Independence Week: A Virginia Perspective

 This is Independence Week–when we celebrate our most significant American commodity:  “Liberty and Justice for All.”

July 2nd:  Anniversary of adoption by the Continental Congress, sitting in Philadelphia, 2 July 1776, of a resolution  by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia (actually proposed 7 June 1776).

“Resolved, That these United States are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.  That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.  That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.”

On July 4th 1776,  the Declaration of Independence, written by the pen of Thomas Jefferson, was officially adopted by the Congress and signed by John Hancock in the presence of Charles Thomson, Secretary.  Other signatures were added 2 August 1776:  “The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed by the members.” (Congressional Journal)

The resolution and the declaration were acts of treason–especially the resolve to form alliances with foreign powers.

May I recommend two volumes for your summer reading list:

  1. “I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not!” (Warren Harding) by Richard Shenkman.  New York:  Harper Collins, 1991.  Shenkman describes many traditions, cherished myths, and legends of American history.  This is a favorite pastime of some writers who love to debunk what they call “self-serving” patriotic myths peddled by politicians.  You will find some enlightenment as well as entertainment in his book–including the parts that Virginians did not take.
  2. The Cousins’ Wars by Kevin Phillips.  New York:  Basic Books, 1999.  Phillips makes a good case for the impact of religious politics and religion in politics as the underlying difference between New England (spread westward all the way to the Pacific Ocean) and The South (spread to and including Texas and Arizona).   You will find his thesis fascinating–that these differences originate in the British Isles and lead to civil war both in the American Revolution and the War Between the States.  And his collection of evidence valuable, especially for accurate genealogical research in Virginia.

Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Watch this blog.  I plan to discuss on these differences in great detail.  One of our greatest research challenges is connecting an ancestor from Missouri or Kentucky or Arkansas or Georgia with Virginia with proof that the person in Virginia is the same person!

PPS  Have a grand and glorious, safe 4th of July.  I think I’ll veg on my patio with The Cousins’ War! 

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