It is easy to assume that the history of our country was foreordained. Some rebels get together, declare independence, won their freedom and build the greatest nation in the world. Nice story isn’t it? The real story is much more complicated and far more interesting. The odds of it working out the way it did are unbelievably small. It is a true miracle.
Suppose the British hadn’t been so draconian after the Boston Tea Party? The whole protest movement would have been limited to a few Boston hotheads.
Few people wanted independence at the dawn of 1776. Then a former tax collector and recent immigrant, Thomas Paine, wrote the pamphlet Common Sense. A single colony could have vetoed independence. John Adams went to work and made it happen.
Forming the country was just the beginning. A few weeks after the Declaration of Independence, American troops were badly beaten in a battle on Long Island. A north wind kept the British navy from destroying them and a fog covered their escape. There were other close calls. It all could have ended in Valley Forge. Suppose the French navy wasn’t at Yorktown.
The new nation had an incredibly weak government. It could have collapsed or been taken over by European countries. Fortunately, men like James Madison were there to create a strong Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Young democracies often turn totalitarian. Washington stepped down from power. Adams accepted an election that put his bitter rival Thomas Jefferson in the White House.
There are many more times when things worked out so that we have the country we have today. Sadly, some demonize the US because Donald Trump is President. The occupant of the Oval Office has nothing to do with the greatness of America. We are far from perfect but have made tremendous strides in the last sixty years to ensure that everyone has basic civil rights and the opportunity to go as far as their abilities can take them.
I hope everyone takes a moment to think about the true meaning of Independence Day.