Integral to its mission, First Principles publishes articles and press releases, combs news media outlets for current events, presents research and educational materials to a wide variety of audiences, and houses a vast archive of historical documents and quotations. Check back here regularly for what’s new at FPP.
In the movie America: Imagine the World Without Her, writer and producer Dinesh D’Souza addresses many of the accusations raised by members of leftist groups who attack the heritage of America. Such groups accuse America of being an imperialistic nation built on slavery, theft, and conquest. Going back to Columbus, leftists ask, Didn’t Columbus enslave over 500 Native Americans and take them back to Portugal with him? The answer is Yes, but that had nothing to do with the United States of America. The discovery of this New World may have given the Pilgrims a place to land, but it does not mean the acts of the discoverer are the fault of those who came after.
Well, they may reply, Americans stole land from the Native Americans. That is true—acquisition of the Black Hills by way of the February Act of 1877 was in direct opposition to the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1851. Tribal lawyer Richard Case presented this argument starting in the 1920s. Then in 1956, attorneys Marvin Sonosky and Arthur Lazarus took over the case ending with victory in the 1980s. The United States supreme Court planned to award the Sioux Nation 105 million dollars as compensation. However, the Sioux Nation rejected the award because they feared in so doing they would officially be selling their land. This manifests that the United States government attempted to right an unjustified decision made many years before.
Leftists also tend to point out that America gained quite a bit of land as a result of the Mexican American War. However, they fail to mention that the United States believed it had been attacked on its own soil. The government claimed that U.S. territory lead all the way to the Rio Grande, citing the Treaties of Velasco. They sent a secret representative, John Slidell, to Mexico City to insure the Rio Grande was the border of U.Ss territory and to purchase California. Mexico was in no shape to negotiate, as the presidency and other ministries had each changed hands four times in 1846. The Mexicans considered Slidell’s presence an insult. Slidell thought Mexico should be chastised and returned to the confirmed U.S. territories. President James Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to move his forces south to the Rio Grande. This resulted in the Thornton Affair where Mexican soldiers attacked a patrol and killed 16 American soldiers. The war began May 13, 1846, with America rising as the victor two years later. Even though they decimated the Mexican forces, the- U.S. returned a little over half of Mexico’s land, paying a little less than half of the original offer.
The bottom line is that many times facts are hyperbolized for the purpose of twisting us against our own country. With a little clarification, one can see that America is not always the villain it is often painted to be by those intending to remove our liberties.
After all, it was privately armed militias who first helped secure and sustain our independence from foreign oppressors. Does having the most powerful military in the world mean we no longer need any measure of personal defense? No it does not. As gun-control advocates are quick to point out, there will always be deviant people who wish to misuse their freedoms to inflict harm on others.
These miscreants do not tend to pose a threat to national security; they pose a threat to personal security. They do not pass through the mechanisms that are in place to guard our nation’s front door, because they are already inside. They are marching into our schools, randomly targeting our pedestrians, and killing their roommates in mid-slumber. They may brandish firearms, but they have pressure cookers, too. They are not shooting to shoot, they are shooting to harm—and harm comes in many forms.
There are several layers of security that lie between personal security and national security. Layers like home, municipal, and state security. Depending on occasion, the responsibility to uphold, or reinforce, these layers may well fall to private citizens.
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” - Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Regulation is certainly a staple of the amendment above, and the nature of those regulations is worth discussing. However, the phrase, “shall not be infringed.” is an undeniable proclamation that citizens should forever be allowed to bear arms.<
Other countries, who tried meeting violence with increased regulation, have encountered frightening results. Since Australia’s implementation of stricter gun laws, its Institute of Criminology has reported a 40% increase in assaults and a 20% increase in sexual assaults.
Stripping the public of its ability to carry firearms is an open invitation to criminals—criminals who do not care if they are breaking the law—to wreak uninhibited havoc in our streets. Regulation may be healthy, but it must be forged with freedom and security in mind.
