While Independence Day is officially commemorated on the Fourth of July, the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was held on July 8, 1776, 237 years ago today — the first true celebration of Independence Day.
After the founding document had been unanimously approved and signed at the colonial legislative building, later to be the Pennsylvania State House and ultimately, Independence Hall, it was off to the printer that Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, copies of the Declaration had begun making their way by horseback carrier "to the several Assemblies, Conventions, and Committees or Councils of Safety, and to the several Commanding officers of the Continental Troops, that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the Army" as ordered by the Second Continental Congress as the closing directive of the manuscript.
On Monday, Independence Hall's bell tolled loudly to summon colonists to the legislative yard. That bell, inscribed with Leviticus 25:10, reads in part "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" lived up to its given name, the Liberty Bell.
As the public first heard of the separation from the homeland, the descriptive words painted a picture of a reality they knew and hardships they had endured.
Acknowledging the "self-evident" truths and their inalienable rights as the created of God, the Declaration proclaimed that no government, group or individual could bestow and/or destroy these rights. These liberties transcended the temporary stations and standing granted by the institutions of man. In strong contrast, these inherent rights "endowed by our Creator," instead, actually produced legitimate government to operate by "the consent of the governed."
Today, we've abandoned these incredible principles. Most pursue any provision, benefit or temporary standing that our government will endow and grant to define our rights and liberty. We've exchanged authentic liberty and rights for the cultural counterfeits that intersect the line of time for that season.
Do the 27 charges against King George III and the British Parliament specified in the Declaration of Independence ring familiar?
"The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. ... He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. ... For imposing taxes on us without our consent ..."
In 2013, we have a government that blatantly administers its laws in an arbitrary fashion: Of note, health care waivers only for some, no enforcement of legal immigration law, exempting some from burdensome regulation and targeted IRS audits for some based on belief.
Today, the consent of the governed is petulantly ignored with the thumb of the nose by the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches as a collective tyrannical mass on issues such as regulation, taxation, private property rights, the freedom of religion and the list goes on.
The Liberty Bell metaphorically rings today summoning those whose loyalty is to the greatness of our founding rather than to a government of tyranny, self-preservation and the art-of-the-deal.
Our Founders responded with this closing statement above their signatures: "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
How will you respond?
Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.