“Please forgive me if this counts as a rant,” the email read, “but I would like to issue a personal challenge to all Patriots. It has become more and more popular. in recent years to call this great American holiday “July 4th.” However, we should all take note that this is not the case. It is actually Independence Day. Our celebration of solidification and the ratification of this great United States of America.
“Let us not give in to the politically correct culture which continues to dilute or rewrite history for its own purposes of ‘change’. Let us stay true to the great ideals that founded and built this great nation. Celebrate Independence Day! “
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“Mr. KEY… DOES SHE STILL HAVE THE WAY?”
There is a video on YouTube that will make you cry on this Independence Day. It is titled “The Star Spangled Banner Like You Never Heard It Before” and it will become an unforgettable experience if you only give me 15 minutes of your time to watch it. Millions of people watched this film and were moved with great emotion. In fact, YouTube has a whole list of “reactions” to this video from those in other countries and they are also crying over what I think was the crux of the War of Independence.
Francis Scott Key was a Baltimore lawyer who stood on the deck of a British warship as the might of the British fleet turned all the guns on Fort McHenry in a gargantuan effort to bring down the American flag. In the hold below were hundreds of American prisoners Key was trying to trade in for release.
Throughout the night, these prisoners fervently prayed for the flag to stand and called out to Key from below. Those voices spawned the words, “Oh, say, can you see – in the light of dawn – what we held so proudly in the last glow of dusk?” Whose broad stripes and stars shining through the perilous flight, On the ramparts we have observed, flowed so gallantly? Oh, my mercy!
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THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR WAS WHERE AMERICA WAS BORN
(Extract from the archives of the Revue nationale)
Our young nation was very poor, the war was very expensive, and Congress and the States wanted everyone to pay.
Memorial Day is a day to remember and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women who have served in our armed forces. By far, the Civil War was the deadliest conflict in American history. After it is World War II.
At the bottom of the list is the United States War of Independence, with “only” 4,435 combat deaths, according to Veterans Affairs. Although few in number, these soldiers made a unique sacrifice – for, unlike other soldiers throughout our history, these heroes had to fight potential British conquerors without sufficient support from their own government.
(It is Independence Day that we realize) The American Revolution was a relatively small affair. However, judged in light of the small American economy of 1776-83, it was a huge undertaking. As a percentage of GDP, the War of Independence cost the United States about as much as WWI (and remember that before the absolutely massive conflict of WWII, WWI was known as the name “Great War”).
For conflicts of this magnitude, financing generally involves the issuance of public debt. It is simply too expensive to pay through the tax on citizens. And indeed, if you browse government propaganda from World Wars I and II, you will see a relentless emphasis on buying war bonds.
The problem for America in the 1770s and 1780s was that debt financing was largely unavailable. National wealth was tied up in the land, which cannot be quickly turned into cash. And while foreign governments lent us money, none of them lent enough to fund the entire conflict.
This meant that the bulk of public funding had to come from inflation – which at the time meant an increase in non-cash-backed paper money (or coins minted from precious metals).
The government would print money to pay for goods and services needed for war, which would increase the price of those goods and services, causing the government to print more, etc.
Inflation is essentially a tax on the holding of cash, and that is how much of the Revolutionary War was paid for.
Americans have suffered two closely related problems with this strategy of finance. A long-term inflation program undermined public confidence in the currency, which led to the runaway inflation that was evident in 1780, so that the currency was worth nothing at all.
As a result, the government had to supply the soldiers by printing private goods. During this time, private citizens had to barter with each other, as paper money was absolutely unreliable. When it came to perishable goods that could not be immediately traded, such as crops, Americans had no incentive to conserve them.
This made it all the more difficult for the government to acquire provisions. This led to the strange situation of starving soldiers as crops rotted in the fields.
Unfortunately, this grim situation was made worse by the actions of the Continental Congress.
Embarrassed by the low esteem of the currency, Congress effectively stripped itself of the power to print money in 1780, outsourcing authority to the states.
Yet this only subjected the nation’s public finances to the same problem of collective action that plagued other essential functions – in other words, each state was pressured to “free-ride” on the effort of war, leaving the burden on everyone.
This dire financial situation hit the enlisted men the most. If you examine, for example, William Trego’s iconic painting The March to Valley Forge, you’ll notice the deplorable state of the infantry.
Some of them walk barefoot in the snow. This was in part due to the massive scale of the war effort.
The United States was a poor country waging a costly war, so sourcing was always difficult. (It’s difficult, after all, to find footwear for soldiers in a country that doesn’t make a lot of footwear.)
But this difficulty has been compounded by the government’s lack of access to credit markets, the need for inflation with all of its attendant problems, and the Continental Congress’ short-sighted policy response to that inflation.
The war effort was the main reason for the nationalist movement of the 1780s, which in turn led to the Constitution. The 1770s were characterized by revolutionary fervor – lit by a simple, virtuous type of republicanism that resonates through the Declaration of Independence. This was the philosophy of Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams.
But five years later, it was others – like George Washington, Robert Morris, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton – who had to reckon with the prospect of a failed revolution. They had to face the impossible challenge of leading a completely imbalanced government for the task at hand. This is the origin of our Constitution, born above all from the sacrifice of revolutionary soldiers.
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On this Independence Day, never forget where we started. Never forget where we were born.