Thursday, July 04, 2013

As good a day as any, I suppose

I'm generally not one of those curmudgeons who goes all 'well, we didn't really do MUCH on 04 July 1776, because John Adams blah blah blah something about signing the declaration and how it's not really the FOURTH that should be celebrated, but the SECOND, or August 21st, or sometime in November (or was it August) when Cesar Rodney finally hauled his cancer stricken body to the chambers to scrawl his name,' (Aside: actually, it was last signed in 1781 by Thomas McKean, and Caesar apparently didn't even have cancer OF THE FACE at the time of the signing) but around 04 July I do feel it's incumbent on all of us to recall just how long those men struggled to do this thing that was inevitable and how rancorous the debates were and how many families were split and just how dangerous secession was for them and anyone associated with them.

Far more than a 1-day effort, but we are short of attention and oh our lives are so hard that to simply track the events leading up to this 'not a holiday,' holiday, would be something well beyond our scope.  Who had TIME for all that?  Not me, certainly, as I've never purposely followed all those events but I have seen '1776' a time or 2 and so have a better appreciation (through the power of song!) of what Hollywood thinks happened those fateful days before air conditioning in the HOT of summer.

Because, think about it.  Undershirts and overshirts and waistcoats and topcoats must have been flung to the side in the heat of battle as party after party spoke their piece, sometimes at length, fighting to get this small group of men to agree to whatever this country was going to do next and how it would all play out once the British and their mighty armies got wind of the stink we young Americans were raising.  Oh, how the King would roil and gnash his teeth at the utter stupidity and hubris of that colony, the leech on Great Britain, that full-slobbering bunch of know-nothings with no good appreciation for their forebears and rulers to whom they should be grateful to pay taxes, taxes, and more taxes simply for the privilege of being called 'colonists,' implying of course that at some future point they might actually get to enter the Union, Jack.

But of course the colonists, at least the loudest of them, did scoff loudly and harshly at this bit of pudding-like thinking, objecting to their place on the chain of command, wanting to rule their own country, a place the King didn't ever set foot but instead sent his barking minions to seize the prime pieces of meat from the colonisits withered and grasping hands, never satisfied with what was provided and always pressing and pushing for more.  Well, NO MORE!  They had had enough.

MOST of them.

Some took convincing, and that took time.  From the first moment of foment to the last signature took far longer than can be appreciated now, and given the pace of procedure and communications in those days, took even LONGER than we can imagine now.  People wrote letters in those days, which were carried on horseback, so a single exchange of information between a member of the first congressional congress (or whatever it was called at that time) and his wife could take a week.  A week!  Just to say 'hello dear, how is it going up there in Philly?  Hot enough for ya?  Send pins.' and hear back 'Yeah, it's going all right.  Franklin's a pain in the arse, and it's hot as the hinges of Hades, but that Eldrige Paine is a real starter.  Oh, and pins are 10 pence a hundred, see the ladies save all they can, here are 200 and I hope it's enough because they're almost unfindable now.  Love you!'  So yes, lots of time.  It was, as we say, a process.

In very very dankest heat of summer.  God Lord, what a monumental effort it must have been.


And I in my air-conditioned home in this gorgeous country do moan about having to go out and weed a garden planted strictly for looks when it's nearly 90 F.  In nothing resembling a petticoat, corset, undertunic, overskirt, bodice, hat, and gloves.  Because if I had to do THAT?  There'd be another revolution.

Thanks, Forefathers.  You've saved many an innocent from sure slaughter, and not only because of the foresight you put into the Great Declaration, but all the other foresight you had to secure the freedoms you expected for this country and ensure some framework on which the country could move forward.  We're still using what you decided upon and documented, so 'good job y'all.'  IF it ever comes time to re-do what you did, I hope we have the sophisticated and forward-looking arppoach, as well as imagination, that you did back in the days of the infant republic.

Ya done good.  Thank you.

Tiff out.


kenju said...

Here, here!! or is it hear, hear?

the only daughter said...

Gardening (well, anything, really) in a corset. Oh. My.