June 29, 2005


Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

A DECLARATION AND A NEW COUNTRY Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike CrapoJust after World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarked in a speech in Fulton Missouri, that â??America sits at the pinnacle of the world.â?? And he later added, that he could think of no better country to occupy that position. It was a glowing and warm compliment. Today, many years after Churchill offered those words, Americaâ??s position as a world leader has only solidified. Itâ??s a remarkable position to be in, particularly if you consider that just over two hundred years ago, in the summer of 1776, America wasnâ??t even a country. Rather, we were a prosperous set of English Colonies that were, to the distress of the British, in various states of revolution and dissent.In the 18th century, no colony had ever successfully challenged the authority of the mother country and few revolutions seemed as preordained to fail as the one that had been brewing in the American Colonies. We know it succeeded, but if you were to view the situation without the luxury of reading about the outcome in a history book, itâ??s an entirely different story. The Continental Army had only 5,000 untrained volunteers. Their British counterparts, all professional soldiers, out-numbered our forces three to one. As for the Continental Congress, it resembled more of a cooperative body than a Congress. It depended on the respective colonies for resources, and its opinions about the future of the revolution were mixed. Many still werenâ??t ready to seek outright independence. But amid the confusion and conflicting opinions, the independence movement in America had been gaining steam. It was one thing to take up arms against the mother country--that was treason. It was another to fight for your own country. Gradually, Americans were seeing themselves as an independent nation--a new nation, with a different culture, and a different perspective on individual rights, liberty and the role of government. It was this movement that would change the course of the revolution. The independence resolution itself was introduced on June 7. Shortly after that Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration, something that would explain to the American public and the world, what this resolution meant on a much grander scale. The author, Thomas Jefferson, penned one of the most eloquent statements of the meaning of individual liberty ever written. After heated debate, the actual resolution passed unanimously on July 2. The declaration passed on July 4th, what we now celebrate as Independence Day. July 4, 1776, was just the beginning. The fates were still against the American Colonies. The treasury remained nearly bankrupt, the Army was in retreat, and no foreign ally seemed particularly interested in helping a group of upstart colonists achieve independence. Nonetheless, the stage was set, not just for revolution, but for an independent nation, a new people, and a new definition of liberty and individual freedom. As part of our National Holiday celebration, please visit my website at http://crapo.senate.gov to find links to educational resources for Independence Day. You can learn interesting facts about July 4, 1776, our flag and our history. There are even links to websites with activities for the kids. Enjoy our nationâ??s birthday! WORD COUNT: 524