Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Founders Were Gutsy Realists Who Knew They Had a 50-50 Chance of Being Hanged as British Traitors

AMERICANS CONTINUE THE CELEBRATION OF 1776 INDEPENDENCE. It will go on all week. But, there is much that we forget, or never knew, about the American Revolutionary War that was already underway on July 4, 1776, and would continue for 8 years until 1783. • • • THE FOUNDERS WERE A GUTSY GROUP OF REVOLUTIONARIES. We tend to think of the Revolution, as most Americans call it, as an extension of the famous John Trumbull painting of the Continental Congress signing the Declaration of Independence. The Signers were all well-dressed gentlemen and the impression is of calm assurance. We forget what a tough-minded group of realists the Founders were. They knew only too well what they were getting into and yet they chose to act. • Benjamin Franklin wasn't just playing with words when he said, just before signing the Declaration : "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." • John Hancock was president of the Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. He is remembered by Americans for his large, flamboyant signature on the Declaration, so much so that "John Hancock" became, in the United States, an informal synonym for signature. Hancock said he signed with a large flourish : "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward.” The legend is that John Hancock commented, “King George can see this." Whatever the truth, John Hancock was an extremely rich man who risked much of his fortune on the success of the Revolution, who had a price on his head, and who practically guaranteed by signing the Declaration that he would be hanged by the British if caught. • John Adams, ever the plain-speaking practical voice of the Revolution, said on signing : "The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse, but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America." • John Rush of Pennsylvania later remembered the signing : "Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?" • And from Abraham Clark of New Jersey, this : "Let us prepare for the worst. We can die here but once." • When was the last time you heard a member of Congress worry about hanging or losing his or her personal wealth because of signing a document? • • • REVOLUTIONARY WAR BASIC FACTS WE SHOULD KNOW. There were 2.5 million Colonists during the Revolutionary War period (1775 - 1783). About 40% - 45% of Americans supported the Revolutionary War, while 15% - 20% of Americans were Loyalists, that is, Colonists who supported the British in opposing the Revolution, and were also referred to as "Tories." The remaining Americans were neutral. • The battle tactics used by the Americans were generally defensive and guerilla. Even so, bewteen 25,000 and 70,000 Americans died during the Revolutionary war --if the upper limit of 70,000 is accepted as the total net loss for the Patriots, it would make the conflict proportionally deadlier than the American Civil War. Approximately 8000 Patriots died in battle and 17,000 died of sickness -- majority of these died while prisoners of war of the British, mostly in the prison ships in New York Harbor -- while others went missing in action and other causes, and between 9000 and 25,000 American soldiers suffered serious wounds and injuries. Uncertainty arises due to the difficulties in accurately calculating the number of those who succumbed to disease, but it is estimated at least 10,000 died in 1776 alone.The soldiers used a wide range of different weapons including muskets, pistols, rifles, long rifles, knives, bayonets, tomahawks, axes, swords, sabres, pole arms and cannon. The total loss of life throughout the conflict is largely unknown. As was typical in wars of the era, diseases such as smallpox claimed more lives than battle. Between 1775 and 1782, a smallpox epidemic broke out throughout North America, killing 40 people in Boston alone. Historian Joseph Ellis suggests that Washington's decision to have his troops innoculated against the disease was one of his most important decisions as Commander-in-Chief. • The French suffered approximately 7,000 total dead throughout the conflict; of those, 2,112 were killed in combat in the American theaters of war. The Dutch suffered around 500 total killed, owing to the minor scale of their conflict with Britain. • British returns in 1783 listed 43,633 rank and file deaths across the British Armed Forces. A table from 1781 puts total British Army deaths at 9,372 soldiers killed in battle across the Americas; 6,046 in North America (1775–1779), and 3,326 in the West Indies (1778–1780). In 1784, a British lieutenant compiled a detailed list of 205 British officers killed in action during the war, encompassing Europe, the Caribbean and the East Indies. Extrapolations based upon this list puts British Army losses in the area of at least 4,000 killed or died of wounds. Approximately 7,774 Germans, called Hessians, died in British service in addition to 4,888 deserters. Of those who died, it is estimated 1,800 were killed in combat. • Around 171,000 