Happy Fourth



A writer’s head is a weird place in that we’re never alone.  No, not even in the bathroom when someone — glares inward “You know who you are” — takes advantage of the situation to start dictating a novel.

But they’re there even when you’re not writing.

Right now in my head there’s a massive picnic in someone’s pasture.  It’s 20 years since the events in AFGM and the first time that they DARE have a public fourth of July (high holy holiday) celebration.  There’s fireworks, and people running around.

For the centuries of no territory, the centuries when the constitution, the declaration of independence and this idea of government for the people by the people were proscribed, the occasion was celebrated with readings from the holy documents, telling stories of the heroes after whom many of the USAians were named and, if you felt safe enough, a family meal.

This is the first time they have all that, but in public, in a small community of all Usaians.  (BTW the philosophy is not covalent with a nation in their times and very certainly it doesn’t correlate with no nations and no borders (in any time, really).  First, because it would counter the idea of property rights enshrined in the founding documents.  Second, because… well, you can’t have self-government when there is only a fluid culture that keeps changing with new influxes.  Ahead of our heroes in the series lie wars between nations both majority USAian but clinging to different interpretations and different cultures.)

Yeah, the philosophy is not a panacea, only simply the best way to have the safest and most prosperous society the world has ever known.

Of course, having become a religion to survive also changes it, and leads many to expect life liberty and the pursuit of happiness AFTER death, and therefore to not like those who try to make it happen in this world.

But that lies in the future for them, as we lie in the past for them.  For the first time, they can do what we take for granted, and celebrate the USA and independence in public.  (Only right now we aren’t mythical.  Or maybe we are, who knows?)

Having this go on in my head gives me an appreciation for what we have right now. The future is perilous (but when isn’t it?) not the least because we cannot afford to have Venezuela on our borders (and the attendant border crossers, not even mentioning they’ll vote for the same crazy here too) and yeah something will have to be done (and frankly a wall is better than a war.)

But liberty is always endangered because liberty and individualism is unnatural. Natural is the chieftain and the band and absolute power of one over the lives of others and some pigs being more equal than others.

We are a highly unnatural nation whose unnaturalness was purchased with blood sweat and tears.  Which might yet be required of us, so we can pass it intact to our children.

Liberty is never more than a generation from extinction.  Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honors, might be required of us as they were of prior generations.

You get what you pay for.

Happy fourth.  Below see cover for an anthology of stories by me and a few friends to come out in a couple of weeks. Names will appear on the cover, then.


105 thoughts on “Happy Fourth

  1. Over on Volokh Conspiracy (now on the Reason Website), Ilya Somin has just reposted a piece that argues that the Declaration of Independence was different from other such documents since then in that it asserted, not ethnic or tribal identity, but universal principles of right and justice. I thought it well worth reading.

    I hope the USAians will sing all four verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” including the much disliked third.

  2. We have much to celebrate this year, having made it one more time around the sun without giving up on the grand experiment. That is very good.

    Happy Fourth of July.

  3. You get what you pay for.

    Not necessarily – but you rarely get what you have not paid for. The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance against enemies external and domestic.

  4. At the risk of being labelled a heretic here…

    I suppose it offers a different perspective on what was behind the 1800 election campaign.

      1. …the entire Revolutionary War done as a yuri manga, with England being the tsundere older girl whom had a harem of thirteen girls and her “cousin” Germany helps out to get them back, while the slap/slap/kiss relationship between England and France has France helping out the thirteen girls to keep England busy while France makes her plans to get England between her legs again…

        There’s a market for this, isn’t there?

        Damn lacking fine motor control to draw…

        1. Yep, mine is more of the shaky stick men series. Only on a comp can I draw a straight line, thank you othogonic settings.

          1. My daughter is a Hetalia junky. So now I know who to blame if she finds THIS somewhere out there in weird Hitalia forum land.

            The up side is yes, before she discovered Hetalia, she couldn’t give a crap about history, geography, or politics. Since she got into it she’s actually ASKED for world history books for birthday/Christmas/etc. and cheered when she found out that she would have World History as a class next year in school (I pity the poor teacher having to put up with EVERYTHING being related to Hetalia though…)

            1. Hey, we use what we can use. If Hetalia works, I’ll go with Hetalia. If Game of Thrones gets them interested in medieval history, well, I’ll drop references to the houses and lords without heirs and so on.

    1. I’m disturbed and yet interested. That would be… I’m honestly certain their’s Jefferson/Adams slash fiction and I am just as certain I don’t actually want to read it.

