At various times, I read in foreign journals, or hear from international friends, or read in books, that Americans can not truly relate to Europe, or understand foreign policy, or any number of things because they are too naive, their history has been too short, they are enthusiastic and youth oriented, this argument goes, but do not have the depth to really understand history and work on the world stage. Now, it may be that Americans are so ignorant of their own history that this might be true. In fact, I think so myself most of the time. But I disagree that America, the United States of America, does not have enough historical depth to understand some of the complicated situations in the world. I think that it is the case that we are merely lazy and ignorant of our own history. And I cite as case in point some background here on the 4th of July to support my argument.
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
There is debate among historians about when the text of the resolution that we think of as our Declaration of Independence was actually written. But those dates all lie within the July 4 - August range. What we actually celebrate on July 4th is the approval of the first third of the Lee Resolution.
The Facebook Page for Arlington House
1. Congress later voted some compensation for the illegal seizure of the land. Whether or not that compensation was in any way just compensation for the act is debatable. If you ever visit Arlington National Cemetery, be sure to visit the Lee / Arlington House.
2. Richard Henry Lee was the great uncle of Robert E. Lee.
3. War is hell. Generally speaking, when a victorious army enters a civilian area, women are raped. Some armies rape more than others, some make a point of it, some try to discourage the practice. But I doubt that there has ever been a victorious army that didn't rape the women of the defeated as they entered the territory of the enemy. As for burning churches and schools, the answer is that they do not burn churches and schools. They burn buildings that happen to be in the line of fire when people are fighting. As for starving children, well, you see, when you burn the fields that means there is no food around and any food needs to be brought in. Generally food is made available to defeated populations, eventually, when they get around to it. As for burning cities, when a retreating army leaves, one of the last things they do is to dispose of ammunition that for one reason or another they can not take with them. In the case of Richmond, Va. the fire at the armory got out of control and burned the city down. Whose fault was that? Hard to say, really. But the point is, when the war was over, the men were dead, the cities burned, the women raped and the children starving. As I say, war is hell.