There’s a great line in The Patriot: “Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a king can.” Mel Gibson’s character ultimately signs on to the war effort, but the soundness of his point only becomes clearer looking at early U.S. history. Even the pre-Constitution state governments were tyrannical.
Shays’ Rebellion is cited as a failure of the Articles of Confederation to deal with unrest, but we should remember that two of the rebels were executed by the Massachusetts state effectively enough.
In the first five U.S. presidencies, we see the American empire, albeit in embryonic form, begin its centuries-long crusade of aggressive expansion and centralization of power in the capital.
George Washington cracked down on the libertarian Whiskey Rebellion, created a national bank, and put Alexander Hamilton, a centralizing statist, in charge of the Treasury.
John Adams blatantly violated the First Amendment as much as any president since with his notorious Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson deployed the Marines on an ultimately failed mission in the Barbary war, attempted to suspend habeas corpus and create a department of education, imposed a brutal embargo on English goods that decimated the economy and destroyed privacy rights, and conducted the Louisiana Purchase in bold defiance of the Constitution.
James Madison invaded Canada in his war with England, a war in which martial law was enforced in New Orleans and a judge was jailed merely for issuing a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a newspaper editor whose only crime was criticizing the war. Under James Monroe, the U.S. invaded Spanish Florida and adopted a doctrine whereby the U.S. would essentially claim prerogative over the whole of the Western Hemisphere, a colonial pretension whose bloody legacy continues to this day. This could all be blamed on the Constitution rather than the American Revolution itself, but it was the war that brought the “Founding Fathers” to power and allowed them to consolidate authority and take over the nation.
July Fourth celebrations did not become tacky or hypocritical only recently. The day was always a dubious cause of commemoration. The word “holiday” – holy day – clearly has a religious connotation. It is a day set aside for sacred observation.
Those who regard Independence Day revisionism as profane should ask themselves which religion is sacrosanct to them. The Fourth of July is ultimately a celebration of the American nation-state’s birthday. It is a ritual in the U.S. civic religion. This is why it has been a militarist tradition since 1777, when the occasion was marked in Philadelphia with 13-gun salutes and imagery of the battle flag everywhere. The greeting card holidays might seem unworthy of mention alongside Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter. But Independence Day, even more than the politically correct and secular days celebrated every year, resembles an actual incidence of blasphemy.
There is a heroic side to the American Revolution, and surely no U.S. war since has been nearly as just in its cause. But the political…………………………………