middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal and Phelipeaux to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long Lake and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods, to the said Lake of the Woods; thence through the said lake to the most northwesternmost point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, South, by a line to be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned in the latitude of thirty-one degrees of the equator, to the middle of the river Apalachicola or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof to its junction with the Flint River, thence straight to the head of Saint Mary's River; and thence down along the middle of Saint Mary's River to the Atlantic Ocean; east, by a line to be drawn along the middle of the river Saint Croix, from its mouth in the Bay of Fundy to its source, and from its source directly north to the aforesaid highlands which divide the rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean from those which fall into the river Saint Lawrence; comprehending all islands within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and lying between lines to be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one part and East Florida on the other shall, respectively, touch the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean, excepting such islands as now are or heretofore have been within the limits of the said province of Nova Scotia.
It is agreed that the people of the United States shall continue to enjoy unmolested the right to take fish of every kind on the Grand Bank and on all the other banks of Newfoundland, also in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and at all other places in the sea, where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time heretofore to fish. And also that the inhabitants of the United States shall have liberty to take fish of every kind on such part of the coast of Newfoundland as British fishermen shall use, (but not to dry or cure the same on that island) and also on the coasts, bays and creeks of all other of his Brittanic Majesty's dominions in America; and that the American fishermen shall have liberty to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of Nova Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall remain unsettled, but so soon as the same or either of them shall be settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such settlement without a previous agreement for that purpose with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground.
It is agreed that creditors on either side shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in sterling money of all bona fide debts heretofore contracted.
It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the legislatures of the respective states to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights, and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty's arms and who have not borne arms against the said United States. And that persons of any other decription shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights, and properties as may have been confiscated; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent not only with justice and equity but with that spirit of conciliation which on the return of the blessings of peace should universally prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states that the estates, rights, and properties, of such last mentioned persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession the bona fide price (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights, or properties since the confiscation. And it is agreed that all persons who have any interest in confiscated lands, either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.
That there shall be no future confiscations made nor any prosecutions commenced against any person or persons for, or by reason of, the part which he or they may have taken in the present war, and that no person shall on that account suffer any future loss or damage, either in his person, liberty, or property; and that those who may be in confinement on such charges at the time of the ratification of the treaty in America shall be immediately set at liberty, and the prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.
There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between his Brittanic Majesty and the said states, and between the subjects of the one and the citizens of the other, wherefore all hostilities both by sea and land shall from henceforth cease. All prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty, and his Brittanic Majesty shall with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any Negroes or other property of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets from the said United States, and from every post, place, and harbor within the same; leaving in all fortifications, the American artilery that may be therein; and shall also order and cause all archives, records, deeds, and papers belonging to any of the said states, or their citizens, which in the course of the war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper states and persons to whom they belong.
The navigation of the river Mississippi, from its source to the ocean, shall forever remain free and open to the subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of the United States.
In case it should so happen that any place or territory belonging to Great Britain or to the United States should have been conquered by the arms of either from the other before the arrival of the said Provisional Articles in America, it is agreed that the same shall be restored without difficulty and without requiring any compensation.
The solemn ratifications of the present treaty expedited in good and due form shall be exchanged between the contracting parties in the space of six months or sooner, if possible, to be computed from the day of the signatures of the present treaty. In witness whereof we the undersigned, their ministers plenipotentiary, have in their name and in virtue of our full powers, signed with our hands the present definitive treaty and caused the seals of our arms to be affixed thereto.
Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.
D. HARTLEY (SEAL)
JOHN ADAMS (SEAL)
B. FRANKLIN (SEAL)
JOHN JAY (SEAL)