BATR June 30 2013
The 4th of July should be a day of historic retrospection. For a proper understanding into the significance of the birth of the nation, start with an examination of the perennial Breaking All The Rules essay, The Meaning of Independence Day. Then contrast our circumstances and heritage in the article - Independence Day for Whom? Both of these columns are essential. If one forgets from where, how and why our country was created, it is impossible to appreciate the uniqueness of the American Revolution and the meaning of the “shot heard ‘round the world“.
A provoking account of The Original and Real Cause of the American Revolution - What They Really Fought For, presents the following historical story, taken from a radio address given by Congressman Charles G. Binderup of Nebraska, some 50 years ago and reprinted in Unrobing the Ghosts of Wall Street:
Before the American War for Independence in 1776, the colonized part of what is today the United States of America was a possession of England. It was called New England, and was made up of 13 colonies, which became the first 13 states of the great Republic. Around 1750, this New England was very prosperous. Benjamin Franklin was able to write:
“There was abundance in the Colonies, and peace was reigning on every border. It was difficult, and even impossible, to find a happier and more prosperous nation on all the surface of the globe. Comfort was prevailing in every home. The people, in general, kept the highest moral standards, and education was widely spread.”
When Benjamin Franklin went over to England to represent the interests of the Colonies, he saw a completely different situation: the working population of this country was gnawed by hunger and poverty. “The streets are covered with beggars and tramps,” he wrote. He asked his English friends how England, with all its wealth, could have so much poverty among its working classes.
His friends replied that England was a prey to a terrible condition: it had too many workers! The rich said they were already overburdened with taxes, and could not pay more to relieve the needs and poverty of this mass of workers. Several rich Englishmen of that time actually believed, along with Mathus, that wars and plague were necessary to rid the country from man-power surpluses.
Franklin’s friends then asked him how the American Colonies managed to collect enough money to support their poor houses, and how they could overcome this plague of pauperism. Franklin replied:
“We have no poor houses in the Colonies; and if we had some, there would be nobody to put in them, since there is, in the Colonies, not a single unemployed person, neither beggars nor tramps.”