sailors served in the Royal Navy during the war; approximately a quarter of whom had been pressed into service. Around 1,240 were killed in battle, while an estimated 18,500 died from disease (1776–1780). The greatest killer at sea was scurvy, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. It was not until 1795 that scurvy was eradicated from the Royal Navy after the Admiralty declared lemon juice and sugar were to be issued among the standard daily rations of sailors. Approximately 42,000 sailors deserted during the war. The impact on merchant shipping was substantial; an estimated 3,386 merchant ships were seized by enemy forces during the war -- of those, 2,283 were taken by American privateers alone. • The Continental Army had a lot of support from the Colonists, who were fighting on their home turf with which they were very familiar, unlike the British who were not on familiar ground. The British had to wage war from across the Atlantic Ocean which was a huge disadvantage. Troops and supplies had to travel a great distance.The Patriots received crucial aid from France in the form of supplies and military support. Military advisors like Marquis de Lafayette helped train the colonist in the art of warfare. The use of guerilla warfare tactics, not common at that time, often caught the British by surprise. • • • THE IMPORTANCE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. The Americans had the great advantage of being led by General George Washington; one of the greatest military commanders in history. The British Army had many advantages over the American Army -- it was a well established, experienced, standing army while the American Army was not. The British Army had a well established navy -- the American s had no military navy. The British Army had ample quantities of powder, guns, and clothing -- the American Army did not. Fact: The British Army were well disciplined and trained -- BUT, the American Army had George Washington. On June 15, 1775, the Congress elected by unanimous vote George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, who accepted and served throughout the war without any compensation except for reimbursement of expenses. Washington's Continental forces consisted of several successive armies, or establishments -- §§§ The Continental Army of 1775, comprising the initial New England Army, organized by Washington into three divisions, six brigades, and 38 regiments. Major General Philip Schuyler's ten regiments in New York were sent to invade Canada. §§§ The Continental Army of 1776, reorganized after the initial enlistment period of the soldiers in the 1775 army had expired. Washington had submitted recommendations to the Continental Congress almost immediately after he had accepted the position of Commander-in-Chief, but the Congress took time to consider and implement these. Despite attempts to broaden the recruiting base beyond New England, the 1776 army remained skewed toward the Northeast both in terms of its composition and of its geographical focus. This army consisted of 36 regiments, most standardized to a single battalion of 768 men strong and formed into eight companies, with a rank-and-file strength of 640. §§§ The Continental Army of 1777–80 evolved out of several critical reforms and political decisions that came about when it became apparent that the British were sending massive forces to put an end to the American Revolution. The Continental Congress passed the "Eighty-eight Battalion Resolve," ordering each state to contribute one-battalion regiments in proportion to their population, and Washington subsequently received authority to raise an additional 16 battalions. Enlistment terms extended to three years or to "the length of the war" to avoid the year-end crises that depleted forces (including the notable near-collapse of the army at the end of 1776, which could have ended the war in a Continental, or American, loss by forfeit). §§§ The Continental Army of 1781–82 saw the greatest crisis on the American side in the war. Congress was bankrupt, making it very difficult to replenish the soldiers whose three-year terms had expired. Popular support for the war reached an all-time low, and Washington had to put down mutinies both in the Pennsylvania Line and in the New Jersey Line. Congress voted to cut funding for the Army, but Washington managed nevertheless to secure important strategic victories. §§§ The Continental Army of 1783–84 was succeeded by the United States Army, which persists to this day. As peace was restored with the British, most of the regiments were disbanded in an orderly fashion, though several had already been diminished. • A key factor in the Americna victory was that in addition to the Continental Army regulars, local militia units, raised and funded by individual Colonies (states), participated in battles throughout the war. Sometimes the militia units operated independently of the Continental Army, but often local militias were called out to support and augment the Continental Army regulars during campaigns. The militia troops developed a reputation for being prone to premature