Happy 4th Of July, Representative Government

Thursday, July 4, 2019 - by Linda Moss Mines
As a former U. S. History and Government teacher, the Chattanooga - Hamilton County Historian and a proud member of the Chief John Ross Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, July 4th may be my favorite national holiday. I must admit that I can hear Thomas Jefferson’s stirring words echoing in my soul every time the Declaration of Independence is mentioned in a speech or in print. Now only does the most famous statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” increase the rate of my pulse, but other phrases reinforce the unique experiment drafted in that document.
When Jefferson chose to explain the reason for drafting the Declaration of Independence and listed English King George III’s violations of the inherent rights of English citizens, he is proclaiming for the colonists and interested international parties a profound principle of government established long before 1776 and accepted by the majority of the English colonists. While only a third of colonists will go on to openly support the revolution in the coming days, most believed strongly that each possessed basic rights guaranteed through English history via the Magna Carta [1215], the Petition of Rights [1628] and the English Bill of Rights [1689]. In fact, they could point to their own historical record and documents to assert a belief in self-government.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth three hundred and ninety-nine years ago, the leaders of the group realized that they were not stepping out onto the ground secured for them through the charter granted. Instead, their rough voyage had forced them north and into a very different harbor and landing site. In a stroke of brilliance, they drafted the Mayflower Compact, a set of rules outlining a self-governance plan. As a group, they understood that living in a settlement without rules could lead to chaos and conflict and that a system of government, even for a group of barely 100 individuals, was necessary. The government devised, based on majority rule, became the first to create a representative government based on common agreement of basic rules and signed by a majority of the adult males, including an indentured servant. The signers agreed that they would remain loyal subjects of the English crown, live in accordance with the Christian faith, and create laws and ordinances for the “good of the colony and abide by those laws.”

But the idea of self-governance had already been considered and endorsed in the Virginia colony. Four hundred years ago, on June 30, 1619, the House of Burgesses - - the first legislative assembly in the American colonies - - met in a church in Jamestown. With Virginia Colonial Governor George Yeardley and twenty-two burgesses, representing eleven settlements, present, the Burgesses were properly elected to conduct the business of the colony. King James I, a staunch believer in the divine right of monarchs to rule without interference from either his own Parliament or the upstart colonists, attempted to dissolve the House of Burgesses. The Virginians simply refused and continued to meet on a yearly basis to conduct necessary business. As additional colonies were settled, each demanded its own legislature, in defiance of the Crown. 

So, on the Fourth of July, when you unfurl your flag, light your fireworks and consider this noble experiment in self-government and our Founding Fathers and Mothers’ willingness to suffer personal and financial losses to create a new nation, remember the Mayflower Compact and the Virginia House of Burgesses. As Jefferson, with assistance from John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert Livingston of New York, presented the Declaration of Independence for the signatures of the now famous delegates to the Second Continental Congress, he was affirming a belief already more than 150 years old in the colonies. 

Freedom! The Rule of Law! The Right to Self-Determination! We have every reason to celebrate. If you need me, I’ll be in Lookout Valley, flying my flags and singing ‘Yankee Doodle’. Happy Fourth of July.


Civil War Historian San Elliot To Speak At The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society Aug. 6

Happy 4th Of July, Representative Government

Wayne Shearer’s World War II Memoir, Part 19: Taking A First Flight In A PT-19


Sam Elliott, a resident of Signal Mountain, well known Chattanooga attorney, and recognized Civil War historian will present a program entitled, “Tennesseans in the Battle of Chickamauga" at ... (click for more)

As a former U. S. History and Government teacher, the Chattanooga - Hamilton County Historian and a proud member of the Chief John Ross Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, ... (click for more)

(Editor’s Note: Dr. Wayne Shearer, 94, is a retired optometrist and retired colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserve now living in Hixson. In his early 90s, he decided to sit down and write from ... (click for more)


Memories

Civil War Historian San Elliot To Speak At The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society Aug. 6

Sam Elliott, a resident of Signal Mountain, well known Chattanooga attorney, and recognized Civil War historian will present a program entitled, “Tennesseans in the Battle of Chickamauga" at The Signal Mountain Genealogical Society at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at the Walden Town Hall, 1836 Taft Highway. Refreshments will be served followed by a brief business meeting and program. ... (click for more)

Happy 4th Of July, Representative Government

As a former U. S. History and Government teacher, the Chattanooga - Hamilton County Historian and a proud member of the Chief John Ross Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, July 4th may be my favorite national holiday. I must admit that I can hear Thomas Jefferson’s stirring words echoing in my soul every time the Declaration of Independence is mentioned ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Small Plane Crashes Near Dunlap

A small plane crashed on Wednesday at Cagle Mountain near Dunlap. Authorities said the pilot was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital. He was described as in his mid-to-late 50s or 60s. There were no passengers, it was stated. Based on the plane's registration number, it was a Glasair amateur-built experimental plane. It was built in Canada in 2002. The pilot was described ... (click for more)

Smedley, Smith, Boyd, Bankston, Graham Among Candidates Mentioned For 2020 County Mayor Race With Coppinger Possibly Retiring

It may be three years away, but candidates are lining up for the 2022 county mayor race with Jim Coppinger possibly retiring. County Mayor Coppinger said his focus is on continued progress during the current four-year term. Political observers believe he tipped his hat on this being his final term by coming out for a school tax that is unpopular in some circles and lost out on ... (click for more)

Opinion

Opinion Correction: Erlanger Does Not Offer $20,000 Nurse Signing Bonuses

An opinion in Chattanoogan.com on Monday said Erlanger Health Systems had $20,000 nurse signing bonuses. Erlanger officials said that is another local hospital - not Erlanger. Columnist Roy Exum said, "In a story that I wrote on July 15, “A Nursing Shortage?” I mistakenly identified Erlanger Hospital as one hospital that offers prospective nurses a $20,000 signing bonus. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Use 'Tags' At Erlanger

When I was a senior in high school, the Vietnam catastrophe held the guys who were in my class spellbound. Back then, and has since been proven again and again, the conflict was a terrible error in our nation’s judgment and almost 60,000 young and promising Americans died in some stinking South Asian battle zone that didn’t mean squat to our freedom or our nation’s future. In ... (click for more)