The revolutionary movement began as a defense of the status quo. All the colonists were asking for in their first protests were the continuance of their traditional right as English subjects to consent to their own taxes. Had Britain pulled back at nearly any point before 1775, the resistance would have died away.
Was it possible for a revolution that began so conservatively to cause significant changes in society once it reached full flood? The conservative revolution became radical as conflict with the imperial government compelled the colonists to search to the roots of their allegiance. As the government became increasingly oppressive, the colonists had to ask why they obeyed at all. Thomas Jefferson summed up a decade of thought in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote about “equality” and “inalienable rights.” When a government fails in its duty to protect those rights, the people may organize a new government. It was a simple line of thought, but unlike the initial protest against parliamentary taxation, the thinking was radical.
The United States began as a lonely democratic experiment in a world of monarchies. The Founders could take courage, however, from the interest of advanced political thinkers throughout the civilized world. The United States came into existence in an age when hopes were high that tyranny could be overthrown and rational government based on liberty and equality were established in its place. In fact, the monarchies of Europe were not toppling; they seemed to be growing stronger.
So on this Fourth of July weekend, while you are having a fun time at the beach or in the backyard, remember that there were a group of men that had ideals that we live upon till today. They didn’t always do the right thing, but they left loopholes in what they did so that future generations could fix their mistakes. That’s how smart they were; they based this country on the fact that they knew they didn’t know everything. To have that vision, that’s the vision this country is founded on, to look forward and move forward and to try and be the best possible.
Happy Independence Day.