Saturday, June 30, 2012

Caesar Rode into Annapolis

Caesar rode into Annapolis, Maryland on December 19, 1783. At least that is what many were hoping for and others feared. However, the man who rode into Annapolis that day wasn’t Caesar; instead, he turned out to be George Washington. So many of us Americans are grateful he did. He was the most admired man in the country, and if he had demanded to become king, he could have had his way. Washington had something else in mind —a democratic republic. He came that day to surrender to Congress the commission he had accepted eight years prior. He could have done so in writing, but he wanted to make a point. Washington recognized the importance of his resignation as commander in chief, and he was also aware of the critical dangers the newly founded nation was facing. As so many nations before it—the young America, too, was surrounded by influences that advocated a monarchy. Just for this reason, Washington was there to reaffirm the uniqueness of a nation in which a congress held more power than a king or his army.

General George Washington went so far as to meet with a group of officers who, in alliance with some politicians, were ready to attempt a coup. These officers had their grievances, and there were many. Washington made it clear to the men that the Revolution itself was at stake, so he urged, “to rely on the plighted faith of your Country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress. . . . And let me conjure you, in the name of our common Country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the Military and National character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the Man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our Country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in blood.” [1]

On July 4th America celebrates its 236th birthday. Ours is the first nation whose birth certificate is also a great philosophical document. The Declaration of Independence declares our God-given right to liberty. America has, from the beginning, acknowledged her liberties as a gracious endowment from a loving God.

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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

[i] Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, (Oxford History) Location 10542-10565.

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