***THIS IS SIMPLY MY OPINION. Please accepted it as such***
For those of you that know me very well, I love History. I am a huge History buff and there is nothing I love more than to talk about different periods of History with people. What will probably be my all time favorite period to study is Early American History. I LOVE the period from Roanoke’s establishment (and ultimate demise) to just after the Revolutionary War. Now, I just want to say here that while I have my B.A. in History I do not consider myself an “expert” by any means but there are some things I am very passionate about.
Well, the college I attended (and now work for) hosted a regional History Day. It was a half day event for people interested in local History and/or History in general and for the first time I was able to attend! One of my former professors was holding a session in the afternoon entitled ” The 5 Turning Points in Early American History” so I had to go! One of those keys turning points was, of course, the Declaration of Independence. I had a total fan girl moment here as I absolutely LOVE Thomas Jefferson**. Well, as he continued talking about the Declaration he mentioned this book:
which I now desperately want to read. Anyways, he said that the American Historical Association asked him to appear at their convention to talk about this book (it won the Pulitzer Prize). Well, come to find out they had 3 other Historians waiting to grill him on the validity of his thesis USING HIS OWN BOOK TO BACK THEM UP. That made me so mad and lead to this blog. My point being Independence.
One of the big arguments posed against this man was: Independence for who? This is something that I have seen tossed around and around and around in the Historical community. Clearly, it was Independence only for wealthy white males. EVERYONE knows that. Even kids in High School can get that! Everyone remembers that one line of the text ” We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal….” and, in my opinion, people throw that around way too much.
First note that Jefferson specifically wrote MEN not “people” or “men and women”. Also, there was at one time a clause regarding slaves and slavery in the Declaration but was removed due to conflict. I personally don’t agree with that choice but in their defense, they weren’t trying to fight that war (…yet…). So, the Historians that attacked him on that front, I think, need to look over their History texts again.
The point I really wanted to make is this. The Declaration of Independence was a HUGE awakening for people in the colonies at that time. Think about where these people came from. What their very foundation, despite being born in America or the UK, is based on. They come from a background where in no way shape or form were all men “equal”. A blacksmith was not equal to a Prince. That was completely unheard of. THAT was the radicalism people are trying to get at! You couldn’t just tell your King that “I am just as good as you are” (still can’t as far as I know) but these people knew they were being treated unfairly, they knew they were going to fight for what they believed in and they were willing to die for that cause (now THAT is a Patriot). So they did something completely new, and radical, and made their own nation. Wow. Just wow. I don’t care who you are but that has to mean something to you.
Now, I know that piece of paper had MAJOR flaws. HUGE. Particularly because it wasn’t really “for all” and there were some planning flaws but they were willing to “hang together” rather than to “hang separately” and that in and of itself is a major step in the mentality of a time period where everyone took care of themselves.
After hearing during the presentation about how some people didn’t find this document “radical” enough to change history (insert disgusted scoff here) I felt compelled to enter in with my two cents. I hope no one is offended by my opinions, as they are just opinions, but I just felt the need to share.
Hope you all are having a wonderful Tuesday!
Lots of love!
**Note: Yes, I know that Thomas Jefferson was not the best person, especially later in life after his wife’s death. That being said, you cannot discount all the work that man did for our the U.S. and for that I give him props. He was a brilliant man and he deserves his place in History because of that.