      1. Yup, you got it … Jefferson/Adams shipping … nope, don’t wanna go there … not now, not ever.

        1. I may still have the notes somewhere for the AU where I had Tom Paine hook up with a noblewoman in Australia.

            1. I needed a particular mix of ancestries for another character. She was a piece of work of a type that does not exist in reality.

        1. It’s almost enough to make one long for the days in which teenage girls had to work out their romantic or sexual confusions in the privacy of their own diaries.

          Instead of appropriating the names and likenesses of fictional characters and sharing the results with the entire world via the magic of the Internet,

  5. “Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven Months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious Effects . . . . We might before this Hour, have formed Alliances with foreign States. — We should have mastered Quebec and been in Possession of Canada …. You will perhaps wonder, how such a Declaration would have influenced our Affairs, in Canada, but if I could write with Freedom I could easily convince you, that it would, and explain to you the manner how. — Many Gentlemen in high Stations and of great Influence have been duped, by the ministerial Bubble of Commissioners to treat …. And in real, sincere Expectation of this effort Event, which they so fondly wished, they have been slow and languid, in promoting Measures for the Reduction of that Province. Others there are in the Colonies who really wished that our Enterprise in Canada would be defeated, that the Colonies might be brought into Danger and Distress between two Fires, and be thus induced to submit. Others really wished to defeat the Expedition to Canada, lest the Conquest of it, should elevate the Minds of the People too much to hearken to those Terms of Reconciliation which they believed would be offered Us. These jarring Views, Wishes and Designs, occasioned an opposition to many salutary Measures, which were proposed for the Support of that Expedition, and caused Obstructions, Embarrassments and studied Delays, which have finally, lost Us the Province.

    “All these Causes however in Conjunction would not have disappointed Us, if it had not been for a Misfortune, which could not be foreseen, and perhaps could not have been prevented, I mean the Prevalence of the small Pox among our Troops …. This fatal Pestilence compleated our Destruction. — It is a Frown of Providence upon Us, which We ought to lay to heart.

    “But on the other Hand, the Delay of this Declaration to this Time, has many great Advantages attending it. — The Hopes of Reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by Multitudes of honest and well meaning tho weak and mistaken People, have been gradually and at last totally extinguished. — Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence and to ripen their judgments, dissipate their Fears, and allure their Hopes, by discussing it in News Papers and Pamphletts, by debating it, in Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety and Inspection, in Town and County Meetings, as well as in private Conversations, so that the whole People in every Colony of the 13, have now adopted it, as their own Act. — This will cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago.

    “But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

    “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

    “You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
    Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776


  6. A happy Fourth to all who honor and celebrate the freedom that requires us to take responsibility for that freedom. (I’m looking into taking another step toward that this coming year by taking a CCHL class, Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.)

    1. …celebrate the freedom that requires us to take responsibility for that freedom

      Is there any other kind of freedom? 

      Well, I mean aside from that magical summer in childhood where you could wander the neighborhood freely dreaming dreams and catching fireflys under the stars.  (Does anyone give children the opportunity to do so anymore?)  A marvelous idyll, but not the stuff on which an entire life is built. 

      1. Although in all honesty, that “magical summer” is mostly magical in retrospect. As I recall, during my actual childhood, I wandered the neighborhood freely dreaming dreams because I was dead bored and didn’t have anything better to do.

        Truthfully, we humans are built to have responsibilities.

        1. Yes, we’re built that way. It is good to know that what you do contributes, that you are able to be part of what is needed. Where I grew up we all had chores to do, but they certainly did not occupy all of a summer’s day.

          I am sure that in no small part we were granted some of that freedom to roam in the summer was to keep us out from under the grown-up’s feet.

  7. On this day in 1776, my 8x grandfather swore his life, fortune, and sacred honor…

      1. but then years later he made the mistake of giving the new federal government a place to build a capital, rent-free.

    1. More than one branch of the family was already up to their necks for the cause by that point, and they would have been strung by their necks if it had failed.

      Other branches of the family arrived later and they were most thankful that such people as those ancestors of ours had done so.

  8. Happy Independence Day, y’all. Enjoy the heck out of it, wherever and whatever you are.

    Try not to tip the mortar tube over and have bombs bursting in hair!

    1. I had that happen a long moon ago…(first came out) Found out that nailing the base to a 2 x 12 FIXED that problem, no flaming hair tho…. 😂

  9. If anyone asks me if I’m proud to be an American, I answer, “No I’m LUCKY to be an American. Others died to give that right to me.” I just try to perform the tasks that fall to me to keep that sacred trust.

  10. About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

    Coolidge speech…..

