Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Everyone's Independence Day

According to comedian Chris Rock, writing in a Fourth of July tweet:  “Happy white peoples Independence Day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks.”  Rock is known for his racism and his tweet set off numerous fireworks.

His tweet coincided with the 160th anniversary of a Fifty of July speech by black abolitionist Frederick Douglas in Rochester, N.Y.  The theme of his July 5, 1852 speech was “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”  He excoriated the white society for dragging slaves in chains to a celebration of white America’s independence from England.

That was a fair enough argument – in 1852.  Eleven years later, in Gettysburg, Pa., the blacks would get their Independence Day.  In a decisive, three-day battle, pitting the North against the South, the Union Army prevented an incursion of Grant’s rebels into the Northeast.   The entire Civil War cost the lives of over 140,000 Union soldiers; 3,155 of them died at Gettysburg between July 1 and July 3, 1863.  Another 14,529 were wounded, and 5,365 were listed as missing.  On July 4, the Confederated Army formally ceded the Battle of Gettysburg to the Union Army.

The Civil War would rage on for another two years, but Gettysburg was the decisive battle.  The Battle of Gettysburg wiped out one-third of the Confederate forces.

In any case, Pres. Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing all the slaves “still in areas of rebellion.”  States’ rights did not include immoral acts such as slavery.  When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he has good as signed his death warrant.
So, July 4th is just as much Independence Day for blacks as it is for everyone else.  All the legislation in the world could not – and cannot – eradicate such ingrained prejudice.  Another hundred years, and more legislation had to be passed to give blacks the right of citizenship, the right to vote, and the right to work.

But Chris Rock wants more than that, something he’s not going to get unless he can find a way to give life back to those 140,000 dead Union soldiers, restore the lost limbs of the injured, and assuage the heartache of their family members.  Unless he can make a movie about it, he has no right to talk about social justice.

Just as we no longer fight with the Japanese, so too, the Civil War ended, in 1865.  The freed black slaves, for all their lack of education, had more common sense than this predecessor of theirs.  A statue was built by the blacks in memory of Lincoln, with the blacks kneeling in gratitude for the sacrifices he made on their behalf.

Lincoln had many death threats against him.  His Pinkerton guards were the first Secret Service agents.  But still, Lincoln would not cower behind them and went about his daily life more or less freely until John Wilkes Booth assassinated him at the Ford Theater on April 14, 1865.  Lincoln died the next day.  The 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.

Although the United States declared its Independence on July 4, 1776, it took several weeks for it to reach the King George III in England.   The War for Independence began in 1775 and only ended in 1783.  Then another battle began in 1787, to get the U.S. Constitution ratified in order to replace the weak and useless Articles of Confederation, began.   It took two years for the required nine states to ratify the Constitution.  The government declared the Constitution in effect on March 4, 1789.  Vermont was the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution on Jan. 10, 1791, four years after the process had begun.

Today, 236 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, 223 years after the Constitution was technically ratified, and 221 after its formal ratification; 151 years after the start of the Civil War, 149 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and the Battle of Gettysburg, and 147 years after Lincoln’s assassination, the end of the Civil War, and the ratification of the 13th Amendment; and 47 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act, blacks have everything that everyone else has:  the freedom and opportunity to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s all the guarantee to which any of us has the right to make a claim.  To demand more than that is to degenerate our society into a community of liars and thieves, and return us to the chains of tyranny.

We would not bow to King George; we will not bow to Chris Rock, or any other Progressive Liberal who still thirsts for vengeance, not justice.


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