Did you know that it was radical thinkers in the 18th century that led to the American colonies’ independence from Great Britain?
Following the French and Indian War in 1763, Great Britain began taxing the thirteen original colonies as early as 1764 with the Stamp Act in order to recover some of the cost of that war, claiming it had to fight that war to protect its American subjects from the powerful French in Canada. Most of the colonists disagreed, believing that England fought the war to strengthen its empire and increase the country’s wealth. Colonists felt that since they were not represented in Parliament they should not be taxed. The colonists’ motto became “No taxation without representation.”
Due to civil disobedience to the Stamp Act, Great Britain repealed it in 1766. This was a victory for the colonists yet even at this time, most were not even imagining separating from their mother country. Yet, Great Britain didn’t stop there. Over the next several years, Parliament continued to impose imperial taxation and limits on self-government. Crime and violence within the colonies ensued. With the Townshend Duties of 1767, which taxed imports, customs racketeering led to the British occupation of Boston in 1768. Later came the Boston Massacre of 1770 and the Boston Tea Party of 1773.
So who were the radicals during this time? Many were members of the underground group, Sons of Liberty, who were printers/publishers and distributed articles about the meetings, demonstrations, and their fundamental political beliefs. Leaders were mostly middle class artisans, traders, lawyers and local politicians. Some men were not official members of the group yet opposed the British actions. Samuel Adams’ published articles in the Boston Gazette under a pen name. After all, such implications could lead to being tried and executed for treason.
After Britain enacted the Coercive Acts in 1774— as a punishment given to the colonists in Massachusetts because of the Tea Party—closing the Boston port, banning town meetings, and increased authority of the royal governor. Soon thereafter, 56 delegates of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia as the First Continental Congress and made radical decisions that would lead to the American Revolution and America’s independence.
All those who held to their convictions and formed a basis for our country’s independence were radical thinkers. The Revolution changed social relationships, bringing respectability to ordinary people. It eliminated monarchy and created public power. It altered the culture of America and made the interest of ordinary people the goal of the government. It paved the road for other important changes such as the abolishment of slavery and the position of women, and opened the door to a transformed economy.
Gordon S. Wood, history professor and 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning author for The Radicalism of the American Revolution summed it up well when he said, “In short, the Revolution was the most radical and most far-reaching event in American history.”
Independence Day is known nationally as a day spent with family and friends celebrating America’s independence with cookouts and fireworks. Let’s take a look at what Independence Day celebrations looked like in times past.
On July 4, 1777, thirteen gunshots in salute of the day were made twice in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in similar fashion as today, having an official dinner for the Continental Congress, 13-gun salutes, parades, and fireworks. In 1778, George Washington celebrated the 4th of July by giving his men double rum rations and giving an artillery salute. At the same time, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams held a dinner for their fellow Americans in France.
Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter where a piece of music known as “The Psalm of Joy” was played in 1783. Two years later, the Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island was started and is still held annually. It is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States. Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska has held celebrations in town square—a town of 6,000, it swells to over 40,000 during the celebrations. In 1979, Seward was given the title of “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” in a resolution of Congress.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, began in 1972 and still happens on July 4 each year. The famous Macy’s fireworks display usually held over the East River has been occurring every year since 1976 and is televised nationally. Since 1970, the annual 10 kilometer Peachtree Road Race is held in Atlanta, Georgia. “A Capitol Fourth” is a free concert held on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C and precedes a fireworks display, attracting over half a million people annually. For other interesting facts, visit 4th of July by the Numbers at http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th/interactives/4th-of-july-by-the-numbers.
Celebrating Independence Day on the 4th of July can be felt from coast to coast in America. Not only do we celebrate our freedoms while watching the beautiful explosion of colors as fireworks light up the night sky, we remember those who sacrificed so much to ensure liberty and justice for all is this “One Nation Under God.”