    On 150yrs 5th July 1956


    1. Oh, that’s good.

      May we have somebody in 2026 who can say as well, and mean it.

  11. So long as there’s no schism among the Usaians over whether Independence Day or Constitution Day marks the start of the liturgical calendar…. 😛

    1. There’s no conflict there – it is widely acknowledged that the Constitution was merely keeping the promise made in the Declaration.

    2. What, no love for Patriot’s Day?

      (I’ve met a number of people who say April 19 should be America’s birthday. That was when we really told the British to shove it. July 4 was just when we got around to filing the paper work…)

        1. I’ve got to say, I think Patriot’s Day as the start of the New Year makes for a nice, sequential liturgical calendar:

          April 19: And so it begins…We celebrate the fact that when the British tried to tell us what to do, we told them where to shove it.

          July 4: We celebrate our formal withdrawal from the British Empire, stating the principles that were behind the April 19th revolt.

          September 17: We celebrate the formation of a government based on the principles stated on July 4th.

          November 22-28: We give thanks for all of the above.

              1. Oh hell yeah we *do* fast: fast car, fast planes, fast food, fast pizza delivery, fast internet, …

          1. So April 19th, marks the start of the “Advent” season.
            July 4th is the High Holy Day (with purist schismatics saying it should be July 2nd).
            September 17th is Pentacost.
            The Fourth Thursday in November is still Thanksgiving.

            1. And then we cross over the river to a feast on Christmas day?
              Will a wadding pool do? Or a wet towel?
              And we’re not killing English officers, right?

              1. Prussians at Trenton, were there any English Officers?
                But you are Right, Officers First, then Sergeants. AND DO NOT FIGHT IN OPEN FIELDS, that is just too stupid. To bad they still hadn’t learned that by the 1860’s.

                1. There were Good Reasons to fight in Open Fields at that time and the weapons available.

                  Oh by the way, rifles of that time took much longer to reload than did the smooth barreled muskets of that time.

                  The armies of that time had very very good reasons to use muskets instead of rifles.

                  Oh, rifles existed in Europe long before the Revolutionary War.

                  Finally, I’d like to see you reload muzzle-loading rifles or muskets laying down. IIRC it couldn’t be done (or at least not quickly).

                  HEY! Where Did This Soapbox Come From? 😀

                  1. A Napoleonic, and near pre-Napoleonic, infantry company was essential one big machine gun, with the infantrymen as the moving parts of that gun.

                    1. Yep. 😀

                      Of course, it was always nice to be the army in the fortress that the other army had to take but that was true before gunpowder. 😉

                  2. “Oh by the way, rifles of that time took much longer to reload than did the smooth barreled muskets of that time.”

                    That was one of the advantages of the Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle: Rather than make a ball that engaged the rifling directly (and thus literally had to be hammered down the barrel), it used one a little smaller and then wrapped it in a greased patch to serve as a gas check.

                    1. Oh, and the advantage of the unrifled musket was simply how much labor and time it took to make a rifled barrel that your typical soldier wasn’t trained to take advantage of the increased range and accuracy of anyway.

                    2. Not really, it wasn’t until the invention of the “Minié ball” (around 1850) which allowed faster reloading times that the rifle became a useful weapon for the main armies.

                    3. IIRC It still took longer to load than the muskets of the day and you couldn’t attach a bayonet to them.

                      Rifles of the time (including the Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle) could be useful in skirmishing and as sniper weapons but could not be used by the main attack force.

                    4. its not that you couldn’t attach a bayonet, its that most of our skirmishers were using , initially, nonmilitary rifles that didn’t have them, and when we started ordering rifles we ordered them without them.

                    1. Actually, the only Prussian I’m aware of in the Revolution was a Baron von Steuben….. and we’re all glad he showed up.

              2. Or does Santa cross the Delaware to bring presents, dressed in a Continental Army uniform?

                  1. I’m sure they will be consulting the writings of Holy Sarah to find a revelation.

                    j 1/2 k

      1. Regionalist! 

        Those of us from North Carolina would point to the War of Regulation (1765-71, also known as Tryon’s Rebellion) as the catalyst of the Revolution. 

        (Did you know that Virginians learned in school that the first Thanksgiving was held in the Virginia settlement of Jamestown?) 

        1. uh, there was a day of Thanksgiving held at Jamestown before Plymouth was a thing.

  12. “Revolutions, Mr. Dickinson, come into this world like bastard children – half improvised and half compromised.”