retreats, a fact that Brigadier-General Daniel Morgan integrated into his strategy at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. The financial responsibility for providing pay, food, shelter, clothing, arms, and other equipment to specific units was assigned to states as part of the establishment of these militia units. States differed in how well they lived up to their obligations. There were constant funding issues and morale problems as the war continued. This led to the army offering low pay, often rotten food, hard work, cold, heat, poor clothing and shelter, harsh discipline, and a high chance of becoming a casualty. • • • THE COST OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR. At the start of the war, the economy of the Colonies was flourishing, and the free white population enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world !!! • The Royal Navy enforced a naval blockade during the war to financially cripple the Colonies, however, this proved unsuccessful because 90% of the population worked in farming, not in coastal trade, and so the American economy proved resilient enough to withstand the blockade. • Congress had immense difficulties throughout the conflict to efficiently finance the war effort. As the circulation of hard currency declined, the Americans had to rely on loans from American merchants and bankers, France, Spain and the Netherlands, saddling the young nation with crippling debts. Congress attempted to remedy this by printing vast amounts of paper money and bills of credit to raise revenue. The effect was disastrous -- inflation skyrocketed, and the paper money became virtually worthless. The inflation spawned a popular phrase that anything of little value was "not worth a continental." By 1791, the United States had accumulated a national debt of approximately $75.5 million (perhaps $8 billion in current USD). The United States finally solved its debt and currency problems in the 1790s, when Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton secured legislation by which the national government assumed all of the state debts, and, in addition, created a national bank and a funding system based on tariffs and bond issues that paid off the foreign debts. We may fault Hamilton for creating a federal bank and debt financing mechanisms like bond issues, but he undoubtedly saved the young United States from economic collapse. • Britain spent around £80 million and ended with a national debt of £250 million, (£27.1 billion in today's money), generating a yearly interest of £9.5 million annually. The debts piled upon that which it had already accumulated from the Seven Years' War. Due to wartime taxation upon the British populace, the tax for the average Briton amounted to approximately four shillings in every pound. • The French spent approximately 1.3 billion livres on aiding the Americans, accumulating a national debt of 3.315.1 billion livres by 1783 on war costs. Unlike Britain, with its very efficient taxation system, the French tax system was highly unstable, eventually leading to a financial crisis in 1786. The debts contributed to a worsening fiscal crisis that ultimately led to the French Revolution at the end of the century. The debt continued to spiral -- on the eve of the French Revolution, the national debt had skyrocketed to 12 billion livres. • Spain had nearly doubled her military spending during the war, from 454 million reales in 1778 to over 700 million in 1779. Spain more easily disposed of her debts than her French ally, partially due to the massive increase in silver mining in her American Colonies -- silver production increased approximately 600% in Mexico, and by 250% in Peru and Bolivia. • Wealthy Colonial Loyalists wielded great influence in London and were successful in convincing the British that the majority view in the Colonies was sympathetic to the Crown. Consequently, British planners pinned the success of their strategies on popular uprisings of Loyalists in the Colonies. Historians have estimated that Loyalists made up only 15–20% of the population (vs. 40–45% Patriots), and that they continued to deceive themselves on their level of support as late as 1780. The British discovered that any significant level of organized Loyalist activity would require the continued presence of British regulars, which presented them with a major dilemma -- the available British manpower was insufficient to both protect Loyalist territory and counter American advances. The vulnerability of Loyalist militias was repeatedly demonstrated in the South, where they suffered strings of defeats to their Patriot neighbors. The most crucial juncture of this was at Kings Mountain, where the Patriot victory irreversibly crippled Loyalist military capability in the South. • • • BRITAIN WAS FIGHTING A GLOBAL WAR. Upon the entry of France and Spain into the conflict against Britain, the British were forced to severely limit the number of troops and warships that they sent to North America in order to defend other key territories and the British mainland. As a result, King George III abandoned any hope of subduing