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Independence Day: What would Founding Fathers
The Fourth of July isn't till Thursday, but there sure
were some fireworks this week illuminating vital American
issues of immigration, the right to vote and the ability
to pursue happiness by marrying the person you love.
The Supreme Court fires a rocket into the Voting Rights
Act. Ooh! Then sparks celebrations, and tantrums, with its
vote on gay marriage. Aah! The Senate blazes forward on
immigration reform, igniting opponents in our horribly dysfunctional
House. Ooh! Aah!
I'm hoping these political pyrotechnics provide a high-voltage
jolt to a democracy badly in need of one as well
as to we the citizens who supposedly run the show.
We are a people suffering a blinding hangover from out-of-control
parties and I don't mean the fun kind.
I'm talking about parties hell-bent on making it harder
for certain people to vote. Parties that, in state legislatures
across the nation, are obsessed with exerting control over
women's bodies and I don't mean in a fun consensual
I'm talking about two parties run by rich men on
the take from even richer men whose votes are often
motivated more by political self-preservation than actually
helping our nation.
After the Great Financial Meltdown of 2008 gutted retirement
accounts and crashed the economy, we wished Washington would
take action to protect us from the inevitable next disaster.
Sadly, our fortunes rest in the hands of a Congress that
refuses to lift a finger to regulate the big banks.
After Newtown, an overwhelming majority of we the people
favored expanded background checks for those buying guns.
But the crew we elected to represent us just keeps shooting
Why, it's enough to make Joe Citizen want to knock back
more than one beer with his Fourth of July burger.
And I am not the first chump to suggest that party politics
is making a mockery of democracy.
But hey, the Fourth of July is supposed to be about the
other kind of party a celebration of that day 237
years ago when a group of patriots with widely divergent
beliefs came together to create their idea of the best country
Can you imagine that very first Fourth of July party? Well,
the history books reveal that my early explorations of this
very topic date back to the late 20th century...
The year was 1776. Young Thomas Jefferson, 33, threw a
barbecue at his house and all the Founding Fathers were
there, along with everybody who was anybody during those
heady days before the Revolution.
The Washingtons George, Martha and little Denzel
stopped by with some of Martha's famous "I cannot
tell a lie" cherry pie, considered to be the tastiest
in the Colonies.
John and Abigail Adams brought a crate of lobsters and
their 9-year-old son John Quincy, who played roll the hoop
with little Andy Jackson, also 9. Adams' older brother Samuel,
53, wearing a stylish puffy shirt and brown vest, hauled
along plenty of his "hand-crafted" Summer Ale.
Young Aaron Burr, 20, brought some pistols in case anyone
wanted to duel and old-timer Benjamin Franklin had a box
of kites festooned with stripes and stars.
Once most of the guests had arrived at Jefferson's Monticello
estate, Paul Revere, 41, galloped up on his horse, Tea Biscuit,
screaming, "The British are coming! The British are
"Just kidding," said the patriotic prankster,
who then wandered off to ask Sam Adams for a bottle of Boston
Meanwhile, Jefferson was playing the consummate host. Garbed
in a tri-cornered chef's hat and an apron embroidered with
the words, "All menus are NOT created equal,"
he manned the grill while presiding over a buffet piled
with parsnip puffs, stewed rump of beef and roasted bone-in
leg of lamb.
"Hey Jefferson," shouted fellow Virginian Patrick
Henry, "Give me another corndog or give me death!"
After dessert with everyone stuffed on Indian pudding
and macaroons Jefferson gathered the group and unrolled
some paper with fancy writing on it. He cleared his throat
and began reading. "When in the course of human events,"
he began, "yada, yada, yada... We hold these truths
to be, um..."
"Self-evident?" suggested Ben Franklin.
"Yeah that's it, self-evident ... that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the Pursuit of ..."
"Beer!" shouted Paul Revere.
"Chicks!" yelled 18-year-old future president
James "Jimmy" Monroe.
"No, Happiness," said Jefferson, who droned on
for about 20 more minutes until John Hancock whipped out
a quill pen and started signing his name.
"Hey, leave some room for the rest of us," said
New Hampshire signer Josiah Bartlett, as Samuel Adams drizzled
some beer onto the edges to help give the document that
Then the celebration really started to get lively. Thomas
Paine implored the revelers to use common sense, but Hancock
and Franklin began lighting off crude rockets packed with
gun powder that, upon bursting in the air, produced a most
delightful red glare.
Our adoption of the Declaration of Independence in that
Summer of 1776, certainly put future president John Adams
in a partying mood. History shows he declared that henceforth
we should celebrate Independence Day with "pomp and
parade ... guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from
one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward
Boom! Ooh, aah!
Count me in. I'll be working all day, but as soon as I'm
done, pour me a frosty Samuel Adams.
Because my thirst for that "more perfect union"
envisioned by our Founding Fathers will never diminish
* This column appeared in the Sunday, June 30, 2013, Portsmouth
(N.H.) Herald. See
Posted on July 1, 2013 12:49 PM
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