    Conceived in Liberty
    By Sarah Hoyt
    On a day in 1998, I went to the courthouse with my husband and a few friends. I have a picture. I was wearing a pink skirt suit and looked very young, even though I was then 26.

    I said the words that made me forever an American, one of you:

    I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

    I had been eligible to apply for citizenship for – I think, the laws have changed and I don’t remember clearly – two years before I did so. I wanted to make sure.

    Elsewhere I’ve written about “Fit in or f*ck off.” Elsewhere I’ve written about acculturation. Acculturation is the process of — consciously or not — changing cultures. Children do it the most easily, but often the most incompletely. If your parents are still from the originating culture, you’ll learn a bit of that at home, even as you learn the new culture at school and the neighborhood. You’ll be caught in the middle. This is, by the way, the reason second-generation immigrants often hate the new country and provide the largest pool of terrorists.

    Acculturation for adults, if it’s to happen at all, must be a conscious process. You must learn to see your old culture and your new culture and choose to change. You have to be aware of the old thought processes and replace them. You have to consciously learn to think in the language and will yourself not to fall back on the old patterns.

    It’s work. …

  13. I regret to pass along the news that Harlon Ellison passed away in his sleep back on June 28, 2018. The first I had heard of it was today on space.com.

  14. Isn’t it strange that so many, speak of a movie 1776 from 1972. You would think that someone would have made a BETTER one since then. But as far as I know they haven’t. Gets the feel of the congress, the disputes, the compromises that had to be made. Also it made the people real, maybe not accurate but real. The lesions it teaches are real enough. Doesn’t gloss over the problems or the work that was needed.

    Harvard or William and Mary?

    1. Some of the musical is not accurate. For example, Richard Henry Lee was no buffoon, although it is true that much of those whose families had settled and prospered in the tidewater region of Virginia did think well of themselves.

      Much is surprisingly accurate, and it often uses words attributable to the people themselves — although often much later. Jefferson’s given reason for a Declaration, ‘To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent,’ is from a letter Jefferson wrote to Henry Lee on May 8, 1825:

      …this was the object of the Declaration of Independance. not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject; [in?] terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independant stand we [were?] compelled to take. neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. 


        1. He was. I read a biography of R.H. Lee this spring, he was a man of no small accomplishment, from a family that had made themselves in the new world.

          For I am F.F.V.
          The First Family
          In the Sovereign Colony of Virginia.
          The F.F.V.
          The Oldest Family
          In the oldest colony in America

          Oh, and eventual – LEE! The British did burn his land. During the War of 1812 Chantilly, the house he had built for his family on the Potomac River, was bombarded and it burnt to the ground. After Richard Henry died his family had left it because it was isolated, so it was unoccupied at the time.

          1. The musical’s treatment of Lee is not nearly so scandalous as its depiction of Dickinson and Wilson. Dickinson’s Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer quite eloquently framed the argument for the Crown’s abuse of the colonies, and Judge Wilson …

            James Wilson (September 14, 1742 – August 21, 1798) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, where he represented Pennsylvania, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution. A leading legal theorist, he was one of the six original justices appointed by George Washington to the Supreme Court of the United States.

            Born near St Andrews, Scotland, Wilson immigrated to Philadelphia in 1766, becoming a teacher at the College of Philadelphia. After studying under John Dickinson, he set up a legal practice in Reading, Pennsylvania. He wrote a well received pamphlet arguing that Parliament’s taxation of the Thirteen Colonies was illegitimate due to the colonies’ lack of representation in Parliament. He was elected to the Continental Congress and served as president of the Illinois-Wabash Company, a land speculation company.

            Wilson was a delegate to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, and served on the Committee of Detail, which produced the first draft of the United States Constitution. Along with Roger Sherman, he proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation in the United States House of Representatives and the Electoral College. After the convention, he campaigned for the ratification of the document, and his “speech in the statehouse yard” was reprinted in newspapers throughout the country. He also played a major role in drafting the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitution.

            In 1789, Wilson became one of the first Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. He also became a professor of law at the College of Philadelphia (which later became the University of Pennsylvania). Wilson suffered financial ruin from the Panic of 1796–97 and was briefly imprisoned in a debtors’ prison on two occasions. He suffered a stroke and died in August 1798, becoming the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to die.

            As one of America’s greatest philosophers said, “You could look it up.”

            1. One additional note from the cource previously cited:

              As a member of the Continental Congress in 1776, Wilson was a firm advocate for independence. Believing it was his duty to follow the wishes of his constituents, Wilson refused to vote until he had caucused his district. Only after he received more feedback did he vote for independence.

              That theatrical is absolutely slanderous!

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