America militarily while he had a European war to contend with. The small size of Britain's army left them unable to concentrate their resources primarily in one theater as they had done in the Seven Years' War, leaving them at a critical disadvantage. The British were compelled to disperse troops from the Americas to Europe and the East Indies, and these forces were unable to assist one other as a result, precariously exposing them to defeat. In North America, the immediate strategic focus of the French, Spanish, and British shifted to Jamaica, whose sugar exports were more valuable to the British than the economy of the Thirteen Colonies combined. Following the end of the war, Britain had lost some of her most populous Colonies. However, the economic effects of the loss were negligible in the long-term, and she became a global superpower just 32 years after the end of the conflict. • • • WAS THE BRITISH DEFEAT INEVITABLE? There are several expert historian opinions about this. • Logistical organization of eighteenth century armies was chaotic at best, and the British Army was no exception. No logistical corps existed in the modern sense. While on campaign in foreign territories such as America, horses, wagons, and drivers were frequently requisitioned from the locals, often by impressment or by hire. No centrally organized medical corps existed. It was common for surgeons to have no formal medical education, and no diploma or entry examination was required. Nurses sometimes were apprentices to surgeons, but many were drafted from the women who followed the army. Army surgeons and doctors were poorly paid and were regarded as social inferiors to other officers. • The heavy personal equipment and wool uniform of the regular infantrymen were wholly unsuitable for combat in America, and their outfit was especially ill-suited to comfort and agile movement. During the Battle of Monmouth in late June 1778, the temperature exceeded 100°F (37.8°C) and is said to have claimed more British lives through heat stroke than through actual combat. The standard-issue firearm of the British Army was the Land Pattern Musket. Some officers preferred their troops to fire careful, measured shots (two per minute), rather than rapid firing. A bayonet made firing difficult, as its cumbersome shape hampered ramming down the charge into the barrel. So, British troops had a tendency to fire impetuously, resulting in inaccurate fire, a trait for which John Burgoyne criticized them during the Saratoga campaign. Burgoyne instead encouraged bayonet charges to break up enemy formations, which was a preferred tactic in most European armies at the time. • Every battalion in America had organized its own rifle company by the end of the war, although rifles were not formally issued to the army until the Baker Rifle in 1801. Flintlocks were heavily dependent on the weather -- high winds could blow the gunpowder from the flash pan, while heavy rain could soak the paper cartridge, ruining the powder and rendering the musket unable to fire. Furthermore, flints used in British muskets were of notoriously poor quality -- they could only be fired around six times before requiring resharpening, while American flints could fire sixty. This led to a common expression among the British : "Yankee flint was as good as a glass of grog." • Provisioning troops and sailors proved to be an immense challenge, as the majority of food stores had to be shipped overseas from Britain. The need to maintain Loyalist support prevented the Army from living off the land. Other factors also impeded this option -- the countryside was too sparsely populated and the inhabitants were largely hostile or indifferent, the network of roads and bridges was poorly developed, and the area which the British controlled was so limited that foraging parties were frequently in danger of being ambushed. After France entered the war, the threat of the French navy increased the difficulty of transporting supplies to America. Food supplies were frequently in bad condition. The climate was also against the British in the southern Colonies and the Caribbean, where the intense summer heat caused food supplies to sour and spoil. • Life at sea was little better. Sailors and passengers were issued a daily food ration, largely consisting of hardtack and beer. The hardtack was often infested by weevils and was so tough that it earned the nicknames "molar breakers" and "worm castles," and it sometimes had to be broken up with cannon shot. Meat supplies often spoiled on long voyages. And, there was the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables giving rise to death from scurvy. • The British leadership soon discovered it had overestimated the capabilities of its own troops, while underestimating those of the colonists, causing a sudden re-think in British planning. The ineffective initial response of British military and civil officials to the onset of the rebellion had allowed the advantage to shift to the colonists, as British authorities rapidly lost control over every colony. A microcosm of these shortcomings were evident at the Battle of Bunker Hill. It took ten hours for the British leadership to respond following the sighting of the Americans on the Charlestown Peninsula, giving the colonists ample time to reinforce their defenses. Rather than opt for a simple flanking attack that would have rapidly succeeded with minimal loss,[534] the British decided on repeated frontal attacks. The results were telling; the British suffered 1,054 casualties of a force of around 3,000 after repeated frontal assaults. The British leadership had nevertheless remained excessively optimistic, believing that just two regiments could suppress the rebellion in Massachusetts. • Debate persists over whether a British defeat was a guaranteed outcome. Ferling argues that the odds were so long, the defeat of Britain was nothing short of a miracle. Ellis, however, considers that the odds always favored the Americans, and questions whether a British victory by any margin was realistic. Ellis argues that the British squandered their only opportunities for a decisive success in 1777, and that the strategic decisions undertaken by William Howe underestimated the challenges posed by the Americans. Ellis concludes that, once Howe failed, the opportunity for a British victory "would never come again." Conversely, the United States Army's official textbook argues that, had Britain been able to commit 10,000 fresh troops to the war in 1780, a British victory was within the realms of possibility. • You can read the excellent analyis titled "Myths of the American Revolution" by historian John Ferling in the January 2010 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine at < >. Ferling covers these points -- I. Great Britain Did Not Know What It Was Getting Into // II. Americans Of All Stripes Took Up Arms Out Of Patriotism // III. Continental Soldiers Were Always Ragged And Hungry // IV. The Militia Was Useless // V. Saratoga Was The War’s Turning Point // VI. General Washington Was A Brilliant Tactician And Strategist // VII. Great Britain Could Never Have Won The War. • Ferling sums up his analysis withthese points : "Once the revolutionary war was lost, some in Britain argued that it had been unwinnable. For generals and admirals who were defending their reputations...the concept of foreordained failure was alluring....Lord North was condemned, not for having lost the war, but for having led his country into a conflict in which victory was impossible. In reality, Britain might well have won the war. The battle for New York in 1776 gave England an excellent opportunity for a decisive victory. France had not yet allied with the Americans. Washington and most of his lieutenants were rank amateurs. Continental Army soldiers could not have been more untried. On Long Island, in New York City and in upper Manhattan, on Harlem Heights, General William Howe trapped much of the American Army and might have administered a fatal blow. Cornered in the hills of Harlem, even Washington admitted that if Howe attacked, the Continental Army would be “cut off” and faced with the choice of fighting its way out “under every disadvantage” or being starved into submission. But the excessively cautious Howe was slow to act, ultimately allowing Washington to slip away. Britain still might have prevailed in 1777. London had formulated a sound strategy that called for Howe, with his large force, which included a naval arm, to advance up the Hudson River and rendezvous at Albany with General Burgoyne, who was to invade New York from Canada. Britain’s objective was to cut New England off from the other nine states by taking the Hudson. When the rebels did engage-- the thinking went -- they would face a giant British pincer maneuver that would doom them to catastrophic losses. Though the operation offered the prospect of decisive victory, Howe scuttled it. Believing that Burgoyne needed no assistance and obsessed by a desire to capture Philadelphia -- home of the Continental Congress -- Howe opted to move against Pennsylvania instead. He took Philadelphia, but he accomplished little by his action. Meanwhile, Burgoyne suffered total defeat at Saratoga. Most historians have maintained that Britain had no hope of victory after 1777, but that assumption constitutes another myth of this war. Twenty-four months into its Southern Strategy, Britain was close to reclaiming substantial territory within its once-vast American empire. Royal authority had been restored in Georgia, and much of South Carolina was occupied by the British. As 1781 dawned, Washington warned that his army was “exhausted” and the citizenry “discontented.” John Adams believed that France, faced with mounting debts and having failed to win a single victory in the American theater, would not remain in the war beyond 1781. “We are in the Moment of Crisis,” he wrote. Rochambeau feared that 1781 would see the “last struggle of an expiring patriotism.” Both Washington and Adams assumed that unless the United States and France scored a decisive victory in 1781, the outcome of the war would be determined at a conference of Europe’s great powers. Stalemated wars often conclude with belligerents retaining what they possessed at the moment an armistice is reached. Had the outcome been determined by a European peace conference, Britain would likely have retained Canada, the trans-Appalachian West, part of present-day Maine, New York City and Long Island, Georgia and much of South Carolina, Florida (acquired from Spain in a previous war) and several Caribbean islands. To keep this great empire, which would have encircled the tiny United States, Britain had only to avoid decisive losses in 1781. Yet Cornwallis’ stunning defeat at Yorktown in October cost Britain everything but Canada. The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ratified the American victory and recognized the existence of the new United States. General Washington, addressing a gathering of soldiers at West Point, told the men that they had secured America’s “independence and sovereignty.” The new nation, he said, faced “enlarged prospects of happiness,” adding that all free Americans could enjoy “personal independence.” The passage of time would demonstrate that Washington, far from creating yet another myth surrounding the outcome of the war, had voiced the real promise of the new nation. • • • THE UNITED STATES : A CHRISTIAN NATION. The American Left cheered when President Obama proclaimed early in his presidency that we are no longer a Christian nation. He was wrong. America was founded upon a rock-solid foundation of Christianity. Here is what the Founders said. "The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded." __James Madison §§ "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart." __Thomas Jefferson §§ "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here." __Patrick Henry §§ "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were...the general principles of Christianity." __John Adams. §§ "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." __John Adams. • It is Christian principles, not dogma to be forced on every American but principles of self-reliance, respect for all, and individual liberty under God -- that make America the shining city on a hill. • • • DEAR READERS, Congress issued a proclamation on October 18, 1783, which approved Washington's reductions after the Battle at Yorktown ended the war and the Treaty of Paris was signed. On November 2, Washington then released his Farewell Order to the Philadelphia newspapers for nationwide distribution to the furloughed men. In the message he thanked the officers and men for their assistance and reminded them that "the singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle." Washington believed that the blending of persons from every colony into "one patriotic band of Brothers" had been a major accomplishment, and he urged the veterans to continue this devotion in civilian life. • The original Articles of Confederation led American leaders to search for a better compact to set forth the relationship between Americans and their government. It led to the Constitution that has defined America since 1789. When asked by a lady, 'Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?' Benjamin Franklin replied after the Constitution was approved : "A republic, if you can keep it." Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes." • But, even after winning the Revolution, securing the peace and providing for economic stability, the Founders were still a gutsy group of revolutionaries. Thomas Jefferson said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" and "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." Jefferson, as did most of the Founders, feared a concentration of power in hte hands of a few elected officials. They wanted Americans to understand their fears. "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." __Thomas Jefferson. "Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence." __Thomas Jefferson. "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." __Thomas Jefferson. "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." __John Adams. "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." __John Adams. "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." __George Washington. "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." __George Washington. "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." __James Madison. "Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power." __James Madison. "The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted." __James Madison. "Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions." __James Madison. • We are right to celebrate our Declaration of Independence. We should rejoice and be immensely thankful that we are Americans. But, as America's non-founding but nevertheless Founder told us not so long ago : "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." __Ronald Reagan. That is what the Fourth of July means, what it holds out to every generation of Americans as their challenge -- to keep freedom alive for the next generation of Americans. It is the never-ending, and the most honorable, duty ever entrusted to